Maple Leafs not being kind to their fretful fanatics | Hockey | CBC Sports

Hockey Night in CanadaMaple Leafs not being kind to their fretful fanatics

Posted: Thursday, April 18, 2013 | 10:45 PM

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Toronto Maple Leafs head coach Randy Carlyle wasn't too impressed with his team's loss to the New York Islanders on Thursday night. (Mark Blinch/Reuters) Toronto Maple Leafs head coach Randy Carlyle wasn't too impressed with his team's loss to the New York Islanders on Thursday night. (Mark Blinch/Reuters)

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Don't kid yourselves, there is much more to fret about in the land of the Toronto Maple Leafs these days after the past three games in four days, including a dismal 5-3 performance at home against the New York Islanders on Thursday.
When you've waited 3,272 days for your team to clinch a playoff spot since its last visit to the post-season, a few extra days of worry won't hurt.

But don't kid yourselves, there is much more to fret about in the land of the Toronto Maple Leafs these days after the past three games in four days, including a dismal 5-3 performance at home against the New York Islanders on Thursday.

This has been one horrific week for the Maple Leafs, who will have to wait at least a couple more days before they clinch their first playoff spot in nine years. Their nothing-to-write-home-about 2-0 win over the New Jersey Devils in Toronto on Monday was followed up by a sloppy 5-1 defeat in Washington on Tuesday and a turnover-frenzy outing by Toronto on Thursday.

"The last nine periods have been eerily similar," said Maple Leafs coach Randy Carlyle, who took some of the blame for this week's showing. 

Carlyle felt that the coaching staff has not prepared the players for success.

So expect the Maple Leafs to have a few video sessions before their next game in Ottawa against the Senators on Saturday. It will be a reminder of the game plan that has pushed the Maple Leafs this close to a playoff spot.

"We're going to fix this," said the team's unofficial leader, Joffrey Lupul. "We've already talked a lot about it. We're going to sit down and there is going to be a lot of video tomorrow."

What the Maple Leafs will see is a group that has been played more like the Ron Wilson teams of the past few seasons and not the Randy Carlyle club that currently sits in fifth place in the East because of a solid hard-working brand of hockey.

The Maple Leafs were outshot by the Devils, Capitals and Islanders to a tune of 107-64 this week. Getting outshot has happened quite frequently to the Leafs this season. That's fine if you have created plenty of scoring chances. But Toronto cannot even make that claim in recent outings.

The Leafs have been outshot in 33 of 44 games so far and the last nine times in a row. This concerns Carlyle. His players haven't been diligent enough in the opposition's end to create chances off the cycle. 


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Scoring opportunities

Instead, they have attempted to make too many plays near the blue-line and this has often led to too many scoring opportunities the other way.

The Maple Leafs had only 13 shots on Islanders goalie Evgeni Nabokov with 10 minutes remaining in the game and the outcome no longer in doubt.

It's hard to believe the Maple Leafs had a 2-0 lead on goals from Joffrey Lupul and Cody Franson on the team's first two shots. But then they had to kill off four New York power plays in the first period, including an 88-second 5-on-3 disadvantage, and that appeared to turn the tide against Toronto.

Even Frazer McLaren and Colton Orr fights against Islanders Matt Carkner and Eric Boulton midway through the first period could not energize the Maple Leafs. Then Hart Trophy candidate John Tavares and his two veteran linemates Matt Moulson and Brad Boyes took over.

Only a monumental collapse will see the Maple Leafs not be among the eight playoff teams in the East when the regular season concludes next weekend. But the clubs immediately underneath Toronto in the East standings - the Senators, Islanders, New York Rangers and
Winnipeg Jets - all took care of business on Thursday.

That means the Maple Leafs' mini slump has them only five points clear of ninth place in the East with four games remaining and has produced more nervous times for their playoff-anxious fans.

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