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. intelligentscorpio says:

    If I was Richard Peddie, I would fire Ferguson, have a fire sale of all the players on contract except for the young players, and look to deal for picks and prospects. Do what Pittsburgh did. Draft well and high, not look to make the playoffs (as they cannot make it anyways), and get younger, hungrier and cheaper.

    GOT THAT RICHARD.

  2. shakrmakr says:

    Why do they continue to let idiots write articles???

    One bad game of the season and everyone jumps to conclusions.

    To say Toskala stunk yesterday is a joke, there was only one goal that he should of saved. The team just played bad in front of him. The leafs out played their opposition in three of the four games and just came up short, it happens!!!
    Mind you that they are still missing two key forwards in Wellwood and Bell. Missing those two players against Ottawa and still outplaying Ottawa should show you that you are an idiot to even come to those conclusions.

  3. habswinthecup-again says:

     Actually nordiques100 is a well respected poster on this site. His articles are well written and well thought out. I don't always agree with him but his articles are always a good read and usually pretty accurate, so just because he bashed your little Leafs does not mean you should be calling him an idiot.

  4. MtlHabs09 says:

    Why do you idiots try to defend Toskala? It wasn't his fault, but if it had been Raycroft in nets you guys would be over analyzing his performance and trying to blame every goal on him. It was just another display of terrible management by Turd Ferguson Jr.
    To be honest the Leafs should be 0-3-1, but thanks to an incredible third period vs Montreal, weak goaltending by Huet, and an uncharacteristic strong penalty killing effort they were able to salvage a win.
    Amazing isn't it? Leafs fans, dmit you were telling us Habs fans we'd suck this year, and we admitted it. But look what your GM has done for you, and ask yourselves if it's any better.

  5. MtlHabs09 says:

    PS: shakrmakr that comment was for you. And by the way you are a retard for thinking that nordiques100 has no hockey knowledge. Your turdbucket Leafs suck as much if not more than Montreal, and you guys have no future.
    Just start setting up for the cup parade in Centre-Ville in 09-10

  6. trakman says:

    Millions and Millions on a porous defense – good job JFJ…  idiot.  should have fired him last year.

    Toskala ok but a brick wall would have holes in it after the way that team played last night.

    Just pathetic and there will be alot of this in the coming days.  Not much to be optimistic for..

    How about a smoke sale – because there is no fire here!!!!!

  7. nordiques100 says:

    thanks for the comments. he is just another overly sensitive leaf fan who cant face reality. i'm a leaf fan as well as most people know, but i'm not going to sugar coat getting 3 of a possible 8 points. i'm also not going to sugar coat blowing two games they should have one whether its the sens or not.

    its only 4 games yes…..but have we not seen this kind of play over and over the last few years from the leafs? i sure have. not sure what maple leafs team he's watching.

    to me its a valid concern. after seeing what i have seen, i'm not going to assume with a snap of my fingers the fortunes of the team are going to turn around like that.

    there is a ton of work to be done. training camp and the season so far proved they havent put in that work and thus we see the results:

    3 losses
    3 points out of 8
    17 goals against
    4 of 12 forwards with goals

    dont know what hockey he's watching but to me if that continues, the leafs are in deep @#!@!$#^

  8. habswinthecup-again says:

     Don't forget also that Montreal pretty much handed Toronto the win on saturday so really Toronto is even lucky to have 3 points.

  9. eron says:

    If I was Richard Peddie I would fire myself.

  10. eron says:

    I got a question: Why the hell isn't anyone commenting on Paul Maurice leaving Toskala in net for the third?

    Embarrassing game for the leafs, but people should remember that aside from the Habs game the Canes have been on fire.  Pick up Eric Staal in your Hockey pool's, kids.

    The leafs need a good rock bottom season like the Flyers had.

  11. nordiques100 says:

    one bad game? try 2 plus bad seasons and chronic mistakes that seemingly have no end in sight.

    that one game totally put in a nutshell whats really wrong with the team. its not just a blip in the screen. its the leafs fully and completely.

    they should have won both games against ottawa then if your claims are true that they outplayed them. the team has no finish. the leafs are like that crappy closer in baseball who cant finish teams off despite an 8 run advantage. they blew it, got just 1 point out of 4 for their outplaying of ottawa.

    why did they lose those games despite playing so "well"? the same damn mistakes that have plagued them seemingly forever. bad penalties, poor defensive zone coverage, turnovers so on and so on.

