Carl Gunnarsson: Could He Be the Maple Leafs X-Factor on Defense?

April 19th, 2013 by Brad LeClair Leave a reply »
It's been three games since the Toronto Maple Leafs lost defenceman Carl Gunnarsson to a nagging lower-body injury. And the results of that loss have been felt quickly.

Without Gunnarsson, the Leafs defence has been exposed more than they usually are. The giveaways are usually there regardless, but at least with Gunnarsson, he's a tactical player who usually makes the simple play and is never caught out of position.

Dion Phaneuf, while playing with Gunnarsson has seen his plus minus rating go up +12, meanwhile his impact on the game has been great.

However, without Gunnarsson, Phaneuf is rating goes from +12 to -14 while playing with the group of rookies Jake Gardiner, Mike Kostka, and Korbinian Holzer.

Gunnarsson is a calming veteran influence on a very young Leafs defence. Much like when the Leafs got John Michael Liles playing regularly, the change in the Leafs defence is noticeable when Gunnarsson is not there.

The last three games the Leafs have been collectively out-shot 107 to 64 and have been thoroughly outplayed.

Not only has the shot difference been noticeable, but the once vaunted penalty-kill which hadn't ...

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