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What’s your bottom line as a Leaf fan—do they “need” to make the playoffs this spring or not?

I’m not sure the game against the Devils was a microcosm of the entire Leaf season so far, but there were some familiar occurrences:  falling behind early, a nice second period rebound and an exciting flourish in the dying seconds to cap a second comeback on the night that netted least a sure point.

Along the way, we were treated to an uneven display of goaltending by Gustavsson.  He was shaky early, then made some heart-stopping saves at various points in the third period to keep Leaf hopes alive.  But then, in overtime, a head-scratcher against Monster gave the Devils the extra point, and left the Leafs wondering, no doubt, how fair the result was.

Now, before we pin this all on Gus or bemoan our bad luck, let’s keep in mind that the Devils played a pretty solid road game, eh?  And, the Devils could have won in regulation if they had scored into the empty net.   It wasn’t as though the Leafs played so splendidly that they absolutely deserved the win.  They never led in the game.

For New Jersey, guys like Zubrus, a 33 year-old, 15-year veteran was diving to make plays on the back check, block shots and played an all-around industrious game.  He was the classic “Devil” on the night, doing the little things that have made this team successful for the better part of twenty seasons—the team that Lou (Lamoriello) built and still bears his imprint.

I’ve long wondered aloud in this space how much sense the Kovalchuk trade and subsequent re-signing made and in many ways it still makes no sense for me, especially with an ownership with no money in the kitty.  Not when you consider the immense size of the annual hit and the length of the deal.  But, when motivated (and he looks motivated right now) Kovalchuk is so much fun to watch and is a big-time impact player.

That said,  our concern is the Leafs.  Yes, if Gardiner’s blast in overtime was an inch to the left, it’s two points for the good guys.  But the bigger picture is this:  the Leafs remain in the hunt for a playoff spot and have time to get their game to where it needs to be in the days ahead.

Here are a couple of points to mull over, as I lead into my question of the day:

  • Yes, the goaltending has been discouraging a lot lately.  Unless Gustavsson has a remarkable tail-end of the season, we have to believe he will be playing elsewhere next season.  That’s likely better for him and the team—something I’ve suggested here for months.
  • Does this mean the Leafs “need” a new goalie right now?  I would argue no, but that may be a minority view.  My long-term perspective is Reimer is still in their plans, and may well rebound, either this spring or next season.  I don’t know whether any of Rynnas, Owuya or Scrivens will give us more than what we have right now.  But I would not be surprised to see the Leafs sign a UFA goalie in the summer, much like Washington picked up Vokoun for a song last summer.
  • I think there are several players who could be replaced right now and the Leafs wouldn’t miss a beat.  Lombardi, Steckel, Connolly, Crabb/Boyce are all nice NHL players who bring something to the team, but if the Leafs want to compete in the playoffs, they need more than what they get most nights from those players.  I don’t see anyone taking those guys in a trade, so it’s a moot point for this season.  They already have Komisarek’s huge contract sitting in the press box many nights.  (I don’t know what’s going on with Armstrong, but I have to believe he is hurting. …)
  • Where is the important team toughness I’ve talked about here almost all season long?  Oh sure, we see the occasional nice hit from Schenn and Phaneuf.  Brown will play the body and we have guys like Grabbo who work hard and all that.  But in terms of being hard to play against, in the Gary Robert-playoff sense, I just don’t see it.  When we’re allowed to play wide-open hockey, we skate and fly all over the ice.  As Kessel saw against Jersey, though, there isn’t a lot of space for “stars” when the other team is serious about shutting you down.
  • I’m coming to the conclusion (not that any of us really has a clue what Burke will do…) that the Leafs want too much for their guys, and conversely, don’t want to pay what they see as too much to obtain a guy like Nash, etc.  So we may do very little before the deadline.  That said, small moves, like Boston picking up Peverley last season, can be difference-makers—sometimes as much or more than the big-name deals.  But I hope, since we’re not moving Phaneuf and not willing (rightly so) to part with Gardiner, that Gunnarsson isn’t dealt.  (I don’t think the answer for our often inconsistent defensive play is sending out the one guy I feel good about when he is on the ice.  I found an article I posted here a long time ago, and reminded that me I’ve liked this player for a long time…)

