Pre-Playoff Leaf Report Card 2018/19
I confess, I have been putting this off! As a diehard Leaf Fan, I was praying they would kick their play into gear near the end of the season, and give me tons of positive ammunition to complete this blog. I have in the past made the Report Card a Video (Vlog), but don’t think they deserve a Vlog for this report.
I wanted to be using words like; Grit, Hustle, Toughened up. Instead I have a “Pleasantly Surprised List” that is far too short based on the talent pool assembled for this year.
A “Lack Lustre List” headlined by a Team Player who chose to hold out for a contract that he has not given me one ounce of confidence that signing him was a good move.
A “Personal Disappointed List” featuring a player that I have defended for years, but has taken a big step backwards from his breakout season last year.
Pleasantly Surprised List
Auston Matthews, Effort seems to waffle sometimes, but his talents shine most times. On the list because he signed, I don’t think he liked the lack of ice-time he often times receives, and I expected him to leave. Spoiler Alert, Next Leaf Captain
Zach Hyman, I had him pegged as a hard working forward with no hands, his vision and touch have impressed me this year. Not to mention his penalty killing value
Mitch Marner, WOW! , really glad the former Asst. GM Hunter was so emphatic that the Leafs pick Marner. His play alone has been about the only positive thing I have consistently seen.
Morgan Rielly, the way he started the season, I thought they may as well give him the Norris now, but he went into a funk, he has emerged back to form.
Lack Lustre List
William Nylander- not the player that finished last year, listened to too many people. Shows talent sporadically, which mades his 50% efforts stand out even more. Dubas needs a do over on how this matter and more importantly contract were handled. I have made a concerted effort to not swear at the TV during the game, but when he skates just fast enough to get to the corner second, or his ever popular stick reaching for pucks, I lose it!
Kasperi Kapanen- flourished when given the chance to play with Matthews in Nylanders absence, but seems to be forcing his play as of late (Nylander return). I get him confused with Nylander some nights and that…is not a compliment
Personal Disappointment List
Nasem Kadri, I wanted him to exceed last years totals, he has had regular PP time, and yes his linemates have not helped as much as they needed. His shooting has been dreadful, and for one of the more physical players, he falls more than anyone on the team. Come on Naz, prove me wrong in the playoffs!!!!
Jake Muzzin- OUCH! Has looked lost, out of position, pinches like Drew Doughty is still there. Does have playoff experience, so maybe he will prove me wrong- Hope so!
Some general comments, I have not witnessed a defense that misfires so often trying to clear the puck from their own zone, I think the stretch pass is the biggest cause for this. The team has lost the SWAGGER that it displayed early on in the year. Tired of listening to how GOOD IN THE DRESSING ROOM a player is. That is only an excuse for the inferior play that I get the pleasure to view. Examples, Hainsey, Marleau. They are the softest team I have witnessed this year and teams have their way with them because of it. I fear the series against the Bruins will make this very evident. The little drop pass looks so cute until repeatedly the other team intercepts them, pass with conviction- passer , pass hard, receiver, get your butt moving and get into the clear. Teams seem to have figured out what the Leafs are going to do, which leads me to the coaches. Babcock does not seem to have a plan “B”, early on the Leafs looked unbeatable, but teams have worked on disrupting their flow and all the Leafs seem to do is keep trying the same things. Now the frustration of the players is causing them to play slower, while trying to do what was successful early. The opposition is quicker now, while the supposedly fast,fast Leafs are not. Leaf Defense is not good enough for a deep run into the playoffs, but there is no excuse for the number of goals they have allowed where the opposition player is so far in the clear, this I put directly on the shoulders of the defensive coach. For the Leafs to be respectable in the playoffs, they need Andersen to play on the top of his game and be getting the support of all the players on the ice.
Andersen B+ not sure if early injury is still a problem
Brown B decent killing penalties, would score more if played more
Dermott B+ his absence showed his value
Ennis B+ needs to play more, silky hands
Gardiner B+ his absence showed his value as well, but I fear the Leafs have him
penciled as expendable
Gauthier C+ for me, show time over, let Ennis play more
Hainsey B seasoned Vet, best before date gone by, got to be a 5,6,7
Holl ? small sample size
Hyman A- game in, game out honest effort.
Johnsson B Young, Learning, great skills and potential
Kadri B Improved his defensive responsibility, offense below par
Kapanen B+ showed his scoring ability, need more consistency
Marincin C thanks for trying out
Marleau C No longer a threat, needs to be on 4th line
Marner A+ a pleasure to watch, Leaf MVP right now
Matthews A+ the real deal, excited he signed,
Moore C+ good effort always, just too many like this
Muzzin C a couple of goals, other than that, he has not impressed me one bit.
Nylander F Can’t forgive him holding out, trade for bag of pucks! Effort invisible
Ozhiganov C+ needs to play regularly, physical player, good skater, needs defensive instruction
Petan ? small sample size, but I fear he is similar to Moore
Reilly A+ Great year, play with heart and emotion.
Rosen B good creds, hope he is still improving
Sparks B- I fear he may not be a fit as a backup.
Tavares A+ As Advertised! A star, has benefited with Marner as a linemate
Zaitsev B+ I like him, lotsa talent, defensive coach, help him
There are a number of Marlies, both forwards and defense that I hope get a chance soon. It burns my butt that other teams always seem to have the confidence to promote a raw rookie and let him learn.
Not sure it isn’t time for Keefe to come up to the big club.
As always, your comments are appreciated,