I mean, the season is a lost cause at this point, but you at least want the blue and white to be respectable and have a good showing, right? Win or lose, just a good effort, of course. But what you want and what you get are two entirely different things, and the Leafs, well.. it wasn’t very pretty.
This is a really good screen of Drew MacIntyre by Jimmy Hayes to make this play happen. The Leafs are otherwise not a total mess on this goal; Morgan Rielly looks out of position, but was making a defensive play at the blue line prior. Things could have gone better, but it wasn’t the usual catastrophe.
Jake Gardiner made an incredibly smart decision in this play to jump into the rush, which lead to an equally smart play by Tyler Bozak to give the puck up to James Van Riemsdyk to give the illusion of those two being the guys on the rush. Bozie trailed behind and regained the puck, sniping one past Roberto Luongo to tie the game. Very good overall play.
Brad Boyes is in front of the net for four seconds before tapping in this goal, and for approximately two of them he’s in an open position to take the shot. Not much focus is put on Bjugstad either, other than Bozak, and he’s allowed to run around after winning his puck battle. It’s an awful all-around play.
Just to sum this one up: Bjugstad gets into a puck battle with Paul Ranger, loses the puck, gets the puck back, keeps the same battle going, gets out of it, and because everyone assumed Ranger was going to beat him out, flies out from behind the net and beats MacIntyre. Brilliant.
Cody Franson gets blown by and Fleischmann goes on a rush with Bjugstad. MacIntyre correctly covers the shot, Phaneuf correctly covers the pass. With a higher chance of gain coming from the pass, Fleischmann goes for the saucer and it works. Phaneuf scraumbles, MacIntyre shifts over, but Bjugstand scores his second. A “didn’t work out” play again, with this one going to Franson if fingers must be pointed.
Bozak recieves a pass, and knowing he doesn’t have a clear shot due to traffic in the crease, immediately drops it for Paul Ranger. Ranger’s angle gives him a chance to go high left, and it works, releasing his sixth of the season while Luongo is still trying to find the puck.
The Leafs then proceeded to not score any more and lose the game.
Why The Leafs Lost
“Pride” and “compete” were the usual suspects in the post-game soundbites, but the reality of the fact is, they were heavily out controlled by the Florida Panthers. If you look at the shot attempt chart, it actually looks as if they went into “defend lead” mode after tying the game:
Whatever the case, the second and third goals showed some questionable mistakes by the defence, as they usually do, and the forwards had little to contribute. There is no excuse for being significantly out shot, out played, and exposed by one of the weaker teams in the league, unless it’s time to finally admit that this team, in its current set up, might just be one.
Sentimentally, I still think it’s really cool that Drew MacIntyre finally got his first NHL start. He’s been the definition of a journey man over the years, and at least in Toronto, has been a stellar person to have in the organization. These men are still chasing dreams, and he finally accomplished a big one for himself tonight.
Performance wise, I’ll give Tyler Bozak the nod tonight. He made two very intelligent plays in the process of making both Leafs goals happen, and even the goals against he was on the ice for seemed to involve him doing something sensible. He also set a career high in goals in a season, so he has that going for him as well.