Leaf's Defence Corp Throwing Toskala Under The Bus

Ben DoverContributor IOctober 4, 2009

TORONTO - SEPTEMBER 22:  Francois Beauchemin #22 of the Toronto Maple Leafs skates against the Pittsburgh Penguins during a pre-season  NHL game at the Air Canada Centre on September 22, 2009 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada .  (Photo by Abelimages/Getty Images)

Last nights game between Toronto and Washington was a prime time exhibition for the hypnotised Toronto public. An exhibition to really see how much their team has improved.

The preseason honeymoon was over and the real test had begun.

Washington, lead by Alex Ovechkin, is a cup contender and was to give a bigger test than Montreal two days before.

The game against Montreal showed some old habits die hard. The inability of the team to hold onto a lead, terrible penalties in crucial situations, and more worrisome, not playing with enough commitment on the penalty kill.

Afterwards, Toronto's coaching staff promised to tighten things up. 

The defence corp that last year was so anemic, was now "one of the best in the league". The game against Montreal of an aberration. This season, Toronto would remove themselves from worst in the league in goals against.

Against Washington last night, the Leaf's coughed up six goals. They have now allowed ten goals in two games.

Washington is a very strong offensive team, however, three goals last night were absolutely horrible and highlight three players that were found puck watching and not hustling. It can be confidently said that three goals by Washington were completely unearned or contested by the Leafs. Three goals that left their goal tender abandoned

The most forgivable goal, and only because this player is not a veteran, was the fifth goal by Washington.

John Mitchell's positioning was non existent in this play. At the beginning, Toronto was on the attack and Mitchell was marking Laitch. The puck was pushed towards the Washington goal, camera side board. On the turnover, Laitch quickly turned and skated toward the Toronto goal. Mitchell made no effort to follow his man. The puck was passed up the middle of the ice and Toronto now had a three on two to contend with. Morrison split Kaberle and Komisarick. Morrison, now one on one with Gustavsson made no mistake.

The third Washington goal by Laitch showed some horrible awareness of Francois Beauchemin.

The play actually started with a solid goal attempt by Toronto, with an unlucky miss to Ponikarovsky. The pucked ended up with the Caps behind the net. Laitch was at the beginning unmarked, but being watched by Grabvoski. Once Laitch noticed the turnover of the puck he skated along the right side board to the blue line. He was not followed by Grabovski. Beauchemin at this time was in the exact middle of the ice with Schen to his right. The puck was passed accurately to Laitch, and he didn't waste the space. Beauchmin was left completely flat footed and scored a one on one against Toskala.

The most terrible of the goals, Washington's sixth goal, can be put down to the absolute indifference of Jason Blake to do his share of defending. Semin ,coming from the right side of the puck from his own territory, simply skated without a single Maple Leaf in his vicinity. Blake was skating back towards his goal down the centre of the ice. Semin skating the the extreme right of Blake was by himself, and without anybody insight, had Gustavson at his mercy.

All three goals mentioned above, created one-on-one situations with Toronto's goal tenders. Toskala and later Gustavsson had absolutely no help from their defence. Wilson needs to tighten this ship up and quickly or he'll not only lose Toskala but maybe Gustavvson as well.