Game in Tank: Game 78, Leafs 1 vs. Flyers 7

Game in Tank: Game 78, Leafs 1 vs. Flyers 7

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You can add a total failure to even compete with a debuting rookie goaltender in your net to the list of embarrassments this season, right next to the 5-0 loss to the Habs on Sundin night (the starting point of this nightmare finish) and the numerous other blowouts as of late. That’s a combined 10-1 loss in their last two home games.

The difficulty for fans and management alike is in assessing where this team stands at this point. It’s not a new problem. In 2009-10, the Leafs played a solid 20 games following the Phaneuf and Giguere trades and we looked to that as a source of hope going forward. Last season, the Leafs turned it on once the calendar turned 2011 and played a good 40  games. This season, the Leafs were a playoff team after nearly 60.

Around the 60 game point, with everything going according to plan, the Leafs looked like a team 1-2 pieces and some development away from perennial playoff participation. Now, the list of needs could go on as the day is long. A number one goaltender, for sure. A number one center, too. And with the way this team simply could not get itself out of its death spiral, the core and leadership now come into question. Individually those are each tough dilemmas to solve. Collectively it’s an impossibly gargantuan task.

Which team are we really? The answer probably lies somewhere in the middle. Mixed into the equation are injuries, a coaching change, and a subsequent overhaul of the system. Maybe with some more grit and veteran presence this team could’ve at least kept itself in respectable shape down the stretch, even if it didn’t end in a playoff berth. Now, the way it’s played out calls into question the entire organization top to bottom and has the fans clamoring for significant change. Quite an off-season Burke and co. have ahead of themselves.

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Alec Brownscombe is the founder of MapleLeafsHotStove.com, where he has written daily about the Leafs since September of 2008. He was also the editor of the 2009-12 Maple Leafs Annuals. You can contact him at [email protected]