With the NHL regular season complete, it’s time for the teams who fell short of the playoffs to examine their season.
Unfortunately for Canada, the nation's five teams find themselves in a frustrating position. The Toronto Maple Leafs is perhaps the most popular team getting discussed at present. Head coach Randy Carlyle faced the media Monday, to try and pinpoint what caused his team’s collapse this season.
In a closing statement to a flurry of questions, Carlyle said: “For now we don’t have the ultimate answer to give you and were embarrassed by what just went down.”
So, the question and challenge for President Brendan Shanahan will now be who’s to blame for this collapse. I believe Randy Carlyle is not at fault in this situation. Ultimately, it comes down to the players on the roster, on the bench and on the ice.
Yes, the Leafs struggled with injuries all throughout the season. They lost Dave Bolland, Joffrey Lupul and many others to injury for various parts of the year. But that’s just part of the game in my opinion.
The team just lost the will to fight and got tired and lazy as the season went on. Captain Dion Phaneuf was average at best this season. He accumulated a total of 31 points, but only scored eight goals.
This guy has an incredibly hard slap shot and he just didn’t use it enough this season in my opinion. The team’s most expensive signing David Clarkson only managed a total of 11 points this season and ended with a -14 rating as well.
He spent most of his time in the penalty box, and didn’t boost the team in any way when they were down. These are the two major disappointments from my perspective. Also, I believe the strong defensive play just wasn’t there for Toronto this year.
Both James Reimer and Jonathan Bernier didn’t play well in March at all either. But I believe that’s mostly because they had no defenders to help them.
However, there are quite a few positives that Leaf’s fans can take away from this season. The Partnership of Phil Kessel and James van Riemsdyk was quite successful. Together they accumulated a total of 141 points this season.
The free agent signing Mason Raymond seemed to find his stride with Toronto tallying 45 points this season. Joffrey Lupul, Tyler Bozak and Nazem Kadri should all receive honorable mentions as well in my opinion.
This team didn’t have much depth this season, but these players still managed to accumulate a combined total of 143 goals. I believe if Shanahan is able to keep this core of groups together, he’s well on his way to improving this team.
But changes must be made in the defensive end. The Leafs will need to do some trading in order to find a more dependable, experienced defenseman. That’s step one for Shanahan and Toronto in my opinion.
Someone like Willie Mitchell or Brooks Orpik would be a great help to stabilizing Toronto’s defensive end. I don’t believe that firing Randy Carlyle would be a good move for Toronto at all. But thankfully for me, that’s Brendan Shanahan’s decision. I can’t wait to see what changes are coming for the Toronto Maple Leafs.
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