LEAFS POSTGAME: Leafs Keep Playoff Hopes Alive

Despite losing a franchise-record 11 straight games prior to tonight, the Leafs hadn’t been mathematically eliminated from the playoffs. And with even a slight chance of the playoffs, you know the Leafs players and coaches are proceeding with the hope of playoffs, but the realistic expectations of finishing 10th or 11th.
Playoff push or not, a win was necessary for the team tonight. Fortunately, the Oilers were in town.

THE RUNDOWN
Let’s be real – the first period was kind of boring. No goals were scored. But the Leafs looked quite good. While the shots were pretty even in the first (and throughout the night), the Leafs were dominant in terms of scoring chances and corsi. Edmonton caught up later on, which is expected when a team is down. The big thing that is in close scoring situations at even strength, the Leafs were very good.
The second period was when the fun began.
At 8:56, Richard Panik scores on the powerplay, giving the Leafs a lead – a rarity in their last twelve games. Two minutes later, The Phil adds another one.
3 minutes later, Morgan Rielly scores a sure Goal of the Year candidate. 

I concur.

The Leafs had all but ended the game at this point. They were dominant and Reimer was on. Hell, even the fans were into it.

30 seconds into the 3rd, and this happens.
That pass by Kadri! That goal by Santorelli! This is what confidence can do to a team.
Speaking of confidence:
The Leafs would let Luke Gazdic (!) score with 2.3 seconds left to blow Reimer’s well-deserved shutout. There’s video of it but Gazdic sucks and honestly it’s heartbreaking to see the shutout bid ruined.

Blue Warrior

James Reimer. He was very upset and critical of the team’s performance after their last loss, and he backed up that talk. Sure, the score was lopsided, but Reimer made some big saves at key moments to keep the team on track. 31 saves on the night.

Notes

  • Think about how the Leafs couldn’t score for the last month. Now think about how they scored five goals against Edmonton. The Oilers are bad.*
  • *PDO is fun
  • A win is great, it’s just unfortunate that this late playoff push is going to come at the expense of getting Connor McDavid. 

See You Tuesday

The Rangers come to town. Would seem like a sure loss, but Lundqvist is out so who knows – this could be the real beginnings of a miracle playoff push. 7:30 EST. 

    • CMpuck

      Oh well, if you’re going to win might as well have it be a good showcase game for your trade pieces.

      Loved watching the after forty minutes crew play HFboards. RNH is an A+???? Hall A-? Eberle A???? Kessel A-??? Rielly A? Kipper a zealot mod would have suspended you for trolling with those evaluations. Took one too many concussions bud.

    • STAN

      Is there any doubt that this Leafs team looks cleaner, faster, more creative and assertive without two sluggish boat anchors – Clarkson and Phaneuf?

      Number 71 should have been scratched a long time ago rather than be given power play time for which a half a dozen other players were far more deserving.

      Sure Victor Fasth and the rest of these sorry Oilers helped out and threw a temporary roadblock in the Leafs effort to get Connor McDavid, but they were also without one of their top threats Taylor Hall. Again. With hindsight the Oilers must be saying, “Geez this guy can’t stay healthy. Tyler Seguin CAN and is a much more rounded player. Whoops”.

      Pretty clear to me that Kadri is a talent the Leafs just can’t let go. Why wasn’t he one of the “3 Stars” ahead of Kessel? Great Kadri puck possession and arguably the most creative forward on the team. (Which indicates to me that Nonis will move him. Why not? Most of his other major moves by this cretin have been boneheaded.)

      I keep hearing that Santorelli, Winnik and Franson will be traded. Why? They are also among the best players.

      • Jeremy Ian

        Stan so refreshing to read an intelligent posting in here as it is the exception with most of the crayon writers now in bed with their cup of hot chocolate and leaf pyjamas. Maybe one of the Corsi and Fenwick fanatics can point out that the leafs were way over 500 when the worst skating player in the league the a.h.l. level Clarkson is not in the line up.

        The leaf brain trust and really that is truly an oxymoron as the board of jerry jones wannabees have already written out their script to keep the great unwashed slobs happy. The reason Santorelli , Winnick and Franson will be moved is to convince the fans that the draft picks they will pick up and trust me none will be better than a second with Franson probably getting that second pick and Santorelli and Winnick at best a third and fourth pick. They will shout from the mountain tops that the leafs have the most draft picks next season. Whoopydooo.

