Same Old Story For The Leafs

     Ray Stubblebine/Icon SMI
The first 4 games of the 2007-08 season have already described the Maple Leafs plight in a nutshell.

While hopes were high going into the season and grand predictions were made that the team was going to make the playoffs and compete for the Stanley Cup, early indications show the team has a long way to go to meet those expectations.

To no one’s suprise, the same old issues are plaguing the Leafs now as they have the last season and the last decade for that matter. It is unlikely these issues will go away any time soon.

Goaltending

This time Andrew Raycroft cannot be blamed for the team’s early struggles. Last season the focal point of the team’s failure was place solely on the young goaltender’s shoulders. Should we now blame the goaltending again this season for letting in 17 goals in the first 4 games?

Should we now blame the team’s supposed savior in Vesa Toskala for the 7 goals against stinker against the Canes? Afterall, Toskala came in with great fanfare as the team’s big summer addition and with the price the Leafs paid to get him, coupled with the contract extension given prior to him even lacing up the skates, I guess fans expected something better than 13 goals against in 3 games and a save percentage of less than .900.

Raycroft only played 1 of the first 4 games so far and while he was his ok but not great self, the team’s ability to only take 3 of a possible 8 points in the standings is this time not his fault.

To be fair, it has not been goaltending that has failed the Leafs, not now, not even last season, no matter if its been Raycroft or Toskala. Sure both goalies have been victimized by some soft goals but the two goalies this year have made some pretty amazing saves so far. Unfortunately they have been wasted.

Defence

The root cause of all that ills the Leafs has been the hideous team defence the Leafs display night in and night out. Only standing on their head goaltending has bailed the team out and masked what truly has been the teams achillies heel for years. While fans love to play the blame game on specific players, its always been a team effort in futility when it comes to defensive play.

Lets take last night’s debacle as an example. Keep in mind it was not the sieve Raycroft playing in nets. If it was, the so called “experts” would find it easy to see who truly was at fault for the blowout.

This time for the first time, it was Toskala who endured the punishment for having inept teammates. In one night, he felt what the likes of Cujo, Belfour and Raycroft have felt for at least a year. It was hard to blame Toskala on any of the goals scored, except maybe the own goal he put in himself.

Last night was something we have all seen several times throughout the last decade of Leaf hockey. In fact the first 4 games have shown truly what the Leafs have always been made of when it comes to play in their own zone.

Giveaways as usual have come in great numbers. It hasnt been the usual culprits in Bryan McCabe and Hal Gill, its been a team effort. Whether its been the futile attempts to use the stretch pass on every breakout, the forwards standing around too far ahead of their struggling defencemen, or blueliners panicking at the sight of forecheckers, its the same old things that have dug in the Leafs.

The inability to clear the puck out has been yet another one of the team’s failures. This often sets off a chain of events that lead to utter chaos in the Leaf zone. It seems that once the puck is not cleared, the Leafs seem to lose their sense of responsibility and positioning and run around chasing the puck leading to opponents left open, a penalty and most times ultimately a goal against. We saw that opening night on the Heatley tying goal, we saw that Saturday against the Habs when the 4th line got hemmed in and let Dandenault open the scoring, we saw that on the Cane’s 4th goal where a feeble clear out turned into a breakaway goal. Its a combination of soft board play by the forwards to go with a defence that mostly panics when the going gets tough in their zone.

Speaking of soft, the team is very weak when it comes to man to man coverage. The team has no trouble sticking with the player they are to cover. Its the fact they do nothing while covering those players which kills the team. There are many things a player can do to effectively cover an opponent without taking a penalty. Problem is the Leafs do not seem to always want to do those things and either they make a bee line to the penalty box or the puck is being dropped at centre ice. Stick checking is not a strength of many of the Leafs. They are either too weak or unwilling to do it. the Heatley winner opening night was clear evidence of this. He was covered, but not really. Players like him do not need much time or space. If you give them an inch, they’ll take you to the cleaners.

You can quote numerous stats like shots against and so forth to claim the Leafs have a “good” defence, but the fact of the matter is, the team does not and likely will not ever be strong in their own zone. The evidence to suggest this is in grand supply and its been a broken record repeating the same problems that plague the team over and over. Until they can clean that up, playoff aspirations are a mere fairy tale.

