Post-game review: Toronto vs. Ottawa – Game 1

Overall, this was one hell of a game, and I was extremely pleased with the effort the Toronto Maple Leafs put in tonight, both offensively and defensively. The Leafs first line of Antropov, Sundin, and Blake showed chemistry, while the Stajan, Steen, Ponikarovski line also showed some spark.
Defensively, I was quite impressed with the tandem of Gill and Wozniewski, considering the horrible review they got on the TSN pre-game. The Alfredsson, Heatley, Spezza line was relatively non-existent until half way through the 3rd period, which was highlighted by a horrible game by Jason Spezza. Alfredsson was alright, while Danny Heatley showed why he deserves a 6 year, 45 million dollar contract. Now to the goaltending. Let’s start with the easy stuff. Gerber played a half-decent game, although I’m sure he would like to have Stajan’s goal back. Barring that, however, Gerber stepped up quite well in his first game of the 2007-2008 season, although there is quite a large room for improvement (especially if he’s looking to take Emery’s job away from him).

Now, moving on to the main issue… Andrew Raycroft. I must state, before I continue on, I have quite a bias opinion of this goaltender. I hated the fact that he was compared to Ed Belfour (37 Wins), I still hate the fact that Toronto gave up Tukka Rask for him, and I hate Leafs TV’s EXTREMELY bias defensive tactics concerning Raycroft. Regardless, an analysis of his play in this game is required. The first two goals were absolutely brutal, especially Alfredsson’s lackadaisically lobbed wrist shot. Heatley’s first goal, the tying goal, was relatively impossible to stop, but the overtime goal (scored, again, by Danny Heatley) was a poor positional play. It seemed, for a while, that after allowing two softies, Raycroft settled into his own, and made quite a few tough saves. He was starting to gain some respect from me again (after surrendering two horrendous goals), until I was devastated by Danny Heatley’s five hole shot in overtime. I just don’t understand it. A pass is coming across. There are no other intended targets, except Heatley, who is tied up with Chad Kilger, and yet you don’t position yourself to the possible shooter, paddle down, legs closed, and in the butterfly stance. Then I thought for a while (not really). Raycroft, is a back-up goaltender. He played like crap last year, and he played like crap in this years pre-season. Which brings me to my point. Why did he get the start over Toskala? Some say to save hometown embarassment, others say to create competition, etc. I don’t care! You bought Toskala as a number one goaltender (at least JFJ did) and your showing doubt already, in the season opener, which has tremendous importance (way to instill confidence in your new goalie Maurice). Now you go into Ottawa, where Ottawa’s raising there Eastern Conference Championship banner, and the Sen’s fans will be all over Toskala (because of his struggles in the pre-season). I can hear it now; “Toskala! Toskala! Toskala”.

What pissed me off even more was Paul Maurice’s, as well as the Leafs TV hosts ability to deflect any criticism of Andrew Raycroft, with references to the ‘positives’ of the game. Listen, your team has lost the last hand full of home openers to Ottawa, you only got one point (which is what you missed out on the playoffs last year with), you’ve started out badly on your home stand, and you have confusion between two goaltenders, who weren’t of superstar quality to begin with. Is it me, or is any other Leaf fan angry about the fact that Maurice is treating Toskala and Raycroft like their Giguere and Bryzgalov, or, previously, Nabokov and Toskala. The Leafs do not have a 1 and 1A goaltending system, but, rather, a starting and back-up system which has yet to be acknowledged or established. What furthers my anger is the way Maurice organized the pre-season schedules between Toskala and Raycroft. Toskala gets stuck with rookie filled rosters who gave little to no effort, compared to Raycroft, who had the assistance of a starting roster short a few players.

It could just be my bias surfacing again, but it seems to me that Paul Maurice has shown a bit of favoritism towards Raycroft so far, and if he intends to continue with a 1 and 1a goaltending system (more like 1a and 2b), the Leafs are surely doomed for disaster, or, at the very least, a tough march to the last playoff spot (barely).

46 Responses to Post-game review: Toronto vs. Ottawa – Game 1

  1. the_word says:

    Leafs blow a third period lead and loss in overtime on a soft goal. Is TSN going to show the 07-08 season, or simply repeats from last season, I thought LeafsTV had the syndication rights for Leafs last year's games. But Leafs were over matched by the Sens and game solid.

    I liked the puck possession of the Sundin's line, Woz and Gill looked good, the Leafs were ok in their own zone (got their sticks on a lot of pucks for turnovers) but gave up too many odd man rushes. Can't fault Raycorft, he made a lot of big saves last night. Liked that the Leafs rattled Redden. Overall a lot of positives despite playing their 1B goaltender.

