November 26, 2008
I don't know what's fun about watching my team let in three, four, five, and six goals every night. I don't know what's fun about leading the league in goals against, and having the league's worst shorthanded unit.
You know what's a lot of fun? Defence. Even more fun than that? Killing a penalty.
I know, the Leafs' goaltending has been bad. OK, worse than that. Downright Raycroftian. Vesa Toskala and Curtis "Old Yeller" Joseph have collaborated on a 3.51 goals against average, and a .869 save percentage. Joseph's stats, frightening to begin with, actually got worse after last night's shelling. He's now sporting a tidy 3.95 GAA and an .851 save percentage. Even Raycroft is laughing at him. As was discussed over at Pension Plan Puppets, "Old Yeller" Cujo needs to be put down.
Our "magicians of the meshed mansions," as Joe Bowen would say, are not getting the job done. They are brutal. But the goalie in me isn't going to sit back and let my peeps in the blue paint shoulder all the blame. Where's the help? The Leafs, as has been the norm post-lockout, are atrocious defensively, and once again look lost beyond their own blue line.
Where's the coaching? I thought Ron Wilson was a defence-oriented cat. Did I read the wrong memo? Right now I can't tell the difference between Wilson and Paul Maurice.
Look, I know we're rebuilding. I know this team isn't very good. I have no problem with losing, as long as the effort is there. I'd just rather lose 2-1, than 6-3. I mean, it's infuriating to see this Leafs team spot their opposition two-nothing leads on the regular, and blow three-nothing leads and lose in overtime. It's maddeningly frustrating to see the Leafs dead last in penalty killing efficiency, with a 73.5% "success" rate. If 23 other teams can be at the 80% or better mark, why can't we?
Where is the defensive accountability?
What makes the Leafs' struggles in their own end all the more difficult to swallow is the fact that, one quarter into the season, this team has proven it can score. Toronto is one of only eight teams averaging over three goals a game.
I think Ron Wilson has done great things in the dressing room. He's brought change, Obama style. I loved how he benched Matt Stajan, and now has him playing the best hockey of his life. Wilson keeps it real and, if you're not performing (see Blake, Jason), you're not playing. But Mr. Wilson has failed to deliver on his promise to make the Leafs a tougher team to play against, especially on home ice. The personnel has changed, but the results are just more of the same: fishing the puck out of the back of the net on a regular basis. And, let me tell you, I'm not finding it much fun to watch.
On Brian Burke
Speaking of fun, to no one's surprise, it's all but official now. I don't know what the hell took so long either.
One thing: only in Toronto can the interim general manager make a trade the day before the savior is hired. Definitely only in Toronto. You know how we do!
I'm torn on Mr. Burke. I'll be honest, what scares me the most is that high atop his priority list will be shipping Tomas Kaberle out of town. Burke's an intimidating cat. I don't doubt for a second that he'll "convince" Kabby to waive his no-trade clause. I know Kabby hasn't had a fantastic season so far, but the thought of him leaving, regardless of what we get in return, pains me greatly.
No matter, I do welcome Burke to town with open arms. Let's see what he can do. After the tenure of John Ferguson Jr., things can only get better. JFJ took us to hell. We've seen it. We've endured. We've survived. When you're at the bottom, the only place left to go is up. Do your thing, Brian.