        Let us not forget that the bull in a china shop Burke panicked when the Kessel deal exploded in his face and thus he dealt off two second round picks so he could draft Tyler “the flop” Biggs. Burkie figured along with the bean counters and blue suits of the board that Toronto fans would be in heaven knowing the leafs had not one but two first round picks. The other was Percy who is struggling to make a hopeless leaf defence.

        Stan, thank you, thank you once again for bringing some levity into thic childish posting site.

    • Jeremy Ian

      Got to give the Oilers credit for truly being the L.A. Clippers of yester year. Top draft pick after top draft pick and still a bum of the month squad. Similar to Donald Sterling, Katz is an absolute terrible owner. Btw the Clippers seem to be heading back to obscurity as the Raptors anihalated them for the second straight time this season on friday night.

      The usual suspects in here might edify themselves this evening by reading the weekend National Posts top ten worst Canadian sports team owners. Yes Uncle Harold was number one but M.L.S.E. made the top ten along with Daryl Katz who was number seven.

      The coffee kid who posted this piece actually rather sadly is probably right as the leafs will beat enough of the A.H.L. teams in the league to finish 10th to 12th which will put them at the 6th or 7th pick assuring the club of another not quite in the top five list. How have the leaf recent top 8 picks turned out with the exception of Morgan Reily. Sure Nylander might be good or he might not.

      However if the leafs do dump a number of players who will not obtain the deluded dreams illustrated in here but instead get at best a second to fourth draft pick, the club could tank further in the standings and at best get the third pick and obtain the top defenceman to go along with Morgan Reily.

      Quick Corsi and Fenwick geniuses in here do the last ten year study of N.H.L. draft picks from 2nd to 8th. Tell me how many there have been and how many have proved to be successful N.H.L. players. Then tell me how many leaf players in the past 10 years from the 2nd to 8th have succeeded. With the architects of drafting disaster, Morrison, Penny and Watt still being employed, what makes you think any thing will be different this year as Hunter will be mainly listening to their usual wrong advice.

      As I stated read the fine article in the National Post as it points out the leafs problems start from the rot at the top namely THE OWNERSHIP. Or perhaps you have been in a coma the past 21 years and have not noticed that the Jays have never made the playoffs since the last World Series win or the soccer team is as usual a mess and the Raptors have only one playoff win in their 2 decades.

      However that is about to change as the Raptors are second in the eastern conference.

      Do yourself a favour. Watch the only playoff bound team in Toronto the number 2 in the eastern conference, the Toronto Raptors take on the defending N.B.A. champions tomorrow. I guarantee you that unlike watching the leafs you will indeed be entertained.

      • Jeremy Ian

        Thanks, once more, for the bile splatter, mate. “….crayon writers now in bed with their cup of hot chocolate and leaf pyjamas…” I really don’t know why you bother if this team and this site are so loathesome, unless it’s you who are the masochist masquerading in pseudo realism.

        But: one thing I do agree with you on: the problem begins at the top.

        There is a deeper problem for the Leafs, which is that they aren’t so bad as to plunge to the bottom; last night’s game reminded us of what bad really is. But they aren’t good enough to climb out of mediocrity. It’s why aiming for McDavid is a chimera. But it’s why management has been dithering for years thinking about tweaks and nudges.

        But personally, I enjoyed last night’s game and just want to watch my team win once and a while, see some young guys do well — yeah, Rielly is amazing; Kadri may never be C1 but he’s a great player; Holland improves; Gardiner’s picked up his game… The last 2 months have smashed the illusions that this team’s “core” can win championships. But I don’t want to go through two more months of crap.

        • Jeremy Ian

          Jeremy did you manage to watch a winning team in Toronto take care of the defending champion San Antonio Raptors, or did you play over and over the leafs getting a victory over an a.h.l. team. I got to give you credit as you indeed do have a style with your verbiage.

          Now if we could just convince you to become a winner and follow the Raptors. Guess what Jeremy you will even get to see playoff games.

    • CMpuck

      As for the Cherry saying we’d be better off this goons on the 4th line… It’s such a boring debate, games aren’t won or lost with their 4th line, hell most not even with their 3rd. So whether it be Santorelli, Winnik, Panik, Terry Yake, Randy Wood, Igor Korolev or Nathan Baurmgartner, Rob Pearson, Kris King, Colton Orr, Travis Green… can we just recognize that this team sucks with goons or money puckers in the bottom six and address the real issues?

    • Dawgfan1980

      I thought tonight some leaders emerged. It was exceptionally telling how few of the Leafs took the skate this morning. I don’t know if I blame them so much though.

