Leafs Postgame: Denver Disappointment

The Leafs matched the Avalanche pound for pound in a wild game full of twists and turns, but they fell just shy of a much-needed two points, falling 4-3 in the shootout to Colorado.

THE RUNDOWN

It was an entertaining game, and the action started early.  In case you missed it, just a few hours before puck drop it was announced that Carter Ashton had been suspended 20 games for violating the league’s substance abuse policy.  Then as warm-ups began, it was discovered that Morgan Rielly would be a healthy scratch in place of Stuart Percy.

And if that wasn’t enough, the Avalanche scored 31 seconds into the game on a broken play full of missed assignments.  Nick Holden got the goal on a quick dish from Nathan MacKinnon.

And just 14 seconds later, things got even worse.  On a harmless looking neutral zone hit by Jan Hejda, Daniel Winnik fell awkwardly on his back and had to be stretchered off.  Winnik wouldn’t return, but didn’t have to be taken to hospital and was able to walk around and move all of his extremities behind closed doors.  In fact, it sounds like he won’t miss any time as Randy Carlyle says he is “100% fine”.

Midway through the period things got even worse as Jake Gardiner left the game after blocking a shot to his knee.  He too would not return and his status for the future is unclear.

The good news though is that Phil Kessel bunted a puck into the net with 4 minutes to go in the period, and the Leafs came out of the first tied at 1.  They looked terrible in the first half of the period running around their own zone with zero purpose but were equally good in the second half of it.

In the second and third periods it was much of the same.  It seemed like in the first half of the period the Avs would dominate, and in the second half of the period the Leafs would take their turn.  It was an entertaining game to watch as you might expect, with both teams preferring to generate their offense off the rush.  It helps that neither team is very good defensively.

In the second period the Leafs were able to take the lead on a nice little feed from James van Riemsdyk to Tyler Bozak on the powerplay, but Alex Tanguay quickly answered back with a breakaway goal (Percy and Roman Polak were the culprits on that one).

In the third the game looked like it was in doubt when Matt Duchene capitalized on a sloppy exchange by Nazem Kadri and Percy, but the Leafs were able to scratch their way back.  With just 76 seconds left in the game and the net empty, Mike Santorelli found Richard Panik in the slot who got a quick shot off to tie it up.  Off to overtime we go.

In the extra frame both teams got their fair share of chances once more, with plenty of the extra hockey played at 3-on-3.  It solved nothing though, and off to the shootout this one went.

Unfortunately, the Leafs were just on the wrong end of it.  Tyler Bozak scored for the Leafs, but Colorado scored on all three of their chances and took the two points just like that.  Although it was a sloppy game from the Leafs, the Avs were equally care-free and it was actually a very evenly played game.  It could have gone either way, but the Leafs just got the short end of the stick.

BLUE WARRIOR

A timely goal, a team-high 75 CF%, and an assist to boot, Richard Panik is tonight’s Blue Warrior.

NOTES

  • Tonight was a good night for plenty of Leafs.  Here’s who stood out to me: Kessel, van Riemsdyk, Bozak, Kadri, Polak, Panik, Dion Phaneuf, Peter Holland, and Jonathan Bernier.
  • 5v5 Corsi numbers tonight: Toronto 51.08 CF%, Colorado 48.02 CF%.
  • They will likely call up a forward either way with Carter Ashton out, but it’ll also be interesting to see if Gardiner misses any time and if the Leafs call up a defenseman.  A couple names I’ll throw out there as potential call-ups are Josh Leivo and Viktor Loov.

SEE YOU SATURDAY

The Leafs return home Saturday to face the New York Rangers at 7PM Eastern on CBC.

  • TGT23

    I really, really, really hate shootouts… A lot… So pointless.

    Gary Bettman is too proud to get rid of the shootout in the same way he is too proud to admit Florida and Phoenix are failed experiments.

