Breaking Down A Break Down

The Toronto Maple Leafs fell to the New Jersey Devils 4-3 in overtime on a goal that could only be described as mind boggling awful. While Jonas Gustavsson has to wear the goat horns for three of the four goals – not so bad you might say if you’re Gustavsson’s relative – the first goal was the Leafs’ defensive efforts on the season in a nutshell. Ok, maybe the bad goaltending is the nutshell. Or maybe the Leafs’ season has two nuts in one shell. Whatever. Come after the jump for a highly technical breakdown.

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Here are the Leafs at the end of a successfully killed off penalty. Steckel, unfortunately, wasn’t able to get to the point to catch up to the puck partly because he was properly positioned low in the zone but also because he wears cement insoles. The puck was sent down the boards but the Leafs are still in good shape with Phaneuf heading back into the play.

Gosh, that is some beautiful defensive coverage. Every Devil in danger areas is covered and Phaneuf is cruising in so that he can hopefully crush somebody. Gunnarsson has Zubrus contained and Gardiner, seeing that Crabb has Sykora covered is headed towards the back of the net to cover rookie sensation Adam Henrique.

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Zubrus could only push the puck along and Henrique’s only option is to toss a blind pass. Although the puck is going to a dangerous area things will be okay because Phaneuf will likely crush whoever walks into it. Sadly, no one will be able to walk into that area because Joey Crabb has the only person close covered.

Oh shit. Sykora got away from Crabb but it’s okay because Phaneuf eventually read the play and Gustavsson is squaring up to the shot. Phew, I was worried.

Everything is still under control. Goose has made the save, likely smothering the puck, and Phaneuf is now between Sykora and the net which is good because it allows Joey Crabb to continue napping.

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Hey! How’d Phaneuf end up behind Sykora? And why did Goose kick out a rebound when the shot hit him in the chest? I don’t like where this is going…

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  • Phaneuf looks brain dead out there a lot. But it’s OK, he’s Dion. And three goals were stoppable by Monster. So he can do better. But if all three of those same goals had been scored with Schenn on the ice, many Leaf fans would call for his demotion to Reading. Can’t blame goalies, the other D man, or lazy forwards when Schenn is on the ice; can we?

    Phaneuf needs a game or two off, maybe, to get his head on right. Having Gunnarson back helps a lot, but if our forwards don’t backcheck anymore, who can we beat? Goalies can only be blamed so much when only two defencemen play positionally well, few forwards backcheck, and the coach has no system.