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Leafs year in review

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PRESEASON OUTLOOK another offseason with a first round TKO from the damn Bruins and the Leafs made some changes. out went Kadri to the 'Lanche for Kerfoot and Barrie, Jonsson, Sandin, Mikhayev and Engwall all were promoted to more or less full time ice time. The hope was that although less tough with Kadri gone the new blood would spread the skill level to other lines and they would be improved.


FINAL RECORD 36-25-9 81 points 3rd in the Atlantic when the season was paused. Lost to the Jackets in the play in round in five fun games.


STRANGE STAT OF THE YEAR Auston Matthews had 32 goals in 34 games at home but was a very ordinary 15 goals in 36 games on the road. Opposite of that, Marner had 12 on the road but a anemic 4 at home. Continuing along that vein Nylander had 8 ppg at home and only 1 on the road. The Leafs roster is dotted with such scoring splits throughout, individual players who dominated either at home or on the road but were nowhere near teh same in the other venue. Probably more than any team i have seen.


HIGH POINT OF THE SEASON Game four of their play in series against Columbus comes to mind, a comeback for the ages, down 3-0 with four minutes to play and the goalie pulled they managed to tie the game and win in overtime on a Matthews goal. Regular season, they had a sizzling month from December 7th through January 4th they went 11-1-1 scoring an insane 60 goals while giving up 33. They looked like a legit contender under new coach Sheldon Keefe.


LOW POINT OF THE YEAR Either the goal by Foudy in the third period of game 5 to put the game out of reach ending the Leafs season or if you want to go back to early in the year the firing of Babcock after a six game losing streak dropped them to 9-10-4. Dirty laundry was aired and it put a black eye upon the team.


WHAT WENT RIGHT Matthews was a beast with 47 goals and 80 points. Marner was nicked up and his goal scoring slipped to 16 but he had 51 assists in 59 games to rival Wheeler in Winnipeg as the best passer from the wing. Tavares was very solid. Nylander had a very fine bounce back year. Andersen was as good as it gets in net. Hyman missed a chunk of the year but came back strong. Barrie was a solid power play specialist. Kapanen and Kerfoot were nice spare parts. Muzzin came over from the Kings and helped put the defense together. Dermott was steady as she goes as a stay at home blueliner allowing his partner to roam. Holl established himself as a legit NHL blueliner.


WHAT WENT WRONG Morgan Reilly had a meh year, his scoring was down and he missed over 20 games. Andreas Johnsson in spite of being given many chances didnt do much. Ceci played big minutes providing little in the way of offense and was okay at best defensively and missed 13 games. Kids Sandin and Lilejgren were given oppurtunity when blueliners went down and both looked a bit overwhelmed. Once again the Leafs backup goaltending was a disaster, Michael Hutchinson is a good AHL goalie disguised as a pathetic NHL backup going 4-9-1 with a ridiculous goals against aproaching four per game forcing the team to trade a draft pick for Jack Campbell who finally righted the position but Campbell is a very high priced backup at 1.7 million per for the next two years and he cost two 3rd rounders.


FREE AGENTS Barrie and Ceci are both free agents and unless one of the frowards can be dealt will be near impossible to sign. The Leafs hope to have them back, forwards Spezza and Clifford almost certainly will not be retained.


OFFSEASON QUESTION MARKS sigh, here we go again, another season, another disappointing first round end.  Barrie will almost certainly not be back as they cannot afford him, they desperately need Lilejgren and Sandin to step up to the plate and draw a regular shift next year. Will there be a fall guy? Last year Kadri took the heat and the blame for his suspension against the Bruins turning the tide, none of the big boys will likely be dealt, will Hyman who was dreadful in game five, two blind passes intercepted and led to goals one and three, will Hyman be dealt ? Johnsson has too much term at too much money and they would love to find a way to move his bonehead contract if at all possible. Kapanen will again be involved in rumors.


  They went for it this year with Muzzin, Barrie, Ceci, Campbell, Clifford and Kerfoot, all fine pieces added and once again it ended much earlier than anticipated, The Leafs need to fix the chemistry of this talented team but God knows what comes next.


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