The Toronto Maple Leafs are capping off the pre-season in precarious fashion. Perched atop the Eastern Conference standings, the Buds’ winning record is unlikely to foreshadow their regular season results. Bandwagon fans and die-hard hopefuls might be thinking otherwise, but little has changed in the off-season following a dismal collapse in 2013-14. Here are 5 predictions for the Maple Leafs’ upcoming season…
Many bets were lost after Randy Carlyle not only kept his job, but was awarded an undeserved two-year contract extension in May. After ineptly manning the bench and ‘leading’ his young squad off a high cliff like the first in a line of deranged lemmings, the 58-year old puffer-face seems secure in his current position. Of course, at roughly $2-million per year for the next two years (even if he gets canned along the way), job security is of little worry.
Reluctant to reassess his failed defensive strategy, Carlyle will be hard-pressed to champion his squad towards cutting down on their all-time NHL record-setting shots against from last year. Blind to his own coaching flaws, the bullheaded bench-minder is convinced that the team’s defensive woes were a product of a lack of “will and commitment”.
The Leafs finished 5th last season in the power play standings, but scoring was never their issue, despite ranking 25th in shots per game. Miraculous displays of goaltending (at times) were offset by lackluster defensive support and a propensity to pile up the penalty minutes. If The Boys in Blue plan on making it past the regular season in 2014-15, they’ll need to avoid getting manhandled on the penalty kill. Last year’s 28th place PK (only 78.4%) simply won’t cut it.
Final cuts have been made to The Leafs roster, and it seems as though GM Dave Nonis has finally recognized a need to conform to the sleek fast-playing style of the post-lockout NHL. Crafty winger Brandon Kozun has found his way onto the roster in place of the injured David Booth. One-dimensional big bodies like Colton Orr and Fraser McLaren are finally going to be seeing minor (Marlies) minutes. David Clarkson is still a $38-million punch in the face – literally. And captain Dion Phaneuf is still topping lists of the worst contracts in the NHL.
Amidst all of the heartache, frustration, and disappointment that The Leafs’ post-lockout years have dealt fans, loyalty and misguided dreams will remain unflappable. Suits will continue to dominate the stadium seating. Ticket prices will continue to rise. The ACC will remain one of the least exhilarating arenas in the NHL. And the organization will remain the most profitable losing franchise in modern sports history.
NO LEAFS NO!
What are some of your predictions for the Leafs this season? Let us know in the comments below or tweet us @ViewTheVibe.