Many things have happened in Leaf Land since the Trade Deadline, but the biggest story is the Leafs tumultuous descent into oblivion. Brian Burke (General Manger of the Leafs) has surprised us – and the Leaf roster – before; the Phaneuf trade, the Kessel trade, but never have the Leafs surprised him so much. He had this to say in an interview, “I’m bewildered by it. It’s like somebody hit me with a two-by-four. I’ve never had this before, when a team just plain flat-out went into free-fall.”
Back on February 14th the Maple Leafs were in the eighth and final playoff spot. Though it wasn’t as comfortable as their earlier ride in the top five, it’s better than 12th. Since then the Leafs have absolutely self destructed garnering eight out of a possible 30 points.
So what’s the problem? Well if you look at the team statistics, some problems are obvious. Over 70 games into the season the Leafs have the third worst Goals Against Average (3.01), the second worst Penalty Kill (77.5%), and have been scored on first in 37 games this season; a serious problem as they win only 29.2% of the time when trailing first. The Leafs need to tighten up their defensive issues soon.
I didn’t think the day would ever come, but it did. Ron Wilson was fired. Wilson won 130 games behind the Leafs bench, but unfortunately that was out of 310 .
Up to the podium steps Randy Carlyle, who – like Wilson – is close friends with Burke. In fact, Carlyle coached Burke’s 2007 Anaheim Ducks to a Cup. How did he get run out of Anaheim then? In November, after the Ducks struggled much like the Leafs, Carlyle was fired from his position there.
Carlyle made his first Leaf appearance on March 3rd, and coached them to a victory against the Canadiens. Under him the Leafs are 2-4-1.
The best for last? Yeah, the best for last. Firstly I'd like to direct your attention to this. For those who don't know, that is Jake Gardiner. A 2008 first-round pick that Burke parlayed from Anaheim in a trade that sent vetran defenceman Francois Beauchemin from T.O. This is his first season in the NHL and he's collected 22 points (five goals) in 64 games. He's 1st in points by a rookie defenceman, and 12th among all NHL rookies.
Secondly, please do not view this video with children in the room; truly this kind of criminal act shouldn't viewed by anyone, but I'm not your mother.
Who was that? That was the same guy from last blog, James "it's Reim Time" Reimer. After losing his starting position, this is the kind of response I expect from him. He made 34 saves, but lost his birthday shut out with under 30 seconds left in the game. Regardless Reimer put on a spectacular performance.
The Leafs are being pulled out to sea and if they don’t fight the current, it’s only a matter of time before they go under.