Leafs Postgame: Too Little, Too Late

Not to be super lame, but it was hardly a Hall of Fame effort from the Leafs tonight. Despite only losing to the Pittsburgh Penguins by a score of 2-1, it wasn’t all that close of a game until the dying minutes. After thoroughly dominating the Bruins on Wednesday, the Leafs forgot whatever made them great.

The Rundown

leafsvspenguins

While not a whole lot happened during the first twenty minutes of play, it was evident that Pittsburgh was the better team and Toronto would have difficulty containing them. I’d question why Randy Carlyle decided it was a good idea to match the Peter Holland line up against the Sidney Crosby line, but let’s be honest – it’s Crosby. The Leafs don’t have anything that could shut him down. Holland would finish the game with a 29% Corsi For rating. 

Things picked up slightly in the second. Pascal Dupuis would deflect a Christian Ehrhoff point shot past Jonathan Bernier to put the Penguins up by one. Just 15 seconds into the third, it’d be Dupuis again on a great pass from Crosby to put the Penguins ahead 2-0.

To keep things interesting, Cody Franson would finally put a puck past Penguins backup Thomas Greiss. That probably should have been the most exciting part of the game to me, but a few moments later when Dion Phaneuf laid a huge hit on Patric Hornqvist and was subsequently jumped by Evgeni Malkin.

Haha, wow, oh my. What a beauty hit. Just don’t ask certain Pens fans what they think of the hit… Dirty? Hahahahaha ok man, haha, ok. Cool. 

Malkin would get a penalty for his retaliation, but the Leafs would fail to capitalize and tie the game. The Penguins would hold on for a 2-1 victory.

Blue Warrior

I think you have to give it to Bernier, who 38 of 40 shots on goal and finished with a .950 SV%. More importantly, he did this…

Notes

  • The Leafs went 0-for-6 on the powerplay. The Penguins certainly left the door open for the Leafs to tie the game, or even take the lead. Nope.
  • On the flip side, the Leafs penalty kill was a perfect 3-for-3, lead by heros Leo Komarov and Daniel Winnik.
  • The Leafs, now 9-6-2, will look to bounce back against the Buffalo Sabres tomorrow night. Really, there’s no excuse to lose to the Sabres this season.
  • BubbaLou

    Some thoughts:

    -Did you know the Leafs are 21.9% on the Power play? Neither did I, looking at tonight. Yes, the Leafs scored 3 for 3 in 3 shots in Boston by scoring rush goals(and it’s a good reason why that stat is looking off. Context – never forget), but that’s what their PP was tonight. Too often they couldn’t set up.

    -I know you don’t really cover 6-on-4 often in practice but, man that was painful sometimes at the end. If you go for a shot, see your lane blocked/screens not ready, and decide otherwise, get rid of it fast and go. Plenty of dirty chances and shots were made, but much time was wasted playing slow and rigid.

    -Shots-wise, fancystats was more generous, having the Leafs looking ~5% better than the SOG, but that’s not saying much – every stat said the Leafs starting completely flat again. First period official SOG: 13-5 PIT. That’s bad, but tally the chances/misses/blocks and it’s 33-13 PIT – ouch. The Leafs played pretty even with PIT for the second and third periods, to their credit, but that’s not a good thing later on when you’re behind trying to comeback(It’s more a credit to PIT at that point).

    -The refs called the Pens on a lot tonight. Frankly, they deserved a whole lot of it. Lots of dirty/questionable stuff was uncalled.

    -By the way is there some reason why refs won’t really let Phaneuf fight? Hornqvist redirects the pass – that’s no interference – and the hit is both clean and crazy big. Malkin jumps in and gets an instigator but that scrap again lasted a whole 5 seconds before the refs jumped in

    Although that dismal first period didn’t put PIT on the board, that’s lucky – getting off to a near-dead start and having Bernier keep you alive was not good.On that point, without .950 in the net this game does not happen, so credit to Bernier for delivering. This game was pretty even (minus Sidney Crosby just outplaying everything around him) after the dismal first, just 0-6 on the PP even a 6 on 4 was a shame. Winning the last 3 I can’t be too disappointed, but I’m not very happy. You know what’s going to cheer me up? We play Buffalo next 😀

  • CMpuck

    Leafs showed up in another statement game and were competitive, it’s actually becoming fun to be a Leafs fan again rather than going into the season where I was popping the ‘tank for McDavid/Eichel’ anti-depressant perspective. This team is winning me over so officially jumping on the playoffs band wagon.

  • TGT23

    I used to like the Pens but boy do their fans love to whine about hits on their players… The same team who had Orpik and Neal kicking people in the head and Matt Cooke and their fans think they have a leg to stand on?

    I WISH Dion’s hit had been dirty, but that isn’t Dion.

    Anyway, nice game by Bernier. Kept the team in it. And now Reimer gets the vacation game vs. Buffalo (only fair, Bernier had the last one).

  • Jeremy Ian

    Yeah, we watched it on the Pens play by play and you’d think the Leafs climbed out of a mud bath to face Pittsburgh by their reckoning. Leaf players routinely cheated, or were dirty…. After a while it was just absurd. What a gap between a quality team and embarrassing commentary.

    For all the invocations of Hockey IQ, there was little of it on display from the booth.

    One thing they did note, however, was that Crosby got a lot more clear ice when Dion was not on him. Does anyone have data on the Crosby-Phaneuf match up?

    Impressive Pens’ forecheck. Reminds me that the better games the Leafs played this season were ones where they played more aggressive D. My guess is that Carlyle warned them not to play too deep, esp in the first period lots of risk-averse play.

    • BubbaLou

      The Pens’ broadcast team is pretty well-known to be a blind homer call. Sometimes it makes me wonder why people have the hate for Joe Bowen: I watch casts like the Pens, the Bruins, and I think “Jeez, even Bowen doesn’t call for blood on ticky-tack stuff like that”. Yes, it’s still broadcasting from a Leafs perspective, but he usually gives the benefit of doubt to the refs and makes both team’s play sound exciting. I know, yeah yeah, when I say my ‘caster isn’t a homer but yours is, you say “I’ve heard that one before”. There’s a big difference all the same.

      I know Phaneuf-Franson was the match-up that faced Crosby. It worked pretty darn well all night, and that’s great to see (even though Crosby was still Crosby). I heard RC matched up Peter Holland’s line with that though, not sure I like that match-up as much.

  • TGT23

    Bernier was terrible again last night. SV% stat in a game is misleading. The high SV% is simply the result of a large volume of shots by the penguins coming from everywhere.

    And importantly, bernier let in another goal at the start of a period. This is the reason he is not dependable enough to be an NHL starter. And because of that second goal, it is easy to see that Bernier never gave the leafs a chance to win.

    But I loved the compete level and improved work effort of the of the team towards the end of the game

    • TGT23

      If it were Reimer you’d be praising his compete level and mental toughness for battling after the 2nd goal and giving the team a chance to come back. You’d hold this gae up for all to see and talk about how many tough saves he made. You’d proclaim Reimer a great goalie and the #1 for keeping the Pens to 2 goals on 40 shots.

      But because it’s Bernier the SV% is misleading because none of the shots were good and he’s not a starter and never gave them a chance.

      Leafs are 3-1-1 in Bernier’s last 5 and he’s been very good in 4. And the bad game was a 5-4 win over the defending Eastern Conference Champs.