One of the big stories heading into tonight’s game against the Boston Bruins was the absence of Zdeno Chara. Most were excited about the offensive possibilities, especially for Phil Kessel. Needless to say, people’s expectations fell far short.
The game started promising with a penalty drawn during the first shift of the game. But just as quickly, that hope was taken away. David Clarkson took a penalty, and the Bruins’ Carl Soderberg scored on the powerplay just three minutes in.
From there, it was a pretty abysmal period for the Leafs. They looked sloppy, especially when trying to break out, and the Bruins generally outplayed them. Turnovers, lost puck battles, and a lifeless tempo were all big parts of the Leafs generally looking out of sync.
Things looked a little better in the second period. The Leafs didn’t generate much by way of scoring chances, but they did seem to spend a decent amount of time in the Bruins zone. Unfortunately it was all for naught, as David Krejci cut to the net on a rush late in the period to make it 2-0. Kessel didn’t look great trying to cut him off, but the brunt of the blame should go to Dion Phaneuf for standing to the side. Cody Franson was also caught behind the play.
The third period is where things started to get really ugly. Gregory Campbell was left alone in front of the net shorthanded and scored two minutes in. Then two minutes later Dougie Hamilton got some open real estate and ripped one by Jonathan Bernier off the rush (after this, Reimer came in to finish the game).
Richard Panik did manage to score his first as a Leaf late in the period, placing a beautiful shot over Tuukka Rask in front of the net. The Leafs made a bit of a push after the goal, but it was too little, too late.
In a game where there were few positives, Morgan Rielly was one. He was one of just seven Leafs tonight with a positive CF% (55), and he generally looked dangerous. He had a couple of defensive blips, but it also seemed like he was one of few Leafs tonight that was generating some meaningful offense. He was someone tonight that I thought both passed the eye test and the numbers test.
- The Leafs powerplay continues to run cold. They came into the game 0-16 in their last four games, and they didn’t score in any of their three chances tonight. In fact, two of their powerplays were negated by Leaf penalties and the other one they were scored against shorthanded.
- Its tough to say what I’d do with the second line. They’ve been strong in the possession game (and were again tonight – Lupul, Kadri, and Winnik were each above 50% CF), but the production hasn’t quite been there. Daniel Winnik is certainly a part of that. He’s a good fancy stats player but he’s got just two points in eight games so far.
- Peter Holland continues to disappoint. Coming off his best game of the season on Tuesday, he did play over ten minutes tonight but was largely invisible. He was also dead last on the team in CF% (19). It’s much of the same for Richard Panik. He looked good against the Islanders too, but didn’t do too much today. That said, he had more of a presence than Holland and he did score the lone Leafs goal.
- I wonder if we might be nearing a tiny shakeup with the depth forwards. Carter Ashton has yet to play this season, Matt Frattin is in the doghouse big time, and Holland has disappointed. The Marlies have a deeper stable of potentially NHL-ready guys this year, and I think names like Leivo, McKegg, Kontiola, Carrick, and Smith have to be considered.
SEE YOU TUESDAY
The Leafs play host to the Buffalo Sabres three nights from now. The game starts at 7:30PM Eastern and can be seen on TSN4.