  2. jarcpitre says:

    Overall the Leafs played a good game, blocked and broke up alot of plays. Woz and Gill did an excellent job on the Heatly line because of their reach I believe, definetly not Gill's skating ability. Raycroft was Raycroft, he was simply average, Alfie's goal was soft and then 2 five hole goals. I am extremely excited with the play of Blake, I thought he was easily the fastest skater on the ice for both teams, but Vermette was fast too I must say. The top 2 lines were solid and I can't wait to see Wellwood and Bell to give Toronto 3 solid lines with Kilger, Deveraux and Bates forming the 4th line.

  3. nordiques100 says:

    same old story.

    the third goal was brutal. a complete team effort in futility. a very soft clear out attempt was easily kept in by the ottawa D. of course the ottawa D was left to gain that position to pinch and keep  the play alive because the toronto forwards covering the point were once again soft. hammering it off the glass is ok. taking an icing is ok. the leafs need to get that in their head. they need to figure out that the backhanded flip pass up the middle is simply not going to get the job done.

    once the puck was kept in, the circus began. all the leafs completely lost the ability to defend and didnt know who to cover. they started chasing the puck carrier all over the zone leaving people open. fine if thats mcgrattan or some other stiff who cant score. not fine if its heatley you leave alone. the save would have been difficult, but something raycrfot needs to deliver at least once.  dont believe he ever has made the big save as a leaf.

    sound familiar?? happened a few times last night. happened hundreds of times the last two years.

    raycroft can definitely be blamed fully for 1 of the goals. the goal by alfredsson which led to raycroft looking up to the skies with body language that says "i shoulda had that". well if you should have had it, then make the damn save. its that simple. the leafs better be prepared for 1 softie a night from raycrfot.

    but i wont go as far as others to blame him entirely for all 4 goals and the loss.

    kaberle gets the blame for the first goal. i mean it doesnt say much when the team's best mobile defenceman gets burned that badly when initially he was in front of the ottawa forward. no excuse for him to get flat footed and creating a point blank chance for vermette. shouldnt have had that chance to begin with so you really cant say taht was raycroft's fault completely. i know if that was mccabe getting caught flat footed everyone would be over him but absolutely NO ONE ever says a bad thing about kaberle. i'm not going to play favorites. he screwed up and cost the leafs the first goal plain and simple.

    the OT goal was not good either.  this was all kilger's fault. lots of leaf fans love kilger cause he is big and physical and started to like him more after a good training camp. then tell me, why is it that he was sooooooooo soft on heatley allowing him to get a free shot on net? the excuse was he didnt want to take a penalty. well everyone beams about kilger as a big man who can skate. well use your feet and get in better position then. use your size to take heatley's stick. its the recurring symptoms that plague the leafs yearly.

    there were good things. blake looked great and really gives the leafs something they have not had in quite some time. a true burner. i dont recall any during the fletcher/quinn years. i thikn we'd have to go back to rusty courtnall to find the last leaf with those kind of wheels.

    stajan and steen look to be in much better shape and seem stronger out there this year. steen was way more willing to get into the trenches and stajan showed some heart taking a pounding from volchenkov and scoring the 3rd leaf goal. it was good to see pony play well with someone not named sundin or antropov.

    tucker was garbage. probably should have kept the top line together for the PP instead of putting tucker in for antropov. they have no net presence. i think they may have squeezed at least 1 PP goal if they had a screen. tucker and blake's PP game is too much the same for both to be there. the shorthanded chances given up were not a good sign.

    Happy with the PK. it was a mix of the sens big guns kinda playing dopey and the leafs really working much harder to gain possession. they wanted the puck more.

    overall, effort was there and that was good, they just didnt have enough skill to compete with the sens who as we saw can have a few players (this time heatley) break open the game at any time.

  4. raine_kalisz says:

    I don't know why everyone's on Raycroft so hard.  None of the goals were that bad.  Vermette was coming with such speed that he had to back up and just got caught on the shot.   Alfreddson was coming off a screen so woulda been hard to pick up, and the other two were pretty damn good goals.

    As for the positives.  I thought Kubina played an excellent game, a nice combo of solid def and good offense.  The two top lines were excellent. Back to the bad, McCabe I would trade a bag of peanuts for.  He was brutal defensively and even on the powerplay he was botching pass after pass or losing the puck in his skates or something equally rediculous.  And Tucker also showed he's a real waste of money.  He didn't bring anything to the table 5 on 5 and kept getting knocked over or turning the puck over.  He always seemed behind the play and on the powerplay he was just brutal, missing passes, giving bad passes and just looking completely out of place.  And I didn't think the 4th line showed the kind of jump and physical punch that an energy line should bring.  Sure they got a couple fights but they both looked like half hearted affairs where they were scared of hurting themselves or redden.