    i didnt blame toskala very much at all. he's let in a few softies (the own goal against carolina, the kostisyn goal saturday, alfie's first goal to open the scoring thursday in ottawa) but he has kept his team for the most part in it. it worked saturday as they came back to win, it failed miserably last night. but if he is going to salvage the leafs from being a bottom of the basement team, he basically needs to play lights out. its the unfortunate byproduct of playing with inept teammates. he's feeling what raycroft felt last year and belfour before him.

    if blame is to fall on raycroft, basically for letting in soft goals, not bailing out his teammates and having poor numbers, then there really isnt much choice than to blame toskala as well. but as i have always said blame can be spread around team wide.

    injuries are an excuse that all teams can use. the core of their team is still in tact: sundin, blake, kaberle, mccabe, tucker, toskala. they're all in the lineup. most teams can succeed still if their top players are still playing. why cant the leafs? its because this core cant get it done. its simply not good enough. and with so much money tied to so few players, JFJ and the leafs have leaned on 4th liners to fill the gaps. its the team's failing they do not have adequate replacements in the organization to fill in for injuries.
     
    the best they can do is go after the salmelainens, travis greens, dave scatchards, simon gamaches of the world who are a dime a dozen. they dont have the hudlers, filppulas, kopeckys and other good youngsters to fill in for injuries or free agent defections. the way the leafs do things sucks. plain and simple. 

    dont forget the sens were missing their number 1 goalie in emery plus an equivalent role forward to bell in mccammond. injuries are just a cop out.

    i dont see the ducks whining about not having niedermayer, gigure and selanne in their lineup.

  12. leafy says:

    Clearly the team is playing like crap, since the first 2 impressive games against Ottawa.  As long as they play like this, they deserve everything they get, and certainly Toskala and Raycroft should be the last to be blamed.  Suddenly, the team is reminiscent of 2 years ago, when they played lousy.  Unlike last year, when they played very well for the most part. Hopefully they can get to playing like last year.

  13. nordiques100 says:

    yes i believe huet needs to throw away those arturs irbe puck handling for goalies videos. it was funny when millen showed the habs practicing those very plays and huet f'd that up so badly.  

  14. nordiques100 says:

    thats the thing. i see the signs from the quinn era creeping back in. it goes to show the team has learned nothing from whatever maurice taught them the past year.

    whatever improvement that they supposedly showed last year has been completely abandoned in the first 4 games. period by period we saw the same things that continuously have plagued the team the last decade creep back in slowly but surely and yesterday came back full circle. i believe they now lead the league is PPs against, and certainly have run up the giveaway totals especially last night.
     
    i really think maurice wasted camp with….with i dont know what plan because they really should have been looking to get chemistry and work on thie things they needed to sharpen. he didnt, he played guys who were going to get cut anyways and did nothing to improve whatever system he is using. to me now, it looks like hte pat quinn make it up as you go ways are back.

  15. nordiques100 says:

    probably has to do with that dumb team policy of not telling who will start the next game. i think putting in raycroft would have said to many, maybe he'll start the next one and i guess he didnt want to have to go through 2 days of that talk. its a lame excuse, but its how the leafs run things.

  16. the_word says:

    Is the sky falling again?

  17. RealisticLeaf says:

    I know one game does not make a season but the Leafs are no different then last season. This was a team who said they were going to make the playoffs so people will have to excuse fans for being upset.

    The forwards do not help the defence as they hardly come back and the defence does not cover well at all and at times has all out brain farts!! What was Kubina thinking the other night going to the bench for a stick during a 5 on 3 that became a 5 on 2 when he did that. Also what was Kilger thinking when he let Stall keep hacking away at the puck last night. That is just two examples of many that could be put down here.

    Last nights game was awful. The team had NO SPARK what so ever.
    The team played awful in front of Toskala who looked good for a while in the first where he made some great saves. That game could have been a lot higher then it was with this poor play.

    I know this will have people upset but this team will not make the playoffs under current management and coaching staff(a prediction i made before the season started). Maurice has had enough time to tighten this team up in their own end and has not done it….and JFJ….well what could i say that hasn't been said about him.

    As it has been said….the Leafs need to clean house and start over. Not a lot of these players are young anymore and just making the playoffs with this vetran team(their best players being close to or over 30) is not enough. I see them having to play for 8th in the East. I see in no particular order…
    NYR(lock)
    Philly(lock)
    Sens(lock)
    Pitt Pens(lock)
    Carolina(close to a lock)
    Tampa(Sure thing)
    NJD(they always find a way to win and are great defensively)
    All being there ahead of the Leafs. With only the 8th spot to fight for. So that has the Leafs fighting with Mtl , NYI, Washington, and the Sabers for the final spot. Tough going.

