Leafs Postgame – Penguins fly, Leafs fall

That wasn’t good. It was bad, even. 

The Rundown

Pens-Leafs_oct112014

For the first couple of minutes, the Leafs looked pretty decent. 

For the rest of the minutes, they didn’t. 

Patric Hornqvist, who looks like he will score all the points ever playing with Sid, opened the scoring at 6:44 of the first. 

Exactly one minute later, this happened:

Sid had an absolutely dominant game. He was on another planet tonight. 

The Pens added another one to end the first up 3-0. It was bad. 

The Leafs came out in the second with a bit more energy, actually possessing the puck in short little spurts. Eventually, that lead to this beauty.

 

The Leafs seemed to have a tiny bit of momentum afterwards, and then Evgeni Malkin did this:

Holy moly what a shot. Remember, just a few days ago Malkin didn’t even know if he was game-ready.

After that goal, Glenn Healy sold Gamecentre a lot. I felt like I was trying to buy a used car. Except that I wasn’t at the used car dealership, the salesman just walked into my living room. 

Brandon Sutter put the Pens up 5-1, and Tyler Bozak eventually added another one for the Leafs off of an incredible pass from Stuart Percy.

After that, JVR fought Simon Despres. Yay, some emotion. 

Blue Warrior

Joffrey Lupul had a pretty solid game tonight. Him and Kadri were the most dangerous forwards in blue and white tonight, continuing from where they left off in the first game. They were so good together that Carlyle put Kessel on their right wing for the duration of the third. Unfortunately, nothing really came of it because the Penguins had the puck the entire time.

Notes

  • Is Kessel hurt? He has looked pretty bad. He took two penalties tonight which is very odd for him, the second one being a hook that he would normally not have to make because of his speed.
  • If Franson is healthy to play tomorrow, who do you take out of the lineup for him? You can’t take out Percy – he, along with Morgan Rielly, has been the bright spot on the blue line
  • Kadri has been really good so far, he was one of two forwards at 50% corsi or better. Winnik was the other one.
  • Richard Panik had an okay first game as a Leaf. He got involved physically. I’d like to see him given a look on the second line. Why? Because…
  • Brandon Kozun was invisible tonight. I love the underdog story, and he’s a ball of energy, but he was completely out of his element with Lupul and Kadri

No Time to Sulk

The Leafs are back tomorrow, as they visit the Rangers for New York’s home opener at 7:00 (CityTV). They also lost today (5-2 to Columbus), so expect their energy to be high looking to start off positive at home.

Join us for our game preview tomorrow!

  • Poluza

    Kozun was started on the 4th with Holland and Panik. He ended up playing only 1:56 with Lupul, 1:25 with Kadri.

    But I agree that he wasn’t very visible. It’s a difficult question as to who your last top 6 forward is with this lineup–at this point, I think the best bet is Winnik.

  • jasken

    Intelligent leaf fans, no it is not an oxymoron knew that this would most likely be surprise, surprise, a non playoff team. As a leaf fan going on almost 60 years, I don’t think I’ve seen a club so disorganized from the feuding owners, a lame duck g.m. who had his assistants fired, a coach who was retained despite going 2 and 12 at the end of the season, who also had his coaches fired on him.

    A President who doesn’t have the keys to the wash room as has been shown by Carlyle and Nonis not being fired. Plus a hopeless crew of scouts, the old school boys, Morrison, Watt, Penny etc.

    A so called team leader who comes to camp in terrible shape and actually admits that he will play his usual game of strictly offence as he has this very long leash and playing 200 feet just isn’t his style.

    A captain who defensively is regressing. A 7 goal man with the worst iron clad contract ever signed moving up to the first line tonight. Jake Gardiner who defensively is afraid of his own shadow and offensively is doing nothing.

    Ten new additions who were the bottom ten additions. Yep the other ten the same old group of players who helped this 18 wheeler go off the cliff last year are once again the leaders.

    The basic fact this is not a playoff team.

    Watching Bernier scream at Phaneuf for screening him on Malkin’s shot was classic.

    Quite frankly whether leaf fans like or not and obviously some don’t with the throwing of the sweater on the ice, this is a club that will have a serious shot at a top 4 pick.

    How you get rid of Kessel, Phaneuf, and Clarkson is almost impossible. So leaf fans its been 47 going on 48, but be prepared for several more years till the leafs can draft a Connor McDavid who apparently works his butt off, is a team leader and a winner. In other words the antithesis of Phil Kessel.

