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Maple Leafs: Baffled, befuddled, bewildered and broken

November 18, 2019, 10:44 AM ET [502 Comments]
Lucas Neilson
Toronto Maple Leafs Blogger • RSSArchiveCONTACT
What an absolute gong show to start the season. At first it seemed as if there were a bunch of new players on the roster and it may take some time to work out the kinks and start gelling. Anyone who looked at the Maple Leafs schedule could see it was going to be a difficult one, even if the team was playing quality hockey it still wasn’t going to be easy. Then Tavares got hurt and the Leafs had some other smaller injuries throughout the lineup (Rielly for one).

Just when things looks liked they may start to turn around when Tavares returned from his broken finger the Leafs and their fans get backhanded with a Marner injury for a month plus. On top of that you toss in the Don Cherry firing (yes it’s a thing), an Alex Kerfoot injury and Morgan Rielly looks like he’s playing at 50% right now. What a whirlwind of crap in Leafs Nation.

It seems as if the Leafs are either not happy with Babcock, or they simply have zero confidence in themselves and are playing with no intensity what so ever. It sure is discouraging as a die hard fan watching this garbage, what the hell is going on out there?

Here is a question for you…

Where on earth is Brendan Shanahan in all of this mess? We can see Babcock on the bench, he looks to me like he’s still working hard and wants his team to play like they can. Is he perfect? Far from it, but I can at least see he’s putting in effort and showing his frustrations. Where is the care from the Leafs players? I don’t see anyone freaking out, smashing sticks against the glass, laying big hits against the opponent, dropping the gloves, giving a cheap shot, something, anything.

Tavares is the Captain. I’m certainly ready for him to rally the troops. The Leafs are still looking for some sort of a spark to change the direction of this catastrophe that’s turning into the 2019/20 season. Something’s got to give? A trade? Babcock fired? I’m not too sure what’s ahead next in Leaf land but I will tell you this. It’s coming, and it’s coming soon. If the Leafs don’t pull it together and play some actual hockey were going to see the first chop from Kyle Dubas’ axe.

In my head I just can’t believe were discussing Babcock being fired. Has he lost the team? Has he given up on the team? I don’t think he’s given up, but after watching Saturday’s game against the Penguins; they just may have given up on him. It was pathetic. I felt bad for Leafs goaltender Kasimir Kaskisuo as he was hung out to dry big time against the Penguins, thank god they didn’t have Crosby in the lineup.

It’s obvious the Leafs are in dire need of a backup goalie they can rely on. But when the team is playing like they were on Saturday, no goalie is going to help them win a game playing like that. It was embarrassing…all this money on all these elite players and this is the result we are getting? Come on. Enough is enough it’s time for someone, anyone to do something.

Shanahan I’m still waiting for you to come out of the woodwork?

Can you really see Shanahan firing Mike Babcock? I can’t, but I also couldn’t picture the Leafs being where they are in the standings at this point of the season and I also couldn’t picture Ron tossing Don under the bus. So it’s been a picky little start to the season if I do say.

What’s important is this road trip ahead. If they Leafs can get some comradery going and come together as a team perhaps they can save not only the season but their reputations going forward and Babcock’s job as their coach. It’s now at the point where something’s got to give, or go.

Leafs need some grit. We traded Kadri for Barrie and Kerfoot. I can’t say the deal was awful as I think Kerfoot has been pretty decent for the Leafs. Barrie is struggling mightily and he can kiss goodbye to that 8 million dollar contract he was hoping for next season. Tyson Barrie has zero goals and I’ve barely noticed him for a few weeks now.

I liked the trade idea from Dubas but the truth is the Leafs needed the grit of Kadri (as well as his quality defensive play). The problem was Kadri screwed them two playoffs in a row and that was his major downfall that led to the Leafs trading him. Ideally the Leafs could have kept Kadri for his grit and added another defender who was similar to Muzzin. Someone who’s bigger, in the face/hard nosed who can lay the body, clear the net and block lots of shots killing penalties.

It looks as if this trade may have actually hurt is more than it helped (at this point). The Leafs need to find a way to get Barrie into the mix offensively and what better time than now? Seems to me Rielly is nursing an injury and his play is struggling. Marner is hurt so there is a spot that opens up on the powerplay. Get Barrie on the board and let’s see Babcock start playing his main horses more, and for the love of god keep Spezza off the ice. He’s done. His vision is lost as a quality play maker, his reaction time is slow and his decision making is molasses. Time to move on!

Do the Leafs really need a fourth line? We have arguably one of the best offensive teams on paper, why are we even bothering icing a fourth line at all? Don’t get me wrong I’ve liked the Goat’s play this season and he deserves some ice time with his play. Seems more strategic to slide him into the odd shift on one of the top three lines to give someone a rest. Why we have guys like Spezza, Shore, Timashov and so on taking away valuable minutes from the big boys is beyond me. They are getting 11 million a year let’s make them earn their keep and hopefully the Leafs players can figure it out. I’m disgusted with the effort of this team in the first 20 games.

Let’s hope this road trip is the turning point.

Calgary is another team struggling mightily (very similar to Leafs) – could be a potential trading partner as it was years ago around this time of the year the big blockbuster went down for Phaneuf. I’d be more than willing to send Nylander +++ for a player like Tkachuk. He’s got the grit, skill and is an absolute warrior.

Who’s on your wish list as we approach the holidays?

Thanks for reading.
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