    I dont really see why everyone is getting down on the Leafs… I thought your top line looked better than it has in well like 15 years? Sundin and Blake looked dangerous on many occasions last night and to top that off Antropov is converting chances to goals…

    What I think many Leafs fans are overlooking is that the Ottawa Senators are the best team in the east… and simply put the leafs are not even in the top 5… to lose in OT to the Sens is not really something you should be getting all pissed off at Raycroft about…

    I thought he played a decent enough game… He made a lot of saves through a stretch of Ottawa dominance to keep the game tied… then defensive breakdown lead to the game being tied… and What the hell was Kilger (?) doing when the puck came across the Heatley in OT? he didnt even have his stick tied up? Thats not Raycrofts fault.. that BAD DEFENSE… not only BAD DEFENSE but BAD DEFENSE against arguably one of the most dangerous shooters to ever play the game…

    All and all I think if the leafs top line plays like that for the entire season, the leafs will be in the post season and Blake may actually get 40 goals…

    I must say for the first time in 2 years I am excited to see this rivalry again… good hockey.

  6. the_word says:

    Aetherial is no longer the most cynical Leafs fan.  Tucker was garbage?  He was pretty marginal, but didn't kill us by any means.  I think the line of Heatly, Spezza and Afflerdson are mobile enough to cause their opponents to get out of position (its an issue that isn't exclusive to Toronto's D), so to suggest that the Leafs defense will be absolutely woesful is premature.

    We love Kilger?  Thats news to me.  I agree with your take on his game though.

  7. senators101 says:

    Giving Toronto all their credit.  They played well last night.  At the same time, Ottawa played extremely poorly and only showed up in the 3rd period.  Here's hoping that tonight will be a little different.

  8. leaffaninva says:

    I was expecting a total blow out last night (even though I'm a leaf fan) with expectations of Heatley, Alfredsson and Spezza domination leading up to a 5-0 decision.  I was however pleasently surprised to witness that the leafs were competative in most areas of the game with a few exceptions.

    First and foremost:  NEED A GOOD POWERPLAY!!!  They leafs had 7 chances and the ones in the 3rd period could have put the game out of reach for the sens.  Now, with Bell & Wellwood's return this area should (theoreticly) improve but untill the Leafs take advantage of the man advantage – they could find themselves hitting the links in April again.

    The defense looked average with regulars such a kaberle and kubina holding their ground however, that sack of S&*% Macabe needs to be called out by his teammates and start looking like someone who earns his salary (look at Heatley).  If the leafs don't shore up their defensive play – you'll see a lot more one on one battles (like the goal by  Vermette) stand out on the TSN highlights.

    The nice thing was the obvious chemistry with the line of Sundin/Antropov/Blake.  This looks like a decent No.1 line that can challenge any defense in the league and start putting up No.1 line points.  Again, when Wellwood and Bell return we should see some better production from the No2 and 3 lines but in the mean time – Sundin's line needs to bring that energy every night to give them a shot in the East.

  9. senators101 says:

    I, unfortunately, didn't catch much of the game, but your top line looks like it will be tough.  Antropov is big, blake's a goalscorer, and Sundin is quite possibly the hardest player in the NHL to knock off the puck.

  10. muckies says:

    Good News for Leafs Fans – they played a solid game, and have players that are totally willing to execute the coaches game plan.

    Bad News For Lefs – they played a solid game,  and have players that are totally willing to execute the coaches game plan – BUT THEY LOST.

    Ottawa was playing around with the puck way to much – they need to be better as a team and 6 man unit or they won't go far.

  11. nordiques100 says:

    ok tucker did nothing. but i will admit its not all his doing. his linemates were terrible. because he doesnt play that hell on wheels style simply cause his body cant take it, he cant be very effective with 4th line linemates. its more a mark on the leafs lack of depth i guess than tucker himself.

    tucker is a good player, especially with wellwood but with pohl and kilger last night he was a bit non-existent. not really something i like to see from an energetic type of player. he's already a bit shoddy defensively, so if he doesnt bring energy or scoring than he's a nothing player and the leafs cannot afford a 3 million dollar guy to be that…..especially since they have so many others to take that crown.

    my argument about the leafs defence is that people tend to think they are excellent based on the fact they allowed one of the least amount of shots against in the NHL. therefore all blame is placed on tehir goalie. that to me is ignorant. the same defensive zone problems were already evident in the first game of the season. the personnel is the same as well. its a problem with the whole team, not just the goalie which people tend to focus far too much on. they iwn as a team, they lose as one as well. not win as a team, lose because of the goalie.

  12. leafy says:

    Where have all you people been the past 4-6 months?

    I've been saying it for eons that the Leafs missed the playoffs last year primarily because of Raycroft, and will miss the playoffs again this year IF they get similar goaltending this year. 

    I wrote several articles pointing this out, but got bashed mercilessly by the politically correct crowd on this site.  Now people are repeating what I stated in those articles.  It certainly has been a frustrating experience, let me tell you.

