After watching and listening to all the hockey panels and fans through out Leaf Nation on what to do with the Toronto Maple Leafs I have come to the one conclusion that no one has the ‘jacks’ to do. Let me explain first some other points before I get to that ok.
We all can see the number one issue with the Leafs is their lack of defense. Cody Franson, Mark Fraser and Paul Ranger are not playing the way they are capable of playing. This is not the year for at least Fraser to tank on us but it is happening. As for the Paul Ranger story and it has been a nice one as in not playing NHL hockey for three years and trying for a come back, all great movie material but it’s not working, time to change.
With the Leafs style of play, a quick move out, up to the rush and attack the other teams zone, well the problem we are all seeing is the other teams are doing this right back to the Leafs. The visiting teams are counter-attacking, pouncing on the Leafs defense-men who are giving up the puck very easily and then the result is a goal.
Then go the forward position and directly to David Clarkson with a grand total of 6 points in 23 games. Clarkson is a good player but he needs to get back to what he is good at and that is driving to the net, making the other teams players take notice of him on the ice so he is throwing them off their game. Right now he isn’t doing this and it really shows just not on the score sheet but every where on the ice.
And it’s not just Clarkson who isn’t producing but the Leafs need secondary scoring from players like Nikolai Kulemin and Jay McClement. Their numbers are down this year dramatically which puts more pressure on the Kessel’s and Kadri’s of the team.
Even General Manager Dave Nonis chimes with a quote from the Toronto Star:
As a group defensively . . . the D hasn’t played as well as it’s capable of playing on a nightly basis,” Nonis said. “Some of it’s just pairings, some of it’s confidence, some of it’s guys came off really good years last year and some of them have had a difficult time sustaining that. There’s a lot of different things that fall into it. It’s not that we haven’t seen them play well, because we have. It’s that we haven’t seen them play well enough this year on a consistent basis.
So back to the original question, What to do with the Leafs now that they have gone with just 2 regulation wins in the past 19 games?
1. The Leafs need to re-vamp there defense. Either switch up some pairings or move some bodies who are not doing the job.
2. Bring up some players from the Marlies who will give you some secondary scoring chances as the boys who are there now aren’t doing it!
3. Hate to say it, and here are the ‘jacks’ plus it goes against everything I stand for but I think GM Nonis needs to look at moving James Reimer. Not because he isn’t playing well, in fact he is (12th in save percentage) but because you would get someone back who would help you out immediately.
Some thing needs to be done, even if a trade isn’t in the works right now. Because if the Leafs want to make the playoffs then they better start playing like they are in them now!