      There seems to be a strange mentality in Toronto. A strange set of expectations set, then not met. People in the media seem to not understand how the league works in this day and age, which has been most exemplified by the mismanagement of the cap under Claude Loiselle and Dave Poulin that wasn’t reported on until too late.

      Horachuk has received a lot of criticism, but yet he made the decision to sit Clarkson tonight, which results in Panik scoring. No one has asked in the media for Clarkson to sit at all (Cherry even scoffed at him being scratched tonight), strange considering his production. The next Wendel Clark isn’t. Guess he’s coachable though, that’s why he doesn’t get blasted.

      I am a little nervous about the how open our guys got on breakaways, but Edmonton without Hall, any defence really or a competent goaltender, they didn’t really fly the zone, they caught flat footed d-men.

      Basically, every guy I wouldn’t move (Rielly, Kadri, Holland and Gardiner) played well tonight. Keep Reimer as he is a competent goalie and good value. Move Bernier, as he won’t be tendered and you’ll be stuck with the arbitration decision or give him up for no return.

      Overall, a nice day. Spurs when a derby in dominating fashion, Leafs play a good 30 minutes of hockey with the worst contract in the press box. A shame the team couldn’t block that last shot, but Reimer did what he said he would, as he always has. At some point, it would be neat if the Toronto media would point out that he isn’t a horrible goalie, even competent.

      Oh, Even Strength scoring chances when the game was close were 10-5 for Toronto (66.7%). Edmonton is so devoid of defence, it really is criminal. Good result. I’d like to see us move a few of our players before the next game personally, as I want to see us try hard and come up short for a few games.

      • CMpuck

        Bernier,in the last 11 games from Dec 31st had a save percentage of .892. Reimer,in the last 7 games from Dec. 29th had a save % of.921 in mostly the 2nd half of B2B games. What’s funny is that it’s been noted that the Leafs have been good in these 2nd B2Bs games yet I’ve never seen Reims get any credit for it.

        Actually, it’s not that funny and this is nothing new. Reimer had a better save % at the start of the last 2 seasons but Bernier was still given the net.

        Bernier has shown he can be outstanding at times but his durability is questionable. Why would you not give Reimer more starts, under the circumstances?

    • Dawgfan1980

      goddammit give us mcdavid! stop leafs! showcase phaneuf and trade his a**! no retained salary & get some picks/prospects! give clarkson some 3rd-4th line minutes & no pp time! pray someone is desperate for grit & heart (edmonton) & sell! take on expiring, bad contracts please & no retained salary.

      • Jeremy Ian

        agreed. those are the only guys i would desperately keep. rielly is someone you build around, reimer is a solid option for a rebuild (cheap, above average until goaltending prospects develop, holland is a cheap, solid 3c, panik is a cheap, skilled bottom 9. i would keep jvr unless you get an offer you can’t refuse (top picks/prospect). he’s still very young too. gardiner is getting better. i can see him being a 2nd pairing d-man. i would keep franson because our rd is holzer/granberg/robidas. that’s depressing unless again, you get offers you can’t refuse. kadri is our best centre. still very young and gets better every year. he may turn out to be a strong 2nd line centre (our jeff carter) if nylander develops into a centre/if we draft a top centre. still very good. sell sky high on everyone else.

    • PowerplayParker

      Really cant deal with all this tank talk! I cant wish my team to lose! Great to finally see a win last night although nothing to get too exited about as it was the Oilers. The next coaching appointment has to be 100% right for this club, no more half arsed decisions. Don’t think a major blow up and rebuild is necessary a few tweaks here and there and we will be good to go.

      • CMpuck

        I think a rebuild is coming,and honestly if Shanny thinks the team needs fixing, beyond a tune-up and “sparkplugs” he’ll have to take it apart to do it.
        That’s not to say that it will happen all at once.
        I don’t think Shanahan works that way.

        How they play in the next few weeks under Horachuk will be crucial, ahead of the March trade deadline.

        Though having picks is important, I really hate to lose Santo and Winnick. These two are the ideal mentors for youngsters coming up.

        • CMpuck

          Their plugs playing to save their careers on one year deals, give them term then watch them coast until their next contract year.

          Nonis has the right idea making his scrubs dance for their next contract with some other sucker.

    • CMpuck

      We needed this win and that masterpiece by Reilly, jaws to the floor!

      That being said, I am not sure what I want from this team, can we make a push? And if we are going to “tank” and all, can we watch? It’s always painful to see your team lose, no matter what.

      Where do we go from here?