December 19 2013 01:01PM
I don't know what it will take for the Toronto Maple Leafs to break out of this funk. All I can really say is that the current course doesn't feel right. The prolonged slump (we're over a month now) is currently leading the general manager of the organization to spout out excuses over the radio.
No, the team probably won't play at a 63-point pace from now until the end of the season. That sort of record is reserved for lottery teams and teams stuck in perpetual rebuild modes. The Leafs are still a team whose true talent probably puts them somewhere around .500. Hopefully, we never do get a chance to find out just how bad this slump can get, and alarm bells start going off, forwards start giving defencemen shorter options on passes and the Leafs change from a defensive zone strategy that doesn't lead to players getting wide open in the slot. It's possible to win in the NHL even if your team is getting out-shot, but it's a lot harder if you try to make your fast players play slow and your slow players play fast.
Hence the title. I'm just waiting on the epiphany. The urgency should have set in sometime in April last year when the team won just two of its final six and got massively out-shot. Then came the Boston series, the Leafs were a much better team, and then that progress was wasted. Thankfully, this game against Phoenix doesn't look so bad as it did a month ago. At one point the Coyotes were 13-4-2, but they've gone 5-6-3 since. Regression hurts a lot of clubs, as we'll see below.
December 19 2013 11:20AM
I received a tweet about Nikolai Kulemin that got me thinking today...
December 18 2013 03:12PM
'Til it's gone.
December 18 2013 01:28PM
I've gotten into some discussions recently about whether the Leafs' injuries provide a valid excuse for their recent record. The popular one is that the Leafs slide began at the start of November, after David Bolland went down to injury in Vancouver with the Leafs record at 10-4-0. Since? Toronto has gone just 7-12-3 with just three wins in regulation, and their lineup has been further exasperated with the removal of Tyler Bozak and the constant sufferings of Joffrey Lupul.
Well, not really. There's been somewhat of a pattern in the Leafs' injuries this season that make it fairly likely that one guy being out would account for a disproportionate share of team victories.
December 17 2013 08:24PM
Is there any good news to glean from the Leafs most recent loss to the Florida Panthers? Well, at last check, the New York Islanders were up 2-0 on the Tampa Bay Lightning, which might improve the Maple Leafs' lottery processes.
Throughout the game, the broadcast showed images of Randy Carlyle furiously scribbling away on a whiteboard and nobody on the Leafs bench seemed to really pay attention to him. That's sort of become the theme for Toronto. Randy Carlyle is just flat out of answers. He benched Jake Gardiner for an extended period of time against the Florida Panthers because of one giveaway, yet never feels the need to hold other Maple Leafs players accountable for the same rare moments of lapses.
As it turns out, the giveaway by Gardiner was elementary. The Toronto Maple Leafs demon on Tuesday night again, was familiar. This team can't score, and this team can't score because it was put together by an inept management group that favoured intangibles and birthplace over talent and production. It was 3-1 Florida, but who cares.