November 18, 2007

Prolonging The Inevitable

As proud as Leaf fans must have felt last night in the wake of a 3 to 0 shutout win against the powerhouse Senators, it happened to be exactly what LeafNation did not need. Providing us with mere window dressing that will allow incompetent GM JFJ another day, week, or even month of breathing space.

With images of coach Maurice and 'Handlebars' McCabe having a little one on one meeting at center ice during that morning's practice, flashing on the screen over and over during Hockey Night In Canada, the consensus today was predictable. "Maurice has finally grabbed the reigns of this team and they have bought into his defensive system once and for all!" Now, I've been accused of looking at the glass half empty many times in the past, but it isn't the amount that remains in the cup that has my interest. It is the amount that is leaking out from the bottom.

A win like last night's might have been suitable for Maurice's 2001-02 Carolina Hurricanes, but does not fit in with the current Leafs' philosophy. Clogging up the neutral zone doesn't exactly exemplify the league's most expensive defensive core, theoretically built for a transition game. And especially considering that defender's #5 and #6 were used so sparingly.

Nor does utilizing just one forechecker. The Leafs 6'4"+ crew of Neanderthals aren't terribly known for their two way games, nor their open ice wizardry. The opposing boards is their bread and butter. Or at least, that was the original plan.

About the only thing on paper that does seem to be going somewhat to plan, is the dynamic duo between the pipes each notching a shutout in the past 8 games. However, this does not fool many while they continue to allow almost 4 goals against each game.

Now, it is not my intention to suggest that the Leafs should choose a game plan better suited to their initial philosophies over the one they ultimately chose last night. For obviously those game plans exposed more weaknesses than strengths. What I am suggesting here, is that a 3 to 0 defeat of the hottest team in the league should be nothing for the general manager to hang his hat on. Not when the head coach had to scrap the original blueprints and instead hold his fort together with mud and clay.

1 comment:

ninja said...

It might not have been sexy, but it was effective. And having this style in the reportoire in addition to the bruising forecheck bodes well, no?

No parade planning here, but I have to say I'm enjoying the renewed focus on keeping GA down, however they manage to accomplish that.