Three weeks ago, the Toronto Maple Leafs were just OK. They weren’t dominating the Atlantic Division, but their underlying numbers were acceptable. However, quite a bit has changed in three weeks. The team has just one regulation victory in its last nine games (two in their last 15 games) and the team’s special teams are at the bottom of the league.
Now, after defending Mike Babcock three weeks ago, The Athletic’s James Mirtle (subscription required) now compares the pros and cons on whether it might be time to remove the head coach. While he points out that some of the team’s struggles are out of Babcock’s control, there are more reasons to look at the coaching staff skeptically within the last nine-game stretch.
Mirtle examines the coaches’ tactics and the special teams challenges (including 11.8 percent success rate on the power play and a 71.4 percent kill ratio on the penalty kill). However, the most interesting take is that the scribe believes that the head coach has lost his team in the locker room. Whether that will eventually fuel a coaching change is unknown, but Toronto fans won’t be happy long with a 9-9-4 record with all the expectations that were expected from this team.
- Despite being benched for the third period Saturday night, the Buffalo Sabres still intend to play second-year defenseman Rasmus Dahlin Sunday, who has struggled in the eyes of head coach Ralph Krueger. “We’re making decisions for the team in the moment. It was a coaching room decision, not against Rasmus at all; it was for the other guys to just tighten things up,” said Krueger (according to The Athletic’s John Vogl). “It worked, but Rasmus will grow from it, learn from it and move forward quickly from it, I’m sure. … Just sometimes wanting too much maybe and finding the balance between his amazing genius and skill and what we need when. He’ll improve from it.”
- The Fourth Period’s Matteo Pasculli wonders whether Ottawa Senators goaltender Craig Anderson’s career with the Senators could be coming to an end. The 38-year-old veteran has been struggling this season with a 3.31 GAA and a .894 save percentage in 12 appearances this year. With Anderson losing hold of his job to Anders Nilsson, who has been steadier, Anderson could find himself on the trade block as a potential backup goalie for a playoff team. Of course, a playoff team would require some cap space to accommodate his $4.75MM contract, although Ottawa could retain some of that salary. He is, however, in the last year of his deal, which could be appealing to a team looking for a rental.