Leafs Postgame – Leafs Fall to Wild

No Nazem Kadri, Joffrey Lupul or Peter Holland. That’s not to make excuses for the Toronto Maple Leafs, who were defeated 3-1 this evening by the Minnesota Wild, but it certainly made things more difficult. Without them, the Leafs ran lines that played well enough but severely lacked an offensive spark.

The Rundown

Surprisingly, Toronto actually came out of the gate strong. While they weren’t able to capitalize, the Leafs controlled much of the play through the first period, getting a few quality chances thanks to an effective forecheck and solid cycling down low in the Wild zone.

And that’s about the best we’d see out of the Leafs this evening. Minnesota would open the scoring in the second period on a flukey deflection – Jonathan Bernier would make a nice toe save on a Charlie Coyle shot, only to bank the rebound of of Kyle Brodziak’s skate and into the back of the net. Toronto would outshoot Minnesota for the second straight period, but would remain goalless through two.

Cody Franson would briefly give the Leafs some life in the third, with a beauty shot from the high slot on the powerplay that found its way behind Wild netminder Darcy Kuemper. The 1-1 tie would hold for only a few minutes, with Minnesota pulling away for good on goals from Jared Spurgeon and Mikko Koivu. 

With the game winding down and the Wild holding a 3-1 lead, the real fun would begin. Phil Kessel, hero to the people, would take a two-handed slash on the wrists as he entered into the Minnesota zone, with no penalty called on the play. As the puck travelled back into the Leafs’ end, Kessel would skate back down the ice, on the way telling both referees and a linesmen how he felt about the non-call (probably with several expletives laced in). 

With five minutes to go in a 3-1 game, the second ref decided that kind of behaviour is unacceptable, and blew the play dead to give Kessel a minor penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct. 

I’m sure that Kessel abused the officials, but that’s some kind of bullcrap to make that call at that point in the game, especially when you factor in that Kessel was completely justified in being upset. It was a nasty slash, plain as day, and both referees missed it. 

Blue Warrior

While we can certainly admire Phil Kessel’s heart and compete, truth be told, he wasn’t very good tonight. Hell, the entire top line was bad, being dramatically outplayed and outpossessed. So, we have to give the Blue Warrior honours to someone else.

Let’s go with Cody Franson, who himself was a negative possession player, but ultimately scored the only Leafs goal. And hey, that’s what matters most. 

Franson’s goal was his sixth of the season, and his third point in four games. He’s got 24 points in 37 games, which leads the Leafs’ blueline. I think the Leafs should resign him, but hey I am just some dude who writes things on the internet. What do I know? (Enough to resign Cody Franson, that’s what).

About Those Injuries

truck

  • TGT23

    can we just skip to June and draft mcdavid. let’s just go full tank. I’m tired of this middle of the pack nonsense. let’s be bad enough to get a top 10 pick so we have a chance at the lottery. we deserve it not the oilers.

  • TGT23

    Something that is completely missing from your article is once again the failure of analytics to correlate with the lack of leaf success. They managed to out possess the wild (without their best possession forward) and of course lost the game. That out possession was evident even before the inclusion of score effects and such. The first line was still a problem but the bigger story tonight was how the hockey gods chose to favor the wild over the leafs who deserved a better fate.

    Also as much Clarkson gets justifiably hated on for that massive contract he was the only player who stood up for bernier and kessel when they were abused.

  • TGT23

    Yeah the Leafs played pretty well in my mind considering they weren’t out possessed like crazy but not having Lupul, Kadri, and Holland really hurt them offensively and they just didn’t have that offensive spark. Some crappy calls by the refs though that led to the third goal and the Kessel penalty and Bernier giving up a stinker of a second goal didn’t really give the Leafs much of a chance considering the lack of offense in their lineup.

    I would have considered giving the Blue Warrior honors to Gardiner, Rielly, or Santorelli who all looked really good to my eye.

    By the way, what the hell is wrong with Carlyle and his trust of younger players? He played Ashton 2:45 last night and McKegg 4:22, enough said.