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What they’re saying about the slumping (collapsing?) Leafs

Mar 24, 2014, 11:54 AM EDT

Alex Galchenyuk; James Reimer AP

We asked on Thursday if it was “panic time” in Toronto. Since then, the Leafs have dropped two more games, running their losing streak to five straight in regulation and seeing their playoff chances drop to 34.5 percent, according to Sports Club Stats.

So, if it was time to panic then, is it time now for Leafs fans to……crack each other’s heads open and feast on the goo inside? (H/t Kent Brockman.)

Sportsnet’s Chris Johnston paints a bleak picture for a fan base that’s already become painfully familiar with collapses, be they down the stretch or in Game 7 of the first round.

There is no relief in sight with the league-leading St. Louis Blues set to visit Air Canada Centre on Tuesday and a tough back-to-back against Philadelphia and Detroit on Friday and Saturday. This is already quite bad, yes, but it could easily get worse.

Meanwhile, the Globe and Mail’s James Mirtle writes that goalie James Reimer doesn’t deserve to the scapegoat, despite the fact Reimer’s been between the pipes for almost all of the recent slide:

The reality in all this is that this Leafs team has been playing on a knife’s edge all season, allowing a historically high number of shots and leaning on [Jonathan Bernier] to clean up the mess that systemic issues create in front of him.

That Bernier was able to do so for 44 games before going down with a groin injury was the main thing saving this team from contention for a pick in the draft lottery.

That Reimer hasn’t been able to do the same – after a half season of pulling it off a year ago – speaks as much to the variance in goalies’ play in small samples as the difference between the two Leafs backstops.

Ditto for @DownGoesBrown:

Finally, taking the contrarian route, the Toronto Star’s Damien Cox doesn’t think this current Leafs’ slide changes anything, because Toronto’s best days are in the future, not the present:

The Leafs believed they had improved their roster with the off-season additions of Bernier, centre David Bolland and David Clarkson, and that was partially true. Bernier has been outstanding. But Bolland has missed most of the season and Clarkson has been a disaster as a free agent signing so far.

The core of the team, however, has been good. That would include Bernier now, of course, as well as Kessel, James van Riemsdyk, Tyler Bozak and Dion Phaneuf, as well as youngsters Morgan Rielly, Jake Gardiner and Nazem Kadri.

  1. buddysguys - Mar 24, 2014 at 12:12 PM

    Bigger FA Bust….Ville Leino or David Clarkson? I give it to Leino and his 0 goals this year. Ahh the wonderful world of sports and hype!

    • ibieiniid - Mar 24, 2014 at 12:17 PM

      idk about that. Clarkson locked up til 2020 (7 years total) for about an extra mil a year. leino’s a mil cheaper and a year less on the term. it’s close.

      • buddysguys - Mar 24, 2014 at 12:40 PM

        yes the term on that contract does stink. I think there is a better chance of Clarkson finding his game then Leino though but who knows.

      • ibieiniid - Mar 24, 2014 at 12:59 PM

        ya true. plus, i feel like Clarkson brings more intangibles (granted, not 5.25 mil worth, IMO) than Leino. I never saw one ounce of character from him when he was on the Flyers.

  2. stcrowe - Mar 24, 2014 at 12:59 PM

    I know that it is hard to feel sorry for Clarkson when he is making so much, but I don’t blame him for this. He is an average player, who had an above average season a couple of years ago, and got a contract based on it. Now, he is having a below average season. It is all a matter of expectations.

  3. joey4id - Mar 24, 2014 at 1:03 PM

    This team is incomplete disarray. Their d has been playing bad, blown assignments in the d zone, breakaways, and odd man rushes. Carlyle is not helping the goal-tending situation with his ill timed quote about Reimer. He’s creating controversy around the team when he should be diffusing the situation, and managing the distractions to allow the players to focus on winning. The Leafs game has been terrible recently, and it’s certainly not all on Reimer.

  4. theoldgreybeard - Mar 24, 2014 at 1:16 PM

    I agree. Dump Carlyle, bring in Spott. Develop a system that uses the player’s strengths not masks their weaknesses. This is a Burke left over that isn’t going to work if the leafs are going to get to the next level.

    • bjbeliever - Mar 24, 2014 at 2:14 PM

      We should be so lucky to have burke left overs, I can think of a few others; Phaneuf, Kessel, Kadri, Reilly, Bozak, Gardiner, Lupul. Like him or don’t like him, guy knows how to assemble talent and we’d be better off today if Leiweke hadn’t pushed him out.

      • bsaures - Mar 24, 2014 at 2:51 PM

        That is talent? The most overrated Dman in the league in Phaneuf, 1 dimensional players in Kessel, Kadri, and Lupul(not to mention extremely injury prone) a fringe second line centre in Bozak, Dmen who dont know how to play D in Gardiner and Reilly.

  5. phillyphanatic77 - Mar 24, 2014 at 1:23 PM

    “Yes I do Kent”- love the Simpsons reference. The Leafs have a solid forward group, some decent defensemen, and two solid goalies but it does look from the outside like they have serious issues. There’s only so much a goalie can do when they’re getting berated with shots every single night. And for Carlyle to throw Reimer under the bus is one of the dumbest things a coach could do. I mean the Leafs just got passed by a Detroit team that refuses to giveup, despite an AHL-laden roster, yet the Leafs, with pretty much all their weapons, can’t get it together. If they don’t hold on it’d be the second straight epic collapse in Toronto.

  6. imleftcoast - Mar 24, 2014 at 2:07 PM

    This seems more concerning than the loss to Boston. It was a surprise they were ahead in the deciding game against a good Bruins team, and it like they could carry that over to this season. This is more of a systemic failure. Why would you increase the pressure on Reimer instead of encouraging the team to rally around him and play good defense?

    • pfhockey - Mar 24, 2014 at 4:50 PM

      Because Randy Carlyle is a moron.

  7. hosewater2 - Mar 24, 2014 at 10:01 PM

    The thing I dislike most about the Leaves is Damien Cox.

  8. kaptaanamerica - Mar 25, 2014 at 7:22 PM

    Can someone please fill in the summary for the missing years? LupyNazty started the process…

    “Lupy Nazty Philthy – Mar 24, 2014 at 11:03 PM
    So hard being a fan of this team.

    It’s amazing how many ways they find to embarrass themselves and their fanbase.

    2005/06 missed the playoffs by 2 points.
    2006/07 Sundin et al exercising their NTCs only to miss the playoffs by 1 point.
    2011/12 the Ron Wilson collapse and missing the playoffs for the 7th straight time.
    2012/13 the game 7 collapse against the Bruins.

    now THIS”

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