By: David Alter
There are no answers right now. The Maple Leafs have no confidence and it was evident in their follow-up effort (or lack thereof) following a drubbing in Boston.
While the Maple leafs managed to score a pair of goals, they still had very little of an effort put forth offensively. Their 14 shots towards Evgeni Nabakov was just one more shot than the previous night in Boston. The end result is a 4-2 home loss to the New York Islanders.
James Reimer looked like the Reimer we have seen all too many times this season. He has managed to put forth back-to-back performances that present the appearance of turning things around, only to fall flat.
Case in point, Reimer’s return from concussion on December 3rd in Boston. He struggled his first three games back. Later in the month, he’d have a pair of back-to-back 40 saves performances against the Sabres and Kings, only to be chased out 23 minutes in, allowing three goals against the Panthers.
In Early February, Reimer is given the start to give Jonas Gustavsson a bit of a break. Reimer collects 25 saves for the shutout. Reimer would follow that up with another shutout against the Senators. He still manages to grab a victory against the Oilers after that, but the wheels would fall off quickly.
In Tampa and Ottawa, Reimer allows just one goal in both efforts. It appears as though his confidence may be restoring, but it quickly disappears when he is chased out in Boston after allowing four goals in nine shots.
Tonight, the Maple Leafs dropped their eight straight at home.
“We want to come out and we want to win, especially at home,” said Reimer about the home losing streak. “It’s tough, we want this place to be an intimidating place to play and right now that’s not the case.”
It was a lengthy wait for media to get access to the players following the game. The coach and players held a team meeting where Head Coach Randy Carlyle held a Q & A. While not revealing the nature of the conversation, the theme was disappointment.
It all boils down to one thing, a lack of confidence.
“Right now it seems as though the confidence level is at where it was when I came around in Montreal,” said Carlyle who also deflected any blame that was directed at Reimer. “The one thing about the goaltending situation here right now is that it mirrors the group.”
Carlyle feels his roster has what it takes to get out of this rut. The Leafs have shown little evidence of doing so.
“We played well for most of the night except for a few breakdowns which cost us,” said captain Dion Phaneuf. “We want to turn this around and build some confidence and put something together. We’ve got to stick with it, nobody is happy with the way things have gone.”
These remaining two weeks will be telling. If the effort level continues to dip, a massive reconstruct of this hockey club could be in order.