LEAFS POSTGAME: New Rome Still Not Ready After Day Of Building

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As we all know, Randy Carlyle is no longer the coach of the Toronto Maple Leafs. This means that the team has been fixed, right? 

Well, not so fast. The Washington Capitals strolled into down, and ran away with a 6-2 victory.

The Rundown

Toronto’s problems started early into the game. Just five minutes in, Evgeny Kuznetsov and Troy Brouwer broke in on a group of four defending Leafs, but still managed to find a way to open up enough space for Marcus Johansson to burst in and fire home his eleventh of the season. 

Toronto found a way to tie the game early in the second period, with Daniel Winnik tipping in a Cody Franson point shot, but the game only remained that close for about a minute and a half. Despite being on the powerplay, a poor line change by Morgan Rielly and nearly as poor backcheck by David Clarkson lead to Jay Beagle winning a foot race and setting up Eric Fehr. Fehr then went on to set up Brooks Laich off a faceoff two minutes later, further extending Washington’s lead.

Trevor Smith managed to score his first goal of the season in the closing minutes of the period, but Johansson responded with his second of the night just forty two seconds later. In the third period, Eric Fehr added his second and Alexander Ovechkin capped things off with an empty netter.

Blue Warrior

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In a game where the team wasn’t very good at hockey, we’ll give the Blue Warrior to somebody who was a Don Cherry-esque Blue Warrior. Roman Polak took a puck to the face and found his way back onto the bench as soon as he possibly could, despite looking like the NHL’s latest mumps victim. He was also Toronto’s top possession defenceman tonight, sitting cool at 68% CF, and even picked up an assist on Trevor Smith’s goal.

A Single Departing Note

This game is a friendly reminder that a single personnel move won’t instantly make a team better. While the Leafs had moments where they looked in better control than they have throughout the season, they still disappointed with a loss. These games are going to happen, especially as the new-old-whatever coaching staff figure out how they’d like to approach this lineup for the remainder of the year. I know patience is something nobody wants requested of them at this point, but it may be a necessity for a little bit.

  • Letters

    I wasn’t expecting much from tonight, I hope no one really thought Carlyle’s firing was going to magically make this team elite – but between the full Phil Kessel incident being shown and Polak returning despite the Sidney Crosby impression I feel I got maximum entertainment from this game.

    • Letters

      You need a bit of tough love and real world talk. The only thing that matters is winning.

      Corsi improvement moral victories are how people justify and make themsleves feel better about the team.

  • Letters

    I noticed that as soon as Eakins and the analytics guys were fired the oilers started winning. Nonis got it half right by ditching Carlyle but maybe he should dump the bloggers to ensure winning way.

    It wouldn’t hurt now that the team is experimenting and fans need to be patience because the analytics guys are clueless on how to fix this team. And besides we can always hire them back later.

    • Letters

      The bloggers are probably not the problem, but what’s the point of raising our ticket prices to pay these bloggers if the team is not going to listen to them?

      I think Nonis hired the bloggers to shut them up because they were bad mouthing the players and making management look bad. There is no need to hire a statistician when the problem is the team talent is not enough. This was great in theory – just like money ball – except unlike the movie we don’t get any of that winning and stuff.

  • Letters

    So Horachek inherits a playoff team that by points was in a wild card spot and in his first game resoundingly drops the team out of the playoffs. Great start.

    Good one Randy. Good one.

    #Bring Back Carlyle

  • jasken

    The new evaluation period game begins what’s next after the next 20 games. Wait a second why was Bozak back with Kessel again it’s not even a game apart and Kadri gets moved away from Kessel. Kessel has 4 turnovers in the first period and has his ice time increased. Kadri makes a mistake anticipating a turnover and getting a pass that never happens he gets removed from topline.

    What part of accountability must be equal do coaches have a problem understanding. I dont call Kessel having to chat with Staios as taking accountability.

    This is how problems started to begin with they have a chance to correct it and do a clean slate and their not their worried about shots for and against and wins and losses and not what causes them. BAD HABITS…

  • STAN

    Horachek’s line experiment was a disaster. Winnik, Kessel, Kadri looked particularly awful. In fact, with the exception of Santorelli, Komorov and Franson, all the other players looked dazed and confused, more so than their usual dazed and confused.

