Pension Plan Puppets: Leafs v. Habs: Game Day Thoughts

Every Leafs fan has an opinion. Here's mine: We are all Pension Plan Puppets. The Teachers pull the strings and we dance.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Leafs v. Habs: Game Day Thoughts

It goes without saying that this is an important game for the Leafs. Two points would be great but it is more important that they put in the kind of effort that got them off to a good start. Here are the five keys to a win:

  1. The defensive zone coverage has to be miles better than it has been the last couple of games. The defencemen, especially, have to do a better job of looking over their shoulders to spot the forwards.

  2. Mats and Wellwood have to find their game after three largely anonymous games. The skipper is settling for shots from the perimeter far too often and Wellwood needs to start taking more shots because it is far too evident that he looks for the pass first almost to a fault.

  3. Keep it simple stupid. The Leafs have to get back to clearing the zone first and looking for the nice pass second. The last couple of games the Leafs have shipped a handful of goals because they have coughed up the puck when they have been on the verge of clearing the zone.

  4. The team's concentration has to be better. The senators scored goals in bunches because the team suffered serious lapses in concentration that resulted in tap-in goals.

  5. Hit the net. The forwards did not take advantage of a shaky Ray Emery on Thursday because they missed too many easy shots. In the third period alone I counted 5 shots that Emery flapped at that missed the net.

The bottom line is that the team has to play smart (not smarter because it's been pretty dumb) and with more effort. The big three of Sundin, Kaberle, and McCabe have to be the team's best players to give them any chance to succeed. They do not have to be perfect but they have to be a lot closer to it than they have been lately. Here is some inspiration, a perfect break in snooker.

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Anonymous Jason said...

Not only Sundin, but too often the entire team is restricted to harmless shots from the perimeter. They’re just not getting the penetration in the offensive zone that they should be.

The problem I think goes back to Kaberle. Last year whenever he had the puck in the neutral zone the offensive zone was almost guaranteed. That’s not the case this year. Our attack is consistently faltering at the blue line and we’re not carrying any momentum up the ice.

One solution may be moving someone like Suglobov up to the first lines. His speed and allusiveness may help break through that first line of defense and force the rest of the team out of position somewhat. I know Suglobov is a defensive liability, but a player like him needs top line minutes to utilize his ability. He’s a wasted weapon when thrown out there with the pluggers.

We saw what happened when Poni was able to force his way through to the net. If the Leafs can get more of that happening it could go a long way to opening up space and creating scoring opportunities.

Great blog. Keep it up.

2:01 PM

Blogger PPP said...

Thanks Jason.

I totally agree, Battaglia and Poni's driving to the net resulted in both goals. It was that sort of reckless attack that brought about the Leafs early success but they have gotten away from it for some reason.

Kaberle's struggles gaining the zone have been a huge factor in making the team's powerplay toothless. Too often he is having to dump it in with players stuck on their heels at the blueline.

Moving Sugar up to the first line is the best way to use him. He is definitely a Berezin clone and you never saw him playing any sort of defence. The fourth line has also begun struggling with maintaining their sharpness when they are only playing 5 minutes a game.

Still, there are 71 games left so the team has some time to work the kinks out but they can't dawdle.

5:33 PM


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