Tuesday, December 3, 2019

Ryan's Casual Observations - To D Or Not To D? That Is The Question.....

Don't hang this loss on the Defensemen. That would be ridiculous. Far more concerning problems caused this loss.

While the backend wasn't stellar in this game, it certainly wasn't their worst. Barrie and Muzzin looked decent as usual. Dermott had a good game and Holl was, as per usual, the best of our defenders in his own end.

The Ceci/Rielly pairing is putrid. I mean absolutely disgusting. Babs as coach, refused to change it. Keefe has left it status quo. I don't know how much longer that can continue. The numbers don't lie; the eye test certainly doesn't lie. I simply don't get it.

It is no secret that Auston Matthews hasn't been very good lately. Tonight however, may have been one of his worst as a Leaf in his own end. The Hayes Goal was on 34 as far as I am concerned.

Holl played the player correctly, bodying the man and forcing him to curl back.

When handed over to Matthews, 34 defended the passing lane which is correct. He should have done so, while also closing the gap. Matthews however, is turning up ice expecting said pass.

With no pass option and Matthews leaning up ice, Hayes felt the physical pressure lift. His default at that point is to protect the puck, turn away from the stick check, shoulder down and head for the net. That is exactly what he did.

Matthews is one of the better stick-lifters in the league in my opinion. I have seen him do that a million times with great success. When coming off the half wall however, that is not the play to make. This is not the first time we have seen this exact same mistake. Pierre-Luc Dubois pulled off a very similar play on Matthews to score for Columbus not so long ago. Remember that play? They don't get much softer then that.

I think Nylander takes a lot of unnecessary heat. He has had a great season thus far. His defensive game is greatly improved as we have seen him (not so much tonight) back check and break up plays. Tonight however, the go ahead (2nd) goal that Giroux scored is on Willy.

Nylander was looking right at Giroux before 28 even started skating down the middle. Nylander makes no attempt to even pick up the player, let alone break up the scoring chance.

Nylander turns when Giroux does, so he does recognize this is his man.

Matthews doesn't do anything to help either, he wasn't facing Giroux nor should he have been. Had Matthews had his stick on the ice prior to the pass, he may have been able to break up the play.

After watching the replay, Nylander's stick was still parallel to the ice when the puck hit the back of the net. I don't consider it a lazy play as much as I do a lack of being able to recognize & respond.

As you can see, Nylander had zero impact on this play. He may as well have been on the bench. Again, his slow response, I believe was because he was actually thinking offence before they even retrieved the puck. He was cheating to the wing for an outlet while they were still defending.

Accountability being what it is, I sure hope these issues get covered with Nylander & Matthews. Fans may even be able to turn the other cheek if you produce offensively, but tonight's game was awful defensively from the top line. That was the only noticeable thing about that line unfortunatly.

The third goal, (the 2 on 1 back-breaker) I am also hanging on poor Willy. Zero battle in the offensive corner allows the Philly d-man time and space to spring the 100' pass that led to the dagger goal. Willy was at the end of a shift I do believe, but again he was literally just standing there as the play started around him.

Matthews a -3 on the night and Nylander a team worst -4 were the difference in this game I believe. Feel free to prove me wrong.

Don't believe me? Watch the video below and see for yourself.

While the goals against often get hung on the d-men, team defense is a much bigger problem for the Leafs. I have been talking about team defense now for 3 years. Dubas has brought in more capable 2-way players in the bottom six and it has been noticeable. That being said, someone needs to pull these young stars to one side and straighten this out toute de suite.

To D or not to D? That is the Question Auston & Willy!

No comments:

Post a Comment