Leafs Postgame: Columbust


This team does know that the Olympic Break is over, right? I mean, the first line is still chugging away as if they never missed a beat (because they didn’t) but the Leafs entered tonight having lost their first two games since returning. The opening twenty and final five minutes displayed a team that looked ready to snap the trend. The rest of the game displayed something that was worse than the opposite, which lead to a 2-1 loss.

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The Rundown

After a couple of minutes of the two teams trying to figure each other out, the Leafs started peppering the net. A shot by Phil Kessel nearly gave Toronto the first goal of the game, but Ryan Johansen chopped it away just before it crossed the goal line. The Leafs kept pressuring, having one of their more dominant periods of the season, but Sergei Bobrovsky repeatedly shut the door and kept the game at zeros after twenty.

In the second, the Leafs completely reversed all the momentum they developed. After a couple of minutes spent by both teams in the Neutral Zone, the Blue Jackets had complete control, culminating in Dalton Prout wiring a slapshot past James Reimer to open the scoring and give him his second of his career. Three minutes later, Artem Anisimov fired a wrist shot into the back of the net to give Columbus an insurance tally. They just kept coming too, giving the Leafs little room to so much as breathe.

The Leafs had hope in the final minutes of the game, as Mason Raymond let go of a screamer to break Bobrovsky’s shutout. Eventually pulling Reimer for an extra attacker, six Leafs fired at all cylinders in hopes of tying the game in the last seconds. A few Bobrovsky saves, missed nets, and blocked shots later, however, and the game was won by Columbus.

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Why The Leafs Lost

Fenwick chart for 2014-03-03 Blue Jackets 2 at Maple Leafs 0 - 3-14 2nd (1)

You can’t just let a game completely slip away like that. Toronto eventually got their act together and evened up the attempts in the final minutes, but desperation shots were at play once they got there. The team effort in the second period was the real life equivalent of a disconnected controller in an online game of NHL14, which is both inexcusable and the reason for both of Columbus’ goals.

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Blue Warrior

James Reimer was stellar, stopping 30 of 32 shots in his first start in over a month. There’s a few ways this could go; it could be the performance he needs to get back in the lineup regularly, it could be what attracts a team to trade for him in the next couple of days, or it could be meaningless. But the point is, his stats were good and he made a lot of key saves, including shutting down a manic scramble in front of the net in the third period.

Also, since both teams wear some blue in their uniforms, lets give credit to the discipline showed tonight. Just three minor penalties and no majors over the sixty minutes, and they all came in the first 22. 

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  • STAN

    Reimer was good but Bob was better tonight and won the game for the jackets. The leafs skaters had another mixed game and jackets were better.

    And where are all those people who said the leafs would win without Mclaren and Orr now? Nice narrative and this performance demonstrates that the leaf regulars are the problem and not some facepuncher that plays 2 minutes a night.

    I suppose we can now blame Clarkson, except the same problem was here last year when he was not. And I suppose we can blame Carlyle but the same problems of being outshot were here with Wilson. The bigger problem is most likely the leaf players at not being good at winning puck battles and playing defence.

    • Jeremy Ian

      “And I suppose we can blame Carlyle but the same problems of being outshot were here with Wilson.”

      No, they weren’t. What an odd thing to make up. Even in Wilson’s last season the shot differential wasn’t close to the depths it is in now.

  • Jeremy Ian

    The second period was hard to watch — as if we were back in November-December. First line aside, the offense is as mixed up as the defense.

    A lot now riding Bolland’s return. Played well with Raymond back in the day.

    Isn’t chopping the stick out of a goalie’s hands when he’s not handling the puck worth a call?

    I’ll be at the game in MSG on Wed with my son; would be great to see Reimer in net.

  • Jeremy Ian

    “Nice narrative and this performance demonstrates that the leaf regulars are the problem and not some facepuncher that plays 2 minutes a night.”

    Hey, nice strawman too!

    The complaint isn’t that Orr and McLaren are the cause of all the Leafs’ losses. The complaint is that having a terrible fourth line is that you’re playing with 75% of the roster of your opponent, which still happened again tonight anyway. It doesn’t matter which pylons are on the fourth line and ride the pine for entire periods, it matters that there are lineup spots taken up to keep the bench warm.