Toronto Maple Leafs Officially Eliminated From The Playoffs

March 27th, 2012 10 Comments

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.

Got a comment, story idea or complaint? Contact me at theslapshotpucktalk@gmail.com

Until next time,

Peace!

 

 

10 Comments

  1. the toronto mapleleafs just dont have what it takes to be winners .good bye for another season lets hope there are many good changes in the off season like shore up the defence and there goaltending .GOD BLESS ALL OF YAS HOPE YOUR GOLFING IS BETTER THEN YOUR HOCKEY . STAY OUT OF THOSE SAND TRAPS .

  2. Dave says:

    Sad but true Mark. Nice piece – harsh but very well done. Like you said, these guys deserve every bit of critisism. Burkes excuses are running think in Leaf nation as well.

    Lets just hope they stay in lottery territory.

    Dave

  3. Mark Ritter says:

    Well Dave- we are officially in a lottery position. Could you imagine getting that number one pick? Odds are the Leafs will not get it, but man, if Burke had that pick he could do big things with it, like trading it for some immediate help. I am all for building through the draft, but it is crunch time in Toronto, they need to make an inpression on their players and free agents that this town is the place to be and bringing in a stud forward would do wonders. Nash? maybe if we had that top five pick we could make a deal with Columbus? Even if it was a top five pick, that would have to be enticing to Columbus, no? Thoughts? Who should Burkie go after in your opinion?

  4. rick nash would be of great help to the toronto mapleleafs .

  5. garry says:

    Leafs are bringing a lot of chips to vegas in June. Hope they play them well! Go leafs!!

  6. peterj says:

    I think the doom and gloom is not called for,before the season started many of the experts picked the Leafs to be in a battle for eighth place. They where never as good as they looked in the first 2 month of the season and they are not as bad as they look now. When Burke became GM this team, the Leafs were lacking talent at all levels and anyone who thought that a rebuild could happen in less than 5 or 6 years is probably smoking something that is not quite legal. That is not say that Burke has not made mistakes, he has,and I would suggest starting the season with two goalies with so little NHL experience is his biggest mistake. It was not fair to the goalies, or the rest of the players, goalies are usually 26 to 28 years old before they reach a level where they can be counted on. Sure there are exceptions, Price being one, but for every Carey Price there are more goalies like Fleury who take longer to reach that peak.

    Wilson’s run and gun offence was also going to fail when the games got a little tougher and teams tightened up their defence like they always do after Christmas. Wilson should have put in systems that allowed the team to be much better at getting out of their end His penalty kill was in the bottom five during his term as coach, again the lack of good team defence and the lack of a system that allowed the players to be successful. If you look at Luke Schenn he looks lost out there, a player who was as good as he was his first year should not be regressing, and that is poor coaching. Young players need to be put in a situation where they can have success, they need positive reinforcement, they don’t need their coach to throw them under the bus every other night. Schenn had the potential to be a very good defenceman, I only hope he hasn’t been destroyed by Wilson.

    Carlyle seems to be a coach who is more suited to working with young players and if he is, better days are ahead, but it will still take some time.

  7. Mark Ritter says:

    PeterJ— I agree with much of what you are saying. Right now it is hard to say whether this team is suffering from years of poor coaching or if it truly is just a lack of talent. Schenn— I think he is not the player we hoped he was, but I would agree with a little tutelage he will be better. The thing about Schenn is that he seems to make the same mistake over and over again, which speaks to his inability to learn and adapt. He has good size, decent skating, but I am not so sure he IQ is there. The penalty kill can be a reflection of defensive talent, but it also has a lot to do with the system and, of course, the Goaltending. Burke completely overvalued both Gus and reims and he undervalued what a veteran presence means to a young goalie. simply put, neither goalie is ready to assume a number one role, so Burke better get a contingency plan for next season, and fast!
    Carlyle has already stated he feels the players are making rookie mistakes. He seems to be pointing to the fact that the players have no clue about the systems and what their roles are. That’s what these players need most—systems that work and a goalie that can make up for their mistakes. To me, it’s all about the next 2-3 seasons, that’s when Burke’s draft picks will start to pay off, thats when we’ll know if Burke’s scouts were any good.
    Sure does stink to be a Leafs fan…8 years without a playoff game…Wow!

  8. Jake says:

    The Leafs play like a bunch of scared little girls . Phyllis Kessel , Diane Phaneuf and Tammy Connolly couldn’t lead a peewee team they just palin lack guts .
    Burke wheter he gets a lotterey pick or not is the most incompetent arogant ass of all the GMs and will squander any atvantage he gets for a big media splash and US college player .
    There just isn’t anything good to say about Burke and his deals they just plain stink . He didn’t do proper scouting on any of his deals just relyied on his best guess on guys that he new .
    More of the same next year is all I see .

  9. Dave says:

    Mark,

    To answer your question without putting too much thought into it, I would make a run at Parise (yes another American…but I digress) and I would also make a hard run at landing Nash. I think both can be done but salary will have to be moved of course. From there, I would keep Crabb and bolster the bottom six.

    Dave

  10. Dave says:

    Oh and as scared as I am to do it, I might dangle a medium level prospect (Holzer/Deschamps/or Rynnas) with our first if I could pluck Schneider out of Van City. I think its more likely that they would demand a top level prospect though so I might consider throwing the offer out there for Bernier. Halak might get done for the mid level prospect and a 2nd based on his salary and the signing of Elliott. Has Kipper seen his last season in Calgary? Cant see a Maple Leaf in his future. Perhaps theres a gamble out there to take a flyer on Lindback or a tough deal to be done for a somewhat young Hiller? The more I name the more I say stay the course and let Reimer/Scrivens/Owuya/Rynnas run the show. Maybe make a run at the Moose – Johan Hedberg(to provide some veteran leadship as a plan 1B.) And yes, I’m biased on the guy – I think he’s the best true backup in the game not named Schnider/Bernier or Holtby. Getting a goalie, if thats what Burkie chooses to do (and I’m not sold on the issue – I’m indifferent really), will take some creativity.

    Cheers bro!

    Dave

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