    • MightyRutabaga

      If you think Kessel and Phaneuf are the problem, then your 60 years as a fan are irrelevant because in all that time you never learned to identify the strengths and weaknesses of a team.

      For one, Phaneuf has never had a clear role on the team, is being played on his wrong side and is being over-used. He is still a respectable top-pairing defenseman (not elite, mind you) who, with a partner who is capable of eating those big minutes, would be more widely regarded as a good, if not great player. His natural game was always as an offensive defender, as we witnessed by his excellent years in Calgary, but we’ve had him be our top offensive and defensive guy and that simply doesn’t work because he’s not one of those 5 or so defensemen league-wide who can actually do that. Nothing anywhere has indicated that he is regressing, either, unless your word is to be taken as a statistical truth.

      Kessel plays the game of a typical top-line winger. He’s fast, has a great shot and focuses on taking the puck on the breakout and driving the offense on the rush, as is his style of play. He’s very widely respected by other teams as an elite player but somehow not good enough for fans, like you, who don’t recognize that kind of thing. I think the word heart gets overused, often in conjunction with the word grit, and is used to describe scrappy players with aggressive tendencies, which is not indicative of passion for the game but rather an issue with temperament or a lack of ability.

      Clarkson is self-explanatory. He benefited strongly from being parked in front of the net in NJ to deflect pucks while guys like Parise and Kovalchuk drove the possession game with their strong cycle game— something that the Leafs do not possess, likely due to a lack of coaching. the contract was a stupid one who did not recognize that the strength of this player is incongruent with the Leafs’ play style.

      Let me ask you this, does Patrick Kane or Sidney Crosby play much of a 200-foot game? They’re both offensive superstars and they do just fine where they are (despite Crosby’s disappearance come play-off time of late). Leafs scouting has never been a problem, we just never keep our picks. Steen, for example, is fantastic for the Blues.

      To address your point about coaching and management: it is widely accepted that Nonis is more or less just a figurehead within the organization having had most of his executive decision making power stripped. Carlyle not getting fired is most likely due to a lack of suitable replacements and a belief that he can follow instructions and coach a system that is not inherently his own. Time will tell if that is true, given we are less than a week into a potentially 9 month long season.

      Give it time, like we never have, and maybe we’ll dig ourselves out of this hole that knee-jerk reactions and short-sighted decision making in previous generations of this team have dug for us.

  • jasken

    Now now now…

    I’ve already posted once on this website during the summer, warning the nice folks of this website not to get ahead of themselves and lower their expectations for the upcoming season, and all I got for response was how dumb I was, that I didn’t know a damn thing about Hockey, blablabla.

    At the time, the Leafs got Winnik, Santorelli, Booth, and all this nice rotten wood to fill their bottom 6.

    All I heard from some Leafs fans (about 90% of them) was : «OMG, great possession players eh! We sure are gonna get better!»

    It is true it’s been only 2 games, but gosh this team is awful. I can see only 4 to 5 defensemen and 7 to 8 forwards of NHL caliber.

    This is simply not enough.

    Some of you guys (about 90% of you) love your team so much you forget to criticize its moves during the offseason. Everything’s gonna be better eh! Now we have a guy who’s hand throwing pucks at the blue, getting dumb penalties and another one who’s already on the IR.

    As long as Leafs Nation (not the website, the whole package) will stay silent, swallowing the nice words, the «We’re gonna get better, we swear», the «We’ve never worked that hard during training camp», the «Hey, our PK was pretty good against the Habs, I think it’s all set then!», and all this bunch of stuff you guys hear every day, every night, just to make you think tomorrow will be brighter, this team will be going NOWHERE, this team will NEVER get better, Connor McDavid or not.

    Don Cherry was absolutely right tonight, saying stuff about the Leafs not drafting OHL guys. You guys live in the greatest hockey area in the world, 30% of NHL players come from Ontario, and Ontario’s team never draft them. That’s a shame and it’s time somebody say it.

    No matter what happens to this team, the response from the bureaucrates will be the same than when South Park depicted Tony Hayward (CEO of BP) saying sorry while being naked on a damn tiger skin carpet. And I feel you guys will just continue to fuc**** accept them !

