Leafs Postgame: Late Game Thrashing From The Former Thrashers

I remember frequenting the JetsOwner website and message board as a teenager. At the time, I really wanted the fans in Winnipeg to get an NHL team again; the team seemed economically viable, and the people who I would talk to seemed very nice.

Many random booings and “True North!” anthem chantings later, and I want to take it all back. I’ll give Jets fans acknowledgment of their “passion”, but they’re also completely insufferable once the game starts. Like tonight’s game, when they took on the Leafs. Unfortunately for Toronto, it didn’t play out to their favour; while the score remained even until the home stretch, the Jets eventually were able to take off with a 4-2 defeat.

The Rundown

The Jets got on the board first, but not after imposing their offensive presence early in the opening period. This paid dividends when Dustin Byfuglien managed to find his way to the front of the net without obstruction; his close quarters shot snuck past James Reimer’s skate and into the back of the net. However, PA Parenteau was quick to respond. While Alexander Burmistrov sat in the box for latching onto Morgan Rielly, game-time-decision Tyler Bozak threw a wrist shot towards the net. Ondrej Pavelec rebounded it straight to Parenteau, who wasted no time in scoring his second of the season.

The restored tie lasted fewer than forty seconds, however, as the Jets found a way to repeat the same action. Mark Scheifele took quick advantage of Toby Enstrom’s shot and roofed his fifth goal of the year and the last tally of the period.

Things looked bad for a bit, but Toronto was once again able to tie the game. Mark Stuart preoccupied himself with a hit on Nazem Kadri, which gave Roman Polak an opportunity to rush in with the puck, eventually feeding Leo Komarov a foot-driven tap-in. 

The game ultimately wasn’t meant to be, though. Winnipeg overwhelmed Toronto through the second half, throwing shots on net like a fire truck’s hose at a five-alarm blaze. Of all things, a failed powerplay opportunity was what came back to haunt the Leafs, as in the game’s dying minutes, Alex Burmistrov hopped out of the box, rushed the puck, drop passed to Blake Wheeler, and slid home a one-timer for the game winner. Bryan Little added an empty-netter in the closing seconds.

Blue Warrior

I feel that Dion Phaneuf deserves some credit for tonight’s game. While sheltered in terms of ice time, he played the toughest zone-based minutes of any Leafs defencemen, yet the team controlled play when he was present. As well, he grabbed an assist on Parenteau’s goal. This gives some credence to the theory that Phaneuf can be a pretty great player if properly utilized; it’s just a matter of this lasting for 82 games.

See You Next Time

The Leafs now move on to hosting the Detroit Red Wings. Mike Babcock’s first attempt at facing his old team didn’t go so great; a 4-0 loss at the Joe, but maybe he’ll have a bit more luck at home? Puck drop is at 7PM on Friday night.

  • MatsSundin#13

    Have to give the Leafs their due credit for sticking with this manhandling, physical Jets team that is (in my opinion) playoff-bound. Once again, however, the #WyldeJinx helps Pavelec turn in a stellar performance against the Leafs.

    My review of the Leafs players:

    JVR-Kadri-Komarov

    van Riemsdyk looked good defensively tonight and had chances.
    Kadri brought a ton of energy and took some big hits; still snake-bitten though.
    Komarov had a season-high in hits I think and the team certainly appreciated his physical presence

    Matthias-Bozak-Parenteau

    This line consistently looks like the Leafs least defensively capable line at 5-on-5 (Parenteau gets a pass because of his nice sweeper goal); I would like to know how they would have performed with Holland at pivot tonight.

    Lupul-Spaling-Winnik
    While both Winnik and Lupul had off-nights (imo; especially Lupes on the empty-netter), I think Spaling had one of his best games as a Leaf – was dominant in the dot and played well.

    Boyes-Froese-Grabner
    Once again, Boyes proves surprisingly skilled in offensive zone (showed some “nifty mittens” of his own with that toe drag) and Froese had great hustle on the backcheck to prevent a scoring chance BUT Grabner is like a black hole – you barely notice him! Hiope he gets going soon.

    Agree with you Jeffler about Dion – he wasn’t noticeable tonight and that was probably a good thing. Marincin too.

    Hunwick and Gardiner were both solid, I thought (Jake got hung out to dry on the Burmistrov goal)

    A for effort to MO; he looks better each game.

    Polak had his best game of the season tonight!! Maybe the physicality jump-started his legs but he was skating really well and actually got involved offensively very nice to see.

    And… Reimer.

    I am an admitted Reimerpologist – but even I admit that the Byfuglien goal was soft, and it just seems like he crouches down too early when facing shots from the point. Would love to see Bibeau get a crack at the starting gig on Friday. GO LEAFS GO

  • CMpuck

    Phaneuf can be a good player if properly utilized and ignoring the reality of his Clarksonian contract. Just admit he is paid like one of the best defenders in the game and he is not able to live up to that.

    And I much prefer Reimer in net who doesn’t let in those softie goals on the first shot.

    • Kanuunankuula

      yes i think your right about utilizing his talants. and i think that would be off the ice in the press box. god we see him play 3-4 good shifts and think princes phaneuf is bobby baun.

