October 19 2013 08:52PM
Mike Kostka. Mike freaking Kostka. You can't make this stuff up.
Many Leafs fans are pretty aware of how lucky the Leafs were to be 6-2-0 heading into this game, but there was still the stubborn group that said the Leafs are awesome no matter what. Hell, even Randy Carlyle said if they keep playing the way they do they'll get creamed by teams like the Hawks.
Hey guess what? The Blackhawks outshot the Leafs 40-20 and the Leafs lost 3-1. That often happens when the other team doubles your shot total. Carlyle called it. Anybody could have called that. Mike Kostka scoring the game-winner? That's just the universe being a dick.
The Leafs were very lucky to escape the first period with the game tied 0-0. The Blackhawks didn't exactly overwhelm the Leafs with nine shots, but the Leafs only mustered three on Corey Crawford. Forget what you think about Crawford as a goalie - that means that if the Hawks played with no goalie in the first period, the Leafs would only be up 3-0. But the Leafs survived thanks to Jonathan Bernier…
The second period was a tire fire. The Blackhawks completely outclassed the Leafs, outshooting them 20-6. For those of you with basic math skills, that means Chicago got a shot per minute in the second stanza. It's ok to lean on your goaltender a bit and hope he helps steal one, but this is nuts.
And that's why I don't fault Bernier for the first goal he allowed, which was a stinker. Yes, he mishandled an easy rebound off his glove (which analysts would have killed James Reimer for), but sometimes goals like that happen. That was 5:32 into the period. Luckily, Nazem Kadri managed to bag a power play goal less than a minute and a half later to tie the game.
Enter Mike Kostka.
People rip on Kostka, but the Leafs' choice to sign him last year was a good one at the time. He was a scoring machine in the minors, putting up 92 points combined over the 2010-11 and 2011-12 seasons. It simply didn't translate at the NHL level for Kostka, as he failed to score a single goal in 35 games with the Leafs last season, and added just eight assists. This is only his second game of the season with Chicago, too. But of course he scores the eventual game-winner for the Blackhawks in this one because Leafs and of course and Leafs.
The shots were an even 11-11 in the third, but the Leafs couldn't generate enough noise. Brandon Pirri scored a late power play goal, and that's all it took.
WHY THE LEAFS LOST
Because contrary to popular belief, Jonathan Bernier isn't from the Matrix.
Seriously, if you get outshot 40-20, you're probably going to lose. The Leafs didn't have many answers. Patrick Sharp and Marian Hossa combined for 13 shots and they weren't even the ones who scored. The Blackhawks were a well-oiled machine and showed why they're the defending Stanley Cup champions.
Paul Ranger was on the ice for every goal the Blackhawks scored, and his defensive partner Jake Gardiner was on for two of them, as well. They began the season terribly, but looked a little more comfortable after a few games. In this game? Oof. Here's all three Chicago goals. They look totally lost.
Sure it was Bernier goof-up, but Bickell just kind of says "Don't mind me, gents!"
EDIT: Commenter Lonny Bohonos points out that Gardiner and Ranger actually stuck to their assignments on the first goal and that Bickell should have been Bozak's guy.
When Brandon Bollig looks like Tomas Holmstrom, you're doing it wrong.
I don't have a punchline for this one. You just watched it.
How can you not make Jonathan Bernier the Blue Warrior in this one? Yes, he let in a stinker, but he made 37 saves. Jonathan Bernier held up his end of the bargain and gave the Leafs a chance to win this game. Corey Crawford isn't immortal. If the Leafs got 5-10 more shots, who knows what would have happened.
Special mention goes to Nazem Kadri. He scored the Leafs' only goal and was the only Leaf to win more than 50% of his draws (57%). He only played 17:32, but with the Hawks shooting at will, the Leafs played Tyler Bozak until his legs fell off just trying to keep the shots down (22:46).
- James Reimer was the backup goalie for this game. He practiced yesterday after suffering a knee to the head from teammate Josh Leivo on Thursday. This looks like good news all around. Reimer seems ok, but the Leafs wisely chose to play Bernier over him and not rush him back. They might be wise to start Bernier in the next game, as well.
- This was the Leafs' ninth game of the season. That means their next game is their tenth. That means David Clarkson's going to make his Leafs debut soon. OMG.
- Dave Bolland got his Stanley Cup ring. Maybe he'll win one another one as a Leaf. *tear up* *whimper* *smile and pretend everything is ok*
- The Leafs were outshot 40-20 in this ga- oh I mentioned that.
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