First, let’s start out with the good news – if you want to call it that. My cold compelled me to sell my ticket to tonight’s game online at the last minute for a pittance of $15. Truth be told I probably could have gutted it out but sometimes going to games while sick only exacerbates my virus. Maybe if things were different I’d have done it anyway, but a trek to a late December game against a superior foe with the team going nowhere was an easy one to pass on. I didn’t even watch the game since I usually don’t watch home games when I can’t or don’t go.
Turned out to be the best game-related decisions I made all year.
I mean what’s to say at this point? Clearly whatever happened this weekend was only a short-term mirage and this team just won’t be able to sustain enough of a run to even get back in the playoff race. If tonight’s game proved one thing, it’s that this is a lost season. In late December. Sure things have looked bleak for a while but I didn’t want to look at the standings at all, figuring it wouldn’t matter if the team didn’t get going anyway. Clearly this team is going nowhere, it’s just a matter of how bad things are going to get and how much they affect our chances of re-signing Taylor Hall this offseason.
It’s also useless to engage in the parlor game speculation of whether the team should change coaches, it’s past the point where it’ll matter for 2018-19 anyway. If Ray Shero wants to make a change (and odds are he won’t), might as well make it in the offseason. Not as if you’re going to get a real head coach in here before then anyway. Quite frankly though it’s Shero himself who’s gotta take the hit for this team’s regression. He failed to do enough this offseason to even maintain status quo on a team that was always going to be a bubble team in a best-case scenario. And don’t give me the line about how it’s great he didn’t get involved with overpaying free agents. What good is all our cap space going to do if it’s never used? Even the head coach’s catty comment about the Lightning a while back alluded to this fact.
I really don’t want to do fifty-one more games of just annoyed posts speculating about next year but at this point I just don’t know what else is going to be worth talking about from this season. This team manages to take what should be uplifting moments and just takes a dump all over them, case in point Mackenzie Blackwood’s NHL debut just days after being called up in the wake of the ‘injury’ to Cory Schneider. No, Blackwood didn’t actually start the game but Keith Kinkaid surrendering five goals in the first two periods provided as good an excuse as any to get the rookie some immediate action. And Blackwood did well early by all accounts but of course the tire fire defense let Tyler Ennis (he’s still in the league?!) score two goals in the third including this beauty where defenseman Sami Vatanen trips over Blackwood taking them both out of the play.
A little Buttfumble-esque if you will…football Jets fans will know the reference.
Really nobody on this team can defend or stop the puck anymore. And nobody on the staff can coach defense. So you have fiascoes like tonight become all too common. It’s not quite as bad as the darkest days of the MacLean season or the end of Lou’s tenure where Ranger fans were booing the Devils out of the building, but Leaf fans chanting ‘Go Leafs Go’ at the end of tonight’s game was a pretty stark reminder of the latter. We’re practically back in the same place we were four years ago, an embarassment mocked by visiting fans.
Oh and one more parting shot…if this defense is going to be an unmitigated tire fire, can you at least play Steven Santini for a few games here? What’s the point of having the poor guy play one period the entire season? Guess the coaching staff doesn’t want to deprive itself of the merriment of watching guys like Damon Severson and Egor Yakovlev play ‘defense’, or Vatanen and Ben Lovejoy both colliding with their own goalies. Or all the own goals the defense – led by Andy Greene – has scored over the last few weeks.