      • TGT23

        Phaneuf is the antithesis of the great Bobby Baun. Boomer Baun was tough as nails. He would fight and win the fight. He was a solid defensive player who didn’t have a huge ego. He was clutch as was proven with his famous o.t. goal playing with a broken leg.

        He was also smart as he didn’t have a hissy fit after someone gave him a hard check and then. Even after more than a decade in the league Phaneuf is too stupid to ignore a cheap shot but instead immediately retaliates and ends up in the penalty box hurting his club.

        Baun never was made captain but he sure would have been a vast improvement over Phaneuf if number 21 was playing today.

    • TGT23

      I feel like you can’t really compare the two contracts and doing so is entirely unfair. Phaneuf, though not an elite defenseman, is a very good one who, when used properly, is a top pairing D-Man on the majority of teams not named Chicago, LA, or St. Louis (a few others, too. Nashville for example). Clarkson makes top line money (I suppose maybe you can argue 2nd line money) to be essentially a 4th liner.

      So, I don’t think that is fair.

      Also, the first goal was soft. I don’t think it was the first shot but it was still soft.

  • CMpuck

    Wow Peg is a fun team to watch, reminds me of Chara’s Bruins in their prime. If they find a center at the deadline I’m jumping on the bandwagon. Love how that team was put together. I know they’re not all 4’11 corsi darlings but give them a chance.

    As for Phaneuf being the warrior tonight? It’s a physical game and he didn’t throw a hit. He plays castrated, does nothing right or wrong and is called great for being invisible.

  • CMpuck

    Wow the general consensus from the author and posters is that the Jets are building the right way, big strong wingers with speed. Tough defencemen. I find that to be an interesting philosophy to build a team. I guess they must think a rugged physical team can handle the physicality of a long playoff run.

    Not sure what the Jet fans have had to crow about but I guess they feel they are a superior team to the leafs and have a number of draft picks and young kids ready to make their mark in the league.

    They kind of remind me of the exciting, entertaining, WINNING, undefeated Toronto Raptors.

    • Kanuunankuula

      the jets you say have nothing to crow about,they are far more superior than the leafs are and have been for the last few years. they do not have to shelter minutes by there d-men. princes p is a 6 d-man on most other teams in the league. seems like people are still waiting for him to play like he did in calgary. when will this toronto rebuild be finished? iam 65 years old and have been watching this team rebuild since 1968. i guess babcock can only get winning results from a more talanted team. 5 million down the drain. i guess the money babcock makes is easy to replace. us leaf fans will pay any price for tickets,beer at the game ect. nothing ever changes in toronto. spend too much for a coach and a crappy d-man. and not enough for real hockey players with heart. can play a good game for 40 minutes then go all to crap for final 20. that must be the first thing babcock must do to change this teams fortunes.

    • TGT23

      I like that you bring up the Raptors, because the comparison between them and the Leafs is stark…

      One thing you have to mention when talking about the Raptors is they were bad for a LONG time. Winning, the prospects, the system, they didn’t come together over night.

      The Raps missed the playoffs for FIVE STRAIGHT seasons before they broke through two seasons ago. Sort of like the Leafs right now. they team had to suffer early in the building process.

      In fact, like the Carlyle-led Leafs, there were times where the teams where the Raptors thought they WERE built to win. The 2006 and 2007 Raptors. Both teams who thought they had the team, the GM, and the Coach to compete but didn’t.

      And, both teams has a pseudo-superstar. Chris Bosh, a fine player, an All-Star… Not a Franchise player. Sort of like Phil Kessel.

      Sure, they were fun to watch. But, they weren’t really built for lasting success. They weren’t championship teams.

      Eventually, they tore it down. Got rid of their GM and Coach, got rid of the players that couldn’t make it work. Found a new coach (after Triano) and GM to figure it out. An up-and-coming mind and talent in Masaih Ujiri… Sort of like Dubas… Sort of like the Leafs.

      So whenever you bring up the Raps I feel rejuvenated in my patience for the rebuild. Because the Leafs are doing something similar to the Raps. And if we’re very, very lucky, it will work out as excellently.

  • Kanuunankuula

    These past few games have been concerning, we’re once again outshot no matter the score. Hope Babs’ philosophy is not being ignored even with the losses they’ve had.

    • CMpuck

      babcocks philosophy is so full of holes. hard work only pays off if you also have some talanted players on this team. not very many talanted playes on this team,if the leafs had as much talant as babcocks ego they would really have a shot at turning things around. his story is already getting old. and that just after a handfull of games. by seasons end us leaf fans will be wondering why we didt sign a coach that is a teacher to young players like blysma in buffalo?

  • TGT23

    Credit where credit is due; Reimer had a pretty solid game. Little weak on the first goal but the 2nd and 3rd were hardly his fault (3rd was bad luck all around. Gardiner was hung to dry, too). Hopefully he can rebuild some of the value he lost during the last two terrible seasons.

    I’ve really liked the Kadri line this season. The points aren’t there but they cause so many scoring chances. When they break through the points will come flooding in. Doing