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Is Ron Wilson's Line Shuffling Stacking the Deck Against the Maple Leafs?

Louis PisanoAnalyst INovember 19, 2009

TORONTO - SEPTEMBER 22:  Head Coach Ron Wilson (C) of the Toronto Maple Leafs looks on along with assistant coaches Keith Acton (L), Rob Zettler (far left) and Tim Hunter (R) against the Buffalo Sabres during their pre season NHL game at the Air Canada Centre on September 26, 2008 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. (Photo By Dave Sandford/Getty Images)
Dave Sandford/Getty Images

By Louis "King of Roncesvalles" Pisano

Given that not much seems to be going the Leafs' way, changing up the lines and defensive pairings would usually be an acceptable solution as a coaching decision.

But have the Leafs really had any time this season to form some chemistry with a set lineup over a period of time?

Not that I’ve seen.

The lack of success early in the season led to many line changes as some of the young players, who in the preseason gave Leaf fans hopes for a playoff berth, were watching from the press box and eventually sent down to the Marlies.

Then, with Phil Kessel being cleared to play and inserted into the lineup, the juggling continued while the coaching staff tried to find complementary players for this young sniper.

With that in mind, how difficult is it to change your thoughts on the fly going down the ice on a nightly basis?

For example: when playing with Mikhail Grabovski, who will straddle the line and try to gain the zone carrying the puck, as opposed to playing with Matt Stajan, who you know is going to dump the puck immediately after crossing centre ice.

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The same can be said for the defensive pairings for the Leafs, which have changed nightly due to injury or poor play as a unit.

Without that split-second knowledge of who’s with you or who you are with on the rush, mistakes are going to be more frequent.

More often than not, this will result in either being late on the forecheck or an offside without that consistency and knowledge of your linemates.

This applies to the defence as well: not knowing who is taking the man when the puck is dumped in, and in other situations, it creates hesitation, which could lead to turnovers along the boards and in their own zone.

Another side effect of this lack of regularity in respect to set lines is the dreaded neutral zone turnover, which has been detrimental to this Leafs team all season. These turnovers at the opposing team's blue line or while breaking out of their own zone creates those odd man rushes going the other way, leading to quality scoring chances, which teams have been capitalizing on frequently.

This is all a coaching nightmare, but in this case does the responsibility for this lack of cohesiveness fall squarely on the one having the nightmare, namely Ron Wilson?

The Toronto Maple Leafs' staff and players, along with Leafs Nation, are all looking for answers to what ails this team. Perhaps if they just would stick with some lines through thick and thin and let them gain all of that mighty chemistry, this team could begin to see some success.

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