Here we are on Leafs game night, welcoming the equally woeful Edmonton Oilers to town tonight for an all Canadian match-up. Both teams are sitting at 20 points for the year, with the Oilers accruing one more loss than our beloved blue and white. The Leafs are 8-11-4 this season, good for a share of 3rd last in the NHL.
I guess Leafs Nation can consider that an improvement over last year’s 29th place finish, but if I worked at the ACC in a Leafs management capacity I wouldn’t be breaking my arm patting myself on the back.
Let’s call a spade a spade: The Leafs forward group simply isn’t good enough as currently constructed. There has been a gross miscalculation of the talent group the forwards possess, and on a nightly basis the blue and white are generally outs-cored, out-hit and out-classed.
Whatever happened to that buzz word ‘TRUCULENT’ Brian Burke turned into a punch line after taking the reins of the Leafs? If you’re not good enough to win games on talent, hustle and physical dominance can take over and earn you a couple points you may not deserve. (I’m talking truculence in the Milan Lucic hit/score/fight mould, not the staged-fight truculence Colton Orr brings to the table – not that he isn’t great at what he does)
Speaking of which, is it possible to be ‘too tough’? I think so – no one wants to fight Orr in a spontaneous moment…just in a pre puck drop, little emotion, 60 second staged fight with the other teams’ big guy. There’s the occasional youngster aiming to make a name for himself with a TKO over a top 3 NHL enforcer, but a roster spot is dedicated nightly to a player who offers little else than an insurance policy to the squad on a limited basis.
So – who will win the battle of 20 point teams? Who vault into 27th in the league with a win? Can there be a more heart breaking loss on the horizon for the legions of Leaf fans?
- Mike Brown is out tonight after admirably blocking a late shot in the TBL loss Tuesday night.
- Colby Armstrong has received medical clearance to rejoin the team and should be back in the line-up Saturday.
- Dion Phaneuf is apparently 2 weeks out from making his return after a deep cut suffered against the Senators.
- Jonas Gustavsson makes his 7th consecutive start with JSG backing up. The Monster has looked great lately and cannot be faulted with any recent losses. (Love the fact he gets upset over goals/losses…Vesa Toskala should take note)
- Get Kadri back on the wing! Things were going just a little TOO WELL there for a bit so RW & Co. decided to mess with what’s working and move him to C…too many bad giveaways and defensive responsibilities in the NHL Naz isn’t quite ready for.
- Will there be a Phil Kessel sighting at the ACC tonight? Where’s that guy from the first 10 games gone?
- Shake-up time in my humble opinion…time to pull the trigger on a shake-up move…getting on in the year and the offense clearly isn’t good enough BB.
Enjoy the game tonight. Fasten your seat belt – the barf bag should be stowed in the seat in front of you if needed.
Follow me on Twitter: @mbd_27
About the Author
Written by Mike De Petrillo
Leafs fan; former OHL LW; Live in Toronto