Maple Leafs concede three goals in first, lose 4-2 in Washington

Cam Charron
March 16 2014 04:30PM

coffeeaddict7_13

Me, watching Sunday afternoon hockey (except I use a french press)

A shorthanded Toronto Maple Leafs lineup lost a Sunday afternoon game in Washington, in more ways than one. The Leafs were shorthanded because they're missing some of their top players due to injuries, illnesses, as well as mysterious disappearances. The Leafs shorthanded group also gave up two powerplay goals to a dangerous Capitals powerplay in Period One, and while the Maple Leafs pressed later in the game, the Capitals were able to hold on for a 4-2 win against Toronto, plus an empty net goal.

Toronto made a game of it. They definitely made more of a game of it than you'd have expected after Washington took an early 3-0 lead in the first. The Leafs are score effects on steroids—when behind, the team opens up and skill shines through, and, what do you know? They're fun to watch and always seem to come back. When the Leafs take a lead, they clamp back into their shell, allow a billion shots, and teams always seem to find ways to come back on them. This Sunday afternoon game was one-half of the Leafs season in a nutshell, the half where the team is playing from behind.

WARNING: Game recap contains a spider infestation. Please email me recs for your most trusted extermintators.

THE RUNDOWN

CSN Washington colour guy Craig Laughlin played 549 games with Montreal, Washington, Los Angeles and Toronto. He has one of the worst voices for a colour guy among all NHL broadcasters and generally doesn't say many things worth saying. In one bizarre moment in the third period, his telestrator fell to the floor and two arrows sprang up on the screen for a few seconds. The Caps broadcast team is second in the league in making inside jokes that are foreign to viewers, behind only the Toronto team.

Still, Laughlin had a good line right after Troy Brouwer scored the 1-0 goal on a tic-tac-toe 3:34 in, with Jay McClement in the box for hooking:

"You can't cover execution of the Washington Capitals powerplay."

Ain't that the truth. The Capitals powerplay is automatic. Players are brought in to have success in distinct areas of the ice on the Capitals powerplay. Their puck movement is perfect and the only team that can shut it down is the Capitals themselves, if they don't execute:

troy brower goal

Brouwer was wide open in the slot because Nik Kulemin and Tyler Bozak have to cheat up towards the pointmen and take away the potential Mike Green-to-Alexander Ovechkin autogoal. The gamble is that Marcus Johansson doesn't make a perfect pass to Brouwer, but that isn't what happened. 1-0.

The Caps got goals from Jason Chimera, and another PPG from Joel Ward (Laughlin didn't have any other good lines after that. "I call this 'The Career Line' because everybody is having a career year") and took a 3-0 lead just 8:44 into the game. Against most teams, that's game over, but these are the 2013-2014 Toronto Maple Leafs, and the regular laws of nature don't apply.

AAAAAAHHHH SPIDERS

aaaah spiders

THE NEAR-COMEBACK

The Leafs were out-shot 13-1 in the first 17 minutes of the game, and the Capitals took 16 unblocked shot attempts to Toronto's 3. Shots, though, just have a way of going in for the Leafs, and Troy Bodie put them on the board late in the first period after a series of fortunate bounces led to Bodie having the puck on its edge, right in the slot:

In the second, the notable even was Dion Phaneuf's dipping goal 8:05 in to pull the Leafs back to within one. Toronto actually made a game of it, shots-wise, out-shooting the Capitals 20-6 in the second period. The Caps have had their own puck possession issues and let the Leafs back into the game.

In the third, James Reimer took over, with a couple of big stops late, including flashing the leather on a Mike Green shot with 4:33 to play on a Capitals two-on-one. Moments later, he stopped Jason Chimera on a breakaway (who had somehow managed to skate right through Jake Gardiner) and stopped two shots on the ensuing Capitals powerplay, giving Toronto a chance. The Leafs weren't able to generate much offence or any real chances after killing off the Gardiner penalty, and Brouwer's bank shot off the boards found its way into the back of the net for a 4-2 Washington win.

WHY THE LEAFS LOST

Couple of bad penalties early and the Capitals executed. Other than the goals for, the goals had the added effect of keeping the puck away from Toronto's skill players until the final 50 minutes of the game, and those skilled players didn't exactly make the most of their chances. Phil Kessel had four shots on net, and no other Leafs forward had more than two.

Through two periods, eight Capitals had a Corsi For % of 60 or better, while nine Leafs were 40% or under. Adam Oates isn't a real "matchup" coach like Randy Carlyle is, so this isn't a case of the Leafs being rolled over on by two superior lines. 

Fenwick chart for 2014-03-16 Maple Leafs 2 at Capitals 4

There's our ExtraSkater game graph. If only the game existed from the second period-on. You also would have liked to see the Leafs mount more of an attack in the third period late, but they didn't really press until the late-going in the game.

