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Saturday FTB: Well, that sucked

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And tonight they get to do it all over again.

Toronto Maple Leafs v Ottawa Senators Photo by Matt Zambonin/Freestyle Photography/Getty Images

In this, the 13th month of 2020, we lament the state of our Toronto Maple Leafs, who embarrassed themselves last night against the Ottawa Senators in a way that caught even the most seasoned of Leafs fans off guard.

Their offense was poor, playing three players on the blueline and rarely attempting any pass or shot to dangerous areas. The defense was allowing Ottawa to get to dangerous areas at will. Then when they had allowed four goals in a row, both the offense and defense somehow got worse.

I’m not a grand scout, wise hockey mind or savvy analytics person. I’m not the one to break down what they’re doing wrong, why, and how they can fix it. There are smarter writers at this site who can and will do that in good time.

But I can see the sucky team that sucked the most in the history of sucking. And I also know what I like to see. And what I like to see is a team that is some mix of: faster, better defensively, and have better offensive threat. To that end, these are the changes I’d like to see:

  1. Take Thornton off the top line. It was a neat idea, if a weird one, and it hasn’t aged well. Get Hyman back on that line already. Joe just ain’t fast enough to keep up anymore.
  2. Stop trying to fix what ain’t broken on the powerplay. The two separated units look like butt, and when you put the super unit back together it suddenly works. Keep doing what works, I say!
  3. They need their bottom six lines to have at least a hint of real offensive threat, because what they have now ain’t cutting it. They’ve been murdered by both Ottawa and Montreal in two games, and I know it’s early and that may change but I’d also say trying something else to see what CAN work would be nice. I don’t know if Robertson still isn’t ready and would not rush him, not this early, but man it would sure be nice to have the threat of his shot down in the lineup if nothing else.
  4. If they can find a way to get faster, I’m all for it. Engvall is a good skater, and arguably their best defensive forward which would also help their pretty poor penalty kill.
  5. I’m looking at Vesey and Barabanov with a quirked eyebrow wondering what to do with them. I don’t dislike them, but I’m already mentally wondering how much rope I want to give them before I seriously call for the likes of Robertson and Engvall to replace them.
  6. If we’re going to be harder to play against, I’d really like the Leafs to get over their pathological fear of being in the slot. They don’t seem to want to get shots from the slot, carry the puck there, or pass it there in the offensive zone. In the defensive zone, they don’t want to block out opposing players from just doing what they want in the slot. Skate on through, take a selfie, mix a cocktail, and finish a book in the time it take someone to challenge you, block a passing lane.
  7. I would have hoped this would at least be something that Bogosian was signed to do, but the early returns haven’t been great. In two games he’s rocking a 35.14 CF%, and a 39.62 xG%.
  8. Please come back to us Freddie, we miss the old you!
  9. Boy am I getting real tired of hearing the same broken record from the Leafs about how they didn’t work hard enough, took their foot off the gas, had an inconsistent effort. If they haven’t learned how to do that through even one full game, what does that say about the core players of the team as everyone else around them gets changed?

But for real, I’d be less worried about all this stuff if they weren’t just following the same frustrating trends from the previous season (or three). Outside of that one hot streak they had when Keefe replaced Babcock, they’ve been a pretty consistently meh team with the occasional bouts of brilliance in one game getting outdone by terrible bouts of awfulness.

LEAFS LINKS

Marlies hire Michael Chan as video coach | by Hardev

The Dell Gambit: Why and at what cost? | by Katya

Prospect Roundup: Niemela out of action, Miettinen taking over, Rindell running hot | by Nick Richard at TLN

Sheldon Keefe Post Game Comments, Senators 5 vs. Leafs 3 | Transcript by MLHS

AROUND THE HOCKEY WORLD

Why Canadiens’ pursuit of Dubois is a complex, risky endeavour | by Eric Engels at SN

Oh damn... apparently Jakub Voracek put up with this writer talking shit about him for years and had enough.

I guess we can take solace in the fact that the Leafs weren’t the only ones having a rough go of it last night...

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