The Toronto Maple Leafs, fresh off three straight beatings, are hoping their bruises have healed in time to take on the Washington Capitals.
After losing last night 6-1 to the Carolina Hurricanes, the Leafs really need a win, and they need one badly. Coach Randy Carlyle has to be walking around with a bullseye right now. His team has failed to even come close to winning in these last three games. If they were narrow, one goal losses, it might be okay to forgive them.
They weren’t narrow one goal games though, they were embarrassing blow out losses. One after the other after the other. 18 goals against in three games, with only 5 goals of their own. Not exactly a team that has it all figured out.
If the playoffs are the goal, then tonight represents a good chance to show they still have some fight left in them. After the loss last night, and a Capitals victory, the Leafs find themselves in 10th place, with Washington a point ahead in 7th.Their point differential is now a ghastly -15, which drops them below the Rangers and Hurricanes, the two teams who badly beat them.
The reality is that the goal tending has been the main issue. Both Jonathan Bernier and James Reimer have struggled, and Carlyle will almost assuredly be forced to start Bernier. Reimer faced 36 shots last night, and let in 6 goals.
This does not give me great hope. Bernier’s last two games were the 7-1 drubbing by the Rangers, a game in which he was pulled; and a 5-3 loss to the Islanders. While the goalies are bad, there is another issue.
The Toronto Maple Leafs give up a lot of shots, and I mean a lot. They currently rank 28th in the league in shots allowed, and with their goalies struggling, it would be prudent to allow less shots. Of course, that would require better players, but I digress.
Thankfully, mercifully, the Capitals represent a team that gives up the most shots in the league. Then again, they also have Alex Ovechkin, so I don’t think they mind that much. Phil Kessel is ice cold, and he will need to step up his game if the Leafs want to win tonight.
If they lose badly again, I would not be shocked to see Randy Carlyle’s name in the headlines, with fired right beside it.