  • TGT23

    Also, I hope Winnik and Gardiner are okay. Would suck to lose either, and the Winnik play looked really bad… If he is out, who plays on the top line now? Or the 2nd if it is JVR…

    Bernier looked fine, except maybe that 3rd goal. It makes me wonder how healthy he is when his lateral movement seems impeded slightly. His skate lost an edge, sure, but he hasn’t looked as dominant as he did last year. Still, kept them in it to get a point. He had a similar night to Reimer last game so it will be interesting to see what people say. Both the Bernier fans and Reimer fans alike.

    Glad they have a day off after every d-man played 19+ and Dion played 30!

    • TGT23

      Before you chew me out, don’t get me wrong the team wasn’t any better tonight than 2 nights ago with Reims….but it’s a fact/stat that Bernier is not great at the shoot out! myself I like them…

      As for Bernie not as sharp as last year, again he has to be at his best this year as was last year to be called a NHL Number 1. that simple….injury or not….there are alot of big name starters who play the 60+ games that battle through the injuries etc..and if Bernie is to be in that league he will have to find his game…

      But right now like it or not Reims has played better of the two so far this year…

      • TGT23

        I think the shootout works in the Olympics and the WJC (in non-medal games) because those games are tense and mean something. Game 15 of the regular season feels more like a gimmick.

        If you’re going to do a gimmick to decide a game than 3v3 is faster and more exciting.

        As for Bernier/Reimer in the shootout; yep, Reimer is way better at shootouts. That’s not really saying a lot or a reason to start him over Bernier, but it is a truth.

        Right now the numbers support your claim, but that said just a few games ago Bernier had all of the numbers on his side. It may take a few weeks to get a really good look at them for this season.

        But remember; Last season all of the numbers supported my claim for Bernier and you deny those vehemently, so I don’t think we’ll get to have a reasonable discussion about this.

        IF both stay healthy and both play as well as capable, I suspect they’ll both end up near one another statistically and in the upper levels of the league. My belief is Bernier will end the season the better of the two but I can’t deny Reimer has the potential to keep things interesting.

        • TGT23

          I think the shootout works in the Olympics and the WJC (in non-medal games) because those games are tense and mean something. Game 15 of the regular season feels more like a gimmick.

          This is the classic Leaf’s fan problem – thinking that game 15 doesn’t “mean anything”. At the end of the season when they are a few points out of the playoffs, game 15 will have meaning….

          Championship teams treat game 15 and game 70 the same – they are both worth 2 points.

          • JR#34#1

            VERY TRUE……every game should count period…..
            The problem with this team that its the team that is inconsistent and not the Goalies….

            Again doesn’t matter what, this team just does not compete at the same level as most of the teams in the NHL…maybe this whole team excluding Reims and Bernie need to go back down to the Marlies or anywhere but here, or maybe dock their paycheques for evey game they come to play or better yet repay all the fans their ticket fare for every game they don’t compete…maybe that would wake this team up as it hits thgeir pocket book….

        • JR#34#1

          New to the board, but just thought I would ad…that I thiunk the Shoot Out is a great way to showcase the Goalies…
          When they all play together its a team…The Goalie hope his teams plays well and helps him and the TEam hopes the GOalie helps them when they need it…so a street…..

          BUT when you play as a team the Goalie has help or hopefully does, and sometimes can mask the mistakes the Goalie makes of Helps him look good…

          BUT in a SHOOT OUT (Or even in the game with the team and they have a break away where it’s 1 player going at the goalie) This is now all on the Goalies shoulder to stop that puck…..if you can not stop the puck most of the time when its just the Goalie agasint the player you will not win the shoot out and you will not stop all the 1 on 1’s in the game..

          Bernie his good never said he wasn;t but he is not always the best even in the i on 1’s in the game itself, which shows in the shoot out as well………..

          I hope your Guy Bernie turns out to be all you think he is…… But I too will always be a Reims Fan, he’s a fighter and he has something that just makes you cheer him on…..

