Don’t Panic

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.

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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).

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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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  • CoryNewb

    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.

    • You know what they need to clinch? Their teeth…and start working their a**es off when they have the puck.

      Caputi can’t skate. The only reason he got fifty in junior is because his linemates were Michael Swift and Andrew Merrett. Guy is not an NHL player…may never be.

      Kadri learned in London under Dale “No defence” Hunter. The only thing he’s going to develop with the Marlies is frustration. Get him in the NHL. He can learn just as well here as there…and he can’t be any worse offensively than what the Leafs are icing now.

  • 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.

  • 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.

    • I am still undecided about Kessel’s value. Problem is, he’s only 23 years old. Probably too young to fully assess yet. But the fact that he hasn’t scored since October 26th v. Florida is deeply concerning.

      Tomas Kaberle has always been as big a defensive liability as a potentially offensive contributor. Because he’s paired with Luke Schenn, Kabby can play the offensive role to Schenn’s “stay back” style. If it was up to me, I’d simply give him a train ticket to nowhere and a nice, firm handshake.