Can the Leafs make the playoffs?  Absolutely.  The Caps have been mind-numbingly bad of late.  The Jets are a “homer” kind of team.  The Sens seem to have re-energized but remain a wild card in my mind and the Panthers may struggle down the stretch.  There is ample opportunity for the Leafs to make the springtime festivities.

But here’s my question for you today:  as Burke finishes (almost) four full seasons on the job, how important is making the playoffs for you, as a Leaf supporter?

I know we all want them to make the playoffs every year.  But that’s a given. What I’m getting at is more this:  given Burke’s proclamations over the years and the improvements that we have in fact seen, will it be “enough” for you if we make the playoffs but lose without much fanfare in the first round?  What if we get close, but miss out by a point or day? 

I doubt many people really believe the Leafs can win the Cup this year, though I still will maintain the Eastern Conference is far from decided.  Funny things happen in the playoffs.  But recognizing that a Leaf surge to the ultimate finish line is unlikely this time around, again I ask:  for you, do the Leafs have to make the playoffs to give an indication that the team is heading in the right direction?

This is not a discussion about Burke’s future.  It’s simply a discussion about what is “acceptable”.  Is good effort enough?  It is sufficient that the Leafs are entertaining most nights.  Will you be satisfied if they are a playoff team next season—and likely the years beyond that?  If we win one or two rounds in 2012-’13, will that be “enough” for you after Burke will have been on the job for five seasons?

What do you really need to see?

Let the discussion begin.


  1. Not making the playoffs is not acceptable. This team should have been in the playoffs quite comfortably by now. I read a good article today (on Maple Leaf Hot Stove) that to me summed up what is wrong with this team. To me it is coaching, coaching, coaching.

    Two examples stuck out from the article.
    1.Komisarek has been a healthy scratch most nights recently. In his first game in four he goes back in and plays on the first line against Iginla, Tanguay and Ollinen. Result easy goal early, Leafs behind the eight ball.

    2.Aulie has struggled mightly this year both in the AHL and the NHL. Put him out against the best line in hockey, the Sedins. Result early goal Leafs down again.

    This is simply poor managment by the Leaf coaching staff and to my mind simply inexcusable. They don't put thier players in the best position to succeed. With what is going on in the Eastern conference this year the Leafs should have been sitting in 4-5 place. It is an absolute travesty they are not.

    All that being said to me over the last month or so it has become painfuly obvious that the Leafs, while better than the last couple of years, are no where nears being cup contenders. To my mind they should focus on dumping vetrans this year, such as Grabovski, Komisarek, Armstrong etc. Accept this year is another lost year and stockpile some more picks and prospects because they aint going nowhere this year.

    As an interesting thought, we hear how the Leafs are the youngest team in the league a lot, like they are going to just keep getting better. The thing is the young guys who are our core players actually have a lot of mileage on them. Kessel is a 6 year vet, Phanuef is 6-7. Heck even Schenn is a 4 year vet. They are young but it is hardly like they are raw rookies. Do they really have all that much more room for improvement? Kessel is going to be an unrestricted free agent in two years, what is to say he is going to resign in Toronto? Does this mean the Leafs should have some urgency to get better right now or are they content to wait and see? I really don't know anymore and I'm starting to get the feeling that niether does the management team.

  2. Thanks Wilbur...I always enjoy reading your views.

    As for Wilson, I hear what you are saying about putting the right players in the right spot. That said, I have to assume that, to a certain extent, these are partly organizational decisions (i.e. who is a healthy scratch, pairings, etc.) I understand these are primarily "coaching" decisions, but you have to think Burke is heavily involved in a lot of the planning, in the sense that he is talking with Wilson constantly about the way the team is playing and what they need from each player, etc. and who gives them the "best chance to win..."

