Monday, October 15, 2007

How Low Can You Go?

Nice to see this organization adapt and learn from past mistakes.

Last year, the team blew a lead late in Buffalo and it was clear the coach should have called a time-out. This season, the team blows it again in Buffalo and the coach doesn't call a time out.

I wonder if it will be as refreshing as it was last year when Maurice steps up with his media Mea Culpa later this week.

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I once played on a baseball team that was so bad that the catcher was not allowed to throw the ball back to the pitcher. After every pitch (that wasn’t knocked into the outfield or bounced off some poor batter’s ass) the pitcher would walk towards home and the catcher would walk towards the mound, they’d meet half-way, exchange the ball and repeat until the 9th batter came up each inning or the down-by-11-runs mercy rule came into effect.

When there was a guy on third base that was a threat to steal home, the catcher would sit on home plate with the ball in his glove until the ump would get so fed up he'd forbid the kid on third from stealing home just so the game could resume.

Oh, and the team was sponsored by a discount cigar store.

Sadly, I’m not making this up.

This is the anecdote that came to mind after tonight’s game in Buffalo (that and maybe, just maybe, if the Leafs can recruit a hotshot motorcycle riding tough guy played by a young Jackie Earle Haley, they might have a shot at turning this young season around…)

Is there a hockey equivalent to sitting on home plate and only walking the ball back to the pitcher? Well, if ever there was a team in need of such a defensive stratagem it’s the 1974 Washington Capitals who gave up 446 goals Leafs.

The Leafs have coughed up 29 goals against in just seven games and a whopping 11 goals in the third period (good for 29th in the league).

Now, I hear you - in fairness to the Leafs, they have already played dressed for seven games this year, so the totals are a bit high - it would be more accurate to look at goals against average, so let's re-do the math.

The Leafs have given up 4.14 goals per game - good for 28th overall in the NHL (see, by averaging it out we made it much better - to 28th from 29th).

What about if we look at the Leafs on a per-period average? Well, it’s…um, it’s still pretty frickin glum:
1 period GAA 1.00 (23rd)
2 period GAA 1.14 (19th)
3 period GAA 1.57 (25th)

If that wasn't bad enough, the Penguins are 27th in GAA and they're giving up half a goal less than the Leafs each game. You know it’s not a good sign when you’re looking to Michel Therien for defensive coaching insights...

2 comments:

  1. I agree - a time out could've done some good.

    Maurice also blew it Saturday, with a minute to go, when he pulled the goalie even though we already had the man advantage. Do that against low scoring teams - not the Pittsburgh Penguins.

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  2. Paul Steckley2:03 pm

    In defence to Maurice, the Leafs did come back very quickly after blowing the 2-0 lead to retake it (only to lose it, retake it, and lose it again). This was a different situation than blowing the 4-0 lead last year or that horrible game against St. Louis a few years ago when Quinn refused to call a time out when it was obvious his team was completely shell-shocked.

    The difference, in my opinion, was that the Leafs on Monday night were not shell-shocked, unhinged, or otherwise emotionally affected by the blown lead. A time-out would not have cured the Leafs' problems because the blown lead was caused by blown coverage and bad defensive decisions, not nerves or shock. And, one can never know what effect the time-out will have on the other team either. Neither the Leafs or Sabres played textbook defence on Monday night. Our mistakes are just more glaring because we lost.

    On another note, can we all agree that McCabe's own goal was a simple mistake that any of us that have played hockey have made at one time or another and its just one of those things that happens sometimes. The way this guy has been victimized for that one play is unfair. Criticize him for his normal defensive blunders, criticize JFJ for that ridiculous contract, but let's just move on from that one play, please.

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