A Different Perspective

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    Make sure to catch Daniel’s Rangers/Leafs preview.

    I’ll be attending my second Marlies game of the season today at Ricoh Coliseum at 3:00 PM. They try to avenge a loss last night to divisional rivals, Rochester Americans in the second half of a home-and-home.

    Watching games, got me to thinking about perspective.

    EDIT: Brad has a great take on this situation as well!

    My fantasy focus forces me to watch a lot of NHL games. And I do. I’ve been to many OHL games and love getting to arenas.

    I wanted to provide a different perspective discounted due to the lack of comparison from other teams. A step back with a look at other clubs puts a better perception of this revamped season looking like an unmitigated disaster and taken out of context. Other teams are struggling just as much in this still young season.

    Currently, Boston sits at the 8th spot with 6 points (3-3-0), tied with New Jersey (3-3-0) and Tampa Bay (2-2-2). Carolina (2-3-1) has struggled out of the gate with five points, Montreal (2-4-0) and Florida (2-4-0) have four and the NY Islanders have three overtime points, still without a win (0-2-3).

    The gap between the Leafs and a playoff spot is five points. Two wins and an overtime loss.

    The state of these other teams, having watched multiple games each, Boston is just now catching fire, while the Devils have been less than stellar, including Brodeur. Tampa Bay and Florida are world beaters and bottom-feeders game-to-game and the Habs have defensive and goaltending concerns among injuries. Vancouver was down 5-0 against the Flames when Luongo was pulled for a second time this season, after being pulled twice last season. Calgary was up 5-0 and lost 6-5 to Chicago within the week, and gripped their sticks a little harder when the Canucks popped three goals late in the game.

    Most media and fans haven’t watched the rest of these teams enough to have comparative results, but focused on this disaster start there’s enough fodder to keep the mill rolling.

    This losing streak is being viewed by some as an utter failure of the club, organization and in some eyes, the regime. Using the present situation to evaluate the long term viability of the club as if it’s a static situation, without the momentum to alter. As if the Leafs will finish 0-81-1 and doomed to last place overall.

    Some other perspective is required.

    A caller on AM640 was correct when he said because the Leafs indicated their desire to make the playoffs doesn’t guarantee a spot.

    The pursuit of the playoff spot was the goal. That pursuit could end as a 9th or 10th spot in the Conference. The Leafs had to be happy with that type of finish to move the club into a position going forward beyond this season to move the picks that have exacerbated the doomsday scenario. That was part of the gamble involved in the transactions over the off season and the Kessel trade.

    To get a playoff spot, with 76 games left, while assuming 93 points is still required for a playoff spot, they would have to start a run of 46-30 (winning percentage of .652). That’s an unrealistic expectation, but there could be a few extra time points along the way.

    All they need to do is win one game to start it off. One game.

    Toronto has always been a bubble playoff team to me this season. To help their effort, the Buds must win games against the rest of the bubble teams in regulation to limit available points. Not to discount the importance of other games, because points are points. But these four-point games are must wins, just like games where they’re playing opponents who played the night before.

    In all, the gap is completely recoverable at five points when taken into context.

    Making a run for a playoff spot, and missing out could put the 2010 draft pick as low as 14th overall, and as high as … what? First overall pick? Is anyone really that naive to think Toronto will finish lower than the Islanders?

    The 2010 first pick in all forms has become known as the default ‘1st overall pick’ draping Hall in Bruins gold, making it seem like the worst case scenario will be the actual final scenario.

    Rubbish.

    There is no perspective to support this theory, but it makes for good audio, video, articles and blogs.

    I don’t believe the team is as bad as it seems, not on their own play and not in comparison to peer clubs at the moment.

    They’re struggling and need to find they’re way and have the benefit of one game and a nice break before going on the road. They’re playing tentative and scared to make mistakes. It needs to start with a smaller victory and build.

    There’s no sugared up dream of playoffs, Cups and all the rest of the hoopla. There’s a long way to go until contention. Contracts are coming off the books over the summer which will reshape the product moving forward. The pursuit of a playoff spot would weigh in on decisions about who receives offers going forward, and in the end, this season is similar to that of last season; transitional.

    Looking at this funk as an evaluation of the future without the proper perspective takes the context out of what it really is … growing pains of an organization that has redefined itself with a lot of change in a small period of time.

    It may seem bleak, but all it takes is one win.

    Enjoy the game tonight.

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