    My concern from a coaching perspective is more when I see other teams with even less skill/talent do better than the Leafs. Florida is playing for another new coach this year, and if you look at that roster, they are hardly a filled with big games. But somehow they are, most nights, playing reasonably well. They may not keep playing that way, but they are in the playoff hunt, too.

    In recent years, other teams have improved more, in less time. So for me, I'm not as focused on particular details of what player is on the ice against who- though I recognize that is an important part of game and bench management. But I personally think more in terms of: why has the team not progressed more quickly under a coach with Wilson's years of experience?

    Burke has said for years that Wilson has never had enough talent to work with. But the truth is, if you really analyze a lot of NHL rosters, they are filled with borderline NHL players, decent role players and a few skill guys. Most teams have a competent goalie, but not many goalies who are superb year in and year out.

    With that as a backdrop, and the way the Eastern Conference is in terms of mediocrity and parity, in year four of the Wilson/Burke era, should we not be expecting more than just "making the playoffs- even with the "youth", and the roster changes?

    That's why I posed the question tonight.

    For me, your last sentence is the one that really has me thinking...

  3. I think they need to make the playoffs this year.

    If the Leafs can play a good game against New Jersey (one of the hottest teams in the league) then they could win a few games against them or even win a round against Florida.

    I would even be happy with a good series but a 5 game loss against the Bruins or Rangers. I think the Leafs at their best could also take a game or two against Philly or Pittsburgh.

    They just can't get swept in four games.

    "What if we get close, but miss out by a point or day?"

    Not acceptable...that's what they did last year.

    Lombardi is tradeable. I think Darren Dreger said there is already an offer on the table. I want to keep Steckel.

    Who knows what some of our vets and prospects might bring.

    Armstrong sitting again makes me wonder if there isn't a deal brewing there.

    I hope they play Gustavsson again. It would be good for his confidence. He did get a point tonight.

  4. Yes. It's the appropriate place to be for this team 3 years into Burke's tenure. Too many excuses this year, too many simple mistakes, too much overthinking, overcoaching, and not enough desperate hockey. Too much ice-time given to too many undeserving players. We all know we're not a Cup contender, but there's just no excuse for even being anywhere near getting squeezed out of the playoffs. And the goaltending..........

  5. I second Wilbur's emotion! To not make the playoffs this year would be an indictment of the management team, and changes need to be made. How many coaches do we have? And we still can't put a decent game together. First off, what has been done to our goalies? They're both playing like minor leaguers, and now they both look nervous in the net. The management of the goalies has been horrific. Why do we make so many mistakes in our zone? How many times did we pass the puck directly to a Devil tonight? I lost count. Why has the PP tailed off so dramatically? I don't see adjustments being made.
    Worst of all, I don't see a team playing with confidence. I don't see a team that seems to be prepared for their opponents. (Here's a tip - when you're playing the Devils, don't throw it up the boards to Kovalchuk!)
    As I know you agree, Michael, to eke into the playoffs with no hope of contending - and that's how we're playing right now - is not enough. It's been 4 years. We should be seeing more - like the Devils, Blues, and Senators are, for a start. This Leafs team is not getting it done, and neither is the coaching staff. To make matters worse, I don't even see how the future looks all that great. Who have we got in the minors that one can really, truly say is going to be a game changer next year?

  6. Michael,

    If the past few weeks have taught me anything it is that this team is further away from truly competing than we may have been led to believe earlier on in the season. The embarrassing fashion in which the Leafs were flattened by the Montreal Canadiens (in front of legends like Mats, Darryl, and Wendel no less) was the eye-opener but the games since confirmed my realization.

