So a little bit of the progress made was erased last night in the dismantling at the hands of the desert dogs. I can honestly say I don't think I've seen the Leafs look so disorganized. Not even in the early season slide was it as apparent they weren't ready for their opponent as it was in last nights contest. At times they resembled a bunch of chickens running around with their heads cut off. Finger says, "They were swarming us"... you can say that again, however it would have helped if the team was actually ready to play. This is an all too often broken record this season. "Leafs wait until 3rd to start to play their game." I have seen a few posts blaming Toskala but it wasn't his fault this time. Could he have made a few key saves to help boost the team? Yes, maybe, but they lost decisively, this was no one goal game. Also for those who didn't see it, one goal was redirected in off Ian White's skate. I have seen some Leaf msg boards complaining that the puck never crossed the line and there was no video footage to prove it was a goal 'conclusively'. Although this may be true it isn't like they screwed the Buds. If the play goes to video review and the video evidence is inconclusive (as it was on this play as Toskala's glove made it impossible to see the puck completely over the line) then the call on the ice stands. Now although I can't for the life of me understand how the reff, from his perch in the corner of the rink, could possibly, in any way, shape or form, have seen the puck cross the line to signal the goal, he did, none-the-less. So that's why the goal stood.
No matter what, as has been the case mid-week so many times this year, the boys weren't ready to play. What it has ment is that some teams have slipped away a bit. With the Sens shutout over the Sabres they pulled a full 7 points ahead in 6th with a game in hand, Nik Antropov and the Thrashers are 6 up with 2 games in hand and then the Panthers sit 8th 4 points up and the Leafs hold a game in hand on them. That would be great except that the Blue boys now have to leap frog 4 other teams to make the promise land and every one of them has a game on the Leafs. The Canadians are the lone exception having played 1 more then Toronto however they are 2 points up and a tie would do no good as the Habs have more wins. Now all of this is a moot point considering we still have roughly 48 games remaining and lots can and will change between now and then, however it is a bit of a let down after the good run the team has been puting up of late. Yes it is one game and they will put it behind and move on but it is still a bit troubling to know that they can come apart at the seams like this at any time and as Wilson said, "are unable to stop the bleeding". The Yotes were riding a 6-2-2 streak into the contest and are now 7-2-1 in their last 10. The Leafs dropped to 6-4 over that span.
One of the biggest issues seemed to be their defence in the 2nd period. For the first game in a few they looked confused as the Coyotes relentlessly attacked them in every zone and turned over puck after puck.
Sophmore Luke Schenn will likely draw back into the lineup on Friday vs the Sabres but the Leafs have a tall hill to climb now as they go into HSBC Arena, a building they have historically struggled in and then face the Bruins again on the back half of a back-to-back. Not only will they have to face a Boston team that has destroyed them already twice this month but they will have to do it on tired legs. This only to lead into a home contest two nights later against the troublesome Sabres again before finishing up against the Isles and taking the xmas break. Needless to say the next 3 games are of paramount importance to the Leafs playoff drive, especially after dropping the contest last night. One would have to hope they will be able to escape the 3 games with at LEAST, 4 of 6 points and then dismiss the Islanders for 6 points in 8 to stay close in the race. They can't allow themselves to have to count on other teams losing as they have in past years or they will find themselves in a familiar spot come April. It is possible to take 6 points If they can beat the Sabres once and grab a point in the other. They would also have to at least force the B's into OT to grab a point (something they have been far from doing in the other contests versus them this month) and then beat the Islanders which is very plausable. Expect to see the Monster Friday night against the Sabres but a smarter move would be to save him for the Bruins as Toskala has been unable to conquer that mountain of late.
**on a side note, I saw a new Pokerstars.net commercial with Mats last evening... Looks like the big Swede is doing well and enjoying retirement... oh to have that leadership now.
You heard it here!