Saturday, March 10, 2012

Should The Toronto Maple Leafs Tank Their Season?

Interesting that the Toronto Maple Leafs are just 5 PTS out of a playoff spot, but already there have been widespread calls in Leaf Nation to tank the 15 remaining games in order to secure the highest possible draft pick. These are now the questions being asked of the team by the media as the season comes to an end. First, you'll never get a coach or player say out loud that they'd like to lose hockey games. You can't blame the media for asking based on fan pressure, but you know what the answer is going to be. While the Leaf post-season chances are diminishing with each loss, they still have a shot at the playoffs. Neither Washington or Winnipeg is setting the world on fire, and Tampa just lost their only half decent goalie for the stretch drive. Buffalo is the hottest team, but even they are flawed and may not be able to sustain their current hot streak.

Toronto can still make the playoffs. It may be unlikely, but certainly not impossible. Perhaps the Lupul injury is the nail in the coffin (notice my double entendre with Nail Yakupov being the anticipated #1 pick), but they have a new coach who is going to want to make a solid first impression heading into next season. Like the commercial says, you never get a second chance to make a first impression. His biggest challenge is to get Phil Kessel to be defensively responsible. Teams who have top players that are defensive minded tend to have more success, like the Detroit Red Wings. When Steve Yzerman was an offensive dynamo shooting the lights out, the team never won in the playoffs. Once he began to focus on defense, he won 3 Stanley Cups. Datsyuk has 3 Selke trophies. Toews was a Selke nominee. Kesler won the award last year and his team went to the finals. Etc, etc, etc...

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