The Leafs Are Playing Bad Hockey

I’m not even going to give this post the privilege of being called a “Leafs Postgame”, because that would imply that the Toronto Maple Leafs showed up to play a hockey game tonight. This wasn’t a hockey game. This was a joke.

I’m not going to break down what happened in detail. If you really need to see that, you can turn on your TV, or go to the NHL website, and put yourself through the misery of watching the highlights. In short, the Predators scored eight consecutive goals before the Leafs were able to respond, and then added one more for good measure, to end the game at a final of 9-2.

Nine goals to two. The last time the Toronto Maple Leafs gave up nine goals, they actually gave up twelve. This was thirteen twenty three years ago. The Leafs were horrawful on the roster sheet and facing Mario Lemieux’s Pittsburgh Penguins, a team en route to their second consecutive Stanley Cup.

It was still inexcusable. Within a week, Cliff Fletcher went on to make arguably the biggest trade in Leafs history, acquiring Doug Gilmour in a ten player deal. The Leafs went on to miss the playoffs, but weren’t embarrassed as bad moving forward. By the start of the following year, they had a new head coach, several new roster players, some key pieces had developed a bit more, and the team hit the gas pedal.

This Leafs team, on paper, isn’t the basement team that the 91/92 Leafs were. Which makes this loss, and the one to Buffalo before it all that much worse.

I don’t know what the correct response to this is. I’ve been advocating the firing of Randy Carlyle for almost two years now, but is this the camelback-breaking straw? Do you make a huge trade? Do you fire other people? Do you yell at Extra Skater, claiming that his graphs weren’t pretty enough to succeed?

These are decisions management has to make. But after being outscored at this magnitude in back-to-back games, something has to give. 

  • Avro

    the ship is sinking
    I think at this point the players are responsible
    just as much if not more than the coach.

    collapse mode is on ……

    or maybe they are just rigging the games for pro line
    who could possibly tell by this point.

  • As much as I want to fire the coach. I am just really confused right now. What can we do… 🙁

    Bright side is. Kadri played great. Maybe we should role these lines? I mean it can’t get any worse (please don’t prove me wrong)?

    Uncle Leo – Bozak – Santorelli

    Jvr – Kadri – Kessel

    Winnik – Holland – Clarkson

    And the fourth line that never gets minutes… We need Lupul, Kozun, and Booth back. I want to see a turn around. This is just sad.

    One thing I like about the fourth line is Panik and smith really drive themselves in front of the net. That is great. They just need to develop some support with eachother.

  • CMpuck

    The leaf players are trying to get Carlyle fired. And the leaf players to do that are not “competing” and are playing lazy hockey.

    Does management give their spoiled brat what they want or do they keep up with tough dinosaur love?

    I hate lazy brats so start benching players and switching up lines.

  • CMpuck

    When the Leafs made it 8-2 I was ok, cue the comeback then the Preds made it 9-2 and I was like darn, we were so close, oh well, there is always next game, go Leafs go.

  • STAN

    As you settle back, lament this loss and get ready to head off to work in the morning, replay the blatant gaffes of The Captain. His “compete level” is a joke. Sure he may not have been the worst Leaf in this one but only he and Phil are actually being paid $8M (U-S) this season. (Pylon’s cap hit is $7M).

    So for his obvious mediocrity and total lack of leadership of the richest team in the game The Captain has already cashed four of the thirteen paycheques he’ll get this season at… $615,384…. EACH.

    Think about that for a moment Leafanatics™.

    Aside from the almost obscene remuneration these duds receive I was laughing out loud when I heard The Captain, for the umpteenth time, say at least four times that HIS team’s performance (the team he has now lead for four seasons) was “unacceptable” when clearly… it IS.

    • TGT23

      I don’t understand why people still believe Dion is the problem. And I especially don’t understand this “Pylon” garbage. Pylon is a term reserved for useless players. Dion is not that.