But puck possession at evens only paints one picture. The Leafs just didn't have it on the powerplay. They got 8 shots in 6 minutes (good!) but failed to score on any of them (bad!) and were run over by the Capitals PP. The late penalty to Gardiner didn't help, and really foiled Toronto's chances at a better comeback.

So, another one of those games that the Leafs were lucky to be in, but then again, probably deserved a better fate than they earned especially after the way it started. Still, they're 2-2 on this tough road trip, so you can't really complain about the results.

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Cam Charron is a BC hockey fan that writes about hockey on many different websites including this one.
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#1 Derek
March 16 2014, 06:10PM
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The fenwick chart is hilarious. Those two plateaus are ridiculous.

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#2 STAN
March 16 2014, 06:39PM
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Didn't see it. But I'd say Bodie is a keeper.

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#4 leaferfan
March 16 2014, 09:00PM
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I thought Reimer played a good game. And for much of the season to me he has played well. But then I look at his SV% either in this game or across the season and I have to concede he is an NHL average goalie that can get on a hot streak like against the last LA game or during the playoffs last year.

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#5 Cam Thornton
March 17 2014, 06:26AM
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@leaferfan

Just....no. You look at his SV% and that's what makes you come to this conclusion? So his save percentage in this game was .906, meaning he had a slightly less than average game I guess if you're just looking at the numbers. But of the 3 goals he gave up, I can't say I really blame Reimer for any of them. First power play, you have a guy wide open in the slot of the PP. The 2nd, he stopped the first attempted and first rebound, while finally giving up the third wack. And that third one, you see JVR do that move all the time for a goal. Was Reimer supposed to hold off Penner and this back door?

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#6 RDS
March 17 2014, 10:41AM
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@leaferfan

Hey, if you're going to look at SV% for a single game (and holy moly you shouldn't), why not take it one step farther and observe that Reimer was .963 at 5 on 5. PLAN THE PARADE!

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#7 Reimerfan
March 17 2014, 01:33PM
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RDS wrote:

Hey, if you're going to look at SV% for a single game (and holy moly you shouldn't), why not take it one step farther and observe that Reimer was .963 at 5 on 5. PLAN THE PARADE!

Wow!! Sure is nice to another Reimer beleiver out there, Reimer didn't stand chance once they brought in Bernier....and its a shame because he has what it takes to up there with the best, look how far he's been knocked down, he was tied to Rash for 3rd spot and look where they put him now....he got to that spot because he is good and deserves better than to be a butt of everyones jokes, including the Coach who made fun of Reimer regarding who he was when he was taken back to the bench before returning to the net against the Kings, or Kadri to Bernier about taking his pads and putting them on...or looks like a geek when he looks to the big man upstairs or he looks like howdy doody on and on...it really is sad that he gets no respect for being who he is and for doing great things with this team only to be tossed aside for Bernier....

Anways...it's Reimer time once more, lets see if the team throws him to the wolfs again so to speak....

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#8 Reimerfan
March 18 2014, 08:39AM
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All I want to say is if we want to win tonight than this team has to ALL come out to play and compete, if they do not play in front of Reimer again tonight as they didn't do against the Capitals we will be on the loosing end again..To once again lay it all on Reimers shoulders to steal the game for us, is wrong that's not Hockey, than why even have a team, might as well play the whole game himself. Alot is Rifing on this game tonight and Reims is in the hotsit with another hungry Goalie just waiting to take his spot...seems unreal how nuch Reims has had to deal with this year, first Bernier,than his team not putting their heart into the games in front of hin, Bernier going down and than even his spot now is in question with another Goalie breathing down his neck...any wonder he has anything in him...But that is what makes Reimer great, because he can battle his way through alot crap and still smile and still stand with his team mates....He deserves this game tonight, I pray that the team is there for him and they WIN this game big time.....GO REIMER GO!!!!

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#9 Reimerfan
March 18 2014, 08:41AM
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All I want to say is if we want to win tonight than this team has to ALL come out to play and compete, if they do not play in front of Reimer again tonight as they didn't do against the Capitals we will be on the loosing end again..To once again lay it all on Reimers shoulders to steal the game for us, is wrong that's not Hockey, than why even have a team, might as well play the whole game himself. Alot is Rifing on this game tonight and Reims is in the hotsit with another hungry Goalie just waiting to take his spot...seems unreal how nuch Reims has had to deal with this year, first Bernier,than his team not putting their heart into the games in front of hin, Bernier going down and than even his spot now is in question with another Goalie breathing down his neck...any wonder he has anything in him...But that is what makes Reimer great, because he can battle his way through alot crap and still smile and still stand with his team mates....He deserves this game tonight, I pray that the team is there for him and they WIN this game big time.....GO REIMER GO!!!!

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