Sunday, February 25, 2007

A shout out on the shootout

The Leafs went 3-8 on the shootout last year and missed the playoffs by what, two points?

This year, the Leafs are 3-7 in shootout games and remain life and death to make the post-season.

That’s too many points left on the table for such a desperate club (and hopefully too clear of a pattern for even the brain trust at MLSE to miss).

Here’s a thought: since MLSE doesn’t seem to have the stones or the vision to give this team the overhaul it so desperately needs; since the core of the team couldn't make the post season last year; since pretty much the same team likely won't make the post-season this year; and since, for some unknown reason, that same not-good-enough core is scheduled to return for 2007-08 (nice work JFJ!) I think MLSE should aggressively target and acquire a shoot-out specialist.

What would one of Petteri Nummelin (six for six in the dreaded shootout); Mikko Koivu (eight for 13); Erik Christensen (five for eight) or the ever-deadly Jussi Jokinen (five for nine) cost the Leafs?

These aren’t the big names that get thrown around in trade talk hype or as prime off-season acquisitions, yet they’re helping to put those much-needed SO wins on the board for their respective teams.

At a collective 6-13 lifetime in the shoot-out, something certainly has to give.

Poor Alex Ponikarovsky is dead last in the NHL shoot-out this season (0 for 7) and yet Maurice keeps calling his name and sending him over the boards. Maybe Poni is dynamite in the shoot out in practice (although shooting against Raycroft who wouldn’t be?). Or maybe Maurice is playing the law of averages and figuring at 0 for 7 eventually Poni’s got to hit the back of the net.
It's not quite the re-model I'm holding out hope for, but if it enables the Leafs to be .500 in the shootout next year the club might be able to finish the season as high as 7th place in the East. Imagine that, MLSE gunning for something other than the 8th and final spot.

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