Penalties

What compounds the team’s defensive issues is the constant trips to the penalty box. Over 160 games have not taught the Leafs a thing. It appears the team cannot grasp what is needed in today’s new standard of officiating. Is it the players? Is it coaching? Is it a lack of effort? It seems that its a combination of things that lead to the never ending number of penalties the team takes. It seems that most teams and players have had trouble, not just the Leafs as the standard has been changing as the league tries to work out the kinks. However when your team is brutal on the PK, its of even greater importance for the team to resist the hooking, holding and foolish tripping penalties that put the team down a man. Its bad enough they have so much trouble at even strength, they dont need to give any more help for their opponents. Last night the team gave up 3 PP goals against and pretty much killed any chance of a comeback with the penalty parade. It also cost them the game in Ottawa with 3 late penalties in a row giving the Sens top line multiple chances to take the game over.

Offence

The style the Leafs play is more geared towards a strong offence than a shut down defensive squad. The team has no trouble generating chances but it seems that so far its been the Mats Sundin show. The captain has been in on 70 percent of the Leafs goals so far. He and just 3 other forwards have goals with 3 goals coming from their D. The Leafs get plenty of shots on net, but miss the net quite a bit and have plenty of them blocked. when they do get it through, they seem to not generate enough traffic in front unless its the big bodies like Sundin, Alex Ponikarovsky and Nik Antropov on the ice. Without the kind of depth that teams like the Rangers and Sens enjoy, its of even greater importance for the Leafs to do the simple things like get it on net with traffic in front. with the way the team is built with a focus on size, for once maybe they should use it to their advantage.

Coaching

Paul Maurice has made some strides in improving the Leafs defensively, but from what we have seen so far, there is still plenty of work still required. 17 goals in 4 games does not describe a good defensive team whatsoever. If its not the goaltending this time and with the repetitive miscues carrying over year after year, maybe its time for the coach to do something about that.

Maurice has employed an offensive style of play that is both aggressive and entertaining. But it has not been successful. The tal
ent is not there to be a juggernaut offence so maybe its prudent for him to scale back and try to improve his team’s defensive play. But not even Maurice has been able to make much change from the freelace Quinn days.

The PK is still atrocious. Sure it is hard to kill off 9-10 penalties night after night but the team seems to be getting worse with each passing year. It has always puzzled me why Keith Acton was retain from the Quinn era when he has brought the team no success in this area.

I am sure Maurice has gotten his team to practice what he has tried to preach defensively but it looks like his pleas have gone unheard. I think he wasted pre-season auditioning for useless depth jobs when he should have used the games to shore the team up at their end of the ice. We have seen that play in pre-season carry over this year. you look at a team like Ottawa who went unbeaten in exhibition and has carried over their strong play with a 4-0 start so far this year. they work on their game and try to perfect it and it appears to be successful.

I like what Maurice has done, considering he has little to work with. But because he lacks the talent, he really needs his players to be sharp and strong in their own end at the very least. The blowout loss versus the Canes and the big Ottawa line lighting them up 2 nights in a row kind of show that his message is not getting completely through to his players. Unless he can change that tune, its only going to get worse from here on in.

Personnel

Perhaps the issue with the Leafs is a lack of talent. the injuries to Kyle Wellwood and Carlo Coliacovo coupled with the lengthy suspension to Mark Bell have not helped matters any. while some boasted of the Leafs “depth” with so many bodies battling for jobs at camp, the fact was that the team had depth in certain areas like 4th line role players and spare blueliners. There was no true depth in terms of skill. It has been quite obvious so far this year with the lack of scoring output beyond Sundin’s line. 4th line players have been forced to fill in for their injured teammates and so far have failed miserably. This should have been expected. Players like Chad Kilger and John Pohl are simply not good enough for extended roles. Without them producing offensively, and not even contributing defensively, there are simply too many passengers the Leafs can afford to have.

The Cap system has spoiled any advantage the team had financially over others but even when they could spend, they still could not bring in the right mix of players. Foolish spending has hurt their ability to bring in the depth the team needs.

They have a “backup” goalie making $2 million. And in consecutive years, a goalie unproven as a starter was brought in for a 1st round draft pick.

Their top shut down defender Hal Gill makes $2 million and has failed in slowing down the likes of Heatley, Koivu and Staal in that role. In fact almost 20 million has been spent on their defence that has continued to be a pourous, ineffective bunch.

