The Leafs….10 Games that they should get back
The Leafs have played there first 10 games of the 2002-2003 season, and should ask to have those games back. All but 1 or 2 games did the Leafs show what they could do. while all other games played like a bunch of unorganized Pee-Wee players. I think that I have kind of figured out what some of the problems are, and how they could rectify them. There really is no quick fix to solve there woes but if you have watched all there games like I have, you will notice that there are some really big problems screaming at you when you watch.We have all heard the belly aching and whining about how bad the defence is, and that that will be the downfall of the Leafs. I however beg to differ and say that the defence is not as bad as everyone is saying. There is always room for a good defenceman on any team, however the core group of guys the Leafs have are quite adequate to do the job that is needed.
The issue is not that the defence is the problem, the fact that the Leafs were allowing the defence to carry the puck out of the defensive zone is the problem. Other than Kaberle and Colaiacovo, the defence should not be carrying the puck out of the zone. The forwards are all cherry picking waiting for that picture perfect pass through the neutral zone (which happens 1 out every 20 times) which in turn created a turnover. For the last 10 games that turnover has lead to a goal.
The defence does not have an out, a second player in which to pass to when there is a fore check coming. Right now you have a D to D pass with the forwards between the bluelines. There is no out for the defence to have an optional pass to keep the fore check guessing. If you have watched any of the games this is very evident as the defence is trying lug the puck out pass the blueline.
While the defensive zone is in question, so is the offensive zone. You have 2 amazing offensive players in Sundin and Mogilny. They are 2 very “creative type” offensive players. However they are the one only gifted offensive players that can make the drop pass, no look pass, and a bunch of other passes. Having Hoglund and Corson trying to make the pretty pass to a non existent player, while then creating a turnover and then a goal. What is up with that? They need to keep it simple for lines from 2 through 4. Let the 1st line make all the pretty passes and be creative and get everyone else to grind it out. Drop it to the blue line, throw some bodies in front of the net and let the shot go and hope for the best.
The last and final part that I have seen that just started to show in the last game was the physical aspect of the game. The 10th game Domi got into his first fight. Has the world stop spinning on its axis? That is Domi’s job, create an emotional lift. Instead they look like they are playing like a non contact seniors league. They need to start to hit and get emotionally into the game. The last game they played (vs. Anaheim) they finally started to hit and play the gritty way that they should. This gets the team in the game and gets them thinking along the same lines.
Like I said in the opening, this is not a quick fix solution. However these suggestions I think would greatly improve a struggling team so early in the season. I hope that this will open lines of discussion between hockey fans, to realize that most teams have problems that cannot be fixed with a trade. You need to look beyond the surface, and at the true heart of the matter.