It’s becoming more and more apparent that the current group of Leafs forwards are one of the most offensively challenged in the entire league, with a currents goals per game rate of 2.13, good for 29th in the league, ahead of only the apparently-awful New Jersey Devils. (Sweet move by Ilya last night, by the way) I thought, especially after the start of the season, we might be able to actually get away with this, but no, no we won’t. The NHL is too good across the board for a club to be successful when only four players have more than one goal. Offense is needed, and it’s needed right now.
I don’t need to get into all the stats that have already been recounted ad nauseam throughout the Leafs’ current dive towards the Eastern Conference basement. A couple of quick things about their current predicament, though:
- Jonas Gustavsson will be a legitimate starting NHL goalie. He’s already shown huge improvements in his rebound control and general positioning, and he has that big-save ability. Last night, aside from the first goal where he made a great off-the-glass pass to Bryan Allen, his team simply wasn’t there for him.
- Phil Kessel needs a legitimate setup man. Bozak’s not going to cut it, Versteeg disappears for about half the game every night, and the only thing Grabbo can consistently be relied on for is his inconsistency. This piece here from Jon Neely over at the Bleacher Report discusses how the Lightning have found success simply by finding a way to keep Steve Stamkos scoring.[Bleacher Report]
- I’ll admit, through the blue-tinted glasses, I thought the squad we had in place would be pretty well-equipped to compete this year. We’re not. The defense is improved, but it’s not good enough to win games on its own. There need to be changes made, and Mark Ritter agrees with me. [Bleacher Report]
- While there are changes that need to be made, firing Ron Wilson is not one of those changes. He’s a good coach who simply hasn’t been given enough talent to work with. It would be a foolish kneejerk reaction that really wouldn’t solve anything if Wilson was fired, although I don’t think Burke will do that, and he’s already come out and said Wilson’s job is safe through this year. [Maple Leafs Hot Stove]
- Even the Leafs themselves can’t explain what’s gone wrong through the last few weeks. [Globe and Mail Leafs Beat]
- Along with the offense, the powerplay and penalty kill have gone to shit, too. [Toronto Sun]
- Finally, a list of 20 Random Facts regarding the Leafs’ current struggles. [LeafsHQ]
That’s all for now, the Leafs head home to take on the Vancouver Canucks, winners of six of their last seven, on Saturday night. Should be a blast, or more likely, a blowout. Go Leafs.