The Leafs last played to a degrading and debilitating loss last Saturday to the Rangers. A game where their early season problems manifested once again. Those being:
- The inability to score first or in the first period
- Forget secondary scoring, where's the tertiary scoring?
- The lack of trust in there goaltender following a soft goal
- Forwards not coming back for defensive coverage
- Not being able to clear pucks over the blueline from 5 feet inside it
- Players being arbitrary healthy scratches
- John Mitchell not hitting the net and being somehow exempt from being scratched
- Jason Blake shooting from 1 degree angles and thinking no one has ever tried a wrap-around and what a great plan it would be
All of this may sound frightfully similar to last year. And the biggest change is that quite a bit of scoring left with Nik Antropov, Pavel Kubina and (not-so-much) Dominic Moore. Not to mention the offense that left with unsigned AHL players that signed elsewhere. Here's a good time to mention that Anton Stralman is looking pretty serviceable in Columbus. Not looking any worse than, say, Jeff Finger or Garnet Exelby. Honestly, the money playing on the back-end is making the people who signed them look horribly inept. The only signing starting to take a little shape is Beauchemin. After a horrid first week, he has settled down and is only turning the puck over at the offensive blueline 2 or 3 times a game. Most of those turn overs are actually a change in the coaching style this season. I've heard that Wilson is asking all(good grief, WHY?) of the defense to stand up on the boards and keep the puck in the offensive zone. This is landed a few of the defense in hot water and a slash in the minus column. The hard part will be watching players that are not already good at this(Beauchemin, Kaberle) trying to get better at it(Komisarek, everyone else). I think that Burke thought this might be a little easier transition that it has actually been. Racking up 7 losses probably wasn't in the Powerpoint Presentation at the opening day meetings. The last thing I want to comment on is the obvious kid gloves being used with Luke Schenn. They constantly have him changing partners and monitor his time. That's all well and good, keep the faith in him. But for crying out loud stop switching sides. Especially when I know that there is an obvious push from within the coaching staff for Schenn to improve offensively.
Oh, the picture I promised of the beard-in is above. I used my cell-camera which is almost as good as a burnt log writing on a flat rock. I know, it's not the camera's fault.