      I mean, even in a game where the team losing 9-2 Dion was even. He was one of only four players to finish without a negative +/-. He’s +6 on the season, plays 20+ minutes, and does very well against other teams top competition.

      So, why is he a Pylon? If he weren’t the captain would he be taking the same heat for doing the same job? No. He’s a top pairing D-Man and fans take him for granted because he’s the Captain and the team sucks, so that must be his fault.

      It isn’t.

      What I will agree with you on is that I’m tired of hearing that the teams performance was “unacceptable” because it doesn’t change anything. Carlyle’s lines, Kessel’s inadequate defensive zone play, numerous defensive mis-cues and breakdowns, they don’t change. The team doesn’t learn, they don’t change, and the coach especially never changes.

      Lately it looks as though the team has no heart. It has no urgency. I’m watching replays of guys gliding back after turnovers and watching the play. Careless giveaways on half-hearted attempts. The Captain can’t do much about what’s inside another players heart, and sadly I’m not sure the coach can, either.

      Still, I wonder if the Leafs management will ever see what is going on and make a change. It needs to happen.

  • jimithy

    How come you analytics guys can’t come up with a good way to measure compete and work ethic? The more I learn about analytics, the more I see the failure with the leafs being a failure in decent analytics that can both measure and suggest the players that need to be remedied.

    • BubbaLou

      How can you say you want to measure “compete” and “work ethic”… but you do not want to use “data” to do it? What will you get that isn’t opinion, likely with the personal biases you bring to your own evaluation? Every profession – not just sports – has key metrics that are calculated from the raw data as “Key Performance Indicators”. They give a manager/company a measure of where the employees are at and where the shop is going. A sales force for example, will use data mining to examine how its employees do on “Items per Transaction” and “Average Transaction Value” – your points/goals/assists per game, or “Conversion rate” – shooting%/Save%/PDO, on each employee to see how they stack up. These are NOT in the till as “dollars”(points) or “transactions”, but are the key drivers behind “more dollars” and “bigger transactions”. Then they tell you to the decimal point how your performance has slipped this week and the on-floor strategies to use for improving yourself. I think that’s as valid a measure of “work ethic” as any.

      Which gets to the point – I have no good thoughts on this game. The fancystats on this game are FREAKING TERRIBLE for the leafs – they don’t contradict what you see and felt, this was the newest “worst game of the year” for Toronto. Corsi/Fenwick say they stunk, were outshot, did not press the play in any form. Their Points per game avg is dropping. Over the last 8 games – yes, even into the winning streak when no one cared for bad news – their defensive numbers began to slide and the “Shots allowed” side of corsi started to rise(credit to Steve Burch for calling the fall). The save% is dropping by the game – Reimer is well under his career avg at .898%, Bernier dropped some to .915%. We just saw the same team we had last year without the god-tier goaltending and unbelievably timely goals – without the lipstick, Randy’s pig has ugly marks. Same as last year.

      Here’s one – after 19 games this year, the Leafs project for 86 points. Last year, the Leafs got 84. This is the hockey team – besides the streaks and droughts that come with a season, they average out to “bubble at best”. I LIKE the streaks and HATE the lows, but it’s the trend that counts for points over a season and the Leafs are still struggling. I will not tell you that changing the coach auto-fixes the team’s problems, but it will probably help improve the strategies if you remove the old boss who, until just recently, went strictly by his gut and just assumed he was the one doing it right.

  • kadri can produce on the 4th line. doesn’t matter where you put him, but to get the maximum production out of him, he needs to be surrounded by offensively gifted players like kessel. how is this not obvious to management. such a waste letting him rot on the 2nd/3rd line while horrible bozak is wasting kessel’s prime years on the 1st line. that line has been a train wreck for the entire year and a lot of last year too and yet they are still a line.

