Leafs Postgame: It’s a losing streak

After ripping up the league for the better part of a month, the Leafs tumbled a little this week and tonight were looking to avoid a three-game skid (Bernier says good teams don’t even lose two in a row). Unfortunately they were in Chicago on the second half of a back-to-back.

The Rundown

First off, Bob Cole had the call tonight, so there was nothing the Leafs could do to ruin this game for me.

Carlyle mixed things up a little for this game, breaking up Bozak and Kessel, instead starting out 81 with Kadri and Winnik, a line that looked solid earlier in the season. JVR and Bozak stayed together, with Clarkson stepping in on the “top line.”

The first period had some decent back-and-forth at times, but play was generally dictated by the Hawks, as you’d expect. The wheels started to come off for the Leafs near the end of the frame as Chicago started to look more dangerous in the offensive zone, moving the puck to the open areas a little better, and eventually the Hawks managed goals from Rundblad and Versteeg (of course) to go ahead 2-0 after twenty. Shot attempts were 21-14 in favour of the Hawks, who also held the edge 12-7 for pucks on net. 

I’ll admit I was much less attentive to this game in the second, as I had the junior game on another monitor to catch up on Willie Nylander and the Swedes. I didn’t even notice until a few minutes into the frame that Carlyle had reunited Bozak and Kessel after only twenty minutes apart. Wouldn’t want Kadri to get TOO confident. Basically the second period was a lot of the same from the first. Luckily Reimer is a goaltending god, so the Leafs were still hanging around in a 2-0 game going into last twenty minutes, despite being outplayed heavily.

The Leafs came out with a lot of pushback in the third, outshooting the Hawks 11-2 in the opening half of the period, which included a powerplay they were unable to capitalize on. After the kill, the Hawks were rewarded with a powerplay of their own on a Clarkson interference call, and Kane put this one to bed. Toews added another as the Hawks rolled to a 4-0 shutout. Not a fun weekend for Leafs fans.

Again, Bob Cole made this whole thing bearable.

Blue warrior

He didn’t play in this game, but Nylander did score a real nice penalty-shot goal in the Sweden/Canada exhibition tilt, and also had an assist along the way. Maybe he can take the honours tonight.

Nah, if we’re sticking with the rules, it was probably Kadri, who had his minutes cut for some reason but otherwise looked fine. I guess I’m just looking for someone who didn’t have an awful game.

Reimer had a solid outing as well, and you certainly can’t point to him for the loss, but it’s tough to give the player of the game to a goalie who allowed four goals. 

Naz, keep up the good work. You’ll get top minutes by the time you’re 37.

Notes

  • The Leafs have now lost three in a row, all in regulation. They’ll keep this road trip going into Dallas for Tuesday’s game, then have a small break before getting rolling again on the 28th. Ten of the Leafs’ next twelve games are on the road, so things might get scary.

  • Jeremy Ian

    Things might get a little scary with 10 of the next 12 on the road. Now there is the understatement of 2014. Yesiree as intelligent leaf fans have been pointing out for weeks, the leafs make or break part of the schedule is upon them. Three defeats in four nights as the juniors take over the Air Canada center and the leafs suffer as they play the second most back to back games in the eastern conference.

    Priorities boys and girls, got to keep that old Air Canada center jammed 365 days a year.

    Today was a tale of two teams in a city. Earlier in the day the Toronto Raptors were giving a hammering to the Knicks when a ball was going out of bounds. The only true team leader in Toronto, namely Kyle Lowry leapt for the ball and his momentumn carried him half way up the aisle. Lowry saved the ball to enable the Raptors to start a break and then proceeded to race back up the aisle to join in the play.

    Compare that with the second game and the $8 million dollar man floating around like a sea gull out at the blue line. Not giving a care about helping his teammates on defence. So the Raptors are 22 and 6 and leading the east. The leafs lose three in a row and enter an extremely tough part of the schedule. Yep Bill Murray has officially become the Drake of the leafs as Ground Hog day is indeed upon us.

    Thank you Raptors for a very merry Christmas gift, The leafs well that lump of coal in the stocking is rapidly growing.

    But what the heck one playoff series in 10 years, does a leaf fan really expect anything more for Christmas. Yep just another and another and another rebuild. Go cheer up grandpa, he will tell you about days when the leafs actually won cups.

  • Young Oil

    Reimer again when he is given the opportunity to steal a game and possibly the starting position after Bernier has been struggling has a mediocre game. I want Reimer to do well but he doesn’t make use of the few opportunities given.

  • Jeremy Ian

    You need goals badly — if you are going to win. But Kadri’s ice time was down to 13:55? That’s two minutes more than Trevor Smith who, I am sorry, is not up to the task.

    The sight of good possession players like Winnik and Santorelli losing their touch…. bad sign.

    We’ll see how things go. Shanahan has to be wondering whether the team can sustain success, or whether it regresses to what one would predict for a relatively low possession strategy game.

  • Well as could be projected, the team once again leaves their goalie to carry the game himself, when it comes to this team, it looks like the only player who comes to work to earn his paycheque is the net minder…

    To put this all on Reims shoulder is misguided to say the least, I feel for Reims, it’s so hard for me to watch him have to fight every game he is giving to play which are far and wide now and to see the team not come to compete and put their heart into is sickening….

    SOG are still up there and here we go again, no score I mean how pathetic is that??? I hate to say it again but both Reims and Bernier at this stage in their careers are wasting their talents with this team and at this rate will be going no where fast if the group of players in front of them don’t smarten up and get their ass in gear and finally say enough of being the brunt of the NHL’s laughing stock and lets show everyone what we can do and do it every gan]me, win or loose…..
    A loss can be expected and excepted when you watch that the WHOLE team played hard and competed together as a well oiled machine, than at least when you loose it’s mot because only the net minder competed but the team as a whole played their heart out…

    Thanks Reims for the game, you at least earned your paycheque…

    How does this team sleep at night?

  • Jeremy Ian

    So you link the shot chart from after two periods, but don’t link the shot chart for the entire game which shows that the teams ended up tied in 5v5 corsi. Convenient.

  • I am actually sort of glad they’re losing. There is no way this team is going to do anything the way it’s set up now. We need change and the only way to justify that seems to be losing badly. I hope Shanny and Dubas et al can take this and say, “see, let’s do something about this.”

    I really don’t see how The Leafs move forward without blowing things up. Anyone who sees them as more than a borderline wild card team is blind. How can that be good enough? There are too many brutal contracts that are only going to get worse. If we can’t re-sign Kadri and Franson because of Clarkson, Lupul, Bozak, Phaneuf, Robidas, Polak, etc. something is seriously wrong. And it is.