    At the beginning of the season I thought that this team was good enough to reach the first round, finishing somewhere between 6-8 in the East, and that a first round exit would at least provide our young players with a taste of glory, like chewing the flavour out of the butcher string that holds a Sunday roast together in anticipation of the real meal. For whatever reason - blame Wilson, blame Reimer's concussion, blame the Mayan calender - we are not there yet.

    With this in mind, and when you include the consideration that our goaltending is simply not enough to get us past 'getting our asses kicked in the first round' (Burkes own words) at the very best, I would say that it is time to turn our focus from trading to improve our chances for the playoffs to trading to improve our core for the future.

    Over the past 2 weeks I can't tell you how many times I have been asked 'How is a power forward going to help our defense?', but it is only one of our problems. Burke’s quote from the day after the Phaneuf trade: when a young, talented, premiere player becomes available for the right price you must pounce, because you never know when your next opportunity may arise.

    I do not think Rick Nash is worth the money or the price in exchange, but I am a huge fan of stealing Jeff Carter for many reasons: he fits our core in terms of age, his goal production is worthy of his cap hit, and has everyone forgot that when he scored 46 goals for the Flyers he PLAYED ON A LINE WITH JOFFREY LUPUL!! If the CBJ were able to grab him for Voracek and a 1st then wouldn't one of Kadri/Frattin/Colbourn plus our 1st be enough to pry him away this time?

    A few pieces of our 11 million dollar third line and Komisarek should be expendable for picks. They have not lived up to their end of the bargain this year (did anyone notice the both our alternate captions Komi and Army were healthy scratches tonight??) and the remaining Marlies mentioned above can take over the third line next year.

    I would much prefer seeing Burke take this approach before the deadline, and then look like a hero for replacing Wilson with Eakins at the end of the season if they miss the dance or get swept by Boston/NYR. This would be enough to give me confidence in the direction of our team. As a first time commenter and aspiring blogger myself, I am eager to hear your thoughts.

  7. Yes, the Leafs have to make the playoffs or else it begins to look like they're just going in circles. The team has improved in the past few years, but the results haven't, and that's a worry.

  8. Thanks DP. Good post. I hear you on the playoff point. Getting there and playing well would mean something. How many truly unbeatable teams are there in the East?

    I'm surprised any team would want to pick up what's left of Lombardi's salary but if they can do it, great. I wonder what's happening with Armstrong, too. Injury? Or something more?

    Will be interesting to see if Gus plays Thursday.

  9. You may several good points as usual, Kid K. While it's best not to "judge" a team at their best - or weakest - moments, of course, I think most of us have seen "enough", have enough of a sample size to say we expected more in some areas, at least- despite our "youth", etc.

    Teams always need - and have - measuring sticks. For the Leafs, getting to and playing well in the playoffs, this far into the Wilson/Burke regime, is what we need to see.

  10. Gerund O'....I was nodding along as I read your post today. Everyone loves Allaire, but I wonder. You know I've written often here about Gustavsson and his (unspoken, but believe they are very much just below the surface....) issues here in Toronto.

    As for the minors, yes, we have Frattin, Kadri and Colborne and Blacker, etc. I like Frattin a lot, but you raise a very important question. When will they be impact players?

  11. I say this as a Senators fan, Toronto really shouldn't worry too much about the playoffs.
    The Leafs benefit from the teams under them having both difficult schedules and playing each other.

    However the issue is teams ahead of them could very well be out of reach if they do not win their next two games. Look at the Sens, after they play Boston twice this week they have a substantial amount of non-playoff teams in the next few weeks.

    Still the world is not ending, the Caps are worse then the leafs, the jets are hard pressed to pass them and Toronto has played well against the Rangers this year so there is even a chance of an upset in round 1.

  12. The problem with all of Kadri,Colbrone and Blacker is that they project as nhler's but not substantial pieces. All of the Leafs best current players (Lupul, Kessel, Phaneuf, Gardiner if he keeps his play consistent) have been acquired through trades, not the draft. Their is a reason this team is not in the playoffs.