    Being a long suffering Leaf fan I would love to see nothing more then a complete rebuild of this team. Keep the young players and trade all vets. Start over as the next few drafts are going to be loaded with talent. i don't care about loosing if i know it has a purpose.

    Sorry for the eratic typing as i broke my hand…and it was my dominant hand.

  18. nordiques100 says:

    i know you feel i am overly cynical but there is no excuse for the team's play last night. a team on the bubble doesnt get blown out of the water giving no effort at home. i know its only october but its stuff like this that led the team last year to hope that scott clemmensen could stop the isles in a shootout.

  19. nordiques100 says:

    TSN commented on today's practice for the leafs and mentioned that there were some lineup changes made in practice and that the practice was high energy with plenty of hands on teaching by maurice.

    http://www.tsn.ca/nhl/news_story/?ID=220287&hubname=

    thats a good thing, but this energy and lessons learned needs to carry over to the actual games. we'll see what happens over the next 6 games where 5 are at home.

  20. senators101 says:

    Toskala played amazingly well in the 2nd and 3rd periods.  But it was his fault that the team was down 2-1 at the end of the 1st.  The LEafs were up 1-0 and playing alright but as soon when Toskala let in his 2nd bad goal of the period with only 24 seconds left, the leafs were in trouble.

    From the 2nd period onwards, Toskala tried to make up for that mistake with some major saves, but it was too late.  The team played like shit in the 2nd and 3rd.  I said it yesterday, and I'll say it again, going into a period 1-0 up is different than 2-1 down.  He deserves some part of the blame.

    Did anyone notice which leaf player was trying to forecheck before staal scored that wrap-around goal?  HAL GILL!  He did get back into position before staal scored, but what the hell was he doing in the other team's zone? I thought thats what forwards were for.

  21. buds8 says:

    its one game stupid…..Maurice will have them bac & fore checking like nuts tomorrow night and you will jump right back on the wagon….I agree BAD GAME, but its one game, relax….at least we beat the Habs and that's whats important here…..oh ya, that's right they have better prospects, keep holding on to that one Habs fans….its like saying "she has a pretty face, or a great personality", give it up, the Leafs are better and they ARE the reason the Habs missed playoffs last year, its gotta hurt!

    GLG!

  22. Shorts_Pimp says:

    Who analyzes anything based on the first four games of a season? Ottawa is now 4-0. Does this mean Ottawa is going to be the first team in NHL history to win all 82 games? NOPE! The Anaheim Ducks currently hold a record of 1-3-1. Does this mean they are going to miss the playoffs? NOPE!!! Although I will be the first to state my hatred for Ferguson, I don't think it's time to push the panic button at all. Toskala has been absolutely SOLID for all three of his starts thus far, making spectacular game-winning-type saves, and his team has simply disappointed him. He single handedly won the game for us again Montreal, played MORE than well enough to win the 2nd game against Ottawa, and was left out to dry against Carolina, facing 39 QUALITY chances. The Leafs suffered two harsh defeats against Ottawa, which were undeserved, won a game against Montreal that was undeserved, and came out flat against Carolina. It happens!!! Don't read too much into all of this early season hype; if you do, you know absolutely nothing about hockey. The teams to truly fear, especially in the playoffs, are the ones who are hot at the END of the season; not the beginning. Quit the Leafs bashing, find something else to do with your time, and if you have a comment about the Leafs, save it for the end of the season, when all the facts and outcomes have been determined.

  23. RealisticNick says:

    "Smoke Sale"…I love it! Can I use that one sometime?

  24. Rabid_Badger says:

    I'm surprised it took Leafs fans 4 games to hit the panic button.  If the Habs lose tonight you can expect an entire thread of "Gainey should be fired", "We need scoring…we should've traded Kovalev, Dandenault and Boullion for LeCavalier instead of getting bums like Hamrlik and Smolinski", "PRice is a bust….waaaahhhh".  Mark my words.

  25. RealisticNick says:

    And now they signed him, maybe they did that in case it came down to the Devils last game again.

  26. the_word says:

    Good teams have bad games too, its not that I can't respect your opinion, but this is our roster this year.  Can't really shake things up until the deadline, so keeping in mine its really just entertainment, perhaps a collective deep breathe is in order. We're not on the bubble yet, a lot of hockey left to be played.  Hell if we can be beat the Islanders (I know its a tall order) on Thursday, we're a .500 team.

