Leafs lose forgettable hockey game on last day of season

Colton Orr watches the third period – Graig Abel via NHL Interactive

It’s upsetting that the last three games of the Toronto Maple Leafs’ season were entirely devoid of meaning. Practically locked into the four spot, Randy Carlyle had the opportunity to skate new line combinations, start his backup goalie or get Jake Gardiner going. None of this happened, and while the Leafs had a couple of good efforts against Tampa Bay and Florida in a recent trip, they completely mailed in their last game of the season, emphasizing brawn over brains and playing an utterly embarrassing final game of the season as hockey fans across North America tuned out to watch Minnesota and Columbus.

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46 minutes in penalties in that third period. I had the game on mute so didn’t catch what happened to Clarke MacArthur and Frazer McLaren. Didn’t care. Once the Canadiens took a 3-1 lead with the Leafs only having taken 7 shots, you knew what kind of game it would be. Either they didn’t have the effort or the focus or their effort and focus was misguided. At puck drop, Ryan White, Brandon Prust, Colton Orr and McLaren were on the ice. While no fisticuffs ensued, at only a couple of points in the evening did you get the impression the Leafs were worried about hockey.

So yes. The shots were 23-7 when James Reimer was pulled. He wasn’t on his A-Game tonight—two goals went in that I didn’t have counted as chances (Andrei Markov’s and Tomas Plekanec’s) but he wasn’t the worst Leaf on the ice. About a dozen players can share that distinction, perhaps everybody but Phil Kessel, Nazem Kadri, Dion Phaneuf, Carl Gunnarsson, Mikhail Grabovski, Joe Colborne and Leo Komarov. I didn’t have time for the other guys on the ice.

Not a huge recap. Wanted to give a shoutout to John-Michael Liles and Mike Kostka. The Leafs were out-shot 10-2 with Kostka on the ice at evens, by far the worst mark of any Leaf, but somehow he escaped that without giving up a scoring chance at his end. Cody Franson and Mark Fraser looked worse if all you account for is replays. Whatever happened on the Lars Eller goal is a mystery to me…

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Four chances against Franson and Fraser. Doesn’t look like much, but there weren’t a lot of chances at either end. Just 6-6 the total at evens, with the Leafs having a slight edge in special teams situations. 3-1 after the first and at one point and it was 6-3 when James Reimer got pulled. Just a total off-night for the Leafs offence.

Part of the reason I don’t like Fraser in the lineup over Jake Gardiner is that Fraser’s talents are literally ‘collapsing’, and not much else. He doesn’t skate well with the puck, he doesn’t make an excellent lead pass and he can’t join the rush like Gardiner can. The fact that these three games went by without at least experimenting with a Gardiner and Franson pairing is ridiculous. I think that line could have been so good at one end of the rink that they’d be able to out-shoot the defensive inefficiencies they may have had.

Still, one of the reasons the Leafs had a low shot total was they kept missing the net on chances. Five missed nets out of ten chances, and didn’t really put an awful lot of pressure on Peter Budaj. The Leafs were out-shot 28-17 but counting only missed nets, it was 17-16. Some wayward shots in close, including a couple from Kadri, the only Leaf that was consistently buzzing around the net.

Lots of buzz but no sting, unfortunately. Four shots, all of them counting as scoring chances. Early in the game he had a great opportunity driving the puck to the front of the net. He and Phil Kessel are going to be great together next season when Tyler Bozak leaves…

Individual Scoring Chances:

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TARANNA Chances For Chances Vs. Chances +/-
Nazem Kadri 3 3 0
James van Riemsdyk 3 3 0
Phil Kessel 3 3 0
Joe Colborne 1 1 0
Joffrey Lupul 1 1 0
Nik Kulemin 1 1 0
Mikhail Grabovski 2 1 1
Clarke MacArthur 1 1 0
Leo Komarov 0 1 -1
Jay McClement 1 1 0
Colt Knorr 1 1 0
Frazer McLaren 1 1 0
Dion Phaneuf 2 2 0
Carl Gunnarsson 4 2 2
John-Michael Liles 2 0 2
Mike Kostka 1 0 1
Cody Franson 1 4 -3
Mark Fraser 2 4 -2
MONTREAL Chances For Chances Vs. Chances +/-
David Desharnais 2 1 1
Rene Bourque 2 1 1
Max Pacioretty 3 1 2
Tomas Plekanec 1 4 -3
Brian Gionta 1 4 -3
Michael Ryder 1 3 -2
Alex Galchenyuk 2 0 2
Brendan Gallagher 3 0 3
Lars Eller 3 0 3
Ryan White 0 1 -1
Brandon Prust 0 2 -2
Travis Moen 0 1 -1
PK Subban 4 1 3
Andrei Markov 3 1 2
Josh Gorges 1 4 -3
Raphael Diaz 0 3 -3
Jarred Tinordi 2 2 0
Francis Bouillon 2 1 1

Team Totals:

  1st 2nd 3rd Total
Toronto (EV) 2 (1) 3 (3) 5 (2) 10 (6)
Montreal (EV) 4 (3) 3 (3) 2 (0) 9 (6)


Three Stars:

  1. Brendan Gallagher
  2. Lars Eller
  3. Nazem Kadri

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