Leafs Postgame: Working Hard is Hardly Working

Going into their game against the Pens, the Leafs had a bunch of moral victories and one actual victory so far this season. With it being their first game against Phil Kessel since The Trade, another simple moral victory would be a tough pill to swallow. 
Unfortunately, the game was very similar to every game other than the one against Columbus. The Leafs played really well, keeping Crosby and Phil off the scoresheet. But despite outplaying the Penguins a good portion of the night, the Leafs ultimately lost 2-1. 

THE RUNDOWN

It didn’t take long for the game to look like a Penguins blowout win, after Evgeni Malkin and Olli Maata scored 40 seconds apart six minutes into the game. It was another worrisome start for Jonathan Bernier, who allowed those two goals within the first four shots of the game. These early goals are becoming a trend for Bernier and are total team killers, especially Malkin’s goal where he was way out of position.

After Maata’s goal, Mike Babcock called a timeout, settled the team down and told them to get back to work. And that’s what they did. From then on, they owned the puck, resulting in a Leo Komarov tip on a Jake Gardiner rocket 13 minutes into the first. It was Leo’s third goal in two nights, showing some of his offensive prowess that was evident in his time in the KHL and prior to his injury last year.

Scoring-wise, that was it. The game would end 2-1, but both goalies were very good. It’s a confidence builder for Bernier and the Leafs that he was able to settle down and play a great game after allowing two early ones. His glove save on Patric Hornqvist might end up being his best save of the year.


BLUE WARRIOR

Despite his possession numbers 5v5 leaving a lot to be desired (in fact, the Leafs lost the corsi battle 55 to 52 tonight, a rarity so far in the Babcock era), Daniel Winnik was a standout tonight. He made a number of strong plays down low, initiated the cycle, and created some chances on the PK with Nick Spaling. Games like tonight’s remind you why the Leafs were so eager to bring him back after trading him.

SEE YOU NEXT TIME

The Leafs get another solid break before facing the Sabres in Buffalo on Wednesday. It’ll be the first time we get to see Jack Eichel, who is the face of a new-look Sabres offense that includes Sam Reinhart, Ryan O’Reilly, and Evander Kane. It should be a fun one. 
    • Gary Empey

      Wrong. That game was very winnable because bozak was not in the line up. The problem was again Bernier gave up two garbage goals early in the game.

      If Babcock runs with out Bozak and Bernier the leafs will do much better

      • TGT23

        Wrong.

        If the Leafs score 6 for Bernier like they did the other night the Leafs win in a laugher. You aren’t going to win many games scoring 1 goal.

        He gave up two goals, sure, and then kept the Pens at 2 the rest of the night. The Leafs were well in the game and his 31 saves kept them in it. Hardly on Bernier.

        Just like I said after the first game vs. Montreal; If Bernier allows just 2 goals and makes 30+ saves in most of his starts the team is going to win a lot of games.

        Unfortunately, for that to be true they need to actually score some goals. This is now twice the team has scored just 1 goal for him.

  • Gary Empey

    the Leafs passing needs work!

    Not a very good game tonight overall,
    but still one can identify some positive signs
    as many of the former Leafs bad habits are no longer evident.

    And the new forward lines are interesting

    Defensively over all the Leafs look adequate
    but they need some work on finishing scoring opportunities.

    Good to see Bernier get his game back after
    the 2 early goals.

  • MatsSundin#13

    Bernier is like RA Dickey before the all-star break! No. Run. Support! Get this man some goals (although I don’t mind seeing the Reiminister more often).