November 26, 2008

Fun Is Overrated

Ask my fellow Maple Leafs followers about this year's squad and you're sure to get back one response: "the team sure is fun to watch!" You know what? Fuck "fun."


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.

15 comments:

blurr1974 said...

Seems to me, Kaberle is doing his best to minimize interest, should he be asked to waive his NTC. He's been brutal. Three giveaways in the 1st period against Atlanta last night alone has shown me his head is not in the game. However, before we go that route, maybe he should get benched...

Anonymous said...

Burke is a Bum, what has he really done, from a failing franchise in Van City to a team mostly built by Murry...and ONE cup...i say we WOO Hollad, Lamarillo, Rutherford or even Doug Wilson....Burke is a 2nd tier GM...not a 1st...

Bhattorious....

Anonymous said...

By the way, who you going to replace Kabby with on your logo...i say John Tavares...LOL

Bhattorious...

wrap around curl said...

Bhatt; I think it will be Jared Cowen over Tavares.

When I watch hockey I tend to pay attention most to the goaltending. But lately I am just hissing and spitting with Cujo and Vesa. At this point, give Pogge a shot.

Football Fanatics said...

I think its hard to pay attention to just the goal tending when watching hockey. I always want to follow the puck.

Johnny G said...

[Sarcasm]
But I can't follow the puck. Let's bring back that weird glowing puck thing from Fox. That was like the greatest idea ever.
[/sarcasm]

Anonymous said...

Wrap; Cowan, are you kidding me, if we are to go for a D-man, Hedman would be the guy....

Imagine Hedman and Schenn.....and than Teemu Pulkkinen in 2010....that would be an amazing start.

eyebleaf said...

@ Blurr: I know, he's been brutal. But still on pace for like 55-60 points! Bench him? No. I don't want to talk about it.

@ Bhatti: Burke's the best guy available right now. We took him. Stop complaining and be happy for once. Plus, isn't ONE CUP exactly what we want? And, man, I don't want to have to do another poll if Kabby leaves. Fuck. And over my dead body is bloody Tavares going up there! I'd rather put up Stajan. Or Schenn.

@ Wrap: Vesa and Cujo = EPIC FAIL. I'm still weary to get Pogge up into this mess, though. Not until Wilson starts to teach this team how to play some bloody defence. Pogge ain't ready, plain and simple.

@ Football: Following the puck is good advice. I suggest you pass it along to Toskala. It might help him out of a jam.

@ Johnny: Good old Fox Trax! Hard to believe that idea didn't fly.

@ Anon: I'm guessing that's you, Bhatti. Will you sign up for a bloody account already? And don't get Wrap started on Cowan. She will kill you. And I'm not sure who this Pulkkinen character you speak of is. Stralman can be our Hedman type dude (offensive). If we bring in Cowan we will have two rugged mother suckers on the back end for years to come. That idea is scratching me just where I itch.

Junior said...

Kabby has been bad to start the year, but IMHO it's way too early to start talking about trading this guy. Skilled puck-moving defencemen are no easier to find in this league than they were ten years ago; our inability to find one prompted one idiot to make a trade for Tom Freakin' Kurvers, as Messrs. Cox, Simmons, et. al. remind us virtually daily. The point is we have one now, and up until this year, he's played well.

Loyalty is a two-way street; the team expects dedication and loyalty from the player. From the player's perspective, it isn't right if you fire a guy's ass the first time he craps the bed a few games in a row.

Chalk it up to TK having to adjust to LOTS of new defence partners, for now; mix in some bad luck and some admittedly indifferent play and I say the remedy is a benching. Wilson needs to get his attention and convince him that he can be better; that he can make the team better.

fantasybaseballmacbookpro said...

Come on man, we all knew from the start of training camp we were going to go through a pretty rough year. You even said it yourself.

We are going nowhere fast and this is what all Leaf fans have to accept. For the rest of the season just enjoy the great game of hockey and just be a fan of the sport instead of going off on how "not fun" watching the Leafs is.

Yes, watching your team lose isn't fun but just look at the Tampa Bay Rays. After years of bottom feeding, they have a strong core of young players that could potentially keep them as World Series contenders for years to come.

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Anonymous said...

Pogge will be average at best....if it takes him this long to get up here....most Stars are up and never go back...they see problems with Pogge and he will NEVER be more than average....

Bhattorious said...

By the way the last comment was me....Happy Navin....I signed up....

Bhattorious said...

Testing/.

eyebleaf said...

Attaboy Bhatti! Finally!

And we don't know that about Pogge. Not yet. Have some patience God dammit!!

http://leafs.hockeyanalysis.com/2008/11/27/cross-your-fingers-and-hope-leafs-goaltending-has-turned-the-corner/