Toronto Maple Leafs Offense is Offensive
Heading into the weekend the Maple Leafs were looking at two “winnable games” against the Buffalo Sabres on Friday night and the Ottawa Senators Saturday night—two teams that have had a number of struggles of their own.
As the Blue and White often do they let down the fans by losing both games, combining for an embarrassing one goal in the process, losing 3-1 to Buffalo and 3-0 to the Sens.
Through 22 games the Buds are averaging just 2.18 goals scored per game—that’s down from the 2.56 goals per game last seasons squad averaged.
The lack of offense is not for a lack of trying. The Maple Leafs threw 36 shots at Ryan Miller on Friday night, followed by a 29 shot effort in Ottawa.
The issue seems to be a lack of quality scoring chances and, in my mind, far too many perimeter shots.
When NHL teams struggle to score many coaches talk about ‘compete levels’ and willingness to ‘pay the price’. While the number of shots on goal would suggest the Leafs are in fact paying the price it’s really just an illusion.
With Saturday’s 3-0 loss to Ottawa the Leafs have now been shutout five times on the season. The team was shutout a total of four times over their recent eight game losing streak, leading many Leaf fans to call for a trade to bring in the likes of Brad Richards and others.
Clearly, when it comes to finding someone to blame for the lack of offense there is plenty of blame to go around.
Up front Nazem Kadri is yet to light the lamp, Kris Versteeg (who has been hot lately) has been inconsistent all season, as has the likes Tyler Bozak (three goals on the season) and many others.
Collectively the Maple Leaf defenseman have a total of three goals, of which, Tomas Kaberle and Dion Phaneuf—the two players that were supposed to solidify the Leafs power play—are yet to score. Simply put, that’s not good enough.
Phaneuf’s injury aside, the backend needs to chip in a lot more offense if the Leafs are going to be successful and if that means trading one or more of them away, so be it.
At this point the remedy is obvious, toronto Maple Leafs general manager Brian Burke needs to find a player that can bulge the twine, and fast!
Heck, I’d even endorse a move to bring Niklas Hagman back into the fold, anything to help balance the lines and bolster the clubs horrific offense. For the record Hagman has six goals with the Flames and has hit the 20 goal mark in three straight seasons.
The fact is, as much as the Leafs Nation would love to see Burke make a move, the likelihood of one being made is unlikely.
For many NHL clubs it’s simply too early in the season to be dealing away assets, regardless of the salary cap implications.
So, for now, it appears as if the Maple Leafs offensive woes will continue, at least until Colby Armstrong and Dion Phaneuf return to the lineup, but even then, the jury is out on whether or not this group can put it together.
The time for excuses has run it’s course. It is time for the players, management and coaching staff to collectively put up or shut up, otherwise change is coming…question is, how soon?