Commentary

Fallen Leafs have porous D to thank

Tortured Toronto fans have been scorned by poor goaltending, but that's not all

Originally Published: October 26, 2009
By Richard Pollock | Puck Prospectus
KomisarekClaus Andersen/Getty Images

The Toronto Maple Leafs' struggles on defense this season have been extremely surprising to some, but not to Puck Prospectus, which pegged the Leafs as one of the NHL's worst teams in projected goals against this season. Those projections came despite the roster overhaul carried out by new GM Brian Burke, who sought particularly to shore up the team's defense.

With the additions of Mike Komisarek and Francois Beauchemin to the group's top four, it looked as though the Leafs would have a healthy balance of size, speed and offensive ability on the back end. At least, that's how it seemed. As the team's 0-7-1 start vividly illustrates, Toronto's defense has been anything but solid.

As the early-season media storm indicated, part of the Leafs' defensive struggles have been attributable to the team's goaltending. While the opening-night tandem of Vesa Toskala and Jonas Gustavsson has battled injuries in the early going, neither has performed well. Add in replacement Joey MacDonald and the picture gets no brighter. None of the three keepers supports a save percentage above .900, while Toskala sports a wretched .812 mark in his four games.

Making those figures all the more dubious: The Leafs are actually 11th in the NHL with only 28.6 shots against per game. However, some would attribute that total to the fact that teams gain leads on the Leafs and then sit back to protect the lead rather than consistently attack. Regardless, the Leafs need more production out of their netminders, as well as their defensemen.


To see Toronto's other causes for concern, as well as some possible fixes for the future, you must be an ESPN Insider.

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