Give the Leafs a point, the fans will be happy for a day; teach the Leafs to score, and we'll be happy for years to come. This old adage works on so many levels, and clearly, our team hasn't reached the latter yet. Last night, I sat down and watched the game, and was pretty surprised with how the Leafs handled the Bruins for the first couple periods, then, after the second intermission, I nearly expected the camera to pan to the Leafs bench, and see Paul Maurice and Mats Sundin talking over the next play.
A la the 2007/2008 Maple Leafs, we are back into the routine of getting ahead early, and giving our opponents every chance to come back in the third period. Maybe it's the players who are still around from last year (see my last blog), who are just so used to this type of play, I don't care. At least at the beginning of this season, the Leafs were doing something different. They might have been losing, but they were giving me some excitement, and speeding up my heart rate. They fell behind early, and then played the part of the comeback kids, in nearly every game. It seems as though they've re-learned how to score early, but Wilson's "defensive system" seems to step downa couple of notches in the last 20 minutes of the last 4 or 5 games.
Now, let's ut this all Aside. Maybe our players have just had a few games where they played teams that played great hockey in the last periods of all these games, they shut the Leafs out fair and square and gave themselves a chance to score, despite the Leafs leads. Here's my bigger problem then; Vesa Toskala straight out stinks in shootouts (and pretty much any breakaway he has faced this season). When I say stinks, I mean like that pair of socks that got wet in the snow, and then you threw into your basket and forgot to wash for a week. Dirty. I don't know what it is, despite all of his bad games, he is still a professional goalie who can make some big saves, but never when it's just him and a single shooter...
Maybe he has intimacy problems; I wonder if he invites one of his friends whenever he goes on a date, so he doesn't lose his game. He should.
If I were Ron Wilson, I would send Toskala to his own end of the practice rink every morning and get every single member of the Leafs roster take break after break on him. Then, after a couple hours of that, throw him in a taxi, send it over to Ricoh Coliseum and let the Marlies have their shot. Something has to change, it's just embarrassing that we have players who can go into the shootout and score for us, but Toskala can never quite backstop our team to a victory. For a player that is trying to save his spot as a starting goalie on ANY team, let alone the Leafs, Toskala is definitely losing a lot of fans. A new goalie era needs to be ushered in; and that leads me to my next blog.
Check back soon!