  27. RealisticNick says:

    The Leafs are better right now because they have 3 points in 4 games and Montreal has 3 points in 2 games?  Good logic.  The Habs handed the leafs 2 points the other night as well, kinda gave them to them like the Leafs do to other teams.  The team you lost 7-1 to, Montreal beat this year.  As well as not making the play-offs last year, neither did, all the Leafs got out of it was a draft pick one spot lower and traded it anyway.  And if the important thing is that you beat the habs, then you can go ahead and take those 8 wins for the year, but if you don't produce against any other team its not really going to make a difference in the end.  Any other genius words of wisdom?

  28. RealisticNick says:

    I don't know if the panic button would be hit, it would definitely be "send price to the AHL thread" and if Huet is in and the habs lose then "Huet should be traded and let price play"…and if anything like last season happens, maybe see a "bring back patrick" thread.

  29. RealisticNick says:

    If they win, its cup aaaaaaaaalllllllllllllllllllllll the way.  Because the 3rd game of the season determines that.

  30. tancred says:

    Strahlman and Gamache were called up today.  Will they get to play?  If so, who would you have them replace in the line-up?

  31. the_word says:

    Yeah, and the Leafs didn't beat the Habs, the Habs gave Toronto the game.  Please, all I read on this site is people bashing the Leafs blueline while the Habs have the one of the worst bluelines in the league.  The Habs lost on Saturday because the Poni-Sundin-Antropov parked themselves in the slot and the Habs couldn't do a thing to stop them.  It doesn't matter how Huet plays if his efense continues its ineptness.

  32. TML51 says:

    While watching last nights game was painful…we have to remember that some days you're the windshield, some days you're the bug.  The leafs had no…and I mean NO speed, or desire.

    Bear in mind too, one of their teamates revealed that he is fighting cancer.  That will certainly take the wind out of anyone's sails.

    While there are certain things that do concern me, (McCabe's play, Tucker's virtual invisibility, etc), it is only the first four games of the season…I think it's a bit too early to be driving the final nail into the casket already!  However, watching the look on Maurice's face the past few games, it's certainly not difficult to see that he's not impressed with what he's been seeing. 

  33. Hoondog2 says:

    This is an easy article to write after a big loss.  Its also jumping the gun quite a bit.  RELAX people, even good teams have bad games at times.  Need i remind anyone of the 6-0 shalacking that the Leafs handed to the Sens (Eastern Conference champs) in game 2 of last season.  Way to early to start counting teams out of the playoffs. 

  34. shakrmakr says:

    Are you two done blowing each other??? It's one game and you guys analyzing the whole season to come as a wash which is f*ckin' retarded!! The leafs dominated the Ottawa games yet you guys speak like they are horrible due to one poor outing. That's why I guess they call you guys "fans" cause you are just that and lack the knowledge of the game.

  35. shakrmakr says:

    They should of had the two games against Ottawa so I don't know how you got the 0-3-1 record from.

  36. nordiques100 says:

    well for myself i expected some improvement over the strides the team made last season. they did improve some defensively but after 4 games it sure looks like whatever strides they did make went down the toilet. they are worse than last year.

    maybe i'm asking far too much but they were close last year, and this year was the time to take it one step further. it just seems now with their laissez faire play in camp and the up and down showings so far, they're just the same old inept team that cant seem to learn to play defence.

    a good strong start was imperative for the leafs. with all these home games in october, they need to take advantage of that. instead they suffered their worst home loss ever under maurice. to me thats a problem. to me playing .500 hockey at home is not acceptable. to me getting run over at home is something the team needs to respond to and learn from in the next while, especially the next 6 games where 5 are at the ACC.

    last year remember their first half was poor at the ACC and that was one thing that cost them a playoff spot. you've got to win the games at home. cant do that with such a weak effort. i beleive they were below .500 until a hot streak at the end where tehy won like 10 in a row at home. you cant let anyone walk into your house and take full advantage of you like that. its shameful and hopefully the egg on tehir face will make them a better team that works that much harder and plays with greater passion on home ice.

    thats what concerns me. even after saying so many emotional cliches after hearing hte Jason Blake news, you would have thought the team would have come out with that passion and stuff. instead it was a stinker and there is no excuse for that.

    is it too early to panic? maybe, but the way they have play has to be a concern and not just a bump in the road. for a team striving to improve themselves in their own end, 17 GA is not getting the job done. its not the first 4 games only either. its their whole season right from the beginning of camp. it looks like they arent a organized group that has a purpose or direction.

