Tuesday, January 13, 2009

How Bad Is "Suck"?

The Leafs have been crap lately. There's no other way to say it. They are in the midst of an awful run and it shows no signs of getting better. It's hard being a fan these days. The best summation of how I feel is from DownGoesBrown, in what might be the most important post of the year, - denial, anger, depression - eventually leading to the path of acceptance.

This sucks. This really sucks. For real.

The Leafs are in complete free-fall mode now. In their last 10 games they have 2 wins and 8 losses.

2-8 loss vs. Dallas
1-4 loss vs. NY Islanders
1-4 loss vs. Washington
4-3 win-ot vs. Atlanta
1-4 loss vs. Buffalo
3-1 win vs. Ottawa
2-4 loss vs. Florida
2-6 loss vs. Montreal
1-4 loss vs. Philadelphia
0-2 loss vs. Nashville

GF 17
GA 40

Over their last ten games the Leafs have given up an average of exactly 4 goals per game while scoring one....point....seven. ONE-Point-Seven. Ugh. That's not entertaining.

They have only one regulation win in their last ten, and that came against Ottawa. The win over Atlanta was in overtime.

Not a single loss over that period was by shoot-out or in overtime. In fact, every loss was by 2 goals or more. Eight losses, and not a single point to show for it.

The Leafs have given up the first goal of the game 9 times in their last 10 games. 4 times they've allowed the first goal within the first five minutes.

For the rest of this post I'm going to look at Leaf forwards (with the exception of Mats Stajan who missed half the games), and see how the main point-producers have, or rather, haven't performed in the last 10 games.

Blake; 4G, 1A, 5P, -4.
Moore; 1G, 4A, 5P, -6

It's a sad state of affairs when Dominic Moore and Jason Blake are your team's leading point getters, but over the last ten, they've produced the most. Blake's 4 goals would actually put him on pace for a pretty decent season.

Ponikarovsky; 3G, 1A, 4P, -5
Antropov; 0G, 4A, 4P, -5

Antro and Poni have really struggled without Stajan, but that's only half the story. Poni has been playing well seemingly, and his 3 goals puts him in the team lead for goal scoring, but that, and his single assist, are more an indication of Antro's continuing slump. The Lanky Kazakh has zero goals over this ten game span, and for a player that should be the team's best forward, this is a disaster. The Leafs cannot win on a nightly basis without a consistent contribution from Antropov.

Stempniak; 2G, 1A, 3P, Even
Grabovski; 1G, 2A, 3P, -1
Mitchell; 1G, 2A, 3P, -3

I'm not too worried about Mitchell. If he's keeping pace with Grabovski and keeping his plus/minus down, he's not doing too bad. Grabbo seems to maybe miss Kulemin a little, and even though his numbers are down compared to the hot streak he was on earlier in the season, he still seems like one of the few spark-plugs out there for the Leafs. Meanwhile, Lee "Nowhere-Near-As-Good-As-Steen-So-Why-Did-We-Need-To-Give-Up-Colaiacovo-Too?" Stempniak has 2 goals in his last 10 games and one assist, but remarkably has kept his plus/minus at Even. Maybe he's not on the ice when the Leafs are scored against because he's sitting in the penalty box, like he was tonight against Nashville. Or maybe plus/minus just isn't a very good indication of a player's performance. Then again, his plus/minus would indicate that nothing happens one way or the other when Stempniak's on the ice, and I can't actually disagree with that either.

