Losing streak confirms this team just isn’t good enough

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Photo Credit: Jerome Miron/USA TODAY SPORTS

Look, I’m not saying that the season’s over. But they’re on a losing streak when they really can’t be, and they’ve done so in a highly, highly embarrassing way. They’re clearly not good enough to do any sort of damage on any sort of big stage. How can you still have any faith in them?

I mean, come on, did you see that game the other night? You give up six goals, against those guys? Then, to make matters worse, you follow up that game by stretching the losing streak further and scoring just one goal in the next one?

I’m just starting to wonder about the big three now. Sure, the one that the lottery balls let them pick first is amazing, and the one who would’ve gone first in any other year sometimes shows flashes of being just as good if not better, but the third guy on the wing? Maybe we need to talk more about him; maybe he’s not the kind of help the team needed, and I’ve also heard Toronto media guys say that he’s not a great quote, so that doesn’t help me connect to him quickly.

Look, all I know is that we’re looking at four regulation losses in a row here and a record for 2-6-3 in the last eleven games and-

But seriously, though, a three-game regulation losing streak? One goal against St. Louis in the third game? We all expected more. This is a dynamic offensive team, and I swear we were just talking about this group as the model as to how hockey teams are built. I just can’t see it here.

How can you pump a team’s tires in that way if they’re losing games at a key time like this? Yeah, whatever, tell me that there’s an experienced coach behind the bench that will settle things down, but I can’t see them being able to do it quick enough to turn it around come playoff time. Especially since they’ll probably lose the next game too.

Let’s get to the point, here. It’s time to accept that some bad predictions happened and they might not be Actually Good. I know the Corsi Stats are in their favour, but they might just be an inexperienced team. Everything tends to stay the same with this group; no cups since 1967, and it’s been like a decade since they’ve even won a playoff round. Don’t get me started on that streak of misses, either, or the tank years. It just never works out for them.

I know people have been excited a while about this being one of the up and coming , but a lot of these guys have been around this team for a while and, while they’re having good years, it’s hard to imagine that they’re the real deal; especially that centre that they drafted years ago and is suddenly getting recognition as a great two-way guy. Sure, he seems great, but is he actually a winner? It sure hasn’t looked like it yet. Not to mention, this group of defencemen? Nobody really jumps out at you name wise, save for one guy. Having one really good defenceman is great, but are you really going to put your hopes in a 22-year-old?

Here’s the reality. It’s February, and this team is in a clear slump after starting off pretty well. It’s very clear that they’re not ready; what else do you want me to say about a team that’s played like this? Some people are talking about grabbing another big piece, that’s offensively driven, at the deadline. Did you not just watch the three games prior? It sounded good for a while, but it’s clearly crazy talk.

The team isn’t ready yet. They need more time, no matter what your spreadsheets tell you. Squeaking into the playoffs and getting swept in the first round is going to do you no favours.

I’m just skeptical of Mike Babcock. I’ve been following this original-six team for a very long time and I was told that this guy was of a new breed. But he’s falling into the same habits as coaches of old. There’s too much talent on this team to be collapsing like this; maybe we’re overrating this guy?

After all, I really thought last year’s team was better than the results they got, but as the season ended, Randy Carlyle seemingly got the last laugh. Now, this year. Maybe it’s the curse of Brett Lebda or something, but I just don’t see it.

Maybe the age of this team is a factor. Because it’s February now, and they’ve hit a complete and total wall. The Dallas game, in particular, was a bit of an embarrassment, they made this “world class offence” look completely useless.

Ten losses in eleven games. I had to go back eighteen years to find a season that this team has had where they picked up fewer points, and I bet they would’ve won one of those ties in the shootout. I had to go back four more to find a 10-in-11 streak. Maybe we’re putting too much stock into his powers; I don’t think he should be fired or anything, and he’s probably fine, but can we stop saying he’s one of the great coaches until he proves it?

  • Tommy

    I like the sarcasm Jeffler. This team will go through ups and downs as its a young team. The issues has mostly been on effort and lack of intensity. Two of the things which were a major positive in the season. I think they will be fine, but they need start working like we have seen before.

  • LukeWarmWater

    You have to realise that a lot of young journalists and fans only a few weeks ago had convinced themselves, that the rebuild could be done in one or two years. No siree we don’t need the youngsters to learn the ways of the N.H.L. particularly how the good teams just step up a couple of levels in the second half. Case in point, the Canucklehead management and their home boy station had their delusional fans thinking they were playoff bound. Well the Sharks came into town for their first game against the going nowheresville Canuckleheads and kicked the shit out of them. They have four more against the talented Sharks.The Canucks next face the Wild and their very good team and then travel on the road for six where they have won 6 road games all year.