The team is stocked with the same types of players giving the team a lack of variety in terms of skill. For example, Coliacovo, McCabe and Pavel Kubina play a very similar type of game as offensive defencemen with a willingness to play physical. The Powerplay has struggled with forwards Jason Blake and Darcy Tucker providing the same type of role on the team. And as mentioned earlier, there is a bevy of 4th line talent that bring the same elements to the team: no offence, lack of defensive ability, unwillingness to give premium effort.

Perhaps above all else, its the mismanagement of the team that has killed the Leafs the most. Those that have built the team have failed in their attempts to bring the team out of their doldrums. While key members from the Quinn era remain with the team, this is clearly John Ferguson’s squad and the proof is in the pudding that his team is not going to be able to get it done.

It may be a bit early to draw such conclusions, but the team’s play and record the first 4 games is a cause for concern. Nothing I have seen is any different than what I have witness last year and really the last several years.

Despite the coaching changes, the goalie carosel, and personnel additions geared towards improving the team, nothing seems to have really changed in Leaf nation. Like the last two years, its going to be an intense struggle from here on in to fulfill their expectations. This time however, heads will roll if those expectations are not met. Perhaps that is what the team really needs in the end.


80 Responses to Same Old Story For The Leafs

  1. hockeyhead says:

    once again….thanks for rask.

  2. broc says:

    You idiot, the Isles just signed Berard for free. They wouldn't even want McCabe anymore.

    Pay attention.

  3. nordiques100 says:

    i guess for myself, teams like jersey, the rangers, the pens, the ducks, the sens have the talent and ability to withstand this. the leafs do not.

    i find it no excuse for a team like toronto thats battling carolina, montreal, the caps, the thrashers, philly, the isles, the devils, boston, tampa and florida for the final few playoff spots would simply not show up at a game at home. thats unacceptable.

    the players have spoken since the start of hte year how important it is to take advantage of this stretch of games early because so many of those games are at home. later on they are going to endure a tough road sked and do not want to play catch up away from the ACC. therefore giving away points to direct competition is truly disgraceful.

    some of you have said that its ok to struggle now, as long as they peak in march and april getting ready for the playoffs. well there isnt much point if the playoffs are missed and when the few points the team needed to get in were lost from accepting that its "ok to struggle at bit early on because it doesnt really matter". tell that to florida the last 3 years who have crawled back into every race in the east only to run out of games as they tried desperately to make up for such a horrible 1st half. how about the jackets too who havent made the playoffs but have played decent hockey in march and april when the season was long lost back in oct and nov. and i'll bring up the leafs too from last year struggling to get over .500 at home in the first half and as a result missing the playoffs by a mere point.

    perhaps if they took the first half, they took the canes seriously, maybe that would have been the difference.

    i do realize that it is early, but toronto is nowhere near the level of rangers, ducks and sens. they cant afford to make so many mistakes, take so many penalties, and give away 2 points despite outplaying their opponents thoroughly. they definitely cannot afford to not show up for a home game and get embarrassed.

  4. The-President says:

    You wanna know what the problem is, it's Paul Maurice, he is not a good coach at all. Why do you think Carolina let him go, and look what has happened to them since he left. The Leafs were a better team when Quinn was the coach, we had lots of leadership, and chemistry. Now with Maurice we have NO chemistry because the damn guy came in, broke everything up, and still can't figure out his lines after 2 years, he sucks. He never allows a line to stick together to gain chemistry, he changes it every night. He breaks up McCabe and Kaberle, he pretty much drives all his veterans into the ground, breaking their confidence, because he likes playing mostly 4th liners instead. The guy even starts Raycroft for the first game, is he retarded? Maurice is only good at coaching 4th liners, and that is why he did good with the Marlies, because most players their are either up and coming 4th liners, or their never going to play in the NHL, just like him. He needs to coach minor league and that's it, he's not cutout for the NHL. Bring back Pat Quinn, the days when we actually had an identity. Maurice needs to go.

    These are his lines "sometimes," oh wait I don't even know what the lines are because he changes them so damn much.

    These are what they should be:

    Blake/Sundin/Wellwood-when healthy, we need somebody to feed the puck and that's Wellwood, he's not big enough to be a center.
    Antropov/Steen/Poni-Steen needs to play more, part of our future.
    Bell/Stajan/Tucker-when Bell is healthy of course.
    Kilger/Devereaux/Battaglia-Perfect 4th line.