    STOP THAT, don’t watch the games, don’t go to the games! This organization has betrayed the greatest fan base in North America all sports considered, and it’s time some of you say it out loud instead of being lobotomized by these goofs who just look at your wallets and not your hearts.

  • TGT23

    Randy Carlyle is the kind of coach that if he were somehow the captain of the Titanic after hitting the iceberg would probably say ‘ Relax everyone, it’s only a small hole”.

  • TGT23

    Kessel not only isn’t helping the team offensively, he’s taking penalties and is a liability defensively. Wonderful.

    Kozun was invisible but, and correct me if I’m wrong, he didn’t seem to play all that much with Lupul and Kadri…

    Can’t wait to hear how we’d be 2-0 if Reimer had started! Not to mention Orr and McLaren, the real answers for the Leafs!

  • TGT23

    I know it’s too early to panic but I don’t want this to linger. I actually prefer that we get wasted the first few games. The sooner they realize their new run and gun style does not suit them the sooner they’ll change their style and hopefully it’s not too late.

    Firstly, we’re trying to run and gun… without a gun. We do not have enough talent to keep up with the skilled teams. To make things worst, now we also can’t keep up in a physical game either.

    Secondly, although our top liners are not performing yet, replacing the 4th line with a skilled line who are expected to play more will just take ice time away from our top 2 lines.

    Thirdly, by not having an enforcer line, the other teams now do not have to dress their tougher less skilled players. For example, would Tinordi (their worst defenseman) of montreal have dressed the other night to meet our physicality. Bottom line, the less tougher the Leafs are, the more skilled lineup we will face.

    And there is this logic of not needing an enforcer line and replace it with team toughness. Outside of maybe polack, it’s the 2 most hated Leafs…Clarkson and Phaneuf. Some might say komarov but he’s only as tough as the lineup. It’s not like we have Charra, Mcquaid and Lucic for Boston.

    BTW, I heard the game plan tonight was to get under Crosby’s skin. With this lineup? Really????

    • Kanuunankuula

      What if we dress Orr and Mtl still doesn’t dress Tinordi? What then? Seems to me that happened all season last year, we dress Orr, nobody else dressed
      their goon, we’re left with useless Orr in lineup. Or better yet, he just doesn’t fight anyone, even if they are in the lineup.

      Please.

    • Kanuunankuula

      What if we dress Orr and Mtl still doesn’t dress Tinordi? What then? Seems to me that happened all season last year, we dress Orr, nobody else dressed
      their goon, we’re left with useless Orr in lineup. Or better yet, he just doesn’t fight anyone, even if they are in the lineup.

      Please.

      Not that enforcers work anyway.

      • MightyRutabaga

        I mentioned that we need 4th enforcer line but not once did I say it should be Orr. I actually find him useless. I would prefer to have a rosehill type who can skate faster and actually be fast enough to hit, intimidate and get under opponent skin. Orr jus retaliates.

        Also we replaced useless tough 4th line with a useless skilled 4th line. Other teams can get away having no enforcer line for 2 reasons.

        1. They have enough skilled legitimate skilled nhl player on 4th line instead of ahl players.

        2. They have team toughness so that if their game plan needs them to get under a player skin like crosbys, like they said they would do last night, they can. No one stepped up.

        And it doesn’t even have to be a goon line. You have to be ready for every situation. the 4th lines job (skilled line on any team) is not suppose to play much and take away shifts from 1st and 2nd line. They are there to either retaliate, instigate and most importantly, make other players on the team play and feel bigger. The Leafs have a lot players that are only as tough as the lineup.

    • TGT23

      Except no one believes Orr is a threat to fight anymore, so teams don’t have to dress their goons and then Orr plays 2 minutes, is a waste of a spot in the lineup, and the other lines have to play too much.

      Orr didn’t work last year, why would he work this year?

      • Back in Black

        My reply to Kanuunankuula applies to you too. Actually my reply to Kanuunankuula applies to all you pro skilled 4th liners.

        This is still the 2nd most, if not the most physical sport there is. Yes it’s also the fastest. So why not get a fast tough 4th line that can keep up play.

        Also half the fans, if not more still enjoy fighting in the game. So now what. This is still about entertainment. At least before even if they lose the game I still enjoyed wi the hits and winning the fights (if we show up). Now we will lose the games and the fights and definitely hit less since every Leaf is now smaller without a tough 4th line.

