Maple Leafs: Unispiring effort results in ninth straight loss
By Chris Savard
There was more excitement in the first five minutes and 22 seconds of the Oilers-Flames game than the entire sixty minutes in the Maple Leafs game last night. Despite out-shooting and out-chancing the Philadelphia Flyers, the Toronto Maple Leafs were handed their ninth straight loss as Steve Mason paced his squad to a 1-0 shutout win.
Stoney Point - February 1, 2015 - There was more excitement in the first five minutes and 22 seconds of the Oilers-Flames game than the entire sixty minutes in the Maple Leafs game last night. Despite out-shooting and out-chancing the Philadelphia Flyers, the Toronto Maple Leafs were handed their ninth straight loss as Steve Mason paced his squad to a 1-0 shutout win.
The shutout was Mason’s 25th of his career and it came in is 100th game as a member of the Flyers.
Philadelphia scored the only goal of the game at 4:05 when Michael Del Zotto notched his fifth of the year. For the remaining 56 minutes of the game, it felt as though the Leafs were one shot away from ending their streak of futility.
The final second summed up the last nine games for the Maple Leafs. With James Reimer on the bench in favour of the extra attacker, the Leafs lined-up for a rehearsed last minute play. The Leafs won the draw cleaning back to the point and from there it was a perfect pass on to the stick of the team’s sniper.
Phil Kessel had the game tying goal on his stick and he was all alone on his off-wing. He took a couple strides towards the net and let his recognizable wrist show go….and missed the net by a couple of feet.
Kessel’s look skyward was a familiar one for all of Leafs Nation.
Where to go from here…
On January 6th, the Maple Leafs fired Head Coach Randy Carlyle. At the time, the Leafs had a 21-18-3 record and were amongst the top scoring teams in the NHL. Since then under Peter Horachek, the Leafs have a 1-9-1 record and have scored only 14 goals in the last 11 games.
When your team only scores an average of 1.3 goals per game, it puts a lot of pressure on your goaltenders. In those same 11 games, the Maple Leafs have given up 33 goals or three per game.
Carlyle took a lot of heat in the Toronto media for the poor defensive play of his team. Under Horachek, the Leafs are giving up less shots, but the team is still giving up three goals per game – the exact same number as Carlyle had. Carlyle’s offense however would average 3.3 goals per game – a full two goals per night. It appears that Carlyle was not the problem.
Horachek has been uninspiring and is clearly a placeholder until the Buds can replace him in the summer. It appears that Shanny and the boys are hoping that they can assemble the right offer and conditions to lure the guy below from the Motor City.
New leadership behind the bench will help, but the coach will also need help that sits on the bench. As much as Kessel can mail it in on some nights, in my mind he is the only untouchable on this team as the March 5th trade deadline approaches.
It will be interesting to see if Dave Nonis and Brendan Shanahan choose to rebuild or retoolleading up to the trade deadline.
Clearly something needs to be done. The status quo is not acceptable for members of Leafs Nation.
In his lifetime, Chris Savard has spent time as both an elected official and a hot air balloon pilot. As such, FULL OF HOT AIR seemed to be an appropriate name for this column. Savard will provide his thoughts on a number of topics including hockey on this site, as well as politics and local issues on OurHometown.ca. His opinion combined with $1.60 will buy you a medium coffee at Tim's! You can email him at firstname.lastname@example.org