    McCabe/Kaberle-Bring it back to the perfect pairing, regain confidence.
    Kubina/Coliacovo-when Healthy.
    Gill/Stralman-Wozniewski takes way to many costly penalties, and we need more speed.

    Starting Goaltender with no questions:
    Toskala,
    Then
    Raycroft as the backup and nothing more.

    Is it really that hard Paul, or are you still wondering why you got fired from Carolina, because they seem to be doing fine with their new coach. It's going to be a long year with Maurice calling the shots. This team will never have an identity as long as he coaches it. The End.

  5. the_word says:

    So is this an 'abandon ye all hope' situation? Nobody expects Pohl to be anything other than a 4th liner and Woz to be a 6th defenseman. McCabe makes Hamrlik money, thats too much, but not franchise player money. Blake has played well, Kubs well, I'm not going to defend anyone on the blueline after last game (I think the biggest concern is the pairing of White and McCabe, surely a recipe for disaster).

    The pressure is on the core, Sundin-Antro-Poni have looked solid, Blake hasn't scored but played well, Tucker is invisible thus far and needs to step it up, he will and Kaberle is a given. McCabe and Kubs are the x factor, both are capable of being a lot better than what they've shown so far.

    Three good games and one terrible game is too small a sample to draw conclusions from, Kubs and McCabe are definitely this team uncertainties, but lets keep in mind the Leafs don't exist in a vacuum. Other teams will struggle, I'm sure if you looked at any other team through your critical lens you'd find fault.

  6. The-President says:

    By the way Maurice does not lack a talented team, look at how much more talent is on this team then any other Carolina team he coached, it's evident he doesn't know how to coach talent, only 4th liners.

  7. the_word says:

    Maurice coached for what?  Eight years in Carolina, thats pretty impressive by today's standards.  Once upon a time his laughable Carolina Hurricane (you know one without Eric Staal and with Artus Irbe) did the might Quinn Maple Leafs. 

    Weak post.

  8. nordiques100 says:

    its not just the 4 games, its last year and the pre-season. i mentioned several times that these things have happened year after year. sorry for just using examples of the past 4 games but those examples described perfectly in a nutshell what has been wrong with this team for a few years now.

    kubina and mccabe have struggled big time. they have not at all lived up to what they are getting paid. the same mistakes are being made over and over. not just in 4 games, but in the pre-season where they should have worked harder on getting better within the system and from last year where every mistake cost them because they had a goalie who let everything in.

    unfortunately the leafs are built in a way where if they goalie cant bail them out, it IS hopeless.

    since tucker signed his big deal, he too has tanked it somewhat. he no longer hits with reckless abandon, fights, inspires teammates and now he isnt even scoring. at least when he brougth some of those elements we could live with his horrible defensive play. now that he brings nothing, why did they re-sign him again? perhaps after years of playing that way he is now breaking down. again its a shame then that the leafs wasted that kind of money. i'm dating this back to last year too right after he signed the deal. maybe it was that injury….he sure looks tentative out there. maybe he's caving under the pressure now of living up to those expectations. i dunno what it is. but something is certainly reuining his game.  as a team leader and one that the team has committed significantly to and leans on heavily, to bring nothing is a great concern.

    you're right pohl is just a 4th liner, but put into the situation where he centres a line with kilger and tucker…..effectively taking the spot of wellwood, thats 2nd line expectations. wozniewski is a depth blueliner….but seeing him put into the situation where he faces the other teams best line every night so far…..is that really the role of a black ace? not really. why then are they where they are? there were expectations and hope they would succeed. they havent. is that all their fault? not necessarily. the coach put them there and based on their talent levels being the 4th liners spare parts as most claim they are, they were set up to fail.  you say no one expect these players to be anything more than 4th liners etc. why then were they forced into such significant roles then? there were higher expectations of them thats why. not from us necessarily but from the organization.

    it may be ok to have 1 or 2 underacheivers…..but not the whole core of the team.

    raycroft, tucker, mccabe, kubina have not been good. thats part of their core. kaberle is always solid but he's being dragged down by playing with losers. toskala is feeling the same being abandoned in net which is something he never had to deal iwth in san jose. and sundin is 37 soon. how much longer can he carry the team on those aging shoulders?

    its a big problem because this is it. thats all the leafs are going to have now and a few years from now with the commitments they have made to some of these players. with no movement/trade clauses, there is no ifs ands or buts about it. this is hte core of the team and they failed last year and they dont look all that good so far this year.

    sorry for being pessimistic and cynical but to ignore this as just a game, or still early in the season, or its only 4 games, is both ignorant and foolish.

    its a trend, its a trend we have seen with guys like mccabe, tucker etc who were here long before last season and maurice's time as coach. it not at all is just a 4 game thing. is something we've witnessed for years and has not changed no matter who's been bringing hte players in, who's owned the team and who's behind the bench. i'm baffled why no one sees that and only short sightedly assumes i am referring to the first 4 games of the year.

