Toronto Maple Leafs Heading In The Wrong Direction

Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

Forcing ourselves to watch the Toronto Maple Leafs play these past couple of games has us either shaking our heads in disbelief  on how a team with great expectations can play so good one night and come back the next night and stink the joint out. It almost makes you want you to go and start cheering for the Ha.. no wait lets not get carried away here!

But back to the thought of what great expectations the Leafs had going into this season. As of right now the Leafs are heading in the wrong direction and going down fast.

They started out of the gate playing really well and winning some games (10-4 in Oct) then some injuries started to happen and the spiral effect started to show. What we are seeing with this Leaf team is that there is no showing of any improvement, but why?

Is it the absence of David Bolland and Tyler Bozak to long term injury? – Is it finally the goal-tending dual of James Reimer and Jonathan Bernier starting to look normal? or is it the coaching of Randy Carlyle, have some players started tuning him out?

Other points to ponder here are the lack of showing intensity and the urgency of getting the puck out of the defensive zone. The look of being ill-prepared to start the game and then playing catch up hockey for the remainder of a game. This way of playing is hard on any team especially one like the Leafs who have top players out and top players who are not performing as they should be.

Coach Carlyle had the team in the video room most of the day on Friday, running through game tapes of the Kings and the Blues games. You could of called the session, ” The Good, Bad and the Ugly” leaning more towards the bad and ugly part as video would of shown, a lot of defensive zone down low battles being lost and pucks being turned over and eventually turning into goals.

I think the session would of also have shown that the Leafs squad comes out flat and not playing with any type of urgency. You won’t win many games playing this way that’s for sure.

Now for the $50,000 question – Does General Manager Dave Nonis search out for a trade? Does he look for a high end center-man or a high end defense-man? Or both? My humble opinion is no. Why trade now. You have players coming back from injury soon. If you trade now you are trading from a position of weakness which will likely cost you more in the long term. The Leafs are 16-14-3 in 33 games with 49 games to go. Do you panic and pull the trigger or do you wait it out for the players from injury to return?

I think you guess is as good as anyone else’s but I sure bet GM Nonis had wished he had done some things differently in the off season then what he actually did.

Well only time will tell if that is true or not.

Topics: Dave Nonis, James Reimer, Randy Carlyle, Toronto Maple Leafs

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  • Stan Smith

    Actually the two games went almost like I thought they would. Anytime a team loses one of their top, or perceived to be top, players a lot of times I find they play a spirited, tough game, the first game following, a lot of time running on adrenaline. I thought they would play better then expect against LA and hoped it would be enough to win, which unfortunately it wasn’t. Against the Blues the adrenaline has worn off plus the overnight travel I figured they would be in trouble and would have to hope whoever was in nets would be able to at least keep them in it for the first part of the game, which again didn’t happen. I did fully expect them to lose that game regardless of what else happened.

    As far as what ails them, I think you are correct on a number of your points. Regardless of what the advance stat people think I don’t think Carlyle is the problem. He has been a .600 winning coach his career and did coach them to a playoff berth and came close to coming back from a 3-1 deficit against the Bruins. I don’t think he has gotten stupid all of a sudden. I do think he doesn’t have the makeup on defence he would like to see.

    As for the big question the last thing I think Nonis should do is panic and make a trade for today while sacrificing tomorrow. I do think that Bolland was a good pickup and is really missed. Whether or not you agree that Bozak should be their #1 centre he is the forward that eats up the most ice time when he is healthy. I don’t know if Clarkson has been effected by his suspension and that is why he is seeming to have a slow start. At the present that might be the one deal Nonis might want to have back but there hasn’t been enough games to really tell. That deal might pan out yet, especially if the can make it into the playoffs.

    I do think that two games have really effected how “tough” or “rough” the team has been playing. This is one area I think they have definitely taken a step backwards. The Buffalo game in which Clarkson received the suspension and the Montreal game when Parros got hurt I think has effected that aspect of their game.

    To me, the Leafs are an above average, young team in the East when 100% healthy. They do not have the depth to overcome the injuries and suspensions they have endured. If they can stay in the playoff race and get healthy I do think they can make the playoffs. From their, history has shown anything can happen.
    If they don’t get healthy it could be a long frustrating season.

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