    Raycroft is simply not good enough to provide the level of goaltending needed for a team to be successful.  Period.  Let's hope Toskala is.

    For those who STILL defend Raycroft, even Damian Cox points to goaltending as a problem (please see link).  WHAT MORE DO YOU WANT?

  13. nordiques100 says:

    we want you to also acknowledge that the team's defence is prone to breakdowns leading to many unnecessary chances. 3 of the 4 goals were a direct result of that. thats all we're asking.

    raycroft is not good, but its not him alone. collectively the leafs have been a failure on the defensive end.

    do they need better goaltending? of course. but as much as the one soft goal raycroft lets in a game costs the team, so does the failure to clear the puck out and the ensuing panic running around defence that ensues. that usually happens at least once a game as well.

    its a combination of sharper defensive play for a full 60 minutes plus a goalie who can make key saves at key times that is needed.

    not even the greatest goaltending can get you to the playoffs. just ask roberto luongo. with the panthers giving up many good chances, some were bound to go in. with the canucks. the air tight D to go with his superior goaltending turned the nucks into one of the league's best teams.

    hockey from what i learned is a team game. you win as one, you lose as one as well.

  14. I_AM_CANADIAN says:

    My thoughts on the game:

    -Raycroft was his old self; Brilliant at some points, absolutely abysmal at others.  He needs to be more consistent, or he should just be relegated to backup.  We SO should've kept Tellqvist…

    -Sundin was awesome as usual, without Mats we would be lost.  Him and Jason Blake made some nice plays, but unfortunately couldn't finish them.

    -Antropov is looking better than he ever has.  They were saying the Toronto Star how good he looked in camp, now I see what they were talking about.  Hopefully they keep that first line together…

    -Don't trash Maurice, he's doing the best with what he has.  As always, JFJ does the absolute minimum he can in the off-season, Jason Blake is not going to suddenly make us into a contender.  And Raycroft had a good camp according to all reports, and Toskala isn't used to playing in front of a home crowd like Toronto's, so it made sense to start Raycroft in the first game.  I6t sure beats Quinn's insistence on playing Belfour in 05-06 when he was obviously the worst of the three Toronto goalies by then.

  15. leafy says:

    Rubbish.  The Leafs played an overall excellent game last night, as they did many nights last year as well.  Even defensively, they were as good as any reasonable person can expect against one of the most potent offenses in the league.  My point is that even the 1977-78 Montreal Canadiens would not be successful with Raycroft as their goaltender, even with Robinson, Savard and Lapoint on the blueline – because a mediocre goalie will ALWAYS allow soft goals and ALWAYS make the defence look average.  Put another way, Anaheim would not even get past the 1st round with Raycroft, let alone win the Cup, even with Niedermayer and Pronger on defence.  This is the truth.

  16. nordiques100 says:

    so it was raycroft who made mccabe give away the puck at least 5 times last night?

    was it him who created 5-6 excellent chances shorthanded for ottawa?

    was it raycrfot who told kaberle to let vermette pass him for the first goal?

    was it raycroft who didnt clear the puck out initially, who started running around in defensive coverage and who left heatley open on the tying goal?

    was it raycroft who caused kilger to do nothing while standing beside heatley on the winner? was it him who told chad not to take the man?

    like i said, andrew is not good and defintely not blameless, he let in a bad goal, but he alone was not at fault. you're not seeing that.

    these same mistakes have been there since cujo was in net, and belfour and now andrew/vesa. is it personnel? coaching? goaltending? lack of chemistry? lack of trust? probably all of the above not just raycroft and raycroft alone fully and completely.

    hockey is a team game you always win or lose as one. thats not rubbish whatsoever.

  17. nordiques100 says:

    it was kaberle who was posterized on the vermette goal….

  18. nordiques100 says:

    and when i comment on defence, i mean team defence. thats 5 guys working in unity. they had breakdowns. to me thats not "excellent" as you put it.

  19. Habfanforever says:

        I know Leafs fans to be very knowledgable, at least enough to see that the organization and everything surrounding it are embellishing Raycroft to justify trading away Raasl for him. Fact of the matter is, we have yet to see Raask play 1 NHL game and whether or not he'll be dominant remains to be seen. At this point you have to give some props to Raycroft for withstanding constant media and fan bashing while struggling to regain his top-level form. As far as the team goes, not worse than last year but not much improved. They did get Blake but goal scoring wasn't a problem last year, it was their defence. If their defence cannot improve (269 goals against last year, 6th worst leaguewide) they will struggle to make the playoffs and the illusion of poor goaltending will blind leafs nation into more unjustified goalie-bashing, and no,Toskala will not be spared.

  20. rojoke says:

    Are we gonna see 81 more of these damn things?