  37. dcz28 says:

    Sure it's only been 4 games and it's early in the season but the Leafs are looking exactly like they did the last few seasons when it comes to their biggest problem…DEFENSE!!  Granted with some of those defensemen signed long term with no trade clauses and big salaries it is not an easy task to move any of them for JFJ but they just don't have the right mix or style of defensemen to fix the problems they have. I don't know why Maurice doesn't implement a solid defensive system focused on defense (not just defensemen but with the forwards too) to help out the defense part of the Leafs game and make up for the wrong mix of defensemen. That would also go a long way into helping their goalies gain some much needed confidence instead of being hung out to dry almost every game.

    Funny though that some Leafs fans were arguing that the Leafs defense was fine because of the shots against last season but that stat is meaningless…scoring chances against is the real stat to look at to see how your team defense is playing. Giveaways is another stat to look at closely when looking at the defensive game of a team.

    Like i said it is still early but the Leafs so far don't look any different than they did last season defensively so far (i've watched 3 of their games so far). I'm not a Leafs fan  (i'm a Wings fan) but i didn't expect anything different from the Leafs this season since they didn't really change much on defense and it doesn't seem like Maurice wants to implement a defense first type of system for them although that wouldn't fix everything it would be a step in the right direction.

  38. nordiques100 says:

    they dominated ottawa but who won both games? ottawa. thats the bottom line. why? because of foolish mistakes like excessive penalties, poor D coverage, giveaways, poor clearing attempts, lack of finish, an inept PP, lack of a killer instinct to finish teams off.

    what concerns me after that is that they kind of let up against the habs and were not at all the same team that battled ottawa. they barely won thanks to the habs being equally inept in their own zone and their own parade to the penalty box. if they can "dominate" the eastern conference champs who are still a powerhouse, surely they could have dominated the habs too who were picked by some to finish 14th in the conference? surely they could have dominated a non-playoff team tehy finished ahead of last year in the canes?

    same old story last year, quinn's last year, throughout the quinn years. its a broken record man. its not just 1 game. what i saw in that game i saw in bits the previous 3 games, definitely saw in training camp and saw last season as well which at that time happened to all be Raycrofts fault.

    its a bad trend that i hope stops. the team was close last year. with a bit of cleaning up in some areas, they certainly could assure themselves a better standing but it seems right from camp they are regressing.

    old habits seem to be creeping in and its the veterans letting them down. they arent the most talented team but good enough to be competitive. if they're going to tank it, at home, when points for a team like this are at a premium, its not a good sign.

    they were bitter that the isles put them out on the last day and at the devils for playing their backup. better to control your own destiny than to rely solely on others to do your work. the best way to do that is to win.

    they wont win every night, but they can at least give themselves a chance to like they did against ottawa, and with some luck….like they got in the habs game and just that extra bit of effort, tehy can put up a few more wins.

    if they are going to take things for granted and stink up the ACC, well then whats the point.

    you need to relax man. no need to call people names and stuff. it only makes you look bad and foolish.

  39. Hoondog2 says:

    The Leafs looked like gold in the first 2 games, and if they play like that most of the season they will be in the playoffs.  I missed last game, but saw the highlights, i know the Leafs must not have played very well but from what i saw in the highlights, most of Carolinas goals were flukey.  Aside from a couple of really nice shots the goals were mostly tip ins, banks off the goalie, Kilger was interfered with on the last 1, and couldn't get position back on Staal.  McCabe running into the net was hilariously dreadful, and i think him and Gill need to be traded when Coli gets back.  Coli could take McCabe's spot, and Kronwall could take Gills spot.  We need defenseman who can keep cool under pressure, and McCabe and Gill look like they're handling hand grenades once they get under pressure.

  40. nordiques100 says:

    well i would hope they are not so weak willed that the news by blake would effect them so much. they are professionals and have a job to do. i would have hoped that with the way they were talking, giving tehir great support to blake, they would have used this in a more positive way and be inspired by his courageous fight, not give and and lose hope.

    is there any excuse to not come out with any energy at home? i dont think so. but thats the trend of the leafs. play like wildfire against the top teams. take other non-playoff teams for granted exptecting a guaranteed victory. thats what it looked like last night.

    you're right. Maurice looks absolutely pissed. its like all he has said fell on deaf ears. dont take penalties…the leafs lead the league in penalty kills, work the puck out smartly as a team…..forwards stand around like statues waiting for a long stretch pass. be strong on the puck……..allow heatley and others the time and space to do what they do best.

    between that, the pressure of playoffs or bust and being beaten up by the media. he looks like he'll explode before halloween.

