Friday night in Washington DC the Leafs lost their fourth straight game. While their "compete" level was a hell of a lot better than it was the night before in Carolina, they still lost.
In the four losses the Leafs have been outscored by a combined 21-7.
Which begs the question; how many more games do the Leafs have to lose until the fans breakout the "bag of shame".
The level of angst among the Leafs Nation is at DefCon 3.
So now what?
Well the Leafs have 14 games to play before the Olympic Break. Seven are at the ACC and seven are at the road.
No matter how angry Leafs fans are with the effort and the results that they are seeing I can’t see Dave Nonis doing anything as drastic as firing Randy Carlyle before the Olympic break.
There is also the possibility that Nonis does nothing at all with Carlyle and allows the season, for better or worse, to play out as is.
That will mean more nights were Dion Phaneuf lollygags back into his own zone instead of husting back and get the puck.
That means more nights were the goaltending is average at best, or even weak.
That means nights were nobody appears interesting in playing and they lose every battle for a loose puck.
That means more nights were it looks like none of the players are listening to Carlyle.
So if Nonis isn’t going to fire Carlyle then that means he will have to make a trade if he wants to shake things up.
There once was a time when Colton Orr served a purpose on the Leafs. Not anymore. As James Mirtle of the Globe and Mail pointed out on Twitter the other night opposing teams are just not engaging Orr and the Leafs in as many fisticuffs as they were last year. The Leafs will be better served having a fourth line that actually can play 10 effective minutes every night than what we are seeing right now.
The absence of a big, first line centre is killing the Leafs. I keep hearing some pundits talk about how Nonis needs to go out get a winger or a defenceman.
If Nonis makes a move like that he will not have addressed their most pressing need; a highly skilled top end centre.
As Doug MacLean is fond of saying, "they aren’t easy to find". No they are not but that is what Nonis is being paid to do as the GM of the Leafs; go out and provide the team with enough talent so that they can contend year after year,.
While the Leafs are mired in a slump other teams in the Eastern Conference are heating up. The Flyers are beating every team that comes to Philly and led by Claude Giroux they have completely turned their season around. The Rangers have quietly turned their season around as well and at the time of writing this, they are a wild card team in the East.
Is all hope lost? Is it time to crank up the T-34’s and revive the tank nation?
In a simple answer, not yet. It isn’t quite time to re-enact the battle of Kursk and hope that the Leafs end up with a lottery pick.
The next 14 games will determine whether or not to unleash the tanks and start showing up to games wearing a "bag of shame".
If the Leafs go into the Olympic break as one of the two Wild Card teams in the East then you can forget about the tank nation.
But if the losing continues and the Leafs find themselves below .500 and at least 8 points out of a Wild Card then it is time to start preparing for the NHL entry draft.
In the meantime I am preparing for the worse when the Leafs host the Devils Sunday night at the ACC. This way if they lose again it won’t hurt as much and if they win it will be an unexpected bonus.
Why am I expecting the worse you ask?
Well the Leafs were 16-11 and 3 on December seventh after they beat the Sens in a shoot-out. The Leafs are 5-9 and 2 since then. Only two of those wins were in regulation time.
Could it get better?
Sure it could.
Could it get even worse?
You bet your "bag of shame" it can.