Good stories are what makes the NHL postseason interesting – injuries, late-game heroics, and controversial calls, are examples of what can turn a dull series into the series that your boss will come to your desk and talk about the “clutch performer.”
When Roman Polak and Leo Komarov don’t perform on the ice, there will always be discussion of what “character” guys they are and how beneficial they are to the club. I would much rather watch good, skillful hockey, but what these two could possibly do in the upcoming playoffs will be so damn entertaining.
Will his late-season rise in actually playing good hockey continue? Can Roman be our hope and savior for some reason?
Lately, Polak has actually been an alright hockey player – as unbelievable that would seem just a few months ago. Usually the scapegoat for the Leafs’ lack of defense, Polak has for once not made any egregious errors recently, for once in his time in Toronto.
I’m happy to finally not be yelling at the big Czech man, his story is just too nice. Coming back from a broken leg he suffered last spring, he wasn’t sure if he was even able to play hockey ever again. Now the Leafs’ Masterton nominee is playing on the most exciting team in hockey and gets to be a part of some success.
Babcock loves Roman to be on the penalty kill too, like a lot, and he might have a good reason for him to be there.
Polak and Rielly are the only Leafs with a positive CF%rel on the PK. Now, it’s not saying that Polak is good on the kill, but he’s one of the best we got right now. But among all defenseman, Polak is 24th for CF%rel with 3.65 – hovering around the same spot as Dustin Byfuglien, Zach Werenski, and Oliver Ekman-Larsson. This doesn’t necessarily mean a whole lot, but at least Polak is near the top of the league at something.
Polak: -1.49 5v5 xGF%
Marleau: -3.88 5v5 xGF%
So obviously Polak is better than Marleau – he should be scratched, not Polak.
The Leaf that arguably shows the most amount of personality and one of Babcock’s favourites.
Leo has had to play some god awful hockey with some god awful Leafs. His first season was shared with legends such as Mike Brown and Ryan O’Byrne, so you have to feel for the guy.
He’s been with this team through all the recent suffering and has been proud to be a member of this team every single day. He deserves to most likely end his Leafs career on a high note with a deep playoff run. I know it will sour his “legacy” with the team if he is the sole cause of the series-winning goal for the Bruins, but let’s focus on all the positives.
Remember when he was every fan’s favourite player? The Uncle Leo memes were loved by all, and it never ever got old, right?
His story of being one of the longest-tenured Leafs can carry at least a little bit of weight heading into these playoffs. Although never the most productive player, he was there to cause some shit when needed.
Especially against the Bruins, Leo will be loved for getting under the gross-ass skin of Brad Marchand, especially when Leo just skates away like nothing ever happened.
No matter how useless their on-ice production is, Polak and Komarov make the games more entertaining as a whole. Of course winning is also entertaining, but if the Leafs could win and have Polak or Komarov be a shit-disturber at the same time, everyone wins.
We’ll just be arguing of how many goals the Leafs could have won by if they didn’t play.