I hope everyone will be taking the opportunity to do something with their families, spouses or significant others on this unfortunately vacant Saturday night.
Just a few thoughts on the Leafs‘ recent performance before we get into some links.
I worry the win over the New York Islanders is the type that could delude a team into thinking their performance has been good enough as of late. The Leafs’ performance against the Isles was very close to as bad as their performance against the Canadiens in terms of the “process” Carlyle stresses often, the main difference being the strength of opponent. Giveaways aplenty, defensive zone breakdowns, and barely a semblance of system discipline that had been, for the most part, much improved over the first 20.
The main difference on Thursday, besides the strength in opposition, was that Kadri was absolutely flying and the Islanders had no answer for slowing him down through the neutral zone or taking his time and space away. Three times he gathered speed, took a short breakout pass and flew at the shaky Isles D, who were totally afraid of him and the display of talent he was putting on. Without that stunning individual performance against an awful defensive team, we’re probably feeling much worse about the Leafs during this mini-break.
In their defense, it goes for every team, but I can only imagine retaining the attention to detail is extremely difficult to do night in, night out when you have to play as many games as the Leafs have to start the season. In the Leaf case, they played 22 games in 40 days between the season opener on January 19 and Thursday’s game on February 28. Even more than usual, you can’t expect it to be pretty every night, and winning by any means necessary has never carried as much weight as in a short season with so many games in so few nights. The Leafs are doing a pretty good job of it as we near the half way point (bizarre to think about, isn’t it?).
Carlyle surely realizes the same things I pointed out above and is warning his team about what could happen if the same effort is trotted out against the likes of the Devils, Penguins and Bruins, who they play in three of their next four in the upcoming week. We’ll take 1-1 knowing how the team played, but that shouldn’t prevent Carlyle from shaking things up if he feels Gardiner’s ready or Liles deserves to draw back in. The Leafs sit at 13-9-0 22 games in, with 26 points to their name. That means 28 more points are likely needed over the final 26 to extend Leaf hockey into May. Wouldn’t that be special?
A few Leafs links….
Damien Cox Pretty Much Knows Zilch About Developing Hockey Players
Actually thought Cox’s tweet was more about dismissing the Cherry narrative on how Kadri could’ve been this player seasons ago, more than an “I told you so” about patience with Kadri.
Marlies: Joe Colborne Revisited
The big man’s picked it up lately. I have all the patience in the world for a player with Colborne’s traits. Rare and worth waiting to find out, as long it takes.
Marlies hold onto Drew McIntyre
Disappointing Mark Owuya hasn’t made himself known this season. There’s always the rap videos.
The NHL playoff plan for the Leafs
You just fuckin’ cursed us, Mirtle. I guess I did too at the end of opening treatise.
“The worst thing that ever happened to sports was talk radio,” Burke said. “And the internet is talk radio on steroids with lower IQs.”
“I’ve never seen a loaded weapon in a boardroom yet,” he said, speaking of the problem of overpaying free agents — to which he more than once fell victim. “So if I’m (over)paying a guy, it’s not because someone’s got a revolver to my head. It’s because I’m an idiot.”
Can we hire back Burke to be Nonis’ official spokesperson? Guess that’s why he was fired in the first place. Damn Cope.
Dave Nonis inducted into the Burnaby Sports Hall of Fame
Congrats Nonny (went there).