  21. nordiques100 says:

    tonight a much better defensive effort. no glaring errors like last night.

    but again, no matter who it was in goal, raycroft, toskala, bester, laforest, ing whomever, its not their fault with the penalties. its their teammates. i'm just trying to get the point across that its not all and only the goalie's fault teams lose. its a team effort and everyone is to blame. some people are adamant its clearly 1 player's fault for everything. thats plain wrong.

    if its tennis or golf there is only one person to blame for losing cause those are individual sports. hockey is not. people are not getting it that hockey is a team game and everyone shares in glory and defeat. cant single out one player every game for everything that goes wrong. sure there are goats from game to game, but no way no how 1 player in hockey can cost his team every single loss. thats the supposed right answer by some here and its narrow minded to think that way.

  22. mojo19 says:

    When the leafs were on the PP with 7 minutes left Nik took a terrible penalty, and Kilger took a really unnecessary penalty after too.

    Still Nik was playing so well tonight with all his steals, and when he Blake and Poni were out there the PP generated way more chances then the Sundin-Tucker-Pohl unit, so I was happy to see Maurice just go with the big three on his last PP (even though Nik ended up taking the penalty) I think they're the 3 best players for a power play anyways. Then if he wants to use the same guys the 2nd unit would be Tucker-Pohl-Poni.

    And here's another thing: Someone tell Darcy Tucker the season started, that's two games now that he's been invisible. We need him to play his game and be Sean Avery out there.

  23. LeafsLegacy says:

    Totally irrelavent:

    In my fantasy league I have both Gomez and Demitra. I do not know wether I should take Gomez out and put Demitra cause Im not sure if Gomez is on first line

  24. leafy says:

    Oh really?  Looks like Damian Cox does NOT agree with your assessment on Raycroft's play.  Of course, I've been saying this for 6 months now.  Thought?

  25. leafy says:

    My thoughts on Game 2

    Foremost, don't despair, Leaf fans!  We have a pretty good team and should be good for 100 points this year.

    We just simply started the season with 2 games against one of the top teams.  Many teams are going to lose to Ottawa this year, and yet Toronto easily could have won both games.

    Once again, the team played well overall.  Yes, even the team defence was as good as any reasonable person can expect against one of the most dangerous offensive teams in the NHL.  Good job.  The goaltending in particular was excellent tonight.  I believe Paul Maurice called Toskala's play "fantastic".  This bodes well if we hope to return to the playoffs.

    I like the way Steen and Stajan are playing.  Looks like Stajan is on pace for 82 goals.  (That would put him up there with Espo, Gretzky, Lemieux and Brett Hull.  Think he'll tail off?)  The line appears to be generating offense and is constantly a threat.

    I never thought I'd say this, but Antropov has gradually developed into one of the most valuable players on the team.  He's dangerous in the offensive zone and he's now an amazing penalty killer with his 35 foot wing-span.

    On the downside, I'm starting to worry about Tucker.  That's not the Darcy Tucker we know and love.  I think he has something wrong with him, like an undisclosed injury.  Also, Sundin does not look as smooth and as fast as he used to.  I know he scored tonight, surpassing Sittler's record for goals, but that's not the real Sundin.  I'm wondering whether his hip is bothering him.  Hopefully, he can still do well despite his aging body.

    I predict our first win on Saturday against the Habs…that is, if Toskala plays.  If Raycroft gets the start, all bets are off.

  26. nordiques100 says:

    yeah i thought he played a garbage game yesterday too. he seems lost in the shuffle with all those penalties to kill off which he doesnt do. and he and blake have not meshed on the PP as they are the same types of player with the same kind of size.

    he's had garbage linemates though. pohl has been invisible while kilger has been wildly inconsistent. they are absolutely horrible defensively as a unit and are a major liability.

    tucker could be hurt as well. he'd play unless he is dead but he's probably protecting himself preventing him from playing that game. however i think he has shyed away from those antics the last couple of years as he seems to think he is a top line player and scorer instead of the energizer bunny we saw in his early leaf years.

  27. nordiques100 says:

    i did read the article. i have already said countless times raycroft is not good and his biggest fault is not making key saves at key times.

    however in my own opinion i just do not think everything and anything that goes wrong for the leafs on the ice and in the standings is completely his fault. that is all i am trying to point out.

    he is partially to blame, as is the coaching staff, management, his teammates.

    you honestly cannot tell me raycroft is to blame for things like the countless needless penalties, opponents walking around the defencemen, forwards playing soft on the boards, teammates meekly flipping the puck in an attempt to get it out of the zone and failing, countless turnovers, missing open nets, watching and not taking out 50 goal scorers standing in the slot, not getting an adequate backup when it was known prior to xmas that the coach lost all confidence and was going to bury his backup on the bench forever.

    a series and combination of events have come together and led to the leafs failures and disappointments. its not just one guy.

    he played his part in the teams failure i dont doubt that at all. but that doesnt mean everyone else on the team is blameless and carries a spotless mistake free innocent record and deserves praise. its a team effort as i have been saying good or bad. they failed the last two years or 40 years really. they failed as a team, not one guy.

