What began out as a start to remember for the Leafs offensively, has taken a turn for the worst and has turned into a flaming bag of dog poop, figuratively.
The dog poop in this story is played by the Toronto Maple Leafs offence and as you can obviously tell, the opposing goaltender is playing the part of the mighty foot, who's sole goal is to put out that fire, hopefully while not making much of a mess.
But in the recent few games, it hasn't been the foot to put out the fire, it's actually been the bag of poop—the foot for the most part has played a supporting role in the movie, not the lead.
The Leafs began the season practically on fire offensively, Tim Brent of all people had two goals in two games, and Colton Orr had also contributed two goals, one of which was a game winner. Forward regulars Phil Kessel and Clarke MacArthur have accounted for 56.7 percent of the Leafs offence this season, surely a sore spot for the club.
After that, where does the offence comes from? The Leafs' No. 1 center, Tyler Bozak, has scored but one goal the entire season and second line center, Mikhail Grabovski, is doing his best impression of an orange highway cone on the ice, scoring not even once to start out the first 10 games of the season.
To their credit, they have been getting chances, but have failed to really put anything home.
Newcomers Kris Versteeg and Colby Armstrong, albeit Armstrong is not really considered an offensive threat, have only accounted for two goals between them.
You know things are bad when the likes of Tim Brent and Colton Orr are third and fourth respectively.
But the point of this article is not the Leafs offence, but rather, the Leafs defence, who are playing the part of the paper bag holding the dog poop inside.
Yes, it's a rather bad analogy but hear me out.
Right now, it's my belief that the Leafs defence is the problem behind the poor offensive showing nearly every night. The Leafs managed over 85 shots towards the net on Saturday against the Rangers, but about 90 percent of them you could consider marginal shots.
The Leafs defence, led by Dion Phaneuf have really made it tough for the forwards up front to do anything. Phaneuf, who is currently second on the team in shots on goal with 29, only behind Kessel, may be the big problem right now with the offence.
At even strength, Phaneuf is playing his best Mike Green impression, skating in deep into the offensive zone, but coming out empty and usually can be seen skating back hard, only to be scored on in the end. He currently sits dead last on the Leafs in +/-.
My main concern with Phaneuf, well this can be attributed to all the Leafs defenders, is that everything from the point seems to have to be a slap-shot.
Even Tomas Kaberle and Luke Schenn have decided to let their inner slap-shot beast show up.
In the preseason, rookie Jesse Blacker scored a goal and assisted on a goal, but how did he score? He merely just gave a good wrist shot on net.
The wrist shot right now is the lost art that is failing the Leafs. You could argue it's the quality of the shots rather than the quantity, but in the end, I think it's the wrist shot from the point that is what's missing from the Leafs.
The wrist shot is a quicker shot to get rid of, meaning it will be harder to block, but also, the wrist shot is easier to control and you can tip it easier as a result—or at least get it to the net and hope for a rebound.
How is it Mike Komisarek leads the Leafs in scoring on the back end, only playing an average of 14 minutes a night. That answer is simple, he's the only Leafs defenceman who uses the wrist shot with some regularity, and as a result, he's putting up points.
So with that said, that inability for the Leafs defence to get shots through to the goal is ultimately what is befalling the club as it stands right now. Every defenceman to a man, whether that's Dion Phaneuf, or all the way down to Brett Lebda or Carl Gunnarsson, need to take it upon themselves to get shots through to the net with more regularity.
With the amount of shots that aren't getting to the goaltender, the Leafs defence will continue to act the part of a wet paper bag to the Leafs offence (who lie within that bag), and the Leafs will continue to lose these spirited, but not offensively magical games.
Like the new article format? Send us feedback!