You read that right. Book a spot for the Buds in the playoffs.
Now, I understand a lot of people in Leafs Nation are in a panic mode since the Buds lost 4 straight after coming back from California. But here’s why they have been losing. Lately, there have been too many times where the Leafs tried to make cute passes whether it moving left to right or attempting to split the opposition defencemen. The end result is usually a turnover in the Leafs’ end and, in most cases, a goal for the opposition.
We’ve seen this act before. In the years Ron Wilson has been coach of the Leafs, lots of emphasis was placed on making those plays. Why? Because the Toronto media likes it. They are obsessed with the style Detroit has been using where there is not much focus on physical play. But that is not Toronto’s style. We all know how it ended for the Leafs in each of the four seasons with Wilson behind the bench.
The Leafs are in a playoff spot because they have been playing tough, physical hockey throughout the season. They need to go back to that. There have been injuries to key players along the way but that is hardly a reason to change course. The Buds have been most successful when they play a system that gives opposition players little room to maneuver. Not a trap system mind you but a form of defensive play that is more aggressive than reactive. Players are given assignments and they execute them. I am confident Randy Carlyse can get the players going again.
Contrary to popular belief, the Leafs played well against Montreal on Saturday despite the loss. Guys like Bolland, Clarkson, and Orr were knocking Habs players off their skates. Kessel, Kadri, and JVR carried the puck into the offensive zones. No fancy passes, just good play making. That is the reason the Leafs will make the playoffs and, hopefully, face the Canadiens in the first round. The wins will come. But they will have to continue playing that way if they want to show that last year’s playoff appearance was no fluke.