  28. leafy says:

    We already know all that.  This is a team game, so certainly there is not one guy to blame.

    However, in the case of Raycroft, if he is not the only problem, he is certainly the primary problem.  Is that not a fair statement, yes or no?

    Furthermore, the way you describe the Leafs' play, it sounds like you're talking about the 1984-85 Leafs, when in fact, just about everyone who saw the first 2 games has said the Leafs have played extremely well, including media personnel and Maurice himself.  WHAT MORE DO YOU WANT?

  29. nordiques100 says:

    they did play well. but can they play this way when columbus or florida roll into town? thats been their downfall the last couple of years. the leafs are a team that has to scratch and claw every night yet take teams for granted with absolutely garbage efforts. if they can keep up their play in the first two games, then indeed they will do fairly well.

    the leafs are nowhere near able to do what ottawa did on wednesday and even tonight in some parts and get completely overwhelmed and outplayed yet show up for like 5 minutes and win the game. the leafs do not have that talent. we'll see if maurice can keep his guys playing with a strong effort each night.

    would help if there werent so many passengers. tucker leads that brigade. he may indeed be hurt. but if he cant play his game, why bother playing? its early, i rather have him rest and get healed if it is that bad of an injury where slightest bumps knock him down and taking the body is not an option.

    but i think its more to do with inept linemates (pohl and kilger are huge defensive liabilities and do nothing on offence) and the fact that with all the penalties he isnt getting much regular shifts.

    biggest thng you missed. GOTTA STAY OUT OF THE PENALTY BOX!!!

    dumb lazy and sometimes selfish penalties. they're asking for trouble if they give 7-8 PPs a night. nik's wing span cant kill them all off.

    sorry i do have to say this to you: cant really blame the goalie no matter who it is for the penalty box parade.

  30. leafy says:

    You raise several really good points.  I agree that the Tucker-Pohl-Kilger line has vast room for improvement, but I really believe Tucker is hurt.  It is unlike him to be a "passenger", he's as competitive as they get.

    It's also possible they might not sustain this level of play against weaker teams.  But I think this year is different, because the Leafs this year have something they haven't had in a while: Depth!  When Woz, Stralman and Kronvall are you're number 7, 8 and 9 defencemen, you have pretty good depth on D.  Plus, they have guys like Gamache, Salamiman (Tlusty?), etc, as fallback forwards, which is nothing to sneeze at.  I think Toronto's depth this year will allow them to play well on a more consistent basis.

    As for the panalties, it's certainly true that you need to keep them minimal.  I'm not sure of last year's stats on Toronto's penalties, if we took more than other teams.  But remember this:  THE TEAMS BEST PENALTY KILLER SHOULD ALWAYS BE THE GOALIE!!!  The major reason why the leafs penalty killing dropped from around 15th in the league to 27th last year!

  31. nordiques100 says:

    i can have my own opinion can i not? i mean this started with a goal by goal recollection from wednesday night with completely the focus being on what raycroft did wrong. indeed he erred on several occasions. but i had to point out the other factors that led to all 4 of those goals. its my point of view.

    just because the media outlets say one thing, does not mean that its the only thing that is right. we've all at some point disagreed with the things they have said. as for maurice. his troops have played well. but i dont always agree with what he says and does either. i'm pretty sure all of us do not assume maurice to be perfect in any way. many certainly didnt agree with maruice's decision to start andrew in game 1. i do agree with him saying his team played well cause they really did. but thats not going to stop me from making my own opinions.

    i am offering my own opinion on this game and what happened. i have already stated countless times raycroft is at fault. the primary problem idea does have merit but there has been far too much blinding criticism of raycroft with the entire focus just on him.

    i was only merely attempting to offer another look at the proceedings. i not only blame raycroft for not just the errors in the last game but other games but i have also chosen to post some of the blame on the ineptitude of his teammates. the evidence is there.

    like for example the team could be playing wonderfully  the whole game  giving up  2 scoring chances and like 11 shots on goal. then  a bad giveaway turns into the game winning goal for the opponents. th team was wonderful defensively but one bad play cost them the game. i'm not going to ignore that. i'll still praise them, but i'm also going to let them have it for making a bonehead play.

    just like the other extreme where the goalie stands on his head making 50 saves then a flutterball outside the blueline eludes the glove hand of hte goalie and the other team wins. i'm going to praise the goalie for a good game, but call him out on his glaring mistake that cost the team the game

    while the leafs have indeed played with strong effort the last two nights unfortunately it is not shown in the results. by losing their first two games, despite playing "extremely well" as it was put, it is still failure. the thing that i want is wins. if they are giving their best effort and playing that well and still lose, there are obviously some problems to be dealt with.

    probably the wins will come if they keep playing like they have in the first two nights. but there is work to be done and if they dont complete that work (like better discipline) , we'll unfortunately be stuck with watching good efforts turned to waste.

