Winning has been in short supply in these here parts lately, so when the Leafs go 6-3 in the preseason it is understandable that people start to get a little excited. In just about every Hockey blog and newspaper we have been reminded that winning in the preseason isn't really indicative of greener pastures. We are reminded of Chad Kilgers team leading 6 points in the 07-08 preseason, as proof that giving credence to the preseason is fool hardy. but are they right?.
As we saw in the recently concluded 09-10 preseason, Coaches usually take advantage of the preseason to experiment with new line combinations and testing out youngsters. The result is a team that is heavily populated by rookies, perennial farm teamers, fighters, backup goalies, professional tryouts, and other players that are concidered "on the bubble". Naturally, when two teams that are constructed in this way play each other in a preseason game, the result could ostensibly be very different then if the teams were playing each other during the regular season, with their regular lineups.
lets look at some examples:
On Sept 18th 2009, The Leafs played the Pittsburgh Penguins for the third game of their preseason.
Some of the players who didnt play for the leafs are as follows : Schenn, Komisarek, Hagman, Stempniak, Grabovski, Orr, Kaberle, Ponikarovski, Beauchemin, Van Ryn, Kulemin, Toskala, Gustavvson. That is most of the leafs top two lines, as well as they top two goalies. Both Crosby and Malkin didn't play for the Penguins, plus some players who we dont care about. Had both teams been playing their best players the result could have been alot different then the 4-3 Leaf win. This is a great example of the irrelevancy of the preseason statistics when we try to infer what will happen in the regular season.
With Viktor Stahlberg's sudden arrival on the scene, it is important to remember that individual preseason points can be just as deceiving as the outcome of a preseason game. For example, in last years preseason (08-09), Lee Stempniak was second in the league with 13 points (5G 7A) in 5 games, and well, I think you know how the regular season went when Stempniak arrived in Toronto.
in the 07-08 preseason, John Pohl and Chad Kilger were tied for first on the leafs with 6 points in 6 games. Neither went on to be prolific point getters that year, or ever. Infact i would be surprised if Chad Kilger had 6 points in his entire career.
now the concept of the Preseason really not mattering in the grand scheme of things probably isnt new to most of you, but I though it was important to give a idea of why expectations should be tempered until the regular season is underway (Thats tonight! YAY!) and we truly have an idea of how the year will go.
on the other hand, this preseason was the first time since the year the leafs last made the playoffs that they had a positive preseason record, so perhaps it is foreshadowing great things to come?