Rangers fail to foil Leafs attempt to tank

John Lofranco
March 24 2012 09:39PM

...or something like that. My fiancée was watching Whitney, and somehow that was more compelling than the Leafs game tonight. Then because my laptop is from the mid-2000s, it crashed while trying to load some game video. Both of these events were more fulfilling than watching the Leafs tonight. Across the jump I will explain why.

The game was a back and forth affair. I was back and forth between Twitter, email and Facebook, looking for something interesting to do while the game was "on" or "happening" or "being played" if you want to call it that. On the plus side, tonight was as good an effort I've seen from Mike Komisarek. Sure, the boxcars were light (0-0-0, 0) but he's a defensive defenseman. Look at his Fenwick and Corsi: a solid 0. Can't complain about that. If you're Mike Komisarek, you know you've had a good game if no one notices you're there.

On the other hand, (the real life hand), Joey Crabb did have a fine game. He was one of five Leafs with a positive Fenwick (+2) and he and his linemates seemed to have their way with the Rangers at times, which is odd considering his linemates are David Steckel and Tim Connolly, and he is Joey Crabb. Crabb scored a goal by going to the net, and while his nice inside-outside deke was foiled by Lundqvist, the puck banked in off his foot, and voilà, a hero is born. Tim Connolly scored a nifty rebound goal to tie the game early in the 3rd period as Crabb took the puck to the net again. Connolly also scored a nice one in the shootout, too.

Meanwhile, Phil Kessel helped open the scoring with a meek, awkward and shy rush up the ice, which he finished off with a pass over to defenceman Cody Franson, apparently playing forward on that shift, who tapped it by the goalie. Kessel also played over 25min. Shrinking violet, that one.

Speaking of goalies, let's talk, Jonus Gustavsson. As Jon Stewart would say, Jonus, meet me at camera three. This is hockey, right Jonus? Not soccer. Explain to me why on every goal scored on you tonight (with one exception), you are guessing. You are leaning the wrong way on every goal. The first one may have been a bit of a tip, and the second one Kadri put the puck on Dubinsky's stick, but that last goal you just whiffed. Maybe it went through you and you just slid on by, making it seem like you were not purposely trying to stop the puck, but merely hoping it would hit you. Both of the shootout goals you just flat out guessed--and maybe that's ok, cause the shoot out is kind of like penalty kicks, except the net is a lot smaller. A lot smaller, Jonus. Did you play bandy as a kid, maybe? I suppose in each instance you can explain it away. But you should know where the puck is, and when it's coming at you. Maybe you don't stop them all, but at least be in a position to stop it. Make it be a good shot, not just "a shot" that can score on you.

Maybe I'm being harsh. Here are the goals. Judge for yourselves. It wasn't a game that seemed, at first glance, to be lost by the goaltending (we know what those look like). It was certainly a game there for the taking, offered up by the Rangers, perhaps out of pity, perhaps to undermine what might end up being a good draft pick. It doesn't matter anyway.

So...Leafs lose 4-3 in the shootout. More about the shootout on Monday, when I'll look into whether or not the Leafs (or any team) could benefit from having a shootout "specialist." Until then, keep your powder dry!

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I live in Montreal, which is tough for a Leafs fan. To pass the time, I teach writing at Concordia University, and I coach a distance running club called Montreal Endurance. I've been published in the Toronto Star, National Post, Reader's Digest, and Canadian Running Magazine, as well as online at Maisonneuve.org
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