  41. nordiques100 says:

    oh i know thats all we have, but i would have thought that what they have is a bit better than getting whitewashed and humiliated on home ice.

    i honestly dont think a shakeup will do that much good. i mean the core of the team: sundin, tucker, blake, kabby, mccabe, toskala isnt going to change. they're the guys who have to deliver and so far sundin and to a lesser extent toskala and kabby have done something. the others are passengers so far (though for blake its understandable due ot his condition).
    you know sundin is going to deliver but some time when things are going rough others need to step it up. to hope that john pohl turns into a 2nd liner or that andy wozniewski becomes the next adam foote overnight is simply not plausible. its the tuckers making 3 mil and considered a core guy, its the mccabes who are paid like a franchise player, its the big free agent acquisitions like blake and kubina who need to step it up. instead they have been weak, disinterested and very ineffective. they've played that way since the start of camp. that bothers me. it should bother many people because its up to them that will determine where the team goes. right now it looks like they're dragging the leafs to hell.

    its early yes, but these guys have been in a bit of a funk since the beginning of september. now, its the time where the players earn their keep and they've done nothing but shirk their duties. yes too early to panic perhaps, but not too early to show some concern. points are hard to come by for teams like the leafs, giving them away like candy canes is just something the leafs cannot afford……especially at home in the midst of a homestand.

  42. nordiques100 says:

    i agree. which is why i find no excuse as to why they would regress so badly after those first two games.

    to take a team like carolina for granted which is what it looked like….especially after they opened the scoring is an absolute joke.

    i think every team knows that that pressure, sight or intense, will certainly cause those guys to panic like they are handling live grenades. but they could sheild taht if the team was a bit better at team play and functioned better as a 5 man unit.

    good thing they're not making the nets bigger. otherwise mccabe would have canopened himself into the end boards.

  43. nordiques100 says:

    yeah the ducks are struggling, and its early, but i have confidence that a team like anaheim learns from their mistakes and gradually gets better. the leafs have been playing the same crap hockey for the last several years. not just the first 4 games. when the same bad things are being seen happening over and over and over, you get kind of sick of it.

    i would have thought that maybe the team got better and would be better after a year under maurice and understanding what he wants. 17 GA so far shows they havent learned a thing. and they were lit up too in camp which seems to have carried over to the start of the year.

    last year in games like the one against the canes, it was raycroft who was at fault, now its the team's fault. which is it? the goalie or hte skaters? its both, thats one point i was trying to make. many seemed blinded by stats and so forth saying the leafs were strong on D. htey arent. they hvent been and likely will not be with this group they have. its a problem they had with the previous coach, its a problem they are having now.

    they seem to know what they need to do. they talk a good game in leaf TV interviews. why they dont play one is another story.

    the leafs have played well towards the end of each of the last two seasons. where did it get them? nowhere because they threw away points…at home no less….in october and november. teams like anaheim and ottawa are strong enough to withstand this (see the sens from last year). the leafs are in a dogfight with like 8-10 teams for 2 -3 playoff spots. every point counts…..especially against the teams in their path like the canes.

    wouldnt it be a better argument to say if only the leafs played better than below .500 at home in the first half of the year like they did last year rather than blame lou in NJ for starting clemmensen vs the isles? i'd rather not see that happen again.

    their road sked is brutal beginning in 2008. with all these home games, if they dominate now, they atleast afford themselves some cushion. if they give away points like they did, they will be forced to try and get hot playing on the road and be forced to play catchup away from the ACC. not hte greatest proposition.

  44. Clearly says:

    Toskala has been much better than the statistics show. 17 goals against? Without Toskala, it would be about 25 goals against.

  45. Habfanforever says:

    I for one watched the game and expected the horrendous backlash on Toskala afterwards. From a Habs fan perspective I can definately say that goaltending is not the problem on the Leafs. Something has to be done about the defense, plain and simple. As good as McCabe was he is not nearly justifying his 5+ million$ salary. He is also making Kaberle look bad. In all honesty, the only group that's worth keeping out of the defence core is Kaberle, White and Coliacovo. The rest should be shipped out for better defensemen or give a guy like Stralman a shot, he can't do any worse than Gill. The Leafs faced an in-your-face team, like them, on Tuesday in Carolina only they don't have the speed to match. Gill and Wozniewski were getting beaten on the outside  so easily and they weren't able to keep the hurricanes offense from buzzing in their own zone. If JFJ can't see the obvious, something needs to be done about management as well. In all fairness, the Habs aren't that all better off, they're not worse, but not better either. If either team doesn't make changes, we probably will have to wait yet another year for a possible Habs-Leafs playoff matchup.