        Eh, I’d rather have the Leafs from 2 season ago for if not for a collapse in the 3rd period in the playoffs with the Bruins would have made the second round at least. That was a fun season to watch.

        • TGT23

          No, it is about WINNING, not fans getting happy cause two people who can’t play the sport slug on each other for 15 seconds.

          Personally, I don’t care even a little if you or any other Neanderthal wants fights, hockey is about HOCKEY, and if a guy is useless at playing the game he has no spot on the team. You want fights? Watch the UFC or boxing, hopefully by you’ll see Orr there way before he ever sees the NHL as a Leaf.

          • TGT23

            Kinda harsh calling me and the others a neanderthal.

            Fighting is part of the game and that’s why it’s one of the few team sports that allow it. The game allows you to fight 3 times before getting ejected. I do agree the game is changing but it hasn’t changed to a point that you can get rid of it out right. We love the game for what it has been since I started watching it in 1977 and only missed 25 televised games since then.

            Who are you to tell all of us it’s not part of the game. it’s what we grew up watching and that’s what makes hockey different than other sports. There is so much going on in a game that leads to a fight. There has to be a balance.

            If you want hockey with no fights then please start your own sport and call it something else. Make sure you don’t allow hitting in your league btw.

            And just because we find it entertaining does not make us a Neanderthal.

  • Kanuunankuula

    Kozun was put on the forth line to protect him as he would of been over -matched by Malkin.

    Worst game Kessel has had as a Leaf-period.
    Is he trying to get Carlyle fired???
    he was a constant liability on the ice.

    Reimer should of been in tonight -it’s the second game in a row Bernier has let in a soft one-and before you know it we were behind the eight ball-It is reminiscent of when Toskala was the Leafs goalie.

    Reimer wasn’t outplayed by Bernier in the preseason-what happened about competition for
    for spots on the roster??

    Carlyle keeps going back to the same formula.

    even when he mixed lines and it was better
    when Kessel wasn’t playing on the first line,

    Carlyle very quickly put Kessel back on the
    1st line.At some point Kessel should of been benched as he wasn’t doing us any good on the ice.

    I liked Clarkson on the 1st Line-it’s nice to have some physicality on the 1st line.

    • TGT23

      Except Vesa had save percentages of .904, .891 and .874 in Toronto… Nowhere near Bernier. Though I understand the point you are trying to make, seems a bit unfounded 2 games in.

      The reason Reimer didn’t get the start is because Bernier is the starter. We’re talking about a guy who was in Vezina discussions up until he was injured last season. So, why should there be a conversation between him and a guy who was awful last season?

      I get people love Reimer but… The goalie battle is dead… Let it go… Reimer will play 20-25 games or be traded. Time to move on, the horse is dead.

      • TGT23

        Hockey is a what have you done for me lately sport.
        Bernier has yet to prove he has recovered from his injury -remember Reimer has never had the same success since the Gionta hit.

        Carlyle said there would be a competition for jobs
        I really dont see any difference in the goalie position.

        Up until Bernier got hurt Reimer was quite good as well, even if Bernier was slightly better.
        In home and away games in 2 days all hockey clubs have bad records (especially the Leafs)
        so IMO especially since Bernier has never beat the Penguins before and that Reimer usually plays strong
        against the Pens.

        Bernier has a body of work of only about 45 games as a starter. Reimer has a longer body of work when he took Leafs to the playoffs.

        Last year proved we needed 2 goalies and the thing we have to remember is our sports millionaires are people too.

        Had Carlyle not anointed Bernier so soon as the starter last year I believe Reimer would’ve been better down the stretch last year.

        What is Berniers GAA this year? about the same
        as Toskalas was . The facts are usually fair.

        The Leafs are a team of tendencies –
        last year it was the tendency to get heavily out shot and to still win.
        When Toskala was the Leafs goalie it was for him to give up an early bad goal to put the Leafs in a hole.

        Anyway I realize it is only 2 games but already Carlyle has shown the tendency to over use his top players which lead to the Leafs demise last season.
        yesterdays game would of been closer/better if the top
        line hadn’t played so much and Reimer was in net.

        I believe this is true.

        • TGT23

          He didn’t annoint him the starter for over a month! He explicitly didn’t name a starter.

          And you’re talking about Vesa over 30+ games and Bernier through 2. You can’t compare the two. By your logic Jonathan Quick is terrible, too.