    But this is what the Bettman’s and the M.L.B. commissioner want, namely PARITY. So you still have hope heading to valentines day or in the case of baseball teams now play meaningful games in Septbember with the extra wild card spots. Owners don’t have to improve their team greatly, they just have to improve their bottom line by increasing ticket prices and other revenue generating sources.

    M.L.S.E. I’m convinced finally clued in that a total, total rebuild had to be done. Bring in winners such as leaping Lou, Mark Hunter and Babcock. Then draft wisely hope for some breaks and then wait and wait some more as the leafs outstanding crew of youngsters gain the oh so valubable needed experience. So simply be prepared for streaks like this in this season, next year until the rebuild is completed in 3 or 4 more years. Sorry folks it is just the way it its.

  • tealeaves

    Great job jeffler. But I’m disappointed that you didn’t even point out that Hunwick clearly and single handedly caused the leafs loss versus the Blues last night.

  • STAN

    Meantime, trade deadline 2016-17 is 25 days away and one respected reporter/analyst suggests the Leafs try to pry D-man Brandon Montour from Anaheim. He’s average size (6′, 190), but shoots right and seems to have some upside. Any thoughts on whether he should be a target now or in June/July?

    • LukeDaDrifter

      Brandon Montour
      Defense — shoots R
      Born Apr 11 1994 — Ohsweken, ONT
      [22 yrs. ago]
      Height 6.00 — Weight 192

      2016-17 San Diego Gulls AHL 33 games played – 11 goals -18 assists

      From Hockey’s Future

      Talent Analysis

      Montour is an offensively-inclined defenseman whose style of play can make him a bit of a risk, but he has become very good at anticipating when to jump up into the play and when to exercise caution. A late bloomer, he was drafted in his third year of eligibility following a strong USHL season. He skates and passes well and is strong with the puck. Defensively, his play in his own end is still a work in progress but should improve as he gains experience and strength.

      Future

      Montour is skating for new Anaheim AHL affiliate San Diego in 2015-16. In his first season of pro hockey, he is the leading scorer among Gulls’ defensemen. Montour has been dominant at times but his positional play is still evolving. His risk taking can sometimes get him in bad spots ā€” whether it’s taking undisciplined penalties or getting caught out of position. With his combination of offensive instincts and drive to score, Montour projects as a player capable of causing havoc from the back end of the attack and running an NHL power play effectively. With added bulk and strength and refined positional play he has a high upside.

  • Jeremy Scott

    Lets have a look at the defence.. Morgan Reilly is having a bad year, Jake Gardnier is the turn over king. The new Russian guy.. Is a good pick up.. Polak, slow as molasses, Hunwick.. garbage. Marincin shouldn’t be any where in the NHL.. Frankie Corrado needs to just go away. Darn good thing we can score

  • AussieBoy

    The last couple of seasons,at this midway point,is where the Leafs have begun the dive…
    So not much has changed in that regard.
    There will be pain,there will be blood and other movie titles that escape me…
    But i’m still gonna watch,even if the 18 wheeler goes off the cliff.
    Glutton for punishment=Leafs fan.
    Having said that,it’s just three games guys…..It could shift as soon as another win happens.
    Let’s hope they kick some Bruin Butt,so they can begin the upswing again.

    Here’s a fun[but alternative] fact: The Leafs won the last three games.

    Giggidy.

      • LukeWarmWater

        I do feel sorry for Frankie but heh you got to prove you can play at the N.H.L. level which both the Canucks and leafs not exactly powerhouses over the past few years felt could crack their top 6 defencemen.

        Now Frankie doesn’t need a fund raiser as I believe he is making $600,000.00 and he probably despite rotting in the press box has a sense of humour. So speaking of humour maybe I’ll send him Bill Murray’s classic Ground Hog day.

  • al m

    Nice read`~!
    I’m quite happy to lose a few games around this time. With some talk of Kadri for Selke, greatest young core, genius coach etc…good time to ease back to reality and just enjoy the ride that a rebuild is. Most enjoyable season in many years to follow along.

    • LukeWarmWater

      Exactly al m. I’m still shaking here having to watch the Raptors puke all over my t.v. set for the umpteenth time in the past month. The leafs have been a young, fast skating, entertaining and improving hockey club.