          We’ll see in the end….myself I am hoping Reims is traded and will go to a team that has a chance to be a standley cup winner because no matter what happens here this team is not a Standley cup winner and I hate to see Reims waste his good years as a Goalie here… Bernier I feel also wants to be a Standley cup winner….so who knows his sites at the end of this season could be elsewhere and than what do you have left?

          • TGT23

            I see where your misconception is… You think a penalty shot and a breakaway are the same. They aren’t. I’ll explain why.

            On a breakaway everything happens at top speed which ultimately limits the moves and dangles and directions a player can go to beat the goalie. Also, it is directly a result of a defensive breakdown which means the defense is coming up begin the shooter so they can’t afford to slow down.

            A penalty shot is taken in a vacuum. The player has time to pick a move, which direction they come from, and their skating speed. They have every move at their disposal. No one is chasing the play so the player needn’t worry about the time it takes to complete their move.

            My point being that the shootout isn’t the same as the game so the results don’t tell us anything. And it definitely doesn’t tell us who is the better goalie.

            Also, the shootouts don’t showcase goalies, it showcases players with stick skills. 3v3 showcases goalies more than the shootout.

          • TGT23

            To each their own…I think it does show the skill of the Goalie, you say no….doesn’t make either of us right or wrong…..

            I don’t have any misconception…I am not confused…..

            If you think that all the commotion in front of the Goalie is more telling of his skills so be it…I feel the shoot out is a good tell tale sign and I don’t think it showcases the player’s talent as much as his ability to maybe fool the Goalie into making a mistake…

            again…does it really matter what we think? again as others have said before…this is a team sport and unless this team goes out and competes at the same level as their Goalie, it will be hard to win alot of games and points and you will find yourself looking at another year of this team of misfits….

            The shoot out is here to stay, so unless Bernier can win all his games in regulation or in overtime, or loose his games, he better become better at the shoot out or you will loose ….

          • TGT23

            I’m sorry, but in this case you are wrong. Shootouts for goalies are a guessing game. That’s not skill, that’s luck.

            The shootout may be here to stay, though it seems Bettman’s pride is the only thing standing between us and getting rid of it, but if Bernier or Reimer lose in a shootout I’m fine with it. Shootouts are a joke, but I’ll take the single point.

            Odds are with this team, the goalies had to will them to that point to begin with.

  • TGT23

    Let me guess, “Is it because BERNIER sucks at it??
    Or because He’s so good at it?
    Or because with your so called Starting Goalie(although he hasn’t shown that he deserves that spot)that you will be dreading anytime their is a shoot-out with him?

    Bernier didn’t do ANYTHING THAT WONDERFUL TONIGHT that makes him the better of the 2…

    Go Reims Go!!!!

  • BubbaLou

    The leafs are always a benevolent lot who helped two struggling teams on this short road trip get their clubs back on the winning trail.

    Whether it was the physical mistakes the first night with the classic Gardiner give away or Reimer allowing the big fat juicy rebounds or the mental brain fart cramps this evening that saw terrible line changes, one that allowed a breakaway goal. Then there is Kadri determined to leap with the greatest of ease over the boards with four leafs still on the ice. It almost cost them in o.t.

    Then we come to the anointed one. The goalie that some of the Toronto media suggested should be the third back up in the winter Olympics last February. Yep Bernier who has an uncanny ability similar to Toskala to give up that all important crucial goal with less than 10 minutes left in the third period or a goal with ten seconds left in o.t. Hello Zettleberg.

    Obviously when it came to the shoot out the stats geeks have pointed out that the leafs had two chances, slim and none with Bernier’s horrendous save average around 50%.

    So the leafs come back with one point but at least last night we did see a Toronto athlete move quickly and shoot with 10 seconds left and swish nothing but net yep a true leader in Toronto, Kyle Lowry helped the Raptors run their record to 4 and 1. Catch this young exciting team and use it as an antidote against the 500 leaf team that seems determined to get those traditional 80 to 84 points which will enable them to get the crucial 10th or 11th draft pick in 2015.

