Anyone surprised the Leafs got lit up by the Nucks last night? Well, you shouldn’t be.
Vancouver’s 5-3 victory was just the latest in a long line of high scoring Leaf losses against competent offensive teams. On Friday, Buffalo, 13th in the league in goals per game, beat the Leafs 5-4. Vancouver (4th) then scores five the next night. Philadelphia (1st) put in four in an October 24th 4-2 loss. Boston (2nd) popped 4, 6, 7, and 6 goals respectively in their four beatdowns on the Leafs this season. Ottawa (8th) has scored a combined 13 goals in their three meetings with Toronto. Florida, right on the median at 15th in goals per game, put up five goals in a 5-1 November 8th loss.
The only defensive “feats” I can see since the start of the 2011-12 season has been limiting the Penguins (6th) to three (not altogether that outstanding) and Rangers (10th) to two goals in each of the Leafs’ two victories in New York this season.
The word that Wilson and Burke are sitting down and talking contract extension simply baffles me. While it’s important to keep in mind the expectations coming in – we knew this team was going to battle for a 7th or 8th spot in the East coming to the season, hot start aside – it’s a case of the same old story with the same old problems for this Leafs team. I’m not advocating for a coaching change at this stage of the game necessarily, but to give Wilson a new contract because of a month of good hockey is nothing short asanine. Especially when the Leafs’ 7-10-2 record since that 9-3-1 start has come as a result of some painstakingly familiar problems.
Everyone talks of that big number one center as the lone remaining puzzle piece between the Leafs and contention. Unless that number one center is a hell of a backchecker and can play 30 minutes a game, I beg to differ. Since the lockout, preventing goals (particularly shorthanded) has always been, and still remains, the Leafs’ problem. Perhaps it is time to look at actual results, and not at the strength on paper, as our basis for identifying where this Leafs’ blue line actually stands. It’s downright incompetency in spite of a lot of money invested and no shortage of talent. And until that changes – until we see some visible signs of improvement on that side of puck – Burke shouldn’t even consider extending the contract of his bench boss.