Morning Mashup: Time to stop the slide


Photo: Karl B Deblaker/AP Photo

From James Mirtle:

After all, his team has fallen from first overall five weeks ago into a tie for 12th in the NHL, dropping back into a pack of seven teams clustered between sixth and 12th in the Eastern Conference.

While the Leafs are at the top of that heap with 33 points, they’re also just four points from the bottom of the group heading into their meeting Tuesday with the last-place Carolina Hurricanes.

The Leafs’ heady trip to first place was capped off with wins in back-to-back nights in early November, as wins in New Jersey and Columbus gave Toronto a 9-3-1 record for one of the franchise’s best starts in its history.

Staying on top, however, lasted all of two days, as the Leafs were blown out 7-0 by the Boston Bruins in their next game.

Since that point, they’ve won just six of 16 games, going 6-8-2 despite coming out on the right end of a couple 7-1 routs of their own.

In the 10 losses, the Leafs were outscored 43-16, a sign of how badly their goaltending and defensive play have laboured during a road-heavy stretch.

A disconcerting stat hovers like a dark cloud over the Leafs‘ solid 15-11-3 overall record. Exclude their opening month record of 7-3-1 and the Leafs are a .500 team at 8-8-2 in their eighteen games since the calendar turned November. This Leafs team has now been playing at or below the .500 mark for longer than it played above it.  Fortunately, an especially hot start compensated for what has been a month and a half of below-playoff-calibre hockey from the Leafs.

Of course, .500 is merely the mark of mediocrity. It will take about 60 more points over 53 games for the Leafs to reach the average 93 point cut off for a playoff spot in the East, and that will require a record along the lines of 28-21-4, or a point percentage of 0.56 from here on in.

A good opportunity to get the month of December on track and some points in the points column comes tonight in the form of a meeting with the last placed Carolina Hurricanes. The Leafs left both points in Carolina the last time these two teams met, although the game Leafs’ second in under 24 hours. Dropping four of four against the East’s bottom feeder – falling to 15-12-1 in the process – would send more than a few fans into panic mode, perhaps justifiably so given their play as of late (four losses in their last five). Let’s hope they take care of business tonight at home, where the Buds will play four of their next five.



An Opportunity to win the “Shot Quality” Prize
James Mirtle: “It’s comical at this point how poor the Leafs PK continues to be. I don’t even know what more there is to write on it after three years.” The Leafs’ PK has given up six goals in its last two games.

Leafs think Armstrong has the look of a (penalty) killer
Greg Cronin’s struggling unit will give Colby Armstrong a try on the penalty kill to see if he can help stop the bleeding.

How a young Leafs fan found camaraderie up in the old greys at the Maple Leaf Gardens
Great story from Michael Langlois at Vintage Leaf Memories.

Leafs say they won’t take Hurricanes lightly
Hopefully no one thought the Leafs were actually in a position to.

Dion Phaneuf insists Leafs are just fine
Leafs have had a road heavy schedule and now get a chance to get home for this five game stretch (lone away game is down the QEW at Buffalo). The Leafs have won only one of their last seven games at home so it remains to be seen if this is actually a good thing.