The Toronto Maple Leafs have a big game ahead of them today. If you’re on the “keep trying” side of the spectrum, you want this historically bad losing streak to end, and the Oilers are vulnerable. If you’re on the “Tank Nation” side of the aisle, a loss puts the Leafs just nine ahead of Edmonton for 29th place with 28 more attempts at failure to go. Either way, this game matters.
…why is nobody at practice?
Reimer, Bozak, Holzer, Smith, Komarov, Robidas, Clarkson, Booth, Reilly and Phaneuf taking part in optional skate. #TMLtalk
— David Alter (@dalter) February 7, 2015
Now, I’m not huge on turning what we see on the ice into narratives; I’m one of those weirdos who thinks there’s a logical explanation for just about everything. If you’ll permit me to channel my inner tabloid journalist here, this is a team that has lost eleven games in a row.
This is a team that’s being questioned for its ability to conform to structure.
This is a team that needs to find some way to get it together, and should be using every opportunity it has to gel as a group.
So, what do we have? We have tonight’s backup goalie in James Reimer, frequent scratches Trevor Smith and Korbinian Holzer, an injured Dion Phaneuf, a slew of players recovering from injuries, and two guys who would’ve played themselves out of the lineup if they weren’t paid so much in David Clarkson and Stephane Robidas.
Realistically, the only big-minute players who are fully healthy that decided that they should take part in this skate are Tyler Bozak and Morgan Rielly.
Not participating and expected to be in the lineup tonight are James van Riemsdyk, Phil Kessel, Richard Panik, Nazem Kadri, Joffrey Lupul, Mike Santorelli, Daniel Winnik, Peter Holland, Jake Gardiner, Cody Franson, Roman Polak, and Jonathan Bernier.
That’s a heck of a lot of presently struggling talent deciding that the way to break out of their slump is to play less hockey. Again, I’m not a narrative guy (all evidence in this post to the contrary), but when it’s this bad, that begins to raise an eyebrow.