  46. Shorts_Pimp says:

    First off, the difference between the complaints of last years goals against, compared to this years, is completely different. You would know this if you WATCHED all of the games. I have been a leafs fan for about 8 years now (I'm young – 19 now) and have watched EVERY SINGLE game the leafs have played, pre-season, regular season and playoffs for 5 of those. Last years issue was Raycrofts inability to come up with the big save, and his ability to allow several "soft" goals at crucial points in a game. Granted he did have to deal with defensive collapse, however, he was NEVER left to fend for himself the way Toskala was left out to dry last game. Toskala made several solid saves (highlight reel saves) which gave Toronto a chance to take the game by the reigns early (he even did this in the latter stage of the game). However, the leafs got into penalty troubles, had a few bad bounces and decided to throw in the towel too early. Nonetheless, it is nowhere near time to admit defeat. We came off 2 SOLID efforts against the Ottawa Senators (games we should have won) and a heart-filled, come from behind win against Montreal, which was gritted out with the help of Toskala's tremendous performance. Just because you get blown out in one game, doesn't mean this is going to be the new trend. A loss is a loss, no matter if it 1-0, or 7-1. All it is, is an excuse for leaf haters to jump on the leaf hating band wagon and rub it in their face how unsuccessful they have been in the last two years. Guess what, every team goes through their rough patches, and it's a development process. Two years is nothing compared to the long line of success this team has had. Realistically, the only teams that can brag or evaluate are ones who have recently won a Stanley Cup (Anaheim, Carolina, Tampa Bay, etc). 4 games into a season, I don't care what team your talking about, is not enough to evaluate a team on. We can talk about if's and but's all you want, regarding where those three points, which cost us two appearances in the playoffs in the last two years, could have come from, but the fact is, 12 games is not an end of the season rally. I'm not condoning a flop of a first half, and then an astonishing close to the season, rather, an average first half, and a solid closing, thus carrying momentum into the playoffs. Evaluate these four games all you want, but it will tell you nothing of things to come, rather, only things that have happened. If a season were based on that amount of games, it surely would call for sharp reforms. However, this is not that case, and teams will rise and drop. We shall see what happens come seasons end. Regardless, any team who achieves anything besides the Stanley Cup should consider their attempt a failure. So either go cup, or go home, and the first step to the cup is making the playoffs, where anything can happen.

  47. Shorts_Pimp says:

    Yah!!!Really!!! Talk about jumping the gun early. There is absolutely no reason for panic after two solid efforts against Ottawa, a gutsy win against Montreal, and ONE off-game against Carolina. I personally don't even know why Maurice is bothering to switch up lines, as he's messing with the chemistry of the team. You have to allow players to develop a rapport with one another. This is a young team, with a young coach (new to the organization), and they are going to make hasty moves which don't make sense, but you have to let them ride it out to learn on their own. There will be ups, and downs. This is how professional sports works. Toskala is awesome, and will continue to be fine, the team will not get blown out 7-1 every game (or even the majority of the time), and they will compete for a playoff spot. Thats it. Case Closed. Leave it alone. If you want to talk your trash, do it at the end of the season when everything has panned out. Then do your arguing with facts, statistics and personal opinion.

  48. nordiques100 says:

    indeed raycroft was left to fend for himself many nights. its just that he didnt keep his team in it or keep the scores respectable. (i remember when he bombed late in the year against the rangers where his teammates bailed on him big time).

    i didnt post full blame on toskala. in fact he played quite well considering. problem was, the team and fans felt it was goaltending that would cure all that hurt the team. its obvious that goaltending was never the real problem. its A problem but not the problem that has carried over year after year.

    its the same mistakes by the same players whether they're playing for quinn or maurice that have haunted the team. the personnel wont change so the team is pretty much left with little choice but to get better within. unfortunately much of the leadership on the team is not showing what needs to be done to improve the teams chances.

    this has been happening even when the leafs were a 100 point team and a regular playoff participant. its only then they recieved lights out goaltending from belfour and cujo that made them respectable.

    they are sort of getting that kind of netminding from toskala even though the numbers so far are shoddy. but unfortunately he has nowhere near the talented squad in front of him to provide that extra offence, that necessary kick in the pants from someone not sundin to ensure the leafs wouldnt cave so terribly.

