Steve Minakakis is a Toronto Maple Leafs correspondent for OurHometown.ca. Steve's passion for hockey, especially the Maple Leafs, brings the hockey world alive with his unique style of writing. He is the creator and editor of TMLhockey.com. If you have any questions or wish to contact Steve, you can email him at firstname.lastname@example.org
Maple Leafs cant seem to climb out of this bad hole they are in
The Toronto Maple Leafs are in a really bad hole and can't seem to climb out of it. They have just one win in their last six games including last nights 6-2 loss to the Vancouver Canucks. The Canucks shed some light on truly what kind of team the Leafs can be against a top team in the league. The answer on this night was a skilled offensive team with terrible defensive zone coverage.
North York - February 19, 2012 - The Toronto Maple Leafs are in a really bad hole and can't seem to climb out of it. They have just one win in their last six games including last nights 6-2 loss to the Vancouver Canucks. The Canucks shed some light on truly what kind of team the Leafs can be against a top team in the league. The answer on this night was a skilled offensive team with terrible defensive zone coverage, and two goalies who, rather than play really well to prove they want and have earned the starting goaltending job, end up getting the start moreso based on the other goalie's struggling efforts.
The game started out bad when the Canucks scored in the first off a mis-timed pinch by Keith Aulie. We've seen too many of those come back and end up in the back of our net. Aulie needs to gage when is a good time to pinch, and when isn't. Once in a while you will make mistakes, but you would think after being burned by that play so many times, he would be more hesitant to pinch.
It's tough to blame James Reimer on many of the goals the Canucks scored on him last night, but on the flip side he didn't go out there and make any big saves to help the team. If you're a bubble team like Toronto you need your goalie to step up and make some big saves every game. I'm not deflecting away from the issue, which is absolutely awful defensive zone coverage, but a big save from Reimer would have been nice last night. Jonas Gustavsson came into the game in relief of Reimer, and did not look any better, in fact I would say he looked worse, but I wasn't really paying attention, tuning in and out at that point.
Nikolai Kulemin scored a late goal in the third period. His first in a while, and only his sixth on the season. He celebrated a little too much for someone who scored the second goal for in a 6-2 defeat, but I don't think he deserves the criticism. He has struggled lately and it's nice for him to get on the board.
The Leafs miraculously still sit in eighth in the East. The Capitals also lost last night to the Lightning, so they remain one point behind Toronto. Suddenly there are more contenders for the last playoff spot though. Will all the Leafs and Capitals losses lately, the Winnipeg Jets find themselves only two points out of a playoff spot. The Leafs will have to be careful.
Toronto will have to put a better effort forward as a team heading into a four game home stand. They play New Jersey on Tuesday, San Jose on Thursday, Washington on Saturday and Florida the following Tuesday. Three of the four games are against teams that higher in the standings than Toronto, and two games are against teams that are close to them in the race. A fair goal for the Leafs to set is to win either of the first two match-ups, and then win both games against the Capitals and Panthers.
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