I thought this past week would go down in Leafs history coming off a wonderful victory in Montreal. I thought the Leafs would sail past both Florida's teams and the team would be set to steamroll over the Pens tonight.
Alas, it was not meant to be. I can only imagine how dangerous the Leafs would be, thinking back to Coach Wilson's preseason comments related to the speed of the team, if they could ever go on a winning streak.
Winning is contagious. A winning attitude is infectious. A barroom buddy stated the other day the Leafs are sadly lacking in the "players who have won a Cup" department. This, of course, is the Leafs age-old problem and it's one of balance. The fans love an exciting game of hockey—whether a good pummeling here or a OT victory there—and pay dearly for the price of being a Leafs fan.
The balance needs to exist on many levels, not just on the ice but in the locker room and in the way the players treat each other, on a purely social level. I have to wonder how many of the Leafs these days are so-called drinking buddies, for example. It's a stretch, I suppose, in these days of programmed health regimens. But you likely understand what I'm talking about. To score a goal is just another day at the office, and wait for the paycheque.
So, in order to beat the Pens and all other team, as it was so aptly shown to us this past week, and as I have pointed out once or twice before, The Leafs need to simply keep the puck out of our own zone. Yes, for a brief moment, I really thought Cujo was the Calvary riding in to save the season against the Bolts the other night. Alas, it was not meant to be.
The Leafs need a new goalie tandem and that's a huge priority for Burke—and I hope he's good enough to recognize that no Leafs fans in the world would keep Toskala after his night-after-night brainless performance this season. Cujo is too old now, and should accept an early retirement with grace. I'd honestly rather roll with Pogge for the rest of the season.
On defence, Sifers is steady and I trust will be kept on the team, and in this regard I think the Leafs have a decent defense core, if Van Ryn can get back on the ice, and if Finger can take a few more shots—talk about a player with lacking confidence—though he is one player who likely is stepping up in the locker room. Playing on a losing team, as long time fans can appreciate, will not do Schenn any good at all.
Thus, Burke needs to bring in some scoring touch, bluntly. Over the years, various Leafs managers have shipped out some really great young Canadian players, and for the life of me I can't understand how Antropov has stayed on the team, or the other Twin Tower. I know. I know, we keep hearing about the season they are having and the potential they have—too late, I say. They're gone.
I heard Moore might be considered for the Captain's job. At the beginning of the season my vote was for Mayers, but I wouldn't mind rewarding Moore. He's smart and he's talented, and seems to be giving it his all for the team night after night. I think he embodies the passion that is not consistently delivered by his teammates, especially Blake.
I can't figure out Blake. But I think he just got lucky while with the Isles, and maybe Yashin was that good after all. he'll be gone next year. Luckily this, thus, is then his incentive, like many before him, to play well only to up his value and get traded to another team with short-term playoff dreams.
Any team can win the Cup, even the Leafs, and they could win the Cup this year, if they would only win every game from now on...starting with the Pens tonight!
Leafs 4, Pens 3.