Toronto Maple Leafs Facing the Same Problems Every Game

Mitch. Mitchell.Correspondent IDecember 10, 2008

You may have noticed that I have not been writing anything on the Leafs for quite some time.

I am writing this editorial as a coach, a player, and a fan for years of the Leafs.

Let's cut out the bullsh*t of the Leafs rebuilding—everyone with a hockey brain understands quite well what is, and what has been taking place in Leaf Land.

I have never ever seen a hockey team that was not rebuilding.

Every hockey team I have played for or coached has always been looking to better their team.

It is now coming up to the half-way point of the 2008-09 season.  In the last eight to 10 games that I have seen, the Leafs displayed and unforgivable lack of basic knowledge of hockey.

I am talking about defense.

I am sure that Ron Wilson, being the good coach that he is, surely must be wondering what the hell is happening.

Wilson's players are not even displaying the defensive part of the game that is drilled into your head in pee-wee hockey. Why?

The D-men are being continually beaten on the outside, never on the inside.

That tells me the D-man is not doing the first part of the job by keeping the opposing forward between himself and the boards.



The defence is either caught flat-footed, or they fail to ride the oncoming forward into the boards.

Result?  The D-man is continually beaten on the outside.

In the defensive-zone coverage, you will never see a Leaf forward playing his point man—never.

There is always too much air between the Leaf player and the player he should be checking in defensive zone coverage.

We see as many as two opposition forwards standing between Toskala and the Leaf defence on a power play, tipping in shots from the points or deflections.

The Leafs, on the power play are quite content to run out the two minute power play by passing it from point to point, to the man down low for the one timer. Why?

When you have players the size of Antropov and Ponikarovsky who could be standing in front of the net screening shots from the point, goals should be coming a lot easier. Which is where I find myself asking, why is this not happening?

Every game I watch, I hear the announcer saying, "Toskala never even saw that shot from the point, through a maze of players standing in front of the net, the puck must have changed directions three or four times."

There is  no need for fancy stuff—the Leafs just need to pass the puck around, or look for a way to get a goal by playing plain old basic hockey.

The garbage goals count and the Leafs are going to have to learn that sooner, rather than later, or eighth spot will by Christmas only be another dream for me.

I would like to take this opportunity to wish everyone that is involved with Bleacher Report a very merry Christmas and a happy New Year.