1-8-1 in the last 10 games. 4 points out of a playoff spot. Only 3 points ahead of BUFFALO? Give me a break.
What a joke.
I agree with not much being done on the trade deadline. Other than a goaltender, no trade would have made a major difference with the club. But the goaltenders worth anything that were available would have come at far too high a cost for them. When Evgeni Nabokov and Jonathan Bernier are your top options, their prices are going to be inflated.
Nash? Obviously nobody wanted to pay the price for him.
Dustin Brown? Might have been nice, but hardly improves a team fighting for a playoff spot. He's a good addition FOR the playoffs, but not scrambling for them.
The reality is that most deadline signings don't have an effect on the acquiring team until the following season. It takes more than 20 games to find your groove with new teammates and new coaches.
So, nothing was going to get fixed by dismantling the rebuilding effort.
Look, I said before the season started that the playoffs would be a fight. We were as likely to be in 11th as 7th with this team and this division. The emergence of Kessel and Lupul as bona fide stars is welcome, but the death of our secondary scoring, complete inconsistency in goal, and godawful defence has more than countered the upsides. Those last two points have really come home in this stretch. Where before the Leafs could win on top-line scoring alone, the turnovers and bad goals of late are gifting points to opponents.
But that's not the worst of it. What really pisses me off as I've watched this collapse is the lack of energy on the team. It started when they played 4 games in 6 nights a couple weeks back. The Leafs were DEAD after the first game. They could barely stand up, let alone skate end-to-end by the third period of the second game. By the end of the week I half expected to see them snoozing on the bench.
If you can't play the 2nd half of back-to-back games without looking like your legs are made of wet noodle, then you're sure as shit not going to make it ANYWHERE in the playoffs. Where the fuck is the conditioning?
Outside of Lupul and Brown, are there any players on the team who can go a full 60 minute game? I wish the whole team was made of clones of these two. Brown can't score, but he's scrapping and banging and shooting to the last second, whether it's 5-0 leafs or 10-0 other guys. Kessel still looks like he should be on a beer-league team, and it shows as the long stretches play out.
I think back to the Pat Burns days, and him running the team hard every single practice. They'd be gasping for breath when the sprints and drills were over. He told them they'd be thankful when they were in overtime in game 7 of a playoff series. That year's team saw a game 7 every round. And more overtimes, double overtimes, and triple overtimes than any team has ever seen. They played hard every damned shift.How the hell is Wilson letting his team look this poorly conditioned?
So now, 19 games left, four points out, 2 teams to climb over, to JUST make the playoffs - the team needs to be shaken up. Firing Wilson at this point serves no purpose. If they miss the playoffs, he's in trouble. But knowing Burke's loyalty to his guys, I expect you'd see the rest of the coaching staff scrapped first. Goaltending coach Francois Allaire should be the first out the door. He may be highly regarded, but his method clearly isn't working with what he's got.
At this point, with 9 of the next 11 games on the road, the Leafs need a kick in the collective ass. They'll be away from the (rightfully) booing fans at home, away from the Toronto hockey media circus, and that can't hurt. But they'd better be flying a few Marlies around with them too. Time for Kadri to skate around for a game or two again, give Colborne a shot, why not Carter Ashton? They can't hurt any more than we're hurting. Would it kill them to put Scrivens in net for a game? If nothing else, the enthusiasm from these guys could be a refreshing change right now. The teams hits the ice already beaten now. It's an embarrassment.
I accept rebuilding. In fact, I embrace it for the Leafs. Too many rebuilding efforts on this club have been stopped dead by a playoff run or unexpectedly good season. I'm glad Burke is sticking to his guns. But at this point? We should be fighting for 6th, not 8th.
Wednesday, February 29, 2012