Power outage ‘frustrating’
Sitting at his locker, in a quiet moment between practice and hustlingto the airport for another road game, Toronto’s Jason Blake admits thisseason “has been as frustrating as all hell.”
Sitting at his locker, in a quiet moment between practice and hustling to the airport for another road game, Toronto’s Jason Blake admits this season “has been as frustrating as all hell.”
The winger, his pre-Toronto, 40-goal prowess a fading memory, has been a passenger on Toronto’s death spiral to the depths of the NHL standings. Heightening the aggravation in his self-assessment is that, even at 36, his game hasn’t changed, just the results.
His effort, desire and willingness to take punishment, in his mind, are still there. So are the shots on net — a whopping 61 — but success is almost non-existent both individually and for the team. Blake has just two goals in 18 games. The Leafs have just three wins.
“Chemistry is something formed over a period of time and we just haven’t found it. Believe me, it’s not fun,” Blake said before the Leafs jetted to Ottawa for tonight’s game against the Senators.
“In a lot of games we do a lot of good things. But watch some of the games and we look like we’re lost out there. Should our record be better? I mean, yeah, we think we’ve done a lot of good things … but in saying that, I think it’s just important to be ready at the drop of the puck. We want to make the Air Canada Centre a tough place for people to come, not an easy place, a point-night type thing.”
Blake, despite averaging 17 minutes a night while skating on the top two lines, has yet to score a goal 5-on-5 and he is, while not alone, representative of Toronto’s inability to create offence apart from power-play situations.
Matt Stajan, the Leafs’ off-and-on first-line centre, also does not have a goal at even strength. Mikhail Grabovski, the team’s other top offensive centre, has just one. Veteran offensive wingers Niklas Hagman and Lee Stempniak have but two each.
With 25 goals 5-on-5, the Leafs have the lowest production in the league at even strength and it’s destroying any hopes they harbour to make the post-season. It’s one of the reasons they’ve given up the first goal in 16 of those 18 games and fallen behind 2-0 in nine of them.
If this Leafs team is indeed better than its record, which the players claim, and they don’t want to write off the campaign before December, that has to change immediately.