  32. nordiques100 says:

    true goalies should be their best PK guy. but 10 PKs a game is a killer….especially against those sens. thats too much to ask for 3 PK units and the goalie to handle every night. it must be frustrating for all fans to see players after almost 200 games still take their free hand and grab an opponent….especially if it gives them a 2 man advantage. geeze!!

    senile as he is, bob cole said it best: they still havent learned a thing!

    i still think tucker feels lost in the shuffle too. if wellwood can come back, and with bell coming in, that would upgrade the talent level he has to play with.

  33. Hoondog2 says:

    If the Leafs play the way they played in the first 2 games, they will win a lot more than they will lose…. I don't know what it is but the Leafs are cursed, and have the worst luck……Heatley redirected the puck in the net with his foot, and it should not have counted…….. I understand Steen's goal being called back…… Why do the refs feel the need to call soft penalties against the Leafs with under 10 minutes left, and then turn a blind eye to Blake being mugged in the last minute……Why don't the Leafs ever have a puck bounce strangely off the boards, and right out front of the empty net for a tap in (althought Heatley missed)…….Why is Heatley so invisible all game, yet still manages to kill us every time (thats a lot of money for 1 minute of play a game)…….Okay i feel better now…….Overall good couple of games.

  34. leafy says:

    To be fair, half of the penalties being called nowadays are borderline calls at best, almost like the refs are trying to met some quota like traffic ticket cops.

    With the new rules, it's almost unreasonable to expect only 3-4 penalties per game.  Look at Ottawa as well, they took a lot of penalties too.  This has as much to do with the refs calling everything as it does with undisciplined play.

    Of course, some refs are different from others, but tonight, they were calling everything.

  35. leafy says:

    Yes, we're cursed against Ottawa…in the regular season, that is.

  36. leafy says:

    With all due respect, what you're asking for is virtually impossible.  You want pretty much perfect, error free hockey, which is not going to happen, not just with the Leafs, but with ANY team.

    Look at Anaheim last year against Ottawa.  They gave up many good scoring chances, but they had Giguere as a last resort when mistakes occurred, which is inevitable in ANY hockey game.

    Hockey is a fast game played on a slippery surface.  Defensive mistakes are part of the game, and certainly the Leafs have done a pretty decent job in keeping these to a minimum against the dangerous Sens.

    What more do you want from them?

  37. leaffaninva says:


    Two junior referees – the goal called back against the leafs was almost like saying "any goals that were hard worked and plugged by gritty players are  not worth anything – without a fancy pass and a highlight reel shot = NO GOAL"


    Now, back to my previous comments, leafs can contend.  Good job on the first line (betcha that goal by Sundin was a load off his shoulders)
    Macabe put any hopes of a win with his stupid penalty late in the 3rd.  It deflated any momentum or hope the leafs had after killing the previous penalty with Macabes carelessness as they expired.  Is there any precidence to sending a 5 million dollar player back to the minors?????

    Oh, can someone find a good equipment man for Tucker and his skates – I think his game can improve if he didn;t spend half the time on his a$$

    Oh and as far as the goaltending is concerned – seeing Toskala in his first real game of the season – I hope that Raycroft doesnt get too many slivers from the pine on the bench (or they acrilic)

  38. mojo19 says:

    Yeah thats true, I hope he gets back to his instigating, in your face ways. I wanna see him yapping and fighting, and showboating, and taking penalties for charging. That's when he's at his best.

  39. mojo19 says:

    Drury's with Jagr and Straka but Gomez will still get Shanahan. In my opinion Demitra will get more ponits.

  40. mojo19 says:

    McCabe was okay tonight, I'm not a big fan of Caber either but he didn't play too bad at all. Actually all the defense was good. Hal Gill had a good night except for a couple errors but again he's got the task of being matched up with the Spez-heat-alf line and lets face it they're gonna generate chances.

    And I agree Toskala looked very sharp overall. Especially on the unfortunate 2nd goal, because had that been a few inch's forward it was a great save, so he definitely showcased his quick pads.