  9. Shorts_Pimp says:

    Obviously, there is no getting through to you. Teams lose games they should win, and they also have nights where they don't show up. No matter how you look at it, 4 game is nowhere near enough to begin claiming "…there having the same problems as last year". They've played well, especially against Ottawa, who is a superior opponent, which, by the way, regarding the second game, was marred by controversy. Heatley guides a goal in with his foot, a goal seemingly mirroring Mat Sundin's foot directed goal in the pre-season which was disallowed, a Leafs goal which was controversially disallowed, and a couple of suspect penalties. However, this is not uncommon through any teams regular season. You want to discuss "…the same problems the Leafs had last year", then do it at the end of the seas, and we'll see if their in the same spot as last year. Oh BTW, the Canucks lost 8-2 last night with Luongo allowing 4 goals on 13 shots…Time to panic all you Leafs haters?

  10. the_word says:

    Revisionist history, I'm not suggesting the Leafs aren't without their share of issues, however they did manage 91 points last year.  You talk as if 91 points is a failure on every level.  The Leafs also played well down the stretch.  What killed them was a bad stretch in mid season (the same thing that happened in Quinn's last year).  Not a bad game coming out of the gate.

  11. shakrmakr says:

    You say that Ottawa still won those games as the bottom line, well leafs won the game against the habs that's the bottom line as well. Kind of hypocritical there with your wording.

  12. nordiques100 says:

    i believe there is a communication gap. in my article i clearly stated that the same things that have hurt the leafs in the first 4 games this year have been plaguing them the last decade.

    i only used the first 4 games as examples because it is fresh in our minds. perhaps stating some aki berg examples of his multiple giveaways would have prehaps helped you grasp that i am not just focusing on the first 4 games of the season. but of course using him as an example is irrelevant because he no longer plays for the leafs.

    mccabe, tucker, sundin, kabby, nik, these guys were here well before maurice showed up. the errors the team makes in their own zone have been around quite some time. the excessive peanlties have happened year after year. they were there when cujo played net, they were there many nights belfour was in goal, they happened last season with raycroft and now toskala has felt this in his first 3 starts. these were there under both quinn and maurice.

    its not some that has happened all of a sudden and now i am jumping on the leafs while they are down. its some thing i have watched for several years. 2 different coaches have not be able to solve these issues.

    the samples i used, such as the team failing to clear the puck and getting hemmed in their own zone leading to defensive chaos that resulted in the healtley tying goal opening night…..well thats happened many times before.

    the series of penalties the team took in game 2 which led to the multiple PP chances for stars like heatley and alfie to take advantage of, thats happened multiple times dating back to when quinn started as coach.

    the giveaways, stupid things like mccabe tripping over himself, thats happenend many times before too. not just in the first 4 games.

    i perhaps shouuld have mentioned some examples, but i made a grave error in assuming that people would remember these examples that happened as recent as last season. i see now that people only refer to things in the past when they see fit. denying and dismissing anything that does not agree with their opinion.

    i have clearly stated this and this pattern, dating back several years under differnt coaching, management and ownership regimes is an issue.

    the core of this team….most of them were around when quinn was around. well before they have played these 4 games this year. we've seen the same ineffective play from this group far before this season and to see it happeneing again….already….after such hope that the team was so close last year is discouraging.

    we all assumed that under maurice the team would be better on defence, they improved, it was unfortunate the teeam didnt have a goalie who could make at least 1 save to cover off the team if they made a mistake. last year there certainly wasnt as many as there was when it was berg and belak as mainstays on D.

    this year they do have a goalie, problem so far is that they have  brought back that kind of play that is nothing less than atrocious. if that is not a concern that they have regressed so quickly after some decent promise shown last season, then i dont know what is.