Hagman; 1G, 0A, 1P, -6

This is the real mystery to me. What has happened to Niklas Hagman? One goal and no assists in ten games is not the kind of production I was expecting, and if there's a reason why the Leafs production has fallen off so sharply, this must be it. Seems to me like Hagman is not the same player as he was the first 20 games of the season, and since coming back from injury he has not been himself. He scored 2 quick goals in his first 2 games back, but since then his production has totally dried up. The last 3 or 4 games, he has seemed a shadow of himself - reluctant, hesitant, shaky and fragile. Totally the opposite of the kind of player he was early on in the year. Perhaps he's not quite over the injury and came back too soon, or maybe it's a deeper psychological effect that he needs to battle through. Or maybe it's been the lack of consistency with linemates the last ten games that's thrown him out of his groove. I'd like to think that's the case, but whatever it is, Hagman needs to turn it around, fast, or the Leafs' free-fall will continue.

If the best players on the Leafs are playing their best, there's hope that they can win maybe half their games. But on the other hand, if the Leafs' best players are not playing their best, there's no hope at all of success,  and no way that they'll be able to compete with the teams in the league that are more talented then they are - and that seems to be just about all of them.


Anthony Woods said...

Playing Hagman with Deveaux is absolutely retarded. I'm a little more pissed every game Deveaux is in the NHL. The Leafs MUST have someone that can play better hockey and/or actually fight. The guy can take a punch, but can't throw them. Putting him on a line with a creative winger is a waste of a roster spot.

blurr1974 said...

Great post. Hagman's got me a little worried. I hope it's a case of being stuck on a line with Deveaux on some nights...

general borschevsky said...

Hey, Anthony Woods, thanks for dropping by. You make a good point about Hagman and Deveaux, and I think blurr agrees with you.

Deveaux should probably only be playing 4 to 6 minutes a night, rather then a regular shift alongside one of our better playmaking forwards. Even still, he's no Wade Belak. In fact, in his last fight, against Cote, 2 and a half minutes into the Philadelphia game, Deveaux seemed alarmingly reluctant and slow to drop the gloves. He lost that fight before it even began because Deveaux's intensity was nowhere near the level of Cote's.

Maybe putting Deveaux together with Hagman was an attempt by Wilson to help Hagman find his edge again, but it isn't working.

eyebleaf said...

17 GF, 40 GA. Yikes. I'm going to drink to that, mate. Cheers.

7th Woman said...

wow! I thought that question only applied to MY team, the Islanders. I guess the Leafs and the Islanders are just about mirror images.

Blake should (with luck) end with a 20 - 22 goal season. That's what he's capable of. At least that's what I've always believed.

Just enjoy the entertainment, but don't think you're gonna start competing with US for Tavares. ;o)

take care!

general borschevsky said...

Cheers, eyebleaf! A little more dark perspective for ya: The Leafs' 8 regulation losses in their last ten games is one more then the Bruins and Red Wings have had all year(7), and 3 more then the Shark's total for the season(5) so far. I wish I born in San Jose.

A warm welcome to the General Area for the 7th Woman! I wish I knew who the first six were. Joking. I read your profile about winning the "7th Man" contest. That's pretty cool. It's a great screen name. Your blog
looks hilarious. - One final thought - You guys possess a draft pick that we'd love to have. We have Jason Blake, whom we know is adored in Long Island. You see where this is going don't you? We can probably throw in Mark Bell to make the deal sweeter. It's win-win-win for everybody, except for the Islanders, but, y'know...

Really appreciate the comments, 7th Woman. Drop by again sometime.

eyebleaf said...

LOL! I wish I was born in San Jose, too, buddy. Or Detroit. Or even New Jersey. Shit.

Anonymous said...

This is all fantastic stuff. To quote Michael Stipe of REM "It's the end of the world and I feel fine". This is all good folks.

Don't loose focus! Hagman apparently is suffering from concussion like symptoms. I wish they kept Sifers up and sent Deveaux down.

general borschevsky said...

@eyebleaf: I think I'd rather live in Windsor.

@TSM: Thanks for the encouragement. I was wondering about concussion symptoms for Hagman (he really seems less enthusiastic about the rough stuff right now) but I didn't want to say it out loud. I hope it's not what's holding him back. Be interesting to see how he plays tonight with Antro. I think that's a promising combination.