Wednesday, February 29, 2012
Return of 'Tank Nation'
Lat night's 5-3 loss to the Florida Panthers was really the last "must win" game of the season for the Maple Leafs. Their season is over despite not being mathematically out of a playoff berth. The Leafs only sit just 4 points out of 8th spot in the East but are also just 4 points out of a lottery pick in the draft. Considering the Leafs have only one win over the past 10 games, it's obvious which direction they are moving in.
I have been saying all along that teams in the East will need at least 93 or 94 points to make the playoffs. That has not changed. Until 10 games ago, the Leafs have been pretty close to a 93 point pace. With only 19 games remaining, it is unrealistic to expect that they can make up the lost points over the past 10 game stretch. They would have to accumulate 1.47 points per game over the remaining 19 games to finish with 93 points. Meanwhile, the Rangers with the best record in the NHL earn only 1.41 points per game. To expect the Leafs to outperform the Rangers for almost a 1/4 of the season is just not possible.
So all that's left is the usual finger pointing and political spin by management. Brian Burke knows what's wrong but isn't going to publicly state it. Some of it is obvious. They have no legitimate #1 centre. Their goalies are inconsistent and now suffer from lack of confidence. Their defensive game is a mess. This bullshit about pressure is a smokescreen. There is pressure everywhere. More pressure than Toronto. Coaches and managers need to win because elsewhere it affects the bottom line. Not here. Elsewhere players get booed without mercy when they don't perform. Not here. Look at the long list of under performers this season - Tim Connolly, Matthew Lombardi, Nik Kulemin, Luke Schenn, James Reimer, Mike Komisarek, Colby Armstrong, Cody Franson and Dion Phaneuf (gasp yes even him). None of these players are even close to earning their generous contracts. Either is Ron Wilson who is one of the highest paid coaches in the league.
At this point why bother to make a good show at just missing the playoffs like the past 3 seasons. Let's shoot for a good draft pick.