Leafs Postgame: Losenipeg

Jeff Veillette (Jeffler)
April 05 2014 08:15PM

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The Winnipeg Jets are basically playing the rest of the season for fun at this point. They scratched their best forward, presumably because he had a beer while watching a basketball game. They put the worst starting goaltender in the league between the pipes, because their decent and therefore much better backup is injured. This game should be a gimmie en route to continuing the playoff push, right? RIGHT?

The Rundown

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"Lets just give their top centre several seconds to decide how to shoot the puck"

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Wherein the puck bounces off of James van RIemsdyk and everybody except for Jacob Trouba gets lost

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"It's okay James, we'll stop it before it gets to you! No, seriously, you don't have to see i-"

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"Oh wow that's fast I'm getting out of the way now SAVE US JAMES"

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"Forget the former 90 point scorer who is still good in the slot, lets ALL of us cover the guy behind the net"

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"Wouldn't it be hilarious if we left him open again?" (This one didn't go in)

Also, Phil Kessel scored, tying a career high, because he's awesome. By the way, he's scored in every single game in every Leafs vs. Jets 2.0 game ever played (9 for 9). Nazem Kadri also added a goal, but that's because Ondrej went full Pavelec.

4-2 was your final.

Why The Leafs Lost

As seen above, the Leafs defensive system still likes to leave quality offensive players on their own frequently. As well, this team hasn't scored more than three goals in regulation since March 1st. As a result, to win any game in regulation since then, Bernier or Reimer has needed a minimum of a 0.933 SV%. 

It's getting really tiresome to say "the same guys made the same errors and the Leafs got outshot" every single game. This game was a microcosmm of the season. It was a must win because they needed it, and a must win because of their opponent. Instead, they got thoroughly outclassed.

Blue Warrior

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This is the look of a man who is realizing that this is probably the last time he has to attempt to carry around a defensive mess in front of these 19,000 fans who come here hoping for something different, 41 times a year.

There's a very real chance this was James Reimer's last game at the Air Canada Centre, as the raise-requiring RFA goaltender that this team doesn't seem to believe much in. I just want to point that out.

Honorable mention to Toronto Mayor Rob Ford, for distracting the fans by (probably) drunkenly taking selfies.

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I bring news about the Toronto Marlies, opinions about the Toronto Maple Leafs, and a bunch of ridiculous thoughts about everything else.
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#1 kesselkadri
April 05 2014, 09:20PM
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I have to agree with you this team doesn't get it. And the problem is not Reimer or the goalie. And not the problem is Nonis and not even Carlyle.

The problem the leafs skaters is the forwards and defenders who just can't play a team defence game. The leafs need more skilled gritty defensive minded players with a sprinkling of toughness.

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#2 Darren S.
April 05 2014, 11:15PM
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Stick a fork in it. I watched the lined Tim video. I agree with the OP, it gives me hope for the future, but it also puts a moment in the game I caught into context.

Kadri just scored to go up 2-1, and (i think) MayRay iced the puck. Iso shot on Nonis had him looking very nervous and frustrated. I think his job is on the line first. Nonis made unbelievable mistakes signing clarkson and wasting buyouts, essentially hand-cuffing the team.

What's going to be necessary now is somebody who's willing to USE good players in the farm system, draft effectively, and correctly assess the weaknesses of the team (i.e., DEFENCE!!!!!). That is clearly not Nonis. He mortgaged the team for offence (that didn't produce), and has systematically alienated younger players by supporting a coaching staff that lets young talent rot for the sake of dressing face-punchers.

First thing that happens in the offseason, if there's any justice in the world, is Nonis gets canned and the search for a replacement GM begins. That GM will have to a) be part of a good organization with a strong drafting record and scouting staff, b) have strong opinions about coaching philosophy and openly discuss replacements for Carlyle, and c) be willing to replace Carlyle with a new-school coach.

I have to say, having seen Dineen on the Canadian women's hockey team, I'd love to have him as our coach. He's good with younger players, he knows when and how to make adjustments, and he doesn't have bad body language (Carlyle's is toxic on the bench).

Fact is, seeing how ruthlessly MLSE cut up the Raptors and TFC franchises tells me big changes are afoot for this club in the coming months.

Frankly, it's deserved... we deserved much better than this.

