By Mike Harrington
The HBO cameras are going to start to follow the Toronto Maple Leafs around next week for "24/7," the acclaimed show that chronicles the two teams playing in the Jan. 1 Winter Classic. The cameras may get an eyeful if the Leafs continue to be as bad as they've been lately.
After a 10-4 October, the Leafs are just 4-5-2 in November. They've given up 11 goals in the last two games, a 6-0 home disaster against Columbus and Wednesday's 6-5 shootout loss at Pittsburgh. They're 1-2-1 in the last four games, and the lone win was a shootout victory over Washington that saw goaltender James Reimer make 49 saves.
Reimer will be in goal tonight in First Niagara Center and figures to get plenty of work.
The Leafs lead the NHL with 36.1 shots on goal against per game (the Sabres are 29th at 36.0). They've outshot their opponents just four times in 25 games (the Sabres have done it three times in 26). This is a team, remember, that had Boston beaten in Game Seven of the first round of the playoffs last year until blowing a three-goal lead and losing in overtime.
In Wednesday's game, the Leafs blew a 4-1 lead and were outshot 19-0 over the third period and overtime. Yes, 19 to zip.
"I don't think you need rocket science to figure out that if you continue to give up five and six goals, you're not going to get many points," said coach Randy Carlyle. "We have to buckle down definitely in that area and get our defensive game going to a higer level. Part of that is to create a little more in the offensive zone as far as time in there."