Raking Leafs

Mixing metaphors and casting cliches about hockey and the Maple Leafs for the ether's pleasure since MCMLXVII.

4/10/2007

Rubbernecking

Thank you to all that have been stopping by since Saturday. I haven't had much to say, because really, what is left to say? But I imagine people are curious about the emotional car wreck that was this past weekend, so I figure I owe you, the reader, something to slow down and look at.


Truth be told, I made my peace with this season early last week, after the loss to the Rangers. It was going to be ok if the Leafs didn't make it the playoffs. Despite how much I felt the team could make it in, and put up a good fight in the first round, and maybe even beyond that, it was going to be ok if they missed. But, you know how rationalizing and convincing yourself to believe in something contrary to what one wants ends up. Stupid dichotomic human condition. Atleast I didn't watch the Islanders game on Sunday. End the season on the high note of beating the Habs and all. Oh yeah, the final Northeast Division standings are as follows:

Team W-L-OTL PTS GF-GA HOME AWAY
Buffalo 53-22-7 113 308-242 28-10-3 25-12-4
Ottawa 48-25-9 105 288-222 25-13-3 23-12-6
Toronto 40-31-11 91 258-269 21-15-5 19-16-6
Montreal 42-34-6 90 245-256 26-12-3 16-22-3
Boston 35-41-6 76 219-289 18-19-4 17-22-2

That dulls the pain a bit. Moral victory, and all.

The team disappointed this fan throughout the long season, so really what is one more disappointment in the grand scheme of things? But despite the season ending once again before the games really mean something, the season was not a complete disappointment. Kaberle established himself as a premier rearguard. Wellwood made believers out of many. Kubina rounded into $5m form, and should be a solid contributor in the future. Carlo finally played enough games to show what he can do at this level. Same goes for Antro. White's speed and skill were top-notch throughout the year. Bates joined Kilger as reliable veteran pluggers. Steen and Stajan proved if nothing else durable through what can only be described as a struggle for consistency. JFJ's St.Louis gem Johnny Pohl acquitted himself well when given the opportunity. Boyd Devereaux fought his way back to the NHL with wheels I wish more Leafs' scouts looked for in prospects.

Sundin looked like a world beater to start the year, but never regained his dominant form after suffering an Eager/elbow injury, which is really an allegory of Sundin's career; dominant to the point of attracting so much attention that he eventually breaks. I have to admit, I took great satisfaction reading about how Mats Sundin had his hopes up only to have that hope dashed by the Islanders. Maybe he better understands what his team has been doing all season long to its fans. And if what the team did this season needs reiterating, please allow me to help in that regard.

Too many games wasted with lacklustre efforts despite reassurances from management and coaches begining in training camp of icing an ultra-conditioned team.

Too many one line games, where only one line would seem to put forth the intensity and synchronicity necessary to score enough to beat the opposition.

Too many hits passed on. For a team that is supposedly trying to be tough to play against, you sure fooled me, and the opposition, with how many players took it upon themselves to play with physicality.

Too much offensive predictability at even strength and on the power play.

Too many mental mistakes for a team of professional athletes. Starting October 12, 2006, when a three goal lead was surrendered to the offensively starved Devils, mental gaffes became a trend the team could not shake. I witnessed that October debacle first hand. Little did I know I was witnessing the meme of the season;Blown Leads. Completely unacceptable. A few more icings, a few more face-off wins, a few more.....screw this. I'm not going to calculate 'what if' points, even though I know they total more than five wins.

Yes, the scoring was balanced, with thirteen players scoring 10+ goals for a team total of 258. But the 05-06 edition has twelve 10+ goal scorers for 254 total for the team. Goals against again outpaced goals for at 269, compared to the 05-06 GA of 270. Net improvement from -16 to -11; Five goals.

These results wouldn't exactly meet market expectations. In the real world, the Toronto Maple Leafs Hockey Club stock should be a Strong Sell.

Then there is Raycroft. All you need to know is what other teams were doing to him at the end of the season; hucking flittering wristers towards the top half of the net from anywhere in the zone. I think fatigue had something to do with his crapactular end of the year. Exhibit A; Ryder's wrap-around in game 82. He wasn't fighting to see pucks as much as he is capable of either. He just dropped to his knees and hoped for the best. Which wasn't good enough. Which is a shame because I wanted to give Raycroft the benefit of the doubt for as long as possible.

Rest up Wellwood. And hit the gym please. We need you to show a more physical side for your game to progress. And shoot 100 pucks a day. Make that 200.

UPDATE - Didn't think I'd see such an article chastising Leafs' ownership. Hockey's Future has a Leafs' prospect update up, and it has me very anxious to see Brent Aubin play against the big boys. Could he be a shoot-out specialist?
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Congratulations to sarahaha for winning the Common Fan regular season pool.

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Preseason predictions were great out West and horrible in the East. I should know more about the East, but maybe I let too much emotion into the equation as I went 4 for 8. I picked the Sabres and the Senators (whoppee, i'm a genius), then picked the Rangers and the Penguins. I flopped on the southeast, picking the Canes and Panthers instead of the Thrashers and Lightning. I still can't believe only two Northeast teams made it in. In the west, I managed to pick the Oilers as out, but substituted them for the Blue Jackets. Missed the Stars. How did I manage that?

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