A revelation has started this season as the rebuilding job done by General Manager Brian Burke has finally started to show results. The question is, will this team be able to continue selling out of Leaf tickets heading into the 2012 year? I would have to believe that they can.
Coming Into January
The Maple Leafs started the 2011-2012 regular season red hot. Game after game, Leafs tickets got harder to find. Led by the third rated offense in the league, the team found itself well within the top eight playoff positions coming into December. As with any rebuilding team, however, depth proved to be a problem when injuries started to hit key players. While no stars were taken out, strong role players Tyler Bozak, John-Michael Liles and Colby Armstrong were all put on injured reserve. Liles and Armstrong were the most troubling because of concussions that could hold them out for extended periods.
All of this led to a rough December and the team staggered to a 4-9 record. This dropped them out of the playoff positions in the East. With numerous off days over the holiday season, fans hoped that their team would rest and then get back to its winning ways. They surely did and Leaf tickets started getting harder to find once again.
January saw them go 4-2 heading into tonight’s game against the red hot Ottawa Senators. The results revealed a hot start to January followed up by a two game blip.
January 3: 5-4 home win over Tampa Bay
January 5: 4-0 home win over Winnipeg
January 7: 4-3 home win over Detroit
January 10: 2-0 home win over Buffalo
January 13: 3-2 loss at Buffalo
January 14: 3-0 home loss to New York Rangers
The weakness of this team all season has been its defense. Led by Dion Phaneuf, recently named the most overrated player in the league, the defense gives up boatloads of goals at 3.1 a game and are even worse on power play defense where opponents convert at staggering 25.8 percent. During January, however, the team posted no less than three shutouts in the first 6 games. This left them with a 1.5 goals against average for the first two weeks of January, a huge improvement. While they are unlikely to continue posting shutouts, dropping the goals against average by even a half a goal is a huge improvement.
The biggest negative hanging over the team happened when Brian Burke announced that he intends to make major moves before the trade deadline. This seems to have unsettled the team as players wait on pins and needles to see if they will be moved. Many suggest that Burke will make big moves for the stars of his former team, the Anaheim Ducks. Getting players like Ryan Getzlaf will not be cheap and that means many of the current team could end up in Anaheim on a last place team. That’s enough to unsettle any team, which is something you want to stay away from. We would like to see that the players are 100% focused on the game and entertaining those that bought Leaf tickets that night, rather than wondering if their name is up on the chopping block.
Time waits for no one and that includes this teams players. Their recent winning ways have them a single point out of a playoff position. The coming schedule is busy with 5 games in 8 nights before six days off at the end of the month over the All Star Break. A good run can get the team back into a playoff position. A bad one can drop them farther back behind other teams trying to make the playoffs. All and all, that makes it an important week for the team. Make sure you buy your Leafs tickets now, so that you can cheer this team on to victory.