Don't Panic

Steve Lansky
November 03 2010 11:35AM

OK, OK, do not push the panic button. Just relax, everyone.

A 1-5-1 record, over the last seven games does not look good on paper. I get that.

But the problem isn’t the record. The problem right now is that the offensive aggressiveness that was there to begin the season is gone. It’s just evaporated. This club is not going to score on a regular basis on sheer offensive talent. We all know that. They must work their butts off in the offensive zone. No surprises there.

For the first two periods against Ottawa on Tuesday night, the Leafs were not offensively aggressive. They will not win close games that way. The margins between good NHL teams and struggling teams are razor-thin. The difference must be the team that wants it more. Last Saturday, the Leafs appeared to want it more against the Rangers. But they couldn’t beat Henrik Lundqvist. Against Ottawa, the offensive desire simply was not there.

Add in a few lazy penalties, and you have the Leafs’ latest recipe for defeat. I understand that some air left the energy balloon when Dion Phaneuf suffered a left leg laceration from Peter Regin’s skate in the corner. Phaneuf has been the key component to the Leafs’ D so far this season. But that’s when the offence has to crank it up a notch. Not just go through the motions. There was a lot of going through the motions in the first 40 v. Ottawa.

The players still don’t seem to understand the value of the “Must get your butt in front of the net” edict. Although Nik Kulemin and Luca Caputi were trying against Ottawa. Caputi is not a first-line player…on any NHL team. Whether he likes it or not, very soon Brian Burke will have to summon Nazem Kadri from the Marlies. Kadri leads the Marlies with 8 points in 8 AHL games and ranks second with 19 shots on goal (Caputi leads with 24 SOG).

Whether they like it or not, the Leafs must add any offensive component to the club they can. Being shut out for 167:39 (just 14 minutes shy of the club’s all-time record, set in 1927) is a massive red flag. The Leafs can play all the solid defence they want but, if they don’t start scoring, they’re going to start sliding into a hole they can’t climb out of. The club still sits with a .500 record, but the time to bring in Kadri is right now. I understand his defensive liabilities, but that's not important right now. Scoring is.

What’s that? Dion Phaneuf is out four weeks with that Regin cut.

Excuse me while I slip over and push the panic button.

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Steve Lansky's first exposure to the game was at storied Maple Leaf Gardens, running downstairs at the end of every period just to watch the great Dave Keon walk off the ice to the room. A decade later, while he was still in high school, Oilers' head coach Glen Sather asked Lansky, "Hey, how'd you like to be our team statistician?" In 1983, at the age of 22, Lansky became the youngest producer in the history of CBC's Hockey Night in Canada, giving him a front-row seat to the Edmonton Oilers' dynasty. Lansky also helped launch Rogers Sportsnet's fledgling hockey coverage when the network made its début in 1998. You can follow him at bigmouthsports.com and at twitter.com/bigmouthsports
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#1 Chemmy
November 03 2010, 11:38AM
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Yes let's bring in Kadri to solve this club's offensive woes because he's torching the AHL so badly.

Let's screw up his development because we lost a few games.

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#3 CoryNewb
November 03 2010, 01:37PM
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I think Puti and Kadri need some time to mature. I know it's going to be hard for Burkie not to knee jerk and put them both in the top 6 and hope things will just work themselves out.

They need time. They are not top 6 NHL players, yet.

As for panicing, we all knew it was going to level off. I was surprised they didn't go 0-4-0 after they went 4-0-0. They will still fight in the bubble, but need to clinch their cheeks tight now that Dion is out for a month.

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#5 Pension Plan Puppets
November 04 2010, 07:18AM
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It's good of you to speak up for the legion of Leaf fans that listen to LeafsTalk and have no clue what they are talking about.

They deserve a voice too.

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#7 PassThePuck
November 05 2010, 03:02PM
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Um, hey dum dums. Adding Kadri is the absolute way to go. He's got the hunger, now feed him some NHL ice. Stop being so bloody conservative. Leafs need some shakin' up NOW. And someone needs to tell the Leafs that just because this time of year is called 'Fall', it doesn't apply to them.

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#9 leafs19ca
November 07 2010, 12:38PM
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After painfully watching the Leafs/Sabres last night two things became very clear to me: 1. Giving up two first round draft choices for Kessel was a huge mistake. His numerous give-a-ways allowed the Sabres to transition from D to O several times. In addition he showed no passion.

2. It is now obvious why the Leafs have been unable to trade Kaberle. How many times can he give up the puck in one game? He is a defensive liability while no longer being much of an offensive threat.

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