Hey everybody, I’m back with a quick look at what I think Babcock should be doing differently with the Leafs. Before I get a bunch of ‘Babcock knows more than you’ comments, my answer would be ‘Yeah, yeah whatever.’ Of course he does, but that doesn’t mean you can’t talk about some things that you would like to see done differently. It’s when it’s done to death, or beating a dead horse, that it gets to be a bit much in my view.
First thing, start the Matthews power play unit first. Now, that has been happening lately or at least a little more than it was before. Especially the last couple of games. Right now the Leafs power play is in 8th place, so all things considered, that’s not bad. It would be a hell of a lot better if your top player played on the first unit and would then get the most time on ice.
Second thing, when Zaitsev returns, move Polak out and have him sit more often. OK , I realize Babcock can’t do anything about that now because Zaitsev is still injured. In the meantime, I get why he has Polak in, because he kills penalties. (assuming he’s not in the penalty box himself) but after that I would like to see the defence pairings look like this:
Gardiner-Borgman pairing might look a little sketchy, so that may have to be adjusted. but Polak should be used sparingly. And everyone who has read anything from me knows how much I like Polak. The grit grinder of all grit grinders.
Third thing is tied in with number 2. Babcock is going to have to trust other players more when it comes to the PK. Hainsey is doing a great job on the penalty kill but he’s being used WAY TOO MUCH. Most times playing all two minutes of a kill. Babcock is going to burn him out before the playoffs even start if he doesn’t even out that load better.
Number 4 for me isn’t as high a priority as for a lot of other Leafs fans but actual TOI should be given more to their better players. I get that a lot of times these things are situational though.
The defence is actually pretty evenly spread out. The top four of Rielly, Gardiner, Zaitsev and Hainsey are all at about 22 minutes on average. (Polak at 16 minutes is high)
The forwards however:
Matthews – 18:36 Hyman – 17:45 Marleau – 17:05 Komarov – 16:44 Nylander – 16:40 Kadri – 16:17 Marner – 15:44 Bozak – 15:20 Brown – 15:00 JVR – 14:40
So like I said earlier, it’s not a huge thing for me but I would like to see Komarov’s ice trimmed by about 3/4 minutes also Marner/Nylander should play a bit more. I don’t know why Hyman is playing more than Marleau but it could be situational because he’s on the Matthews line.
And number 5 is (insert your comment here). Whether it’s shaking up the lines, putting this player here or there, wishing Babs wasn’t so stubborn or moving a player. Although that’s more Lou’s department.
The only way you can like EVERYTHING a coach does ALL THE TIME is because you aren’t paying close enough attention. Even the great Scotty Bowman, considered the best coach of all time, did some things that would make fans raise an eyebrow. Trust me I know. i have a lot of family that are Habs fans and as a kid I would hear things all the time!
Questioning a coach doesn’t mean you think he’s a bad coach, in fact I’m very happy that we have Mike Babcock. I can’t think of another coach that I would rather have for the team! Am I right? I don’t know. But I do know that this team can play better and they aren’t so these are steps that I think could help the team GET better.
Anywho, the team is on a 5 day break. Instead of waiting for the Leafs to play another game, catch some games including other teams. Maybe even hate-watch the Bruins so you can have a better look at the team the Leafs will probably be playing in the first round in the playoffs.
Have a good one.
Cousin Eddie. @mydogsnots