  13. Like you said, we all want to see playoffs. How we get there is the concern with me. I want a dynasty! I don't want to empty the cupboards to land a big name now, get into the post season this year and then get smoked first round. Am I content to miss the post season, get rid of the dead weight and make a good, healthy, consistent run next season? Let the kids have their chance, play and watch a true rebuild happen? Yes.

  14. Mike Z....It's funny, as I was reading your post (I didn't think I had noticed you posting here before...) I was thinking, "this individual expresses themselves really well...".

    Quick aside- if you've not been here before, or very often, that has been one of the really satisfying things about VLM. The people who post here bring thoughtful analysis and I get so much out of reading the comments. So thank you for joining in, and joining that list of people who make this a really enjoyable Leaf site (at least I hope it is...).

    With regard specifically to your comments, Mike, you well state what I sense many fans are feeling/seeing just now: while, as I mentioned to KidK, we would all agree it's best not to assess a team at their worst (or best), it may be that in our hopeful enthusiasm regarding the success of the "re-build", we have been caught up in some (once again) early-season success, and the speed and flash that the team often shows when they are allowed to free-wheel. I've said most of the season, though, we need more overall toughness, and I haven't changed my mind.

    Your/Burke's point about pouncing when really elite young players are available is obviously key. We can all wish for future draft choices in the pipeline, but when you actually can see a player as a pro, and know what they can do, you are skipping all the uncertain, in-between development stuff. Burke and his scouts clearly saw that with Gardiner (along with Burke's history with the Ducks, which helped, too, I'm sure...)

    I see your point on Carter, though I wonder about the length of his contract- isn't it awfully long? But you make a great point about Lupul and Carter.

    And I'm guessing most of us would not be heart-broken if the "bottom-six" was shuffled around - now, or for next season.

    Finally, I think you're right: most Leaf fans (just a guess) would be prepared to miss the playoffs for one more season (but no more) if the team construction emphasis was really on building our "core for the future" as you put it, and we could all see that the Leafs were on their way to being a truly elite team.

    As for your blogging future. Short answer: you have one. This "world", in my view, is now providing legitimate alternatives to (or at least shared "space") in the minds and hearts of many sports observers, compared with and along side the mainstream media. You would add another quality voice to what's out there. Do it.

  15. Anon...thanks for the post. The East is offering opportunity and hope to a lot of middlish teams this season, for sure. And congrats on what the Sens have done so far. As I've acknowledged here a few times, I am one of those who thought they'd be lucky to win 15 games this season. I was very wrong. The Sens deserve credit, for sure.

  16. Anon who referenced Kadri, Colborne, etc. Thanks for your post. I guess that's one of the issues when we look ahead. Where do those players fit, next year and beyond- role players or major contributors?

  17. Thanks Mike. It sounds like you are of the same view as Mike Z. above. Build, really build, to be a contender for years, not just to squeak into the playoffs this season.

    I think Burke is trying to do both: make it this season, but without costing the organization anything that would slow down the desire to be a true contender for years to come....

  18. I do think some of us are panicing too much.

    I like statistics and so I look at this link to keep myself sane:

    The Leafs current odds of making the playoffs is 53.8%

    A win over San Jose ( who have 4 loses in a row) would take the Leafs to 61%.

    All the Leafs need is a nice little winning streak and they should make the playoffs.

  19. Thanks DP. I know the schedule is supposed to be tough, but the Leafs will have lots of opportunity to secure a playoff spot between now and April. Not many truly elite teams in the East....Any one of them can be beaten in the next few weeks.

