Leafs To Break NHL Record?
The Leafs laid another egg tonight...on the score sheet that is. Yes the Leafs were shutout yet again this evening. It was their fifth time being shutout this season, only 22 games in. It could easily have been 6 had it not been for Phil Kessel's shorthanded goal late in last night's game against the Sabres.
Given that the Leafs have already been shutout 5 times this season and came close in a few more, are they a contender to break the NHL record for most times shutout in a single season? To find the record, you have to go all the way back to the 1928-1929 NHL season. In that season, the Chicago Blackhawks were shutout 20 times. While the record is still a long shot for the Leafs (given that even with this disaster slump they are still on pace to fall short of it), it's not beyond the realm of possibility.
Like most of the team's players, the Leafs scoring has been streaky. I guess that would make sense now that I think about it.
Just to make the point a little more clear, the Leafs have scored 1 goal or less in back to back games four times this season already. Most teams have a bad game, then go make up for it the next game. The Leafs this season wait about two or three games before realizing that something is wrong.
I'll use the Montreal Canadiens as an example. The Habs have been good this season, much better than I expected anyways. But after a rough loss to the Predators last week, it didn't matter how good their season had been up until that point. The players were put through a tough practice and they responded by shutting out the Leafs (apparently no special accomplishment these days) in the next game. This simply does not happen with the Leafs. There have been countless times this season that Ron Wilson hasn't even run a practice the morning of a game.
Benching your best goal scorer in the second period of a game doesn't help your situation in that game. Sure you send a message and remind the players of who's boss, but it doesn't help you win hockey games. The discipline should be carried out at practice. Benching players during the game only frustrates the team more. Putting them through a hard practice will make them work harder to make sure that doesn't happen again.
At the end of the day this is Brian Burke's boat, car or bus, whatever he calls it these days. He's going to have to make the right changes if he doesn't want to be held entirely responsible for this season. If he's trying to preserve his friendship with his buddy Ron Wilson, then the two of them can go have a coffee next year and reminisce about their days in Toronto.