    There are only a few teams with enough room to take on a Kessel or Phaneuf contract, so Nonis will have to work some magic to get anything done. Good luck with that. I don’t see any of the other 29 GMs salivating over either one of them.

    As someone who has watched Phaneuf from his Red Deer Rebels and Calgary Flames days it’s crystal clear that he has been going downhill for years. As a Leaf he’s never played as well as he did in his first two seasons in Calgary. Extending him at that Cap killing salary and term should be enough to get Nonis sacked. Add in the ill-conceived Clarkson and Kessel deals and he should already be back as Burke’s sidekick in Calgary.

    The annointed ‘core’, Kessel and Phaneuf, are two selfish, lazy and highly-overrated clowns who are directly responsible for this team regressing and wallowing in mediocrity.

    Oh, and I’ve been arguing since shortly after Nonis acquired Bernier that he was a totally unproven goaltender, other than a lightly used backup. Now, he’s showing again that he really isn’t built for a heavy workload. At least 3 of those 5 goals were stoppable. A fresh Bernier likely would have made those saves, but he looks worn down, with no legs, no movement and just plain bad.

    • TGT23

      Oh, and I’ve been arguing since shortly after Nonis acquired Bernier that he was a totally unproven goaltender, other than a lightly used backup. Now, he’s showing again that he really isn’t built for a heavy workload. At least 3 of those 5 goals were stoppable. A fresh Bernier likely would have made those saves, but he looks worn down, with no legs, no movement and just plain bad.

      RIGHT ON!!!!!

      I said fron the beginning, they should have used any money and players they had to move to built a better Defence and leave the net-miding situration alone…..

      But instead they wasted that opportunity…again nothing against Bernie, but he has proven nothing again this year to cement the starter position..plain and simple, while a real starter sits on the bench.

      • TGT23

        hey, Reimerfan… You realize your “real starter” has never played more than 37 games in a season?

        Bernier has played 50…

        So how is Reimer, who has never played more than 37 games in a season more starter material and less likely to break down than a guy who has played 50?

        Oh, that’s right. Ignorance.

        Also, how can you rationalize saying Bernier hasn’t proven himself as a starter when he has TWO seasons IN A ROW with better numbers than Reimer has ever had and did so in more games than Reimer has ever played?

        • The Craig

          I KNEW THAT GET YOU GOING!!!!!!

          You must be smoking some good weed if were watching the same games when Bernie’s playing????? look it last night a lot less SOG than Reimers last game but as many goals against…doesn’t look like a starter game to me, and hes had a lot of these games…

          Whatever I stand firm in Reimer is the better of the 2…and if he had been given the chance to prove it he would…doesn’t matter now does it????

          • TGT23

            I don’t even want to speculate on the drugs you’ve been taking to watch Reimer with a below league average save percentage the last two seasons and call him a starter… Especially over a guy playing well above league average.

  • Dawgfan1980

    This game to me felt like one of those games you have at the tail-end of a losing streak. A few breaks here and there, game is a different score. I was impressed by a stretch where Washington had attacks broken up in the neutral zone four times I believe in the second.

    It looked like there was an adjustment period with different line mates who skate at different speeds and have different preferences. I thought the Leafs were jittery early and grew into the game. Late in the third (with score effects granted) we had given up 25 shots and 5 beat Bernier. I’ll take those odds most nights.

    Carrick was stapled to the bench, rest of the forwards played 10 minutes plus. Better usage overall, much more balanced.

    6-2 wasn’t flattering to the Leafs, but that’s the way it is. Let’s see where we are after 9 more games and make judgements.

  • The Craig

    This team isn’t very good. Plain and simple. What do you expect when you look at the roster? Thing is, a lot of teams aren’t very good. Aside from a handful of teams that have managed to separate themselves from the pack, you could pick apart almost every lineup in the east.

    Trading Kessel and/or Phaneuf won’t solve any problems. The team doesn’t have enough top tier talent. End of story.

    No Toews, no Bergeron, not even a Galchenyk in the centre.
    No Doughty, no Chara, no Subban.

    We do have a Kessel. Who might be right up there with the Perry’s and Ovechkin’s but they have Getzlaf and Backstrom respectively.

    Getting rid of Kessel means trying to find another Kessel. You’re never going to get fair value in any trade scenario. The best you could hope for is a few draft picks where maybe, if you’re lucky, you can find another Kessel.

