The Toronto Maple Leafs are officially eliminated from the playoff race. Head coach Randy Carlyle and star winger Phil Kessel were among the Leafs to express disappointment, even embarrassment, by the way the season ended after last night’s 3-0 loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning. Kessel was especially hard on himself, even though he had a breakthrough campaign offensively and is the last player (well, besides Jonathan Bernier) to blame this collapse on. Jonas Siegel of TSN has reaction from the game.
Centre Dave Bolland is likely to miss the rest of the season with that lingering ankle injury. General manager Dave Nonis will have to decide whether or not to re-sign him this offseason. As Michael Traikos of the National Post writes, if Bolland and his agent don’t come down significantly from their alleged outrageous contract requests, the Leafs simply can’t afford him.
One big reason the Leafs missed the playoffs is defensive breakdowns. But the more important issue is they can’t keep the puck out of their own end in the first place, giving the opposition more opportunities to burn them. Tyler Dellow goes into greater detail into the Leafs’ one, big issue that is absolutely killing them.
A lot of smart hockey fans are uncovering some pretty cool information about the contributions of NHL defensemen by recording and examining zone entries against. Eric T. explains the significance of zone entries and looks at some numbers from Philadelphia Flyers d-men in part one of a three-part series.
As the playoffs are just around the corner, it’s interesting to see how teams adapt and find that extra gear. Justin Bourne of the Backhand Shelf explains how coaches motivate their players, and how that changes when the postseason rolls around.