  • BubbaLou

    Things I liked: Komarov and Clarkson continue to do well but, alas, Clarkson was a -2. Where are the +/- defenders who can explain to me the validity of penalizing the forwards on the ice for the Tanguay goal, because the defense (percy/polak) didn’t notice Alex Tanguay faking a line change… Phil Kessel is missing shifts due to an injury he’s been playing with, yet is still playing at a point-per-game pace! He may not win the Hart trophy but c’mon let’s start up his run for the Heart trophy… Kadri still looks great on the top line (though one bad pass of his would burn the leafs tonight)… Jonathan Bernier looked off all night, and had to battle having goals 1 and 3 on his record. That said, he was good enough tonight (and was tested quite a bit) and we got the pity point… Cody Franson was a beast all night, had a hand in our goals, and personally saved a goal off the blue paint in the 1st… Aside from the first period, the leafs had more sustained offense than the Avs and we had a positive Corsi night overall. One shift late in the second period swung the needle really hard – multiple line changes going on the same offensive visit, that was great stuff.

    Things I disliked: Randy Carlyle scratched Morgan Rielly, a fast puck moving d/corsi-king against the notoriously fast moving Avalanche for, as best I can tell, no reason at all. Seriously: What the HELL was this for? If you were going to sit someone, I’d have said Gardiner(He’s responsible for the ARZ 1st goal) or Robidas(general play, NOT because he happened to deflect a puck in) after the Arizona game – and it would have some sort of justification. I guess Robidas/Polak aren’t enrolled in the RC School of Accountability.

    Well, the injuries just stunk. Both Winnik and Gardiner will be ok (winnik maybe before gardiner -amazing- is what I heard) but what a fluky night.

    We shot ourselves in the foot to start a game again, this time in a spectacular trololol sequence – which ironically gave us more time to right the ship. Turnover, weak checks and oh man where’s Bernier – a lot of seemingly innocuous blunders in maybe 5 total seconds and we started this off bad again.

    As gimpy as the shootout is for hockey purists, a stat to note: The league average sv% in the shootout is about 66%. James Reimer is at league average, Jonathan Bernier goals a .55SV%. In defense if I’m goaling a shootout, I don’t want to face any of MacKinnon/Tanguay/Duchene to deal with – never mind in that order. It’s also a silly thing to award points for, but points are points and your team’s gotta get them, so Bernier must improve this area of his game.

    All in all I’m glad we got a point from this game, because 1 minute in it looked like a horror show and we ended up battling all game. I accept the pity point – Rangers on saturday.

  • CMpuck

    Great game, makes miss the early 90s where every team was defensively challenged. Leafs holding the puck for three minutes in Colorado’s zone at the end of the second makes me miss the Leafs being a good team. Solid cycle.

    Too bad the refs turned the game into a gong show of stupid penalties as regulation finished. Robidas doesn’t drop the gloves and gets punch and gets a match penalty? What? Kadri hit for too many men in OT? Weak call, at least there was a make up call seconds later but just the refs destroying an otherwise fun game.

    Kessel is one point out of leading the league in scoring and the love he gets is media ignoring him. He’s just not a real leader and one dimensional I guess. No fun in Toronto.

  • JR#34#1

    Hedja slewfooted Winnik. Watch his left leg and left arm. Leg (knee) comes up and arm goes back. That was a throw. Obviously the ojutcome was not intended but that was a dirty play.

  • JR#34#1

    thank god panik scored after whiffing on a couple nice feeds from kessel. also, lol at kessels initial reaction to panik missing that one timer before vessel batted it in mid air.he basically just shook his head.

    • BubbaLou

      I’m not sold that Richard Panik, 1st line winger, made much sense given who was healthy. This despite Panik having a good night – no probs there, he just wouldn’t be the first guy I picked to play wing. Another curious RC decision?

  • BubbaLou

    I don’t see how Bernier stood out as having a good game. Multiple times he was making snow angels, and not even near the crease. The first goal was a direct result of this. He was not moving around well, and it is well documented how terrible he is in the shootout. Just brutal.