    Build through the draft. Sell what assets you can for future assets and structure your contracts for flexibility.

  • Letters

    Kessel didnt start playing until they reunited the Bozak line.

    Bozak was -3 .

    The players won’t take any of this serious until
    there is a trade .

    Nonis should ask every player with a limited no trade which teams they won’t go to

    and then move a forward .
    my suggestion is start with Bozak
    as a shot across the bow.

    • TGT23

      Yes! Treat Kessel like the coach from Money ball.

      Nonis “Phil, just came to tell you that Bozak isn’t your C anymore”

      Kessel “But I want him (and I’m a giant baby who won’t play with anyone else.”

      Noni’s “Well that’s great, but we just traded him. So you can’t have him. Kadri, Komarov, or Santo?”

  • Letters

    The Randy haters are working so hard to find any kind of positive out of a 6-2 game to defend that the team is garbage because Carlyle is an awful coach.

    Now let’s not get all like Friedman and spin andspin. We can be truthful and say we have to give it a few games but if this is the “response” by the team after the coach was fired (because he lost the room) then this disheartening as a fan.

    • TGT23

      Randy never lost the room. Randy got canned for refusing to break-up our only scoring line and play rookies and career-AHLers for 10 minutes/game like the bloggers ordered. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that Kessel lashed out at the media right after the Carlyle firing. He’s pissed. You’ll get what you want – Kessel, Bozak, Phaneuf and everyone and anyone who ever threw a punch or a hit will be traded away and we’ll have a team full of kids floating around and throwing pucks to the net from the blue line for 10 minutes each/night with a winning percentage similar to the current Oilers’ team. Long live the Corsi!

    • TGT23

      One game after Kadri had missed a few. But hey, sure, let’s stick with Bozak-Kessel-JVR some more. Because having a top line that gets dominated while playing 20 minutes a night is better than trying anything new for longer than a few periods!

  • TGT23

    Reilly… What the hell were you doing? Guy let’s the puck get passed him and then…. Goes for a line change… What?!

    Franson, maybe don’t hold your stick at your waist when the other team is taking a point shot. Good job deflecting a puck into your own net.

    Seriously, THIS is how the Leafs respond to a coach firing? Seriously?! What a joke.

    STAN, you’re wrong about Bernier and Phaneuf gets 7M+ in Free Agency, but you’re right, he and Kessel aren’t a good enough core. Leafer, you’re… Still a joke, actually.

  • STAN

    Jeffler no worries man. We got 108 years of experience behind the bench. See Spot has got 41 games now and Steve has his first game as a big league assistant coach.

    But the real coach is right the boys are tentative and fragile and nervous. They need an aw shucks, placid sort of guy. Somebody who can spit sun flower seeds with the best of them as he dozes on the bench. Yep John Gibbons has a month before he returns to the alligator and python infested swamps of Florida. Think of the inspirational talks that John could give to Phil and Dion about winning.

    On a serious vain I got to admit I was indeed impressed with the coaching. You don’t see other coaches pulling their goalie when you are down 5 to 2 with a couple of minutes left or calling a time out in the last minute. This was pure genius on Peter’s part.

    Have no fear Jeffler the boys have an easy game against Columbus and then a nice soft schedule of 9 out of 11 on the road. Look how well the last road trip went.

    Leaf fans if you actually crave winning switch over to the exciting, entertaining and playoff bound Raptors.

  • TGT23

    The sad part of the continued losing, leaf suckage and falling out of the playoffs is that Randy is going to come out looking like the scapegoat. He will be simply a victim of circumstance and won’t get the deserved bashing for his asinine system, poor player usage and ineffective coaching.

    Randy is 100% the problem and not the core.

  • The Leafs should consider getting back Carl Brewer if he is still around.

    Imo the Leafs should trade at least 3 regular players before the trade deadline to places like Carolina, Arizona, etc. to shake things up…if those places will accept them lol

  • If you feel the need to constantly criticise and complain about these players and team and talk like they’re garbage, just stop watching please. Stop commenting. stop. Just stop with this team. Find another team to latch onto, and go be happy somewhere else. Find a hobby. Seriously what are you doing here if you dislike these players so much? If you feel the need to vent do so, and don’t come back you have been officially traded to another fan base you can go in peace now, I am throwing your imaginary fan Jersey onto the imaginary Ice.
    I hear Florida needs some fans, go away now please.