Ugly Start for Maple Leafs

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Written on 10/13/2009 by Jim Cerny


Are the Toronto Maple Leafs really this bad?!

I mean after Brian Burke's summer of cleaning house, this is what the Maple Leafs are? A team that can't keep the puck out of its own net, is horrid down-low in its own end, has trouble finishing at the other end, and compounds one dumb penalty after another by being a putrid 57.9% on the penalty kill so far this season?

Yikes!

Well at least they can fight (witness Colton Orr tangling with Donald Brashear, above). And to their credit, the Maple Leafs did battle the Rangers for a bit last night before succumbing under the weight of their own ineptitude to the tune of a 7-2 final at Madison Square Garden.

In fact Toronto was the better team---certainly the harder-working team---for stretches of the second period last night, prompting Rangers head coach John Tortorella to say after the game, "They're a quick, hard-working hockey team . Obviously, they are a team that is building again...but they took it to us in the second period."

While that praise is nice, it doesn't clean up the mess the Leafs made for themselves in the opening period or the one that saw the Rangers pull away with four unanswered goals in the third.

Two quick penalties by the Leafs two minutes into the game handed the Rangers a 5-on-3 power play. Seconds later, Toronto was in a 1-0 hole when defenseman Luke Schenn put the puck into his own net. Six minutes later the Maple Leafs allowed Vinny Prospal all the time and space he desired behind Toronto's cage before watching his perfect pass lead to a Wade Redden goal, and a 2-0 deficit.

That the Leafs did not quit is commendable. That they put forth such a horrid start and finish is not acceptable.

The numbers are atrocious to start the season. The Maple Leafs are one of two winless teams in the NHL---at 0-4-1, they are still two points worse than the 0-1-3 Islanders---and they have surrendered a league-worst 24 goals in those five games, nearly five per. Their goals against---4.80---is exactly twice what their goals for average is---2.40. You're not going to win too many games that way.

Throw in the brutal PK, the early disappointing play of their big-time free agent acquisition Mike Komisarek, and the fall-off in the play of the sophomore Schenn, and it's easy to understand the Maple Leafs brutal start to '09-'10.

Many other reporters have written excellent pieces about the state of the Leafs, but I suggest you check out Chris Botta's take on FanHouse. Botts was at the game last night, and was disgusted with Toronto coach Ron Wilson's post-game lack of accountability.

I missed Wilson's huffy post-game exit as I was in the Rangers' locker room. But read Chris' take. Good stuff.

So will things get better in TO this season? I'd think they'd have to, especially with Phil Kessel eventually returning to the lineup. But based on what I witnessed last night---as well as watched on the tube during Saturday's loss to Pittsburgh---this could be one long year for the Leafs.

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2 Comments

  1. The Count |

    Cerny,

    Just wanted to say congrats on the blog, you are doing a great job in promoting not only the Rangers, but the NHL.

    Also wanted to wish you luck as you begin the first podcast.

     
  2. Jim |

    Count,

    Much appreciated. Podcast Friday at noon with Mike Keenan as guest on newyorkrangers.com!

    You let me plug my own work!

    Hope all is well, and hope to see you soon.

     

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