  41. nordiques100 says:

    i dont ask for the impossilbe. i ask for the veteran players to not make the same mistakes over and over as they have done in tehir entire careers. take mccabe for example. you would think as a 10 year vet he would learn that the weak backhand pass in his own zone isnt going to get the job done.

    they've been taught, they just dont seem to want to agree with what they have learned.

    that was the first time i saw kabby beat like that so badly so i'll give him the benefit of the doubt this time. but many times we've seen the mcturnovers, kilger playing soft, tucker struggling at the defensive end, the dummy penalties by experienced veteran players who with over 160 games in this standard should know by know they'll call these "marginal" penalties. and so forth. 

    its not asking the impossilbe. its asking for these players who have played a long time to actually listen to their coaches. the same players make the same mistakes over and over. is it not prudent to get them to at least learn that they need to keep those at a minimum? 
    like i said, i want results as in wins. so does damian cox apparently as you referred to him as well in your arguments. you did make reference to damian's article yesterday and inclined that because he also agreed with you on the goaltending issue, we should take his word for it.

    i wonder now if you agree with him this time that it sure doesnt matter if they played "extremely well", they lost and thus wasted their efforts.

    plus he blamed the dummy penalties the team took in the 3rd that directly led to the winner.

    final results matter the most, not moral victories.

    like i have said, i dont always agree with damian, i sometimes do, but i'll always have my own take on the situation and not completely take his or anyone else's word for it

    the chances were at a minimum but players like heatley and alfie dont need that many. they obviously buried the ones they had with 6 goals between them in the two games.

  42. the_word says:

    A few bad breaks for the Leafs on the Steen goal and Ottawa's second, played pretty well in a home and home against the class of East.  A lest we have a gimme 2 points this Saturday.

  43. I_AM_CANADIAN says:

    I don't think it's too biased to say that with competent officiating, Toronto would have taken that game, no sweat.  We dominated for 55 minutes and had all the chances, all the shots, but the refs found a way to hand the game to Ottawa anyway.

    Oh, and Toskala was great.  I haven't seen goaltending like that for the Leafs since Ed Belfour in 2004.

  44. Ariel1 says:

    Blame Cujo, blame Belfour, blame Raycroft, and soon to be…blame Toskala! Can anybody see a pattern emerging here or are people so shortsighted?

    Raycroft played solidly all game, and yes he did let in one soft goal in my mind, but hey it happens to everybody including Luongo , Brodeur and Kiprusoff. Toskala was also good.

    Stop blaming the goalie, whoever he is.

    Look, the best teams have an avereage of +20% conveting on the powerplay. 1 in 5 powerplays will revert to a goal. Last night, the leafs had 13 PENALTIES and 2 goals were scored by the senators on the pp. It's normal!

    In comparison the senators had 4 penalties less. Out of nine penalties, the leafs converted none. 0! Look no further. 2 goals scored at even strength is great. It's the PP that was lacking last night.

    Goals aren't always things of beauty, going in by exquisite play by artists on the ice. On the other end of the spectrum, they aren't always scored because of lazy incapable mistake-prone goalies either.

    The game is fast, shots are faster. Goalies cover angles, try to follow the puck, block what they can and hope for the best. Goalies with better coverage, angle coverage, concentration and movement have a better chance. The rest is instinct.

    Goals get scored by deflection, forcing the goalie to move, changing shooting angles rapidly, crashing the net, exquisite shooting and yes, luck. But the bottom line is all of these goals count for the same thing.

    Next time, instead of going the easy way out and blaming the goalies and counting how many shots the leafs had on net, look for more info on the game like the following:

    1) Penalties – 13 for the leafs, 9 for the sens (8 mins more on the defensive than the sens)

    2) Faceoffs – Sundin is a good 52% (17/16) but then it drops considerably. Stajan was the other major contributor and was at 33% (4/8). In comparison Vermette was 72% (13/5) and Spezza 57% (13/10).
    (this equals loss of initiative in off or def zones for the first two lines)

    More importantly, the sens were a 73% win on faceoffs during their PP.

    3) Shots: Sundin 8, Blake 4, Steen 5, Stajan 4. All forwards. Gill 1 Mc Cabe 3, Kubina 2 Kaberle 3. Defence needs to shoot more. It will free up the offence to move around and have better quality shots.

    The leafs will rebound, but they have to tweak a few things as a team, not just hope their goaltender is "hot" or they lose.

    1) take less penalties and be more disciplined.
    2) win more faceoffs when it counts
    3) even contribution from all three lines, not just the top line
    4) more shots from the point. it forces the other team to be more agressive on toronto's D, giving more space for the attackers to get better quality shots.

  45. mojo19 says:

    Are you serious???? I don't know who your friends are by I don't know anyone who blamed Joseph or Belfour… When those guys were in net for the leafs they were praised nightly, they were gods in Toronto, people would say stuff like "the leafs defense is so bad, we never would have….. if we didnt have Eddie in net….." or "We wouldn't have made the final 4 if Joseph didn't make up for Berg's errors…." etc.

  46. leaflova says:

    Agree on Toskala he was amazing compared to Raycroft, he made great saves and got the highlight of the night with his really nice paddle save.

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