Despite the fact that we Chicagoans don’t get a spring — it’s winter till in the future someplace in Could when it’s simply immediately summer time and we’re all immediately drunk outdoors — that doesn’t imply we are able to’t acknowledge the indicators of spring approaching elsewhere. Positive, we’ve been robbed of one in every of them in spring coaching. However the determined wailing of baseball followers being disadvantaged of their pleasure actually lets us know the place we’re on the calendar. The later sunsets, the marginally rising temps, the lengthy traces at automotive washes all tell us that the darkness might subside quickly.
Oh, and the Boston Bruins gaining floor shortly on the Toronto Maple Leafs whereas the latter goes by way of a goalie disaster as their fanbase begins operating across the metropolis with scissors.
You could take a look at the Leafs having gained three of their final 5, having solely misplaced the final two, and suppose that issues aren’t so unhealthy. And maybe they’re not. However then, you don’t know the way issues work within the large T.O. Any blip at the moment of yr causes tremors in Ontario, particularly if it portends to yet one more first-round exit for the Leafs.
Which is on the horizon, as a result of Toronto is unlikely to flag down the Panthers in first. Which implies main off the playoffs with the Lightning, or perhaps the Bruins once more which can trigger all types of shaking and rocking in a darkish room, or maybe the Panthers themselves, or perhaps even the Canes. All of which might be a testing collection at finest, positive heartache at worst.
And what’s actually getting the tooth chattering within the nation’s hockey capital is that the Leafs goaltending has been woeful for a few months now. There isn’t a better home of playing cards than the Leafs have been, with this dizzying array of offensive expertise and scoring that has relied on varied goofi and giblets they’ve put in between the posts. Whether or not it was a group of Freddie Andersen meltdowns in Sport 7s in Boston or Jack Campbell turning into Jack Campbell towards the Habs final yr, the tactic of defeat has been chillingly acquainted for Leafs followers, hilariously so for everybody else.
Which might be what has Leafs followers and media leaving their senses, the anticipation that they’ll should undergo this all once more. For the reason that flip of the yr, the Leafs have the worst save-percentage (.881) at even-strength within the league. According to NaturalStatTrick.com, the Leafs have let in 25 extra objectives in 2022 than their anticipated objectives towards, which implies each time they’ve left the dressing room they’re already down 1-0. The truth that they’ve managed a 15-8-2 document in that point is one thing of a minor miracle.
It’s been particularly ugly of late. The Leafs gave up six objectives final evening to the Vancouver Canucks. The sport earlier than that it was 5 to the Sabres, each on residence ice. There was additionally a seven-spot given as much as the Crimson Wings, although the Leafs scored 10 themselves that evening to cancel it out. They gave up six to the Blues and 5 to the Canadiens in losses in latest weeks.
Campbell has been the leaking sore-spot. His save-percentage in 2022 is .882. His performances on the finish of February have been so ass-tastic that he was given a full week off to try to gather himself. He responded with a full-body dry heave towards Vancouver. And the Leafs won’t have any time to determine one thing else.
Backup Petr Mrazek hasn’t been any higher, with an .887 save-percentage in February whereas Campbell took his hiatus. And very like Campbell, Mrazek has a terminal case of being Petr Mrazek.
And the Leafs are usually not hanging their goalies out to dry. Since January 1st, they’re ninth and eleventh in anticipated objectives towards and Corsi towards (makes an attempt at internet). Even simply middling goaltending would have been value just a few extra wins given what the Leafs have allowed to be flung at their internet. However even the merest suggestion of a shot is discovering twine.
The actual cock-up was pondering Campbell was up for this, what the Leafs are constructed for in every single place else, within the first place. Earlier than final season, Campbell had solely produced two first rate seasons as a backup to Jonathan Fast in Los Angeles for irrelevant Kings groups. As soon as once more, any staff that used final season as a viable pattern for analysis and projection ended up with a handful of themselves. Sure, Campbell put up nice numbers in half a season because the Leafs starter final yr. These have been in circumstances by no means to be repeated, and the Leafs have been in a division with a large sack of shit. Campbell by no means needed to face an excellent staff. And even that didn’t cease him and the Leafs from coughing up their first spherical collection to a kind of unhealthy groups, Montreal.
In fact, it’s not a thriller why. The Leafs can’t afford the rest. They’ve three $10 million-plus forwards and are capped out. That lack of obtainable money has been blamed for his or her veteran and sluggish backside six in previous years, which has been uncovered by deeper groups. However the Leafs proceed to be underneath the idea they will simply put anybody in purpose and it’ll work out.
And this may be what they should go together with. There was a report last night that Marc-Andre Fleury doesn’t need to be traded once more, although it was from Steve Simmons in Toronto so that you’ll want a complete bag of salt with that. To get Fleury in, if Fleury needed to go, the Leafs must do some critical wage culling. What else is on the market? Martin Jones? Braden Holtby?
The Leafs are going to see a real-ass staff come the primary spherical. All of these groups have a real-ass goalie. The Leafs will as soon as once more reply with a wavy-armed inflatable man. We all know this story.