The Leafs got their vote of confidence from management yesterday. They rewarded management by giving Burke and his staff hope for a lottery pick. The Leafs are now 1-8-1 in their last ten, and are on pace for 85 points, the same total they posted last season. Combined with a Capitals win, the fan base will thinking â€œFail for Nailâ€ and â€œGive up for Grigorenkoâ€ more than â€œPLAYOFFS!!1â€³ after this one.
1 â€“ The Leafs are 29-27-7 and inching towards .500. Donâ€™t look at Reimerâ€™s save percentage through the last 10 games played. That said, donâ€™t fault him for any of the goals tonight. Goals against continues to be the problem, but this game was as good as an example as any â€“ particularly the first two goals â€“ that this teamâ€™s problems donâ€™t solely lie in net.
2 â€“ Luke Schenn whiffs on his outlet pass, Wolski to Goc, and itâ€™s in the net. 13 seconds into the game itâ€™s 1-0 Florida. At least Luke owned up to it in the first intermission.
3 â€“ Happy 500th game, Mike Komisarek. Pressbox Mike gets caught up ice, Santorelli gets a pass from Skille and makes it 2-0 Panthers after just 2:21 played in the first period. Komi went for the hit, missed big time and had no chance of recovering. At the end of the first period, Lupul showed nifty skill but unfortunately those skills involved a deliberate kicking motion.
4 â€“ Yesterday, Burke basically showed confidence by not doing much on deadline day, he even directly stated his faith in the goalie tandem. This is why the team needed to show his faith was justified. The â€œage thingâ€ and the â€œpressure effecting age thingâ€ is getting a little bit tedious. If you ever played a sport, any sport, you know youâ€™re not thinking about anything but the next shift or that particular play. Pressure might be a factor prior to the game but during it youâ€™re tuned in. For many of our big nights this season (Sundin night, honoring the 1962. team) the team just failed to show up. This was the third time we started slow in those games where each and every player should be thinking â€œIâ€™ve got to play for something bigger tonight, I need to be better, we as a group need to be better.â€ That has little to do with age. If Frattin can do it, so can other younger players.
5 â€“ To see that start, after Burke showed faith in the group by sitting on his hands at the deadline, in a must win gameâ€¦ I donâ€™t want to think about what that means.
6 â€“ At least we have Phil Kessel. He not only goes out and snipes one to get the Leafs back into it, heâ€™s been one of a select few visibly digging deep during this slump. A lot of â€œquiet characterâ€ in this kid, and the talent speaks for itself.
7 â€“No sense discussing any more of the goals. By Stephen Weissâ€™ own admission in a second intermission interview with Paul Hendrick, the Panthers didnâ€™t even play that well, and thatâ€™s what is so disappointing. You donâ€™t have to play your best to beat the Leafs lately. Simply limit mistakes and wait for the Leafs to make theirs.
8 â€“ This was a Florida team missing Kris Versteeg, Scottie Upshall, Marco Sturm and Dmitri Kulikov playing against a fully healthy Leafs team. Goaltending and a system that limits mistakes can go a long ways. I guess weâ€™ll keep playing our run and gun, hoping for the best and expecting the worst.
9 â€“ About the Fire Wilson chants â€“ every other team wouldâ€™ve done it by now and itâ€™s something you have to do regardless, should the year play out just as it looks like it will. But Iâ€™ll say this â€“ firing Wilson only makes sense if we bring in a new coach with a new approach to systems play. We donâ€™t have the horses to play the run and gun Burke wants to play with any success. It takes elite goaltending and a great group of mobile, 200-foot defencemen to pull it off with any success. That isnâ€™t accumulated overnight given what Burke had to work with when he got here.
With 19 games to go, a new coach doesnâ€™t do much for this season. You could promote Scott Gordon and give Wilson his walking papers, but itâ€™s the same system , the same players, the same goaltenders.
The only way it makes sense is if Burke feels Wilson’s lost the dressing room. That will be a judgment only he can make.
10 â€“ Thatâ€™s the thing â€“ itâ€™s a contradiction to say, on one hand, we want to compete today and we donâ€™t have the patience for a scorched earth, tank-it-out rebuild, then be unwilling to play the type of hockey you need to play to compete now. This fan base doesnâ€™t need to be wowed every night at the rink. They just want winning hockey.