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Photo Credit: David Berding-USA TODAY Sports

Dubas speaks, but doesn’t say what we want to hear

Kyle Dubas spoke with the media today, and since he wasn’t announcing the firing of Mike Babcock, a trade for a generational defensive talent that will fix special teams and defense, or a loophole in the CBA that would allow them to spend millions more on the roster, it’s safe to say that he didn’t say what we wanted to hear.

Probably the most controversial topic that has been shared from the press availability is the vote of confidence given to Cody Ceci. In many ways I think this may be what leads a large portion of Leafs fans to acknowledge that Kyle Dubas isn’t perfect.

On the other hand, this is could also be a GM finding some silver linings on a crappy player and not wanting to publicly throw him under the bus or damage his trade value.

What Dubas said about Ceci’s numbers are correct, he hasn’t been too bad. He’s had clearly bad games, generally the numbers tell a story that Ceci has been good.

That being said, your eyes should be telling you that Cody Ceci has been playing like ass. He makes poor decisions and is nowhere near as strong positionally as a defense first player needs to be. When people are looking for someone to blame on what’s wrong with the Leafs, maybe that’s not the time to stick up for Cody Ceci.

Additionally to those numbers, I think there’s a little tale to be told about Quality of Teammates. It may be something to properly quantify, but a strong partner like Rielly helps Ceci. Being on the ice primarily with the Tavares or Matthews line definitely helps Ceci, especially from an expected goals perspective.

I think that there were plenty of people willing to give Ceci the benefit of doubt and want to believe that having a weak partner in Ottawa was holding him back, but sometimes you find an outlier. For years Marincin was an outlier who failed the eye test and had great numbers, and this seems to be the case with Ceci as well. He’s gotsta go.

This is another attempt at saying the right thing. Dubas is not going to talk about replacing Kaskisuo before he even gets in his first game. And acting rushed and frantic about finding a goaltender would probably drive the price up when Dubas does go to acquire one. As it is, the Leafs have enough of a stink of desperation that Toronto will be in an overpay situation and that’s not ideal, so perhaps crossing our fingers on Kaskisuo is the best course of action.

Earlier today I wrote about how the twenty game trend for the Leafs is that they’ve been bad. It’s not a collection of highs and lows, it’s a valley of lows with a couple of peaks when playing against non-playoff teams. This is concerning.

I’ll hand it to Dubas on this one, as he pointed to a game where they lost the right way. Against St. Louis they had a 63% CF, a 67% xGF and came at the Blues aggressively with every line of their roster. They lost because of a hot goaltender, not their mistakes. That is the team the Leafs want to be, but unfortunately what we saw against the Islanders is better representation of what they’ve been this year.

Yes! Please! I don’t want to hear what Drew Doughty has to say either, but here’s the deal on it. They are getting asked and speaking out because the Leafs are underperforming. Get the Leafs playing the way you want them to successfully and I’m willing to bet that goes away.

As someone who wants to believe in the process and model of team that Dubas is striving for, I still have my doubts that it is the team and model that Mike Babcock wants to coach. There is an imbalance from not being on the same page and the way players are being utilized and how the lineup card is constructed is probably the simplest example of that.

Unfortunately the honeymoon period is over for Dubas, and while he may have a process that preaches patience, those of us without the luxury of seeing the blueprints are left looking a Kadri trade which set the team back, player contracts which have tied the hands of the organization, and level of commitment to a coaching staff that doesn’t seem particularly enthused about what he’s given them to work with.

The Leafs might not be to a point of no return on the season yet and perhaps the tone many of us have taken makes it seem as such, but the absolute reality is that by any measure this team has underperformed in every aspect of the game, and nothing said today inspired any confidence that things will change anytime soon.