The Leafs sure turned in a stinker last night against Nashville. Just 17 shots on net and only 4 in the third. Talk about teeing it up for a "playoffs in New Jersey" punchline.
Don't ask me why, but after the game I actually listened to Andy Frost's call-in show (remind me never to do that again, will you?)
I was a little surprised at how upset the callers were. One guy claimed it was the worst Leafs performance in 50 years (he clearly missed most of the 1980s, the time the Leafs lost to the Pens 12-1 on Boxing Day in '91, the time that the Flames smoked the Leafs 12-2, Mike Murphy's entire tenure, the night the Leafs didn't hit double digits in shots for a game seven at the Meadowlands, the back-to-back must wins versus Montreal in 2005, the St. Louis Blues scoring 117 goals in four minutes in November 2000 to complete an improbably comeback against my beloved Leafs late in the third...)
I joked over at PPP that maybe the fans who were so upset by last night's performance hadn't watched the Leafs for the past 200 games or maybe they just missed the barrage of pre-season prognostication that concluded the Leafs would have a tough time beating a mite team this season.
For those of you who are frustrated by this year's results, let's take a quick look back to see if the Leafs are living up to (down to?) expectations.
There's pretty much zero expectations on this team, and that's probably a good thing...It looks like a tank job, even with Ron Wilson at the helm, and I fully expect to see anything resembling a veteran tossed overboard come the trade deadline. It could get ugly — although that's probably not a bad idea.Greg Wyshynski:
And this is, to put it bluntly, an expansion-level collection of maybes and have-nots that are wearing the uniform of an Original Six team in one of the league's major media markets...If this moribund collection gets even a sniff of the postseason, then Ron Wilson's coaching genius is confirmed. Because on paper, the offensive attack for Toronto reads like a fantasy team entirely constructed from what's left on the waiver wire.TSN - unlike the past few seasons, there's no illusion of grandeur this time from the team and its fans. After years of trying to squeak into the playoffs with quick fixes, the Leafs appear ready to start over from square one.
Sportsnet - Even a crash-test dummy would fear what lies ahead for the Leafs.
MSNBC - Maple Leafs likely to make bid for worse record: Another terrible finish for Toronto is in order. 67 points (5th in Northeast, 15th in East)
AOL NHL Fanhouse - Leafs last in the Northeast
Coach Ron Wilson - "I said from the beginning we weren’t going to win the Stanley Cup this year and we were extremely doubtful to make the playoffs or even compete in the last 20 games for a playoff spot."
Hockeybeat - Leafs 13th in the East
The Hockey News - Leafs 14th in the East
ESPN - Toronto Maple Leafs, Grade: C- last in the Northeast
The Muppet - The bad news is that Toronto is no lock for finishing last overall and getting our pick of the crop. We have some grim challengers. The Islanders, for one; Atlanta; Los Angeles; St Louis (although I don’t think they’ll be as bad as advertised). Plus, one or maybe two other teams who will surprise us and really, really suck. If the Leafs can’t wrangle dead last from the cold grip of the aforementioned we can still do very well drafting 2nd through 5th.
Newsman 1290 (I have no idea who this guy is, he looks like he actually blogs in his mum's basement and his headshot was taken by the guy who got the famous blurred photo of bigfoot. He still thinks Sundin plays for the Leafs and he can't spell "rebuild" yet he still calls it right): Toronto Maple Leafs: 78 Points, 5th in the Northeast, 12th in the Eastern Conference. The reason that the Toronto Maple Leafs will finish last in this division is because they are going through a rebulding process.
Me (MF37) - Where will the Leafs finish this season? Safe bet is last. The Leafs’ wins so far were built on 90 percent hustle, 5 percent skill and 5 percent luck. That’s a pretty hard formula to carry through the dog days of February.
And as much as it pains me, even Working Class Howard called it:
The Leafs will place 30th among 30 teams and the only question to be answered is whether they will break the post-lockout record for fewest points in a season. The Philadelphia Flyers hold that distinction with a 56-point showing in 2006-07...Multiplying the Leafs’ preseason effort over 82 games results in a record of 18-45-19 for 55 points. That is a colossal 16 points less than the worst team in the NHL last season. Tampa Bay brought up the rear with 71 points and won the draft lottery. Could the 2008-09 Maple Leaf bottom out to that degree? Absolutely.I'd love to see more passion from the Leafs too. More guts. More pride. But I've also seen this franchise go a decade without hitting .500. I've seen some ugly times as a Leaf fan and at least, for once, it seems like there might just be a bit of a plan or at the very least some semblance of a strategy in the executive corridors of the ACC.
The trade deadline is now just under seven weeks away and it's going to get much worse before it gets any better. Sadly, watching lottery balls before the draft day may well be the highlight of this Leafs season.
At least if this team loses the lottery, it won't be do to lack of effort.