    i do realize that it is far too early………however when you have witness the same things over and over……then you see some improvement……..you have some hope that this meant that things were going to get better. you would be optimistic that the team is getting better and taht these foolish mistakes of taking excessive penalties, defensive lapses, giveaways, taking teams for granted would have ended with a structured coach like maurice behind the bench and after the stirdes they made last year. to see in all the pre-season games, and the start so far the team look even more lost and ineffective in so many areas is puzzling and a concern for me at least.

    i've already beared this before. remember mccabe's -5 performance against the flyers in the playoffs several years ago? i would have assumed that he along with other teammates would learn from games like that and become better several seasons later. but as recent as last year i saw the same stuff happening and this year again so far the same bonehead plays.

    it may have been foolish of my to make that assumption, that people learn from their mistakes, improve and get better over time. if i was wrong on anything its taht point. 

    so again, the recent events of the first 4 games this year, were just the tip of the iceberg. just samples i have used in attempting to validate my opinions because perhaps the common fan would remember these far more easily than games on nov 16 2006 in the 2nd period, the 5th minute. many of these same occurrances have happened time and time again in past years under different coahces with differnt goalies tending nets. once again this is not something out of the blue that i decided to pick on with a fine tooth comb and be overly critical of the team. i'm calling it how i see it.   

  13. leaffaninva says:

    OK – I agree with some of your comments however, the only reason everyone is blowing this WAYYYYYYY out of proportion is the fact that it's the Leafs we're talking about.

    The Canucks got embarrased last night with a poor performance against the flyers but I don't see any lengthy posts suggesting they have a fire sale and scrap the lot.

    Let's just call it a season now shall we??  It's only 4 games in.

    Now, this doesn't excuse the pitiful play by the defense corp.  McCabe is now showing his true colors.  This guy can't play up to the amount on his paycheck and, the leafs will pay dearly for this unless he wakes up and plays at least one facet of what a top 2 d man is suppose to play.  

    p.s. it doesnt matter who's defending the likes of staal, heatley, alfredson etc.  They're having a fantastic start to the year and are giving everyone headaches in their own zone.

    JFJ – needs to go before he opens up his purse strings again and does something stupid like sign belak to a 5 yr $30 M contract or something. 

    Maurice is now in his second year and needs to quickly identify his strengths and weakness and have the team buying into it and sticking to it.  If he can't figure that out (F^&Ken google it for heavens sake) then he too should have his bags next to JFJ's

    If the leafs can just play .500 til they get back some of their key players (Coliacovo, Wellwood, Bell) they will be able to reset thier lines. 

    Finally, I liked the way Toskala is shaping up.  At least during the first couple of periods you can see why this guy was sought out.  He's an energetic and flexible goalie who actually goaltends (as oppose to other golies like Price) who just use their size to stop the puck.

  14. senators101 says:

    You can't really compare the Leafs with Vancouver.  Vancouver made the playoffs last year and went to the second round.  Bad games happen.  The problem with this bad game was it showed the true colors of people like McCabe.

  15. nordiques100 says:

    thats only because you and many others keep referring to those ottawa games as though the leafs played their greatest matches ever. i guess i was sick and tired of hearing it because in the end they lost so really no matter how well they dominated they made mistakes and lost. to me thats not playing that great.

    it for sure could have gone either way……but mistakes…….mistakes i have seen for quite some time cost them. ottawa was lucky in a way that they survived the leafs onslaught, but they buried what the leafs handed them on a silver platter.

    mistakes are going to happen i understand that. but the leafs picked bad times to make those mistakes, bad times to take those penalties. it was their own undoing to create those very few opportunities that ottawa needed to win the game.

    everyone is so overly optimistic about those 2 matches vs ottawa and saying that the leafs were great in those games. but then after that horrendous performance consider that to be "just one game" and that there "is nothing to read into that performance" and that "the results and what happened in that game matters nothing" . is that not as well hypocrictical?

  16. nordiques100 says:

    91 points is failure when you miss the playoffs.

    i'm concened because i would hate to see the leafs have that bad stretch now instead of mid-season with all these home games.

  17. I-BE-LEAF says:

    terrible goalie with a team who did nothing in the playoffs last year…

    http://www.nhl.com/nhl/app?service=page&page=Recap&gameNumber=50&season=20072008&gameType=2

    come up for air… game FIVE is on tonight.
    GO LEAFS, GO!

