Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Two more years of winter for the Toronto Maple Leafs

Two days after hinting at his desire for a new contract on Twitter, Leafs coach Ron Wilson tweeted on Christmas Day that the team had given him an extension.

Over the holidays it slowly came out the Toronto Maple Leafs Head Coach Ron Wilson was given a two-year extension.  To me that's the equivalent of the groundhog seeing his shadow, because it means after several months of enduring winter we get another six weeks. 

Leafs Nation have been putting up with bad hockey for a long time now.  Frustration levels are at an alltime high.  Cities around North America have been celebrating sports championships for the past decade.  Toronto hasn't even had the opportunity to watch a playoff series.  The Blue Jays, Maple Leafs, Argos and Raptors all stink!

For many Leafs fans, the season has brought about some hope.  The team is young and fast and can score. The Leafs currently stand 6th overall in the East and competing for a playoff spot all season.  It's an illusion.  The fast start in the first 10 games in the season, when the team earned 15 points, is the reason the Leafs are in 6th place.  Since that time the team has had a losing record and having been slowly playing their way out of a playoff spot.  In those first 10 games the schedule was very kind to them because had a steady stream of weak teams to play.

I hope I am wrong but I can't see the Leafs making the playoffs.  They have the worst penalty killing in the NHL and are one of the weakest defensive teams in the league.  Teams with bad defensive records do not finish in the playoffs.  Look around at playoff contenders, it's not how many you goals you can score that matters but how many you can prevent.  The Boston Bruins had problems scoring goals through many stretches of last season but it didn't matter because they were tough to score on.

Bad defensive play has been a problem in Toronto since Ron Wilson arrived and he has yet to find a solution.  A tight defensive system is the easiest part of the game to learn.  You don't need any special talent as in the case of scoring goals.  In the past even expansion teams have adopted that style of play to compete against more talented teams.  Wilson now has a much more talented group under him but can't seem to get them to defend in their own end.  The coach is totally accountable.  I don't see how the situation will change through the course of the remaining 50 games or even over the next 2 seasons.  He has almost none of the players he inherited 4 seasons ago but the defensive problems continue.

I'm depressed.

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