As a pseudo-Torontonian, I know the list of excuses spouted by Leafs apologists like the back of my hand.
They're in a tough division; they've just lost Sundin; they're laying low for the draft picks; they're in a transition period.
The last of this list I've heard every season for the past ten years.
Despite these excuses, everyone has their own opinion on the Leafs' biggest problem, whether it be coaching, defense, or the fact that their 'star' player is Nik freakin' Antropov.
If you ask me, however, its the goaltending.
No other team in the NHL manages to have three goalies who, between them, can't equal one half-decent puck-stopper.
Curtis Joseph, at 41, should have taken his bow several years ago. During his mid-90s glory days I was a huge fan, but difficult as it might be to accept, this dog has had his day.
Justin Pogge, on the other hand, has the opposite problem.
Solid with the Marlies and brilliant in his first game in the big league, he's suffered from instability. His confidence seems to wane with every un-winnable game, despite the fact that he's playing at least as well as Joseph and Toskala.
Vesa Toskala, however, has no such excuse.
He consistently starts games, and he's consistently terrible. He's not over the hill, or still a baby. He's just crap.
Harsh, I know, but its not even the amount of goals he lets through that bothers me—its the fact that he doesn't seem to be trying at all.
When Ryan Miller lets in a goal, he's splayed out like Stretch Armstrong, but accepts the fact that he still got beaten.
Toskala, conversely, might have dropped to one knee and extended his blocker, but still reacts to the fact that someone found one of the 75 holes in his stance like a petulant little child.
Yet still, he plays the majority of Leafs games.
Yes, I've heard the 'why get rid of him?' debate. Keeping him to the end of his contract, losing badly, and then getting a good goalie in the draft pick is supposedly the 'big picture'.
That doesn't help those of us who have to sit and watch him disgrace the fine art of goaltending every game.
So what, I hear you ask, is to be done?
In an ideal world, I'd draft in Steve Mason and Roberto Luongo and let them fight for starting privileges, but we all know that the Leafs organisation is not an ideal world.
Instead, I'd bring Pogge up from the AHL for good, drop Toskala, and let Cujo enjoy his well-earned retirement with a decent thirty-something goalie in his place.
If that's not an option, then perhaps permanently dropping the goalie for the extra attacker might actually be a better idea.
At least it would wake the defense up a bit.
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