January 23 2014 09:16PM
Pictured above is a win expectancy graph. They're very popular in baseball and football, used to determine each team's odds of winning the game at certain points. What I've mocked up is approximately what the Leafs win expectancy was tonight. Fell down early, caught back up, and then got to about a third of the way through the second period before a big "KER-SPLAT!"
There isn't much to write about here. I assume plenty of people will have their #hotsportstake reserved for the actions of Colt Knorr, Nazem Kadri and Antoine Roussel, and I'm sure many others will talk about how the Dallas Stars Twitter team roasted the Leafs and their association with Justin Bieber tonight. I might also expect Steve Dangle to get into it in the LFR. These postgame thingies are normally brief and we usually have something humorous to talk about, but, er, not tonight apparently.
No, tonight, enjoy my stick figures, and the fact the Leafs are 6-1 in the last seven games. They got mauled by Dallas in Dallas, dropping a game 7-1.
In such a lousy game, it makes no sense to really drag down specifically players, but we'll do our best to the point the game got way out of whack. At the start of the game, the teams traded chances early, with Tyler Bozak, Alex Chiasson and Carter Ashton all coming so close to making the score 1-0 for their respective teams, but it wasn't to be. The score opened when Nazem Kadri and Cody Franson connected on an awful clearing attempt, giving Jamie Benn a wide open shot from just under the Bowman Line. He has a really good shot, and made it 1-0.
Perhaps the only positive point of the night came seconds later with Nik Kulemin re-directing a Carl Gunnarsson shot:
After that, though, the wheels fell off. Cody Eakin, on a two-on-one, took a shot that hit Jake Gardiner's shin pads and bounced right back on to his stick (incidentally, "Corsi" was originally developed to measure a goalie's workload in a night, the idea being that a goalie had to set himself for every shot attempt, not just those on goal. Eakin's original attempt was the perfect fake—it made Jonathan Bernier go down to the ice, and then back up to reset himself, but Eakin's second shot made its way past Bernier as he was coming up).
In the second, the wheels fell off completely. Valeri Nichushkin tipped in a long Jamie Benn shot, and that goal caused Randy Carlyle to pull Jonathan Bernier for the second time in Bernier's last eight starts. It looked like it may have hit something else, but either way, no real chance. Carlyle responded to that goal by putting his fourth line on the ice, giving Colt Knorr a chance to take a stupid penalty, which the Stars scored on thanks to a Shawn Horcoff breakaway, who somehow made his way behind both Gunnarsson and Dion Phaneuf. The real question: with all the talent the Stars have, why the blazes is Horcoff even on their powerplay?
At 4-1, the Leafs caught a break with Ryan Garbutt tripping up Carter Ashton, and they perhaps had the chance to bring the scoreline back to within reach with a quick powerplay goal, but a bad turnover by Mason Raymond set up another odd-man rush and a Rich Peverley shorthanded goal.
Another baseball convention, other than win expectancy graphs, is showing a video of a shrimp running on a treadmill after a walk ends the game with the bases loaded and the score tied:
I couldn't help but think this video summed up the Leafs tonight.
WHY THE LEAFS LOST
Couldn't skate, couldn't defend, couldn't score and couldn't get a save. Jonathan Bernier was brilliant in the teams' first game against one another back in Toronto on December 5—he stopped 48 of 50 and pretty well won the game for the Maple Leafs. Bernier stopped just 10 of 13 shots in this game (.769 save percentage) and Reimer stopped just 11 of 15 (.733). Feels weird to blame the goaltenders after all they've done for the Leafs, but if they aren't on their game… well, this is sort of what happens:
If we're looking for positives, the Leafs held Dallas to under 30 shots? (Unfortunately, Toronto generated just 25 of their own and despite a hectic first, Kari Lehtonen only Let-one-in [get it???] and didn't have a lot to do on the night).
Kudos to Justin Bieber for his arrest yesterday, essentially taking all the heat off the Leafs tonight. This is what will be the focus on the highlight shows tonight:
And also this:
Touché, Dallas Stars. Touché.
NUMB3RS AND NOTES:
The game got out of hand midway through the first.
Still, this is only the first loss in seven games for Toronto. They have a chance to erase that in Winnipeg Saturday. Streaks happen over the course of a season, and so do bad losses. Let's not sweat them so much, but have the ability to poke a little fun at what happened in Dallas. We're all in this (somewhat) together.
Considering for the LGD today I used one Will Ferrell meme, it's appropriate to end the post with another...