No measure of analytics can make up for the humiliating 9-2 home loss the Leafs suffered Tuesday night. The loss marks the team’s worst defeat in Air Canada Centre history.
Defensive Rebuild Required
Leafs Captain Dion Phaneuf got beat on several occasions and cost his team a couple of goals. The Nashville Predator forwards did a wonderful job using their speed to win puck battles, screen the Leaf goalies and create good quality scoring chances.
As a result, the Predators scored early and often. Most of Nashville’s goals were scored due to poor choices made by Toronto’s defensemen. Morgan Reilly pinched in on several occasions and never seemed to be in the right position. It’s the same story for Jake Gardiner as well. He lost several key puck battles and didn’t offer his goalies much help.
When dealing with a loss like this, it’s important for Leaf fans to remember that these players are still quite young and inexperienced. It may seem like a lame excuse, but it’s true.
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Toronto simply cannot continue to depend on these guys to hold down the fort in the defensive end. The organization really needs to start trading some of these younger players in favor of some more experienced defensemen and forwards. It’s unfortunate but when a team is down 6-0 early in the third period, something has to change. On the defensive side, Reilly and Gardiner should be traded soon.
Toronto has been outscored 14-2 in their last two games and has conceded the first goal 17 times so far this season. The morale of this team has hit rock bottom and fans are already calling for the dismissal of head Coach Randy Carlyle.
It’s a lot for President Brendan Shanahan and the management staff to deal with. But the Leafs need to be far stronger early in games if they hope to beat the stronger teams. If that means shaking up the roster with a few trades, so be it. It’s still early enough in the season for this team to turn things around.
The Leafs top line has proven they can score goals and compete. Now it’s just a matter of trading some of the younger players to strengthen the team’s defense. After an embarrassing loss like this, one thing is clear, Leaf fans are eager for change within their team.