October 13, 2009
Five games into the season, we Leafs fans have a lot to be thankful for: the NHL's only winless team (the New York Islanders don't count), its worst defensive club (24 goals against in five games), a 63% success rate on the penalty kill, and a "starting goalie" with a .812 save percentage and 5.56 GAA.
The roster isn't strong. I get that. But I shouldn't be left weeping every time I tune in to watch a game.
While I've never much believed in the notion that a coach has a hand in how his team starts a game, or a period, I'm beginning to wonder about Ron Wilson. It's much easier to blame him for the fact the Leafs seem to always be trailing by a goal or two five minutes after the puck drops. And I've got to blame someone not named Vesa Toskala.
Granted it's only been a year and change, but horrendous defensive zone play and suspect penalty killing have begun to define Wilson's tenure in Toronto. Hopefully that'll change once Jonas Gustavsson takes up permanent residence between the pipes, but I'm worried. Enough to be thinking about the ex, Paul Maurice. And no Leafs coach should ever leave me pining for Maurice's return. I just can't shake the feeling: if Wilson couldn't get it done in San Jose, there's no way he accomplishes anything of substance (playoffs!!1) with the Maple Leafs.
In all seriousness: I think I might have actually, truly convinced myself that the Leafs would quality for the post-season. That's what makes the 0-4-1 start so difficult. Truculence is great and all, but I'd rather it be served in victory. There's only so many useless, staged fights I can watch.
The Joey MacDonald era kicks off tonight, and I hope it begins with me looking skywards in gratitude, rather than despair. I know; we're really reaching now.
As for Toronto's 77 games left on the schedule, I don't know whether to be thankful for them or not.
UPDATE: Toskala's injured. How convenient. And Tyler Bozak has been freed.