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#3 TGT23
April 05 2014, 11:48PM
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@Darren S.

Exactly. I mean, all we heard was we needed cap to keep some of the young players coming up, thus we bought out Grabo and Komasarek, only then to sign Clarkson and trade for Gleason, two cap killing, very comparable contracts?

What worries me is what happens to Gardiner, Kadri, Franson, and the like when they go for bigger deals. Do we lose them? Lupul? Kulemin?

All for the sake of having Clarkson and Gleason? Really?

It boggles my mind that Nonis sees we have a defensive SYSTEM issue and thinks he can plug it with overpaying a 3rd line winger and trading for an aging slow footed d-man...

The bright future the team might have had has been flushed by bad buyouts and signings along with another questionable coach.

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#4 leafs suck
April 06 2014, 01:21PM
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HAHAHHAHAHAHAHAHHAHAHAHAHHAHAHAHAHAHHAHAHAHHAH HAHAHAHHAHAHAHHAHAHAHAHHAHAHAHHAHAHAHAHHAHAHAH HAHAHAHHAHAHAHAHAHHAHAHHAHAHAHAHAHHAHAHAHAHHAHA HAHAHHAHAHAHAHHAHAHAHAHHAHAHAHHAHAHAHAHHAHAHAHAH

GO HABS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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#5 TGT23
April 05 2014, 09:45PM
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I refuse to call what Carlyle teaches a "system". That implies everyone has a job and that every player is in a position that will, more often than not, allow them to make a defensive play on the puck.

That isn't what the Leafs have. They play defense like a 5 year old soccer team with everyone going for the ball.

Reimer was pretty good in this one. Not spectacular but he gave the team a chance. Can't ask for much more.

I still think the " a goalie would need a minimum .933 save percentage" talking point is terribly flawed. But whatever.

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#6 Jim
April 05 2014, 10:24PM
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As pathetic as that display of 'hockey' was tonight, this interview with Tim Leiweke does give me a faint ray of hope. Worth a listen.

http://mapleleafshotstove.com/2014/04/04/tim-leiweke-on-george-stroumboulopoulos-tonight/

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#7 leaferfan
April 05 2014, 10:35PM
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Now is time to blow the leafs up? This locked in medicore core is going to drag our good players down like Kessel and JVR. We can't get out of the Clarkson contract. We have big dollars locked on the wings and defence that don't offer sufficient value.

Either we need to blow this mess up as we will never be competitive with elite team when we are loaded down by these terrible contracts. Or try to rebuild on the fly like the Sharks or Flyer have and try to win with Kessel carrying Clarkson piggy back.

Personally, I like the idea of building our tank around Clarkson and Gleason and playing the kids. What a freaking disaster.

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#8 leafer2013
April 06 2014, 07:14AM
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Well this leaf team is a disaster.

Time to jump on the Avs and Habs band wagon as a dream cup match up. They both play the brand of hockey I enjoy by getting dominated, outworks and our corsi'd and still finding a ways to win using an above average PDO.

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#9 Raj
April 06 2014, 07:31AM
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@kesselkadri

I don't agree that it is not a problem with Mr Noni. I could spend some money to hire defensive player. Who signed contract with Clarkson?????

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#10 Kels
April 06 2014, 07:36AM
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Prediction:

Reimer, Kulemin, Raymond, Bolland, Bodie, Ranger, Franson all gone due to UFA/RFA/request for trade

Sign Gardiner, McClement and Bernier to min 3yr contracts

Gardiner then along with Kadri used in trade. McClement also traded

Coach = gone (was not a Nonis hire)

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#11 Chris
April 06 2014, 08:52AM
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kesselkadri wrote:

I have to agree with you this team doesn't get it. And the problem is not Reimer or the goalie. And not the problem is Nonis and not even Carlyle.

The problem the leafs skaters is the forwards and defenders who just can't play a team defence game. The leafs need more skilled gritty defensive minded players with a sprinkling of toughness.

Um, isn't it the responsibility of the coach to put the players in a position to play a team defense game? If it isn't, then what exactly is his job as head coach? Say such witty things as "we just need to breathe" and helmets heat up brains and contribute to concussions.

