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Entries with the tag: phaneuf
Thing are quiet in Toronto today. 12 games in the Leafs are 5-5-2 and this city is fully aware of the fact that being at the 500-mark 82 games in will mean no playoffs once again. Some early season thoughts:
– The most dangerous player on the ice for the Leafs night-in and night-out.
– The only form of secondary scoring the Leafs have. He also leads the Leafs in points with 10.
– The Leafs’ best D-Man so far, no contest. Kaberle’s been solid offensively but Schenn has brought it at both ends of the ice. Not only that, he leads all Leafs’ D-men in +/- (4) and hits (42).
– Toronto’s goaltending tandem of Giguere and Gustavsson has been a major reason why Toronto has been in so many games this season. If they gave Gustavsson as much goal-support as they have Giguere, they’d be well above 500 right now. Want proof? The Leafs rank 12th in GA/G at 2.5.
Leafs (5-5-1) vs Capitals (7-4-1)
The Leafs will play their first game ever without Captain Dion Phaneuf tonight and as luck would have it, they play Alexander Ovechkin and the Washington Capitals. Playing their second game in as many nights will not help their cause either, after losing 3-2 to the Ottawa Senators yesterday. The Leafs were on their way to being shutout for a third straight game until 5 minutes into the 3rd Period when Nikolai Kulemin scored. That ended the Leafs’ franchise-record goal-less streak at 167 minutes and 39 seconds. The Leafs’ secondary scoring has to show up for them to post a W against the Caps.
Panthers (3-3-0) vs. Leafs (4-2-1)
The Leafs need a win tonight. Badly. Or else the team might just find itself on a tailspin to oblivion and the City of Toronto will push the panic button.
The Leafs’ 4-0-0 start raised eyebrows across the NHL. Brian Burke haters disappeared in that span as well. Gone was the criticism of the Kessel trade which flooded talk radio all the way into September. Gone was the criticism that Brian Burke failed to bring in a top line forward in Free Agency. Or the idea that stashing Kadri in the minors for another season was not the right move.
If the Leafs lose tonight, look for those critics to come back out of the closet. Not only that, but guys like Versteeg, Armstrong, Brown, Zigomanis, McArthur will all be exposed to the pressure-cooker that is the Toronto media.
This isn’t the first time someone has told Tomas Kaberle to shoot more. He may be a world-class offensive d-man. He may be able to move the puck up the ice and quarterback a powerplay better than almost anyone on the planet. But his shortcoming as an offensive d-man is his reluctance to shoot the puck.
Kaberle ranks 52nd in the league in Shots on Goal among defensemen with 10 on the season. Let’s do the math here. 30 Teams. 2 Defensemen on each team’s top PP unit on the points. That’s 60. Take away 2-3 d-men away from that number for guys like Ovechkin and Kovalchuk manning the points as forwards. Kaberle ranks 52 out of approximately 57 guys on the points of top PP units. By the way, his partner on the point, our Captain, ranks 1st among all d-men with 24 SOG.
Now there will be some among you who say, “well, Kaberle’s job is to set up Dion’s shot on the right or Kessel’s shot on the left.” Well, there is no light way to put this so here it is: You are idiots. This conversation is for people who actually understand hockey.
As of today, our Powerplay ranks 16th in the league at 14.3%. The Rangers drew 10 minutes in minors on Thursday, yet we failed to convert on one. And Kaberle is largely to blame.
The heart says: This year is different. This year the Leafs will be a top 8 team in the East.
The head says: on paper, the Leafs are the worst team in the Northeast, and that means another year out of the playoffs.
We fall in love with the Leafs too easily. Already there is clamor around the city about the playoffs. Talk radio is flooded with how fast, how much more defensively responsible this team is. People are posting the current NHL standings on Facebook Profile pictures, calling for Kessel to win the Rocket Richard, calling for Giggy to win the Vezina.
Leaf Nation is the Charlie Brown of the NHL. We keep believing Lucy won’t take the playoffs away. But she will. And we will fall flat on our faces once again.