    you mention a loss is a loss. well those two games against the sens where they played well were in fact a complete waste considering they did lose. the losses were a direct result of some defensive miscues and of course excessive penalties taken late in the game allowing the sens big guns to take full advantage. they found ways to give away those games. while maybe those in net should have bailed their team out, fact is, its the same old holes the team digs themselves under that does them in. these deficiencies have not appeared all of a sudden. they've been around for years and seemingly have no end in sight. this is one of the points i am trying to make. you would think a new season, some new talent, and a year's experience learning the coaches ways and systems would make the leafs better. they are clearly not.

    they were fortunate that the habs were equally as inept as the leafs are defensively. they played well in spurts but definitely then deserved to lose unlike those previous 2 games against hte sens.

    yes its only one game. but in that game, it defined everything that has been plaguing hte leafs for years. hideous defensive play. they didnt show up and there is no excuse for that. its something the team has done often, especially against supposed inferior opponents. and of course the penalty box parade. when will they ever learn.

    i'm seeing the same things over and over again this season. i thought they improved some last season but they have totally lacked the same discipline and smarts that they somewhat learned the past year. the team had a terrible camp and its carrying over to the beginning of the year.

    i realize that 4 games is not much in the big picture, but playing like they did vs carolina or continuing the trend of 3 or 4 big mistakes a night, with 9-10 PPs against is certainly not going to make things any better for the leafs.

    all i am saying is that the leafs cannot afford to have nights off and play like that. they are not good enough to coast. they need premium efforts each night.

  49. thehockeyguy says:

    Hey Guys,

    I love reading everybody's opinion on how the leafs suck and how the leafs are awsome.

    Here is my opinion:

    The leafs played 4 games so far… they are 1-2-1, so they have 3 points out of 8.
    Lets look at some of the other teams in the Eastern Conference:

    New York Rangers – 3 games played – 1-2-0 = 2 points
    Pittsburgh Penguins – 3 games played – 1-2-0 = 2 points
    New Jersey Devils – 3 games played – 1-2-0 = 2 points
    Atlanta Thrashers –  3 games played – 0-3-0 = 0 points

    ————————————————————————

    New York Islanders – 4 games played – 3-1-0 = 6 points
    Washington Capitals – 3 games played – 3-0-0 = 6 points
    Montreal Canadians – 3 games played – 2-0-1 = 5 points

    ————————————————————————

    I don't hear anybody bashing the Pittsburgh Penguins for their slow start, and what if the Leafs beat them on Saturday, then they will fall to 1-3-0, but of course you won't hear anybody saying that the Penguins won't make the playoffs because of sid the kid and also with malkin, stall, recchi, robets, gonchar, etc.

    What about the New York Rangers, alot of people are saying that these guys are cup contenders, they aren't looking too pretty right now in their first 3 games, losing 2 straight, but no we won't hear about how a team like the New York Rangers is in deep trouble because we don't have as many New York Rangers haters on here as we do Leaf haters.

    Look at those great New Jersey Devils, always a shoe in to make the playoffs… well not now because they only have 3 points in there first 3 games, might as well rule them out, just like the leafs since the leafs got 3 points in 4 games.

    All you guys get to get a grip, as much as Nordique says that the leafs are in deep trouble (and I'm not one to bash anybody), but nobody right now is in deep trouble. The leafs aren't worried, I'm sure the Penguins aren't worried, I'm sure the Rangers and Devils aren't worried either.

    BTW…. I'm sure with the team that the New York Islanders have they are a shoe in for the playoffs.

    Everybody just needs to calm down and see what happens, you can't really tell anything until the first 20-25 games into the year anyways.

  50. lookche says:

    Trade McCabe to the Islanders for a 1st rounder + 4th rounder. That seems more than fair for the Islanders, and Toronto get a heap more cap room. Plus McCabe said he’d waive his NMC for NY.

    Let all UFA players who are just 4th line depth players walk at the end. Bring up a bunch of prospects from the AHL and adapt their game to a more shut out style. Perhaps maybe even draft a bunch of big shutout d-men this year, and be ready to bring them into the NHL in 3 years. Or alternatively, make ALOT of moves before the trade deadline and pretty much redo the entire d-core. This way is a bit more risky and bad for team chemistry but when everything meshes it wont take long for the Leafs to be a real playoff team.

    With a stable defense i’m sure Raycroft and Toskala will be fine in net, but the fans just have to understand that rebulding takes time, and putting up with a couple of average years is really okay when you can have a good 5-10+ years of playoff contention. But in Toronto…they couldn’t stand it.

    ALSO
    Don’t say that you were missing a large part of your forward line as an excuse. Rather than scoring 8 goals against the canes, you should have kept the number down to something manageable and not something that crushed the team spirit. So long as your opponent can’t outscore you, you wont lose.

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