LEAFS POSTGAME: Long Night In Long Island

The loss was very obviously coming, but the Leafs made it at least appear to be interesting all the way until the final buzzer. An entertaining, vaguely competitive regulation loss? Tank Nation is probably ecstatic.

The Rundown

To be fair, this game wasn’t always poised to end in competitive fashion. Just a minute in, Cody Franson made a disastrous giveaway that Anders Lee capitalized on, swooping across to tuck a puck past Jonathan Bernier. Before the game hit the five minute mark, Casey Cizikas widened the gap, following behind on Colin McDonald’s drive to the net and putting home the rebound. By the end of the period, New York had outshot the Leafs eighteen to eight, and the situation seemed dire moving forward.

The Leafs looked poised to reverse the tide, however, and started the period in the same fashion that the Islanders did. Richard Panik scored his ninth goal of the season a minute and a half in, taking a hit, heading to the net, and getting a boards-rebound off of a missed shot by Korbinian Holzer. Two and a half minutes later, Panik threw Trevor Smith a high saucer pass, and Smith batted it home to tie the game. Toronto had control for the bulk of the second period, but at a little past the halfway mark, Lee regained the lead for his team, picking up a juicy rebound in front of the net.

The third period was very run and gun. Both teams were desperately trying to score; the Leafs to tie it, and the Islanders to go ahead. But both Jonathan Bernier and Jaroslav Halak were equal to the task. Eventually, the Leafs yanked bernier for the sixth attacker, but couldn’t convert.

Blue Warrior

Let’s go with Richard Panik! No matter what your feelings are on team results for the rest of the season, you still want the players to care about succeeding, and Panik looked like a guy who cared tonight. Having points on both goals is always nice too.

Notes

  • The top line looked better tonight, at least from a possession perspective; both Bozak and Kessel were above 60%. The pressure is obviously on Kessel to produce, however, and he didn’t get on the scoresheet.
  • Jonathan Bernier stopped 38 of 41 shots, which is a good overall performance. The goals he gave up weren’t particularly tough ones to stop but weren’t in blame territory either.
  • Leo Komarov picked up an assist and was one of the better possession players on the team tonight. It’d be nice to see him get back in to form; he’s been a bit off his game since he suffered that concussion.
  • The Leafs play their next game on Saturday, against Montreal. I’m not saying you should cheer for the Habs, but I am saying that PK Subban and Max Pacioretty are fine young gentlemen and very good talents.
  • STAN

    Damn right we are estatic. Yesiree the hockey Gods are working o.t. tonight. How else to explain the leafs victory tonight. No, no, no not the usual road loss but Edmonton beating Montreal as all the Habs had to do was score on an empty net only to have an Oiler look better than Reimer or Bernier, then again that isn’t saying much.

    Tank nation is in full force as Jeff pointed out a truly entertaining, tanking defeat that just sunk the leafs a little lower and a little closer to Edmonton in futility.

    Saturday valentines day. How appropriate the leafs play the Habs. Was it just three years ago that these two teams were so bad that the Habs drafted third and the leafs drafted 5th. Well to quote the late great Carl Sagan, the two teams are billions and billions of light years apart today.

    A little history lesson here, although it is about the N.B.A. Many moons ago there was a very talented big center from New York who had starred at Georgetown. Even though they had a low shot at getting the number one pick, Patrick Ewing ended up going home to play for the Knicks. Flash back a decade ago and there was this man child from Akron Ohio and although they had a low shot at landing him, surprise, surprise Lebron James ended up in Cleveland.

    Could we possibly be seeing Gary Bettman realizing that the leafs might be in the gutter when it comes to playing the game but are numero uno when it comes to the Benjamins. The leafs might not have very good odds of getting Connor McDavid but you got to be thinking Bettman realizing just how much moolah the leafs generate in the league would be a very happy commmissioner if the leafs got that number one pick.

    Obviously the leafs are more than doing their part to make that wish come true.

    • STAN

      Exactly Stan. It has to be a total rebuild with high draft picks and hopefully guys who don’t tell the media that they have a long leash and that they play the game they want and to hell with team chemistry.