The best laid plans of mice and men eh? Despite taking the game to the Devils for the majority of the game the Leafs managed to let their long suppressed nature emerge at the most inopportune time (lazy on a powerplay? Those points get you paid!) and let the game slip out of their hands.
I'll have more tomorrow morning but here's a clue as to what I thought of the game: Send Wozniewski to Yaroslavl. Also, I am working on ways to get the Leafs to think that they are always playing on the road. First idea: no more sleeping at home! Every night is spent in a hotel.
Hopefully, I'll be in a better mood to recap after I watch Arsenal destroy Manchester United. I don't like either team but I am a Liverpool fan so unless a meteor wipes out Old Trafford this is as good as it'll get until the East Lancs matchup.
Well Rested and Rational Recap
If you knew that the last placed penalty kill (27th at home) was facing the third highest scoring team how many goals would you expect the powerplay to score? The Leafs went 1 for 5 which is actually an increase on their average thus far this year. Dig a little deeper and you see that the goal came with just over 30 seconds left after Blake and Kubina had conspired to throw away the game with two of the laziest plays of the year. Not only did they not capitalise on their earlier chances but they also gave up a short-handed goal to John Madden.
A 12.5% rate with the man advantage and a league-leading 4 short-handed goals against has Coach Paul Maurice at the end of his tether:
Our power play hasn't been winning us games and now it's costing us games. We're just going to dismantle it, try a whole bunch of new people and try to simplify it. It can't hurt you. It's one thing if it's not scoring goals but it can't hurt you like that.
The Leafs powerplay two years ago was the second ranked unit. Last year the Leafs had a top 5 powerplay until Wellwood went down with a groing injury. This year the team has not been able to develop any momentum. It's good to see that the coach is looking to change the personnel when things aren't working. My guess is that Mats and Kaberle will stay on PP1 but the other three spots are up for grabs.
The other question is when will Andy Wozniewski finally lose his spot in the lineup. He was embarrassingly beat by Clarkson for the first goal of the game and frequently gets absolutely lost. Jim Ralph from AM640 made two great points:
- Wozniewksi is not an offensive defenceman yet he repeatedly tries to make the kind of passes that he has never completed in his life.
- Wozniewski is 27 years old. He is beyond the stage where he can be a project and have it be acceptable especially considering that Staffan Kronwall and Jay Harrison are both waiting in the wings and Carlo is on his way back. Hell, at this point I'd prefer Belak on the blueline because at least he hits people.
So the road trip starts with a much better performance but with another two points tossed away. Tonight's game starts a run of 7 games against divisional opponents out of the next 8 overall. It also marks the end of Mark Bell's suspension for his DUI conviction. It's not quite the cavalry but it gives Maurice more options up front to deal with underperforming players.
The Other End of the Rink
- Schnookie, Interchangeable Parts
0:00 WOOOOOO! The Devils really had no business being in a position to win this game after the first two periods, but hot diggity damn! Of course, we have no time at all to be happy about this win because suddenly Chico’s wondering if Marty’s going to start tomorrow against the Rangers, all while mentioning that he looks "tired". Heh. We guess it’s time for Sutter to try to show off exactly how much this is his team.