  18. jarcpitre says:

    The season is still early and alot of the so called good teams are off to terrible starts. I even find this hard to believe, but Toronto is ahead of Alt, Buf, NJ, NYR, and Pitts which were all slated to have huge seasons. Just like I said its early and I believe that the Blake thing played a little distraction to the team as well as taking Carolina too lightly, this is a damn good team. I actually think that Carolina is going to be the Buffalo of last year. Anyway I'm not hoisting the white flag yet, Toronto will bounce back tonight with a solid effort. GO LEAFS GO!!!!!!!!!!!!

  19. buds8 says:

    um, the Leafs missed the playoffs yes, but not because of the Habs, whereas the Habs missed the playoffs because of the Leafs, great feeling btw…..anyways, the Habs suck, bottom line, the Leafs suck too but the Habs are worse….and for the record, i dont give a shit about how the Leafs play against any other team just the Habs!

  20. leaffaninva says:

    People benchmark the leafs against everyone……Everyone always says the leafs should have done this and that etc.  If you think of it, they're (VAN)not too different from the leafs of la couple of years ago.  No real personel changes and just hoping they'll drift into the playoffs (mind you they place the entire wieght of thier future success on Luongo)

    I think McCabe (unless he DRASTICLY IMPROVES HIS GAME) will just become the next Larry Murphy with the leafs and get booed everytime he touchs the puck until the org. moves or trades him.  Once he's gone he'll then improve and become a good D man.

  21. RealisticNick says:

    Well if you want to go back to previous years the habs have won 24 cups and the last in 93, the leafs last was in 67.  Also Montreal had to win 1 of 3 games last year at the end, so actually 3 teams eliminated them.  So what does that have to do with anything now? Nothing, exactly what last season has to do with right now.  And if all you care about is the Leafs beating the habs, then go ahead, that is the only team they have beat (been handed 2 points, only 1 more than mtl got) this year and in OT.  Montreal 3 games 5 points, Toronto 4 games 3 points and 17 goals against after spending Rask, and 1,2,3 round picks on goal tending and Mark Bell in the last 2 years.  Blow Leafs Blow!!!

  22. RealisticNick says:

    Very original name, seems like I have seen it somewhere a long time ago…

  23. RealisticNick says:

    I thought NYI were going to be last this year, that is one of the most messed up things I have ever seen.  They better cool off sometime or I'm going to be eating words, and I don't think I am hungry enough to swallow the ones on that subject.

  24. TML51 says:

    Should be interesting to see if that throbbing vien in the side of his head blows before Halloween!  My wife and I have actually found it entertaining to watch his reactions to penalties/errors/goals against….

    That being said, there is a possibility that he has lost the room already…(kind of the way they started playing at the end of the Quinn era).  I may be jumping the gun a bit, but I see his frustrations at his players lack of compliance already. In all fairness, the Leaf Nation continually expects miracles from mediocre teams.  We'll see what the next few games turns up!

  25. Rico71 says:

    Watch out if the Leafs lose again tonight…lol

    I can't wait.

    Go Habs Go!

  26. nordiques100 says:

    now thats the effort i expected from a team thats going to be in a huge battle for a playoff spot. probably as close to a mistake free game from the team as you can get from the leafs.

    if they give that effort, they'll win more times than not. they CAN play defence. for some reason it escapes the minds of the players and/or they are not interested in playing that way.

    puck support was terrific. helps when there is a ton of energy. it was a must win, now the true test is whether they can carry this momentum.

    they likely wont run into too many teams like the isles who straggled in after a big win less than 24 hours earlier who would be ripe for the picking. but if they show up with that energy, they give themselves a chance to be in every game.  if they limit their mistakes to the best of their abilities (they unfortunately will make blunders thanks to the personnel  they have) that too will keep them in it. 

    they have to gain the identity that they're a tough team at the ACC. this is why this stretch at home is vital. many of you have complained that its too early, but the season is 82 games for a reason. everything counts. but the team does itself a favour playing well at home.

    the defence will be a work in progress and a top scoring team like the pens will be a big test. but they at least have some confidence now and they need to build on that.

  27. the_word says:

    Another review from the fishbowl?

  28. I-BE-LEAF says:

    still holding your breath I hope… hahahaha

  29. nordiques100 says:

    sorry if my analysis and expectations are high. i try and stay away from blind optimism.

  30. the_word says:

    Are you seriously accusing me of blind optimism? 

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