Raking Leafs

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

11/19/2009

The Song Remains The Same

(I was going to post the below yesterday. Then they score the first three, pad their lead, score late to re-take the lead....you know the rest. Hence, the below)

In response to Burke pointing out the positives today in the NP, I'd like to point out how the culture remains the same with my trouble Leafs. Allow me to explain.

Though many of the talking points are in themselves true, what is not true is that Burke is accomplishing what he set out to do. Fighting Majors and playing the system do not change a team culture, and that is what truly ails the Leafs. As an aside, I think Orr could be a major factor in changing the culture. He can provide mojo, swagger, confidence, which is a necessary ingredient in what follows.

Attributes that have sickened fans since the lock out remain. Slow starts, and the resulting catch up. Seldom leads are squandered. Opposition teams playing their back-up. This could be summed up in being easy to play against, but it is more than that. Much more.

I'm not sure the Leafs grasp the concept playing the game. I'm not talking about playing a zone, or driving the net, or executing a one-timer; the minutae, while vitally important, but still minutae. I'm talking about the big picture. The theory of playing and winning a game of hockey.

Players jumping the boards and winning every battle for position or the puck, in succession for every skater through the entire shift. Siezing the opportunity presented with every second on the ice to to beat your opponent, to win the game, to have no mercy. This is how a team imposes it's will, and this is how any good team wins games. This is usually achieved through a process called "learning how to win." Not a lucky bounce, or a broken stick, or "we had several good chances..." This takes preparation and execution. Positioning, Fore-thought. Anticipation. Effort. But it also takes a sense of 'the game', situational awareness if you will.

Granted the Leafs can impose their will at times but the opposition is also allowing it to happen, already staked to a comfortable lead. If this imposition occurred at the beginning of a game, and then throughout, when the opposition is also trying to take control of the game, when the battle should be raging, then I think we'd be getting somewhere, making some concrete progress. But that big picture seems to be missing.

Where is the emphasis on getting a lead? Is there an understanding of the importance of a lead? Of imposing their will on the opposition? Of trying to win the game, not just to have a 'successful shift" so you can avoid blame?

I don't have any answers, but I think I've got a good handle on the problem.

Update - Make Ian White the Captain already. He is truest to the team of any Leaf for the past three years. Last night's loss is another example of his leadership. Not sure why he was on the bench for the final shift in regulation...

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