If you think that Carlyle isn't a major, fixable part of this issue, then I would ask if you've been watching games coupled with looking at advanced stats. If you've been looking at only the game, well congrats, you're qualified to be on the Leafs Management team.

Oh, and Glenn Healy would give up 302 goals this year with his career save percentage and the shots faced this year by the netminders. If you want to say the shot volume isn't a by product of a game plan, I'm curious what causes it. Is it just rotten puck luck? Is it that we try two foot passes below the faceoff dot in our own defensive zone because we collapse (really couldn't we chose a better verb to describe our defensive scheme? Its fitting after the past three years? Gotcha) back to the net, giving us no chance to possess the puck when we leave the zone?

Our head coach has miscast players in roles since he got here. The lack of wanting to keep assets like Grabovski and Macarthur and running them out of town for Dave Bolland and Clarkson (BTW, fascinating to know how those two at a higher cap hit don't project out to be better players, but the lack of analysis by the Leafs really do mean you get what you deserve).

One last question though everyone though. Do you think that if Dave Bolland plays all year, this team is better and makes the playoffs? I don't personally. I think this team with the scheme it ices is destined to be a poor team, not good enough to make the playoffs or lottery. I'd say play the kids the last three games, but we've been want to do that all year, why start now?

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#12 Jeremy Ian
April 06 2014, 09:13AM
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@Darren S.

Quite right; this team needs restructuring. Deep, deep restructuring. It needs to start at the top. First, no reward for the man who has handicapped it by indulging a coach who exploited a few players last year (Dion's punishing minutes, Reimer's heroics, Kessel, JVR, Lupul -- whom he never liked -- et al).

1. One of those buy-outs was stupid. Guess which one? But to use both of them within weeks of each other on the heels of a hard cap was idiotic.

2. The Liles trade was dumb (anyone notice he got 3 points in the killer game vs Dallas? Anyone notice he's a +10 since joining the Canes, a mediocre team?).

3. The Clarkson contract means a handicap on the payroll for many years. Signed AFTER a hard cap contract. Mirtle's analysis of the structure of the contract is an eye-opener.

No manager in a competitive business should be rewarded for mishandling scarce resources the way Nonis has. Fire him.

Then fire the coaches. All of them. Leadership starts behind the bench. It has to. There is no leadership there. Just poor judgement. Carlyle is a tunneler -- he sticks to his plan; when faced with adversity, he doubles down. And his juniors are no better. The "motivational coach" who humiliated Kadri in front of the cameras for not knowing what his garbled vocabulary meant is NOT MOTIVATING!

Then the new management needs to do a serious assessment of its threats and opportunities. One great thing about the Leafs? It's not all that mysterious. After so much crappy hockey, there's an abundance of evidence.

Chief threat: defense that's confused the concept with something else -- only I can't figure out what that something else is.

Chief opportunity: elements of an offensive core, good goaltending, and two promising blue-liners.

The rest is on the block.

But in terms of sequence, it has to start at the top and work its way down the system.

I took the Tim video as MLSE as trying to do a PR end run, trying to get out ahead of this catastrophe with some smoke. Yes, I like the sound of an executive who wants to win. But I want him to deliver. He gets to make choices; it's what he's paid to do. Make the choice. If he doesn't, it's just smoke.

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#13 Jeremy Ian
April 06 2014, 09:19AM
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@Chris

I agree with you, totally.

On Bolland, he was awful last night; been weak since he returned. After a year like this, to sign him long-term, esp in light of the Clarkson contract, would be a serious mistake. But in the short run, he should probably not dress because he looks like he's not recovered. If you can't play 100% and the team's out of contention, why bother?

The problem with bringing up the young guys is that Carlyle is not a good developmental coach. But the principle is right.

The Dineen chorus is sounding good these days.

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#14 rottentomatoes
April 06 2014, 09:52AM
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Jim wrote:

As pathetic as that display of 'hockey' was tonight, this interview with Tim Leiweke does give me a faint ray of hope. Worth a listen.

http://mapleleafshotstove.com/2014/04/04/tim-leiweke-on-george-stroumboulopoulos-tonight/

Thanks for posting this interview. If you're a Tim Leiweke skeptic, you should definitely watch this. It does give hope. (Forget the cup parade comment he made in the summer, that was said with a double entendre)

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