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[Open Thread] Leafs v. Bruins: Who To Blame?

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Tonight's game features everyone's favourite opponent: the Boston Bruins. Aside from being the one team in Boston that has no chance of winning a championship the Bruins are also a constant thorn in the Leafs' side. Last year they played each other three times from November 25th to December 7th and the Bruins won all three games by scores of 3-1, 4-1, and 3-1.

Aside from 6 points being thrown away by the Leafs those games highlighted problems that still face the Leafs. Boston, when they play well, collapse all of their players in front of the net and wait for the Leafs to make defensive mistakes upon which they would then immediately capitalize. The forwards were unable to play their dump and chase game because the Bruins D lay back so far but they didn't have the skill or speed to offer a Plan B. They still largely lack those two qualities in the forward corps. Some of the younger guys have some wheels but they likely won't see much ice-time.

On the defensive end, those three games highlighted just how many stupid giveaways the defence is capable of coughing up. Any one that has seen the Leafs play this year knows that they have not made any strides towards improving this aspect of their play.

Even the special teams were found wanting. On December 7th the Leafs had 3 powerplays with the score 1-0 for the Bruins and not only went 0-3 but they also took their own penalty during one of the powerplays. On November 28th the Leafs had six powerplays before the score got to 3-1 with 3 minutes left in the game and scored 0 goals. On November 25th the Leafs actually went 1 for 4 on the powerplay but they also went 1 for 2 on the penalty kill.

Have any of these problems been addressed this year? Nope. Can you trace these problems to one person thus making it much easier to aportion the blame onto one person's shoulders? Of course. It's the coaching, stupid. This year's edition looked to be, on paper, the strongest post-lockout and it has proven to not only be the worst Leafs edition but one of the worst in the league and much of it can be traced to Paul Maurice and his coaching staff. They have been found wanting in a number of areas and the coming clean sweep is sorely needed.

As for the likely result tonight? Here are the results of the 5 games this year: 4-3 OTW, 3-2 SOW, 2-1L, 4-2L, 5-2L. If the Leafs managed to score 3 (or 10 like the Capitals) they will win the game. If the Bruins manage their usual suffocating defence then it will be one step closer to the draft lottery.

Remember your SPG guesses in the comments and try your hand and guessing who will be the Leafs' next head coach. My ideal coach? Pat Burns. Am I crazy? Like a fox. Could it happen? Cliff is back isn't he ;)