  • STAN

    The leafs have 1 drafted player on their top six roster and 1 drafted defenceman on the defence core. Every one else was traded for using these draft picks or aka the Kessel trade which the leafs traded 3 assets the first line center the top two defenceman and a prospect for one asset a scoring winger or the Rask trade where the leafs traded a top goalie prospects for three medicocer goalies. Is that the proper way to build a winning team? No. Now that is paying off with the leafs being nothing more than a bubble team and will be nothing more unless the leafs start a proper 3 to 5 year rebuild through the draft then the leafs will be a team worth cheering for. Let’s go tank nation. Let’s bomb for McDavid

  • BubbaLou


    My heart goes out to Reims and Bernie…….these 2 guys are being distroyed stats wise, mental wise team wise………Reims was great up to the last 2 games, the team just sucks, Bernie looked like he was bouncing back….I feel for these 2 guys…they deserve better than this….the team in front of them should all be put out of their misery as in core players…what a joke…..Reims stats are sad and both guys are fuming inside I’m sure because no matter what they can never get ahead with what they have in front of them…


    • STAN

      I agree 110%….both guys I’m sure don’t look forward to the next game…

      I don’t understand how they can be this awful, how they can be as fr as I am concern worst than the sabers……againthe laughing stock of the NHL……..with Reims stats this bad…and Bernies twiddling…neith of these guys are looking good anymore through some faukt of their own but not alot of it…they both played well when the team competed with them…they can not do this alone GUYS WAKE UP!!!

  • Poluza

    Of all the reasons for a coach to get fired, I think it’s really dumb that the thing costing Carlyle his job right now is keeping Bozak on the top line. What’s the point of a player giving 100% on that team? What are they working towards? Maybe a chance to play with Kadri if/when Lupul gets hurt? Carlyle preaches accountability, yet when players show flashes of brilliance, he doesn’t reward them.

    I don’t know. Just an observation….

  • BubbaLou

    This team has been a disappointment for decades, but let’s talk about being consistently bad for the most recent decade. Four head coaches during that time, and I don’t know how many times the front office has been reorganized, reshuffled, and everything has been given a “clean slate”. The roster has been haphazardly put together and re-modeled I don’t know how many times, but it’s still the same result. What’s worse is that the media frenzy (sometimes justified, sometimes not) has become a huge factor with players wanting to play in Toronto—it’s like Lupul said a few years ago, the team’s failings since 1967 aren’t his fault, he can only be held accountable for the time he’s been here. Other players undoubtedly feel the same, so why would anyone want to come to the Leafs, join this circus, and get blamed for all the years of terrible hockey? The organization is pure poison. My god, I wish I could stop watching this team. It’s like being a heroin addict—it’s bad, you know it’s bad, and nothing good will ever come of it.

  • STAN

    @#18 TGT23

    My problem with Phaneuf goes back to his Red Deer Rebels and Calgary Flames days. I watched him a lot in those four seasons and he isn’t even in the same league as THAT Dion Phaneuf – no foot speed, which leads to his being consistently beaten to the outside and/or inside; too many predictably blind clearing attempts around the boards that seem to be intercepted at the points by pinching D-men; out of position much of the time and/or trying to play goalie 5 feet outside the crease; and one of the most inaccurate point shots in Leafs D-men history.

    I contend he IS a huge part of the problem. What have the Leafs achieve since he arrived? Nothing. Since his Captaincy anointment? Nothing.

    Captains are supposed to lead by example (see Toews, Crosby, Chara) and I say he has accomplished exactly the opposite. Young D-men are regressing by just being around him.

    The best thing that could happen for Leafanatics™ is for the hapless management crew to miraculously pull off a major trade or trades that would unload the Phaneuf and Clarkson albatross contracts.

    Sadly Shanahan is no Masai Ujiri (Rudy Gay and Andrea Bargnani deals) or Alex Anthopoulos (Vernon Wells mega deal) so I’m not holding my breath.

    I just think that dressing room needs to a massive change… because what s happening now, lead by Phaneuf’s imaginary “leadership” and Clarkson’s “grit” IS truly unacceptable.

  • TGT23

    What is all the fuss about a couple of loses, it’s early in the season, everyone is struggling some, we have a playoff spot secured, time to relax and look at the whole picture.