Toronto Maple Leafs Officially Eliminated From The Playoffs
With yet another disappointing loss in the bank our beloved Toronto Maple Leafs were officially eliminated from the playoffs for the seventh straight season. For Toronto fans, the 3-0 loss to the Carolina Hurricanes on Tuesday night marked the tenth straight loss for the club at Home, which made it 50 days since the Maple Leafs last put together a win on Home ice.
Having trouble thinking back that far? It was February sixth the last time the Maple Leafs won at Home. Go back further and you’ll find that the Maple Leafs have not been in a playoff game since May 4th, 2004 …that’s just under eight years ago, which is disgusting!
The Maple Leafs looked sluggish and disinterested throughout the contest. In fact, the only bright spot was the play of Jussi Rynnas (who made his NHL debut) between the pipes as he made 10 saves on 10 shots in just under 40 minutes of ice time in relief of goaltender Jonas Gustavsson who allowed three goals on 12 shots.
The good news is, with Gustavsson set to become an unrestricted free agent on July 1st there is a very good chance we have witnessed the last pathetic effort from the so-called “Monster”.
No matter how you slice it, the effort of this team over the past two months has been inexcusable. Soft goaltending, soft defense and a dried up offense have destroyed any chance the Maple Leafs had at a playoff birth a long time ago and now, this squad will pay the price with another spring on the golf course.
Toronto Maple Leafs general manager Brian Burke’s attempt to improve the team via a coaching change has done nothing to improve the outcome of the games or the lack of hustle on the ice.
Sure, Randy Carlyle says all the right things at the press conferences and he sure seems to be a nice guy, but his tutelage, albeit short lived, has not had a tangible effect on the team.
When a team’s playoff hopes (no matter how slim they were) are hanging on a shoestring you expect a valiant effort, and Tuesday night’s game was anything but a valiant effort.
Let’s face it folks, this team flat out failed down the stretch and they deserve every criticism they get from fans and foes alike.
Without question, each and every player on this squad must assume a measure of blame for this team’s lack of effort and the total lack of heart shown throughout the final 40 games of the season.
Clearly, there is a real need for Brian Burke to find a way to bring in an additional veteran presence and a much improved measure of leadership. Captain Dion Phaneuf has been invisible down the stretch and his leadership has been inescapably absent on the ice. Phaneuf, like many teammates, has looked defeated for months. As the saying goes, “attitude reflects leadership” and Phaneuf’s attitude on the ice has been questionable of late.
Try as we might to find any positives down the stretch there really are none. The goaltending has been terrible. The effort level has been horrific and the overall toughness on this team has been laughable.
Tough words? Sure, but when a team loses ten straight games at Home and hasn’t won at Home in 50 night’s there is nothing to be positive about.
Burke’s players are well paid. Burke’s players are treated like rock stars in this town and yet few of them earn their paychecks and few of them deserve the status they are given in this city.
With salary cap issues looming and a very thin free agent pool with which to upgrade the talent, Burke will have his work cut out for him this summer. One thing is for sure, Burke will be looking to make a change at just about every position; that is if any general manager is stupid enough to take some of Burke’s dead beats in return.
All we can hope for now is that the Maple Leafs continue to find ways to lose so they can secure a lottery pick, which might just be the best thing for this team.
Where is the leadership? Where is the fire? Where is the effort? Where is the heart? Where is this team going? All questions Burke and Carlyle will have to answer over the summer, all questions that will be tough to address.
Seven straight years out of the playoffs…it will never get easier to swallow this sad reality.
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Until next time,