  20. Good article Michael and you've covered a lot of points. First, lets focus on your question about the playoffs. Making the playoffs would be nice, but it should not be the ultimate goal for this season. We all know finishing 7th or 8th will mean facing a top team in the first round and the Leafs are likely to exit quickly. Burkes' goal now should focus on making this team better for next year and the years after,

    After last night the focus seems to be on goaltending. I'm not sure that is 100% fair. If Gustavsson had a superb game last night and stole the game for us, everyone would be saying we have to ride the Monster the rest of the way and resign him this summer. Instead he has a rough night and we want to throw in the towel on the kid. We all knew going into this season that the goalies we were going with lacked experience. They have struggled yes. But if I look back at all 60 games thus far, I can't lay the blame on the goalies for the team's poor play. That being said, we can't expect to go into next season with this uncertainty in goal. One of these two has got to perform well down the stretch and prove to us that the Leafs need to hold onto them for next year. Then in the summer decide how to solidify the goaltending. *Sigh*

    You mentioned a bunch of forewards in your article that have not been playing well. Someone needs to explain to me why we are playing Crabb over Frattin, or Lombardi over Kadri or Colborne. Bring at least two of those kids up, they can help us now!

    I was content that the Leafs got a point last night against NJ. Still they are capable of playing better. The urgency still isn't there. Unless this season turns around and the Leafs finish the last 22 games strong, there is one move that Burke reluctantly has to make..... fire Wilson.

    Then over the summer, strengthen this team with trades or free agents. Bring Dallas Eakins up and give him a shot at coaching in the NHL.

  21. TML__Fan...that's a great post, really well stated.

    The playoff "issue" as you mention is one where I think a lot of folks would agree. They'd like to make the playoffs this year, of course, but would be happier to know the team will actually contend next season and beyond.

    I think you make an accurate point about the back and forth emotions around "goaltending". Yes, if Monster stood on his head all night, w'ed say run with Gus. But now we are ready to discard him. (To be clear, for those who may be visiting here for the first time...I've said all season that it may well be in Gustavsson's best interests to get a fresh start somewhere else. I still think he can play...but maybe this is not the best place for him to thrive just now, for reasons I've stated previously...)

    And I'm sure we aren't alone in wondering if (while I'm a big fan of kids spending plenty of time in the minors, and not being yo-yo'd back and forth as Kadri has been) Fratti and Kadri wouldn't be a lot more productive, and no worse defensively, than some of our "bottom-six" guys now.

    Eakins? I guess that's a summertime discussion. Thanks for posting...good stuff.

  22. Good discussion, Michael. I think all the frustrations of Leafs fans are coming out.

    The word of the day, maybe even of the last 10 yrs, is 'mediocrity'...that almost seems to be the goal and I guess they have achieved it handsomely. They were never good enough to compete with the big boys, and not quite bad enough to "earn" a lottery pick.

    I feel they need to make the playoffs this year. We keep hearing about how they're the youngest team and all, but at some point, they have to get exposure to that atmosphere, that type of hockey. if it's a short first round exit, even a sweep, the kids will still get to understand what's expected to achieve even moderate playoff success. But they have to get there first to even begin to develop that mentality. And a mediocre regular season won't get them that opportunity.


  23. Thanks Caedmon....I appreciate your point about why it would be useful for this young team to make the playoffs. You're right- it is vital that those who have not had the experience get the opportunity to see what it's really like- and what's needed to succeed at that time of year. Good post.

  24. Great question Michael, I'll bet 99% of Leaf fans would say yes they have to make the playoffs. But going into the trade deadline, my thinking anyways, has been that I don't want to sell off guys like Grabo, or the Monster, because that will greatly hurt our chances of making the playoffs. But the opportunity to obtain elite players seldom happens.

    Look at the Rangers. Say what you will about Brad Richards, but that team went from eighth in the Eastern Conference, to dominating it. The Leafs would still be perennial bottom dwellers if they hadn't traded for Kessel and Dion. I've changed my opinion on this so many times, but if we can get a player like Rick Nash or Jeff Carter (obviously, not at the cost of Gardiner) I say do it. Trade Grabo, Gu, Connolly, Lombo, etc for prospects/picks or make Grabo part of the Nash/Carter deal.

