Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Dr. Jekyl and Mr. Hyde

Is anyone else sick and tired of the our team deciding when to show and not to show? It seems to vary from period-to-period. Or at least game-to-game.
For example, they played a near-perfect game in Dallas and blanked 4-0. Everyone was doing what was was expected of them. But they also did something extra in that game.
Oh, the little extras. The forwards would do that extra dig to get the puck out. The defence were solid, not panicking in their own zone. Looking before they got rid of the puck. Very few blind passes. People were using their heads for thinking.
Again, they were steady against the Panthers for the first two periods. They held their ground, played solid, and the goaltending was holding them in. 
But then Mr. Hyde ran wild in the third period. Everyone forgot what they were supposed to do. It was like the Keystone Cops meet a Chinese Fire Drill. So many defensive break-downs, and the forwards standing around in the defensive zone looking at the puck. No one bothered to cover the player standing in the slot.
How can three forwards do nothing while the defense throws the puck mindlessly to the opposing forwards? 
What is so frustrating is that these breakdowns seem to happen in stretches. The Leafs would go on these winning streaks, where it looks like Mr. Hyde has left the building. But then, out of nowhere, they would start making mental errors in a game, and lose it.
That is bound to happen now and then, and it is fine as long as they learn from their mistakes. But that seems to be a forgotten art in Leaf land. The Leafs make the same mistakes over and over again, and all of a sudden, they are on a losing streak. 
So here are some New Year’s Resolutions I think players should make:
Dion Phaneuf
Generally, Dion does too much. He needs to realize his limitations. On most teams, Dion would not have all this responsibility; but the Leafs are not most teams. With this team, Dion must learn that he is human, and stop taking so many chances.
Nazem Kadri 
Nazem has been showing signs of becoming the Center that the Leafs knew he could be. Nazem must continue to play with heart. He must continue to pitch in on the scoring. He must be the leader of the second line.
Joffrey Lupul
Simply put, Joffrey must play within his means. He must be smarter. He is a gifted winger who has ton of ability. He has to be healthy in order for the Flames to succeed. Get out of the nasty business and stick to the offensive game. And he must stay healthy.
The last and most important of the players, Jonathan Bernier 
Bernier must continue to be a number one goalie. Down the stretch, we are going to need him to make that save if the Leafs are going to stay in the playoff hunt. Bernier will have to steal a few games down the stretch.
Finally, I think Nonis should make some resolutions:
  • Acquire a puck-moving defenseman who can help in with offense, which the Leafs so badly need.
  • Find Jake Gardiner a new home. We must improve the defense. He might well be a huge asset for another team.
  • I would love to see the Leafs pick up one more top-six forward to help the goal scoring on the second line. 

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