March 19, 2007

Tough Weekend

The Leafs love to do things the hard way. If they do end up making the playoffs, it's going to be the hard way. Road games on the weekend against the Capitals and the Habs were supposed to be money in the bank. But, of course not, because it's never that easy with the Leafs.

A 5-1 loss to the Capitals, who hadn't won a game in nearly a month, and a 3-2 shootout loss to the Habs - another shootout loss to Montreal, the fourth of the season. That's four points the Leafs have handed Montreal, and had the Leafs picked up the extra points, they'd be in 6th place in the Eastern Conference tonight.

The whole team stunk up the joint against the Capitals, but Raycroft really dropped the ball against the Habs. The first goal was a stinker and Raycroft was made to look foolish yet again in the shootout.

The book's out on this guy, and everyone freakin' has a copy. It's called "Deke." A short story. Quite entertaining, actually. Anyways, Koivu and Kostitsyn, the final two Montreal shooters, both beat Raycroft with the same deke, and Kostitsyn really had him fooled. Raycroft practically made like a damn soccer goalie and guessed left, and guessed wrong. Kostitsyn had a yawning right side, and made no mistake. Raycroft's a sucker for a simple head-fake. It's just too easy. Once again, he didn't use the poke check when the shooters got in-tight. It's unbelievable.

Sundin scored on his shootout attempt, and like during most shootouts for Toronto, he's the only one that finds the twine. However, the Leafs are right at the league average for shootout goals. It's Raycroft that is killing them. He's letting in 40% of shootout attempts. The only shootout the Leafs beat the Habs in was when Aubin was between the pipes.

Unfathomably, the Leafs enter the new week still only one point out of 8th spot in the East. Toronto is only 4 points out of 6th spot, with a game in hand on the Lightning. Tampa Bay is by no means in the clear.

The Leafs consistent inconsistency has continued. They've actually put together some decent home games of late, but now have seemingly lost their ability to play on the road. It's either one or the other.

Kaberle should be back this week, thank God. He's been sorely missed in all aspects of the game. This guy is so much more than just a power play magician. He's been a durable guy over the years and when he's not in the lineup, his absence is profound.

Get well, get well soon, we wan't you to get well.

And Poni's been stuck on 18 goals for a while now. For him to get three in 10 games is going to be tough. I definitely need one two-goal game from him, and then an empty netter. It's possible, but I need him to break out of this slump. Come on Poni! Please!

There's 10 games left in the season. Twenty points still up for grabs. I think the Leafs need 15 points to assure themselves of post-season play. That's asking a lot. Seven wins and one shootout loss. The shootout loss is not what I'm concerned about - Raycroft will deliver that. It's the wins. Seven wins out of 10 is a daunting task. This Leafs team is all about win one, lose one, win one, lose one, win one, lose two, win one. It's a struggle.

Personally, Raycroft just isn't the goalie I want down the stretch run, or even in the heat of the playoffs, for that matter. I'm not confident, that with this guy between the pipes, the Leafs are going to beat the likes of New Jersey, Buffalo, Carolina, or New York - both the Rangers and the Islanders - in order to get this team into the post-season. He's not exactly oozing confidence either right now. He looks like he's fighting the puck and is just plain old nervous out there.

I know I've been up and down in regards to Raycroft all season. I've been flip-flopping all over the place like John Kerry. I think I have, however, come to a final decision. Frankly, I think Raycroft's a bum. But he's all the Leafs have got. But I'm still not going to give him the benefit of the doubt. He doesn't deserve it.

Prove me wrong, Raycroft.

It's still within the realm of possibility that this team can make the playoffs. I'm not sure how, or why. It's like I want this team to put the fans out of their misery. This is kind of disturbing, but I want Raycroft to feel the heat for not making the playoffs and face the realization that he may never be loved, adored and respected like those that came before him. I want him to be scared that if he doesn't deliver, he will be caste away in great shame to live out the rest of his playing days on terrible teams as a back-up, like Felix Potvin. Toronto is not going to put up with this facade of goaltending, oh no it won't (actually, it will, it has to - it's got no choice - but for dramatic effect I'll say it won't).

It's honestly like a roller-coaster watching and cheering for these guys. From the highest high of beating Ottawa in overtime, to the lowest low after getting thoroughly spanked by the lowly Washington Capitals. But - it's a new week, and there are three more games to be played. Tough games. Against bloody good teams. The march towards the playoffs continues, and I continue to beleaf, because it's all I know.

Because, like Jim Carey said when Mary Swanson told him the chances of them hooking up were about one in a million:

"So you're telling me there's a chance..."

Goodnight, Toronto...


Bhattorious said...

What can i say....Kaberle on the back-end has been a gaping whole the past few you have stated Raycroft has not been his best in the pressure filled moments of this season....he let Kostitsyn wrist one through from the top of the circle....WHAT? does that happen when you team is depending on you to stop those kinds of shots...also...Wellwood continues to impress me...Navin...this kid is a regards to that loss to the Caps...i have no comment....i was disgusted...and embarrased to be a fan with that loss....take nothing away from the Caps playing the spoiler role...but mu god...we should be able to beat this team....anyway...i have had my say...maybe i will have a different point of view after this week...but judging on the games, that dosen't look like it's gonna happen...L8s

Bhattorious said...
This comment has been removed by the author.