    The Leafs are in a prime time position this year where the number of sellers is increasingly small and GM's are driving hard bargains for their players. Philly moved two cornerstones this summer, and their returns were extremely fruitful. Move out the spare parts, IMO, the Lombo-Connolly-Crabb line is completely replaceable, and make room for the Frattin-Colbourne-Kardi line.

    I know this post is all over the place, but this team, besides the top six, have become a smorgashbord of underacheivers (besides Steckel and Brown). I'd love it if Burke gambled, both on his youth, and his ability to trade. Its better to have tried, then to make it into the playoffs and get our butts kicked in the first round.

  25. Hi Jack...thanks for your post. I know what you're saying. I think it relates back to the point made above (initially by Mike Z., I believe) that the chance to acquire established, truly "elite"players is infrequent. Sometimes, you have to take that shot.

    (Quick side note on the Rangers: I agree with your point on Richards. My only caution, as I posted here when he signed there, is that I wonder how we- and Ranger fans- will feel about the signing in five years? If they win a championship, well, then, it will have been worthwhile. If not, and it harms their ability to keep other good young players in future years, maybe people will think it was not a wise move.)

    Again, I sense fans would surely love to make the playoffs in April, but really want to be good next season and beyond...

  26. Peregrine...thanks for the comment. You're not alone. I know many fans want to see more than talk about things getting better, but some tangible signs as well....and making the playoffs would provide at least a sense of that.

  27. For those in the Toronto area (not me on the prairies):

    "We have yet another free signing involving Leafs players going down tonight, as Mikhail Grabovski and Nikolai Kulemin head over to Plaza Kia in Thornhill from 7 to 9pm tonight! Both players will be available for autographs and photo ops at the dealership during that time so take advantage if you’re in the area!

    Plaza Kia is located at 7079 Yonge Street, just two blocks north of Steeles Ave (or as I say “Just two blocks north of Toronto”). For more details head over to"

    It sure seems like Grabovski and Kulemin want to stay.

  28. Hey, a good smile for the day, DP. Probably an obligator thing but I believe you're right- these guys want to be in Toronto....(now if Kulemin could only work through whatever is ailing him....)

  29. Just an observation Michael. A few weeks ago the "Leaf Nation" was all aflutter about the team's penalty killing. It was terrible. What could be done? Worry Worry Worry!
    Then all of a sudden, the PK improved! Things that were going wrong before suddenly stopped being a problem, bad bounces disappeared, confidence grew and their practice and dedication to trying to do the job right finally paid off. I haven't noticed any recent mention of this concern.
    Now neither of our goaltenders seem to be able to play a complete game with no glaring mistakes. Leaf Nation is all atwitter about the goaltending problem. It seems they each can make some great saves during a game but something always goes wrong! Kinda like the old PK situation?
    I wonder if these fellows will regain their confidence and put a few good games together? Hopefully this too will occur and we can stop fretting about the goaltending "problem".
    By the way, I agree with the above comments about deadline trades. I don't want to sell the future just to make the playoffs this year. I too want to build a dynasty. As much as it hurts me to say it (I have always detested the team in spite of appreciating some of their players!), I think we need to follow the Red Wings example and build a sustainable competitive team..

  30. Outstanding post, Ed. Your point about the PK is so true. And as I mentioned on Twitter today, would we (and Leaf management) feel any better or be any happier if Gustavsson had saved the three "stoppable" goals, but did not make the three brilliant saves in the third period that kept us in the game.

    Perhaps Gus's mistake last night was missing ones he "should have had", while making saves he could just as easily not made!

    On that note, for me, the "issues" are deeper than simply bad goals hurting the team. There are many ways they have to play better.

    But I agree, confidence, as we have discussed here, goes a long, long way to making for great goaltending. But sometimes you have to stand by your guys first, and not yank them in and out game by game.

    With regard to the deadline, you speak for a lot of fans who care more about the long-term than this particular season. That said, most fans won't want to have this same discussion twelve months from now....