WARNING: RANT AHEAD.
Imagine waking up one morning and not knowing how to speak. Like the words have physically been taken out of your mouth and you are speechless, unable to even make a sound. How frustrating would that be? That’s what it felt like watching tonights Toronto Maple Leafs game. From the moment I sat down on my couch to the moment I stood up after a crushing 7-3 loss, I had trouble constructing a sentence. There are so many problems with this team and I have no idea where to begin. Playoffs are a time to kick things to another level, another intensity, another gear. Playoffs set apart the good from the bad and in this case the Leafs are more than just bad, they are terrible. I want to start by asking someone to get Jake Gardiner a map because that guy looks absolutely lost out on the ice. He is the biggest liability to this team and I am honestly surprised he still has a job in the NHL. Watching him glide around on the ice, constantly out of position, makes me want to pull every single hair out of my head, individually. On top of that I have to watch him “quarterback” power-play unit 2, hold the puck way to long and stand still at the blue line while Matthews and Nylander are both waiting to be set-up. He’s incompetent. I would much rather see Travis Dermott get some PP burn, at least he’s got heart, passion, instinct, talent and a brain in between his ears. Anyway, moving on. I think Mike Babcock might be delusional. If he thinks Leo Komarov is any sort of asset to this team he must be coaching the wrong sport. This isn’t the 2008 NHL pal, things have changed, time to adapt. Don’t get me wrong if Komarov is out there, finishing checks, getting in the dirty areas and PLAYING ON THE 4TH LINE, I don’t have a problem with it. But instead, Babcock insists on starting him on the 1st line with Matthews and Nylander. WHAT! Are you kidding me? Those two individually have more skill in their pinky toes than he does in his entire body. Oh and quickly while we are on the topic of Auston Matthews, he’s a 6’3, 216 pound band-aid, who is afraid of getting hit. This is the NHL Playoffs big guy, sack up and take a body to make a play, for the love of God, please. Back to the the issue at hand, when Leo Komarov was taken out of Game 2, we were immediately a better team all-around. We out skated Boston, outplayed them, outshot them and I actually had the ability to stomach watching them for a little while longer. Changes need to be made ASAP though, I do not care about this long-term plan, I want to believe that this team can compete at a high level today, not in 5 years. IT’S THE PLAYOFFS! I am going to be honest, I have been an avid Matt Martin hater but at this point, I need him more than ever. I know a guy like that understands the stakes at hand, he will finish his checks, get under the other teams skin and fill his role perfectly. He knows the circumstances and I think he needs a shot in Game 3. He’s the type of player that can turn a series around. Speaking of that, another player that needs to turn this series around is Frederick Andersen. Like c’mon, why you gotta rip my heart out in the first 10 minutes Freddy? I hate to bash on this guy cause he has been a key member of this team but it’s time for him to step up and steal one for the Buds. You can’t win a series if your goalie doesn’t steal you a game or two. I don’t need anything entertaining, make the right saves at the right time and give us a chance to win, that’s all I’m asking.
Here’s the positives we can take from all this. Boston is supposed win at home, just how these things work. We only have to steal one game at the Garden to win this series. We head to the Air Canada Center for Game 3 and 4 then travel back to Boston, the series tied 2-2 with momentum to take Game 5. This series has not gotten away from us yet and believe it or not there have been some bright spots. Patrick Marleau is an absolute stud. That guy knows what playoff hockey is, he’s been here before and coming from the gritty Western Conference, he knows what it takes to win playoff hockey games. Travis Dermott is a machine, he is everywhere he needs to be on the ice both offensively and defensively and he definitely isn’t afraid to finish his hits. Zach Hyman, Connor Brown, Kasperi Kapanen, Andreas Johnsson, all players who play each game like it could be their last with no sign of giving up from the opening draw to the final buzzer. We have the talent and skill to play with Boston but it’s time to put the pieces together and dig deep to win this series. No more excuses, no more mistakes, nitty-gritty playoff grind hockey starting right now boys!