          Reimer had a chance AND all the leaway in the world to win the starting job. He didn’t. Time to stop making excuses for him.

  • Back in Black

    I gotta wonder if Kessel is mailing it in and just trying to get Carlyle fired. He came into the season out of shape and looks worse then Clarkson these past two games. going to save the leafs.

    And I like Phaneuf’s post game interviews this seasons as he is not feeding us post game lines about keeping postive. I just wish his in game hockey decisions and skating could improve likewise.

    And finally what’s the excuse for the suckitude now – with all these “great” corsi players the leafs added and how Dubas and analytics were going to save the leafs. Even with Orr and Mclaren last season this team didn’t put up a 30% possession game.

    I’m sorry but analytics can’t save the leafs. This is another in a long line of 47 years of promises by leaf management to fix the team that is doomed to fail. I was excited when we brought in Dubas but he won’t change anything. And in reality this team is as awful as it has ever been. The leafs this year will be the great analytics experiment and failure.

  • MightyRutabaga

    Hey guys, lets judge the whole season on two games. The leafs are going to lose all their games, despite Bozak somehow scoring 82 goals! Also the penguins are never gunna lose a game and Crosby is going to put up a record breaking 246 points!

  • Back in Black

    I worry that this comment section is trending downward.

    Hey, do you believe that giving the fourth line more minutes will take away from the first line’s ice time? HOW ABOUT YOU CHECK? It’s not hard. All three members of the first line played over 20 minutes against Montreal, so no, they’re still being OVERplayed.

    And I’d say that not drafting from the OHL was the stupidest thing I’d ever heard, but unfortunately I’ve heard Don Cherry before. You’d rather have Cody Ceci than Morgan Rielly, eh? You’re going to say that right out loud, in pubic, and act like it’s some pearl of wisdom? Geez…

    • Back in Black

      I apologize for trending this section for you.

      Ok so first line played more than 20 minutes. But what about 2nd and 3rd line? The 4th line must be taking minutes away from better skilled lines. The 1st line is not always going to be the best line. So the 2nd line has step and maybe even the 3rd but hardly the 4th. Specially ours. Once again, not enough skill to have 4th skilled line.

    • TGT23

      Okay so now is see what you meant by this comment section trending downwards.

      Although I did instigate this topic, after that recent comment by TG23, I’m outta here. Peace!!!

  • Back in Black

    The fact that an idiot like What’s47Years has even one props (let alone 8) is indicative of just how far the comment section has fallen on this blog.

  • Back in Black

    As far as skill goes, the third and fourth lines are pretty indistinguishable at this point. But all four lines have to play, or the top players will wear down quickly. This is what happened last year.

    Players need to be fresh; a decent team can’t run with just nine forwards like the Leafs did last season. 10 decent minutes instead of four terrible minutes is all I’m looking for from the fourth line.

    • TGT23

      I’ll give you props on that cause I agree about our undistinguishable 2nd and 3rd lines and I sorta agree with players being fresh.

      but here’s the thing, no matter how fresh your lines are, if they don’t have the passion or the will to do whatever it takes then it doesn’t matter.

      Maybe all I’m looking for is a more aggressive 4th line that can slow down or change the tempo of the game if necessary and answer the bell if necessary. I’m sure there are good checkers out there that have speed and are willing to do the gritty part of the game.

  • TGT23

    JVR – KADRI – LUPUL
    KOZUN – BOZAK – KESSEL
    KOMAROV – SANTORELLI – CLARKSON
    WINNIK – HOLLAND –

    GARDINER – PHANEUF
    REILLY – ROBIDAS
    PERCY – POLAK

    BERNIER / REIMER

  • jasken

    Kessel might be hurt, but I doubt it he is actually performing within the unit rather then doing things his own way. He knows he has to be better, he knows he has to contribute at both ends of the ice, it takes time. This is the first time since he joined the Leafs I have actually seen him being something more then self serving I like the way Kessel is playing. No he hasn’t put up points he hasn’t tried to float and he has tried to be involved in the plays.

    The Leafs have had serious problems since Maurice left and now they decided rather then get rid of the problem their going to fix it. Well Leaf fans your in for a rough year. Franson will be moved, maybe even Phaneuf atleast taking off the top pairing, Kessel will be a 2 way player who gets 25-35 goals, and the Leafs will actually start to win as a team and not having to rely on 1 line.