Saturday, January 30, 2010

Let's Chl(ORR)oform Their Goalie

Yes everyone, here's the introduction of the Leafs' new offensive strategy. Instead of putting a man in front to screen the goalie, let's sneak a rag of the stuff in the mask of the guy, he'll never expect it! At this point I think that's a last resort if I've ever heard of one, but I'm starting to be so annoyed by this team that I have trouble watching the whole game.
But in all seriousness, I have a couple very short points to make:

1) I've found myself disliking every line composition that involves Kessel. No matter how much he passes and creates plays, his defensive faults are too painful to watch. When he was with Blake and Stajan I disliked the line and I still dislike it with Kulemin and Bozak. If anyone is an avid enough reader of mine to be with me since the very beginning of my bloggerhood, they would know that my first call as a line was Blake, Bozak and Kessel. I'm still very much an advocate of that line since Blake is still on the verge of converting his chances into numbers. Last night, his speed excited the team after some depressing goals in both the first and second periods.

2) So Chloroform is the new strategy for the team, but here's the new strategy for Leafs fans and TV watchers - tune in during the third period. It really is the only necessary period to watch. The Leafs are painful to watch for the first two and they start to work to tie it up once the opposition has a false sense of security. We've stolen five or six points this year like that.

3) Hey Ron, have you noticed that Wallin is bad? Like, I mean really bad. Keep him out of the line up. I don't care if he's friends with Gusto. He may be rated "81" in NHL 2010 while Hagman is an "80" but I saw through the bullshit. Sit him like you did yesterday.

4) Don't trade Mayers until the last possible day. If he's going to play like he did last night to fight for a trade, I would love to keep him as long as possible. Although Primeau can't accept a pass to save his life, Orr can!! That goal last night made him seem like a goal scorer; a slow, hard hitting, scary human being of a goal scorer. Orr was running around hitting everything that moved last night and scored an absolutely great goal. Very happy to see that guy playing the way he has this year. He's for sure one of my favourites. His ability to fight along the boards for the puck definitely took me by surprise.

5) Message to Burkie - don't look into Kovalchuk. I seriously don't like him and if we lose one more first rounder I'm going to start cheering for Stamkos and the Lightning who have a future.

Anyway, let's hope it picks up and this new strategy is put into place.
Go Leafs Go

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Leafs Aren't My Best Buds - get it?

I apologize for the long hiatus in posts. I decided to have a long christmas vacation with lots of eat, a bit of drink and a superfluous amount of shinny. Oh the life we life, eh?

When I left off, we had just played Buffalo on December 21st, which might have been the most exciting game of the season. Stalberg was called up and played well only to get injured. Then we lost a lot. Then Carolina actually caught up to us in the standings... and here we are.

The Leafs are starting to get hard to watch. Kessel's slump is just painful at this point, and Hagman's harsh decrease in point production is doing so much that his trade value is even dropping. What to do, what to do? I actually heard talk yesterday of taking Kessel off the power play and at this point, I think that might just be a good idea. Although he's a solely offensive-minded player (with no regard for ANY defense), he struggles to break into the shooting lanes. Even with a quick-release as deadly as his, he's not getting the puck through. If he's not getting the goals, it's because they're putting a lot of emphasis on his side of the ice both at full strength or on the PP. Thankfully, on the other side of the ice we have Ian White or Beauchemin (on the PP). Get them the puck.

We've heard it from all the media: the Leafs are being killed/killing themselves by special teams. They start calling into question Ron Wilson's skill as a coach (and penalty kill specialist) or Brian Burke's criteria for a team but this isn't the way to go about Leafs criticism. I do my best to try to avoid this because Wilson has no one to put out there on a penalty kill and Burke has no one to trade other than draft pi- nevermind.

In regards to the power play, my only advice would be to stop putting on full lines. If they seem to have figured out our first line to the extent every team in the league has at this point, switch it up a bit. With Kessel in his normal spot, the high boards on the goaltender's right hand side, the goalie knows where the shot is coming from. There needs to be more movement instead of a stagnant umbrella set up that feeds Kessel for a shot that's going to be blocked. Leafs need to get it down low, pull a defenseman off the slot area, then push it to the point and get a shot off. It sounds easier than it is, but our opposition does it to Luke Schenn every time he's on the ice.

The penalty kill is a whole other story. Let's look at the power play goal last night by Eric Staal. Who was on the ice? Hagman, Mitchell, White and Exelby. We just have a really weak team. Yes, we could put Kulemin out as a big body to block shots but at the end of the day, neither the Leafs first nor second line PK unit is strong enough to compete. I know it's halfway through the season, but what needs to happen isn't an overhaul of the players, but a mastery of a PK system. If the diamond doesn't work, give small box a shot. If that doesn't work, large box and so on. It can't get any worse can it? I dunno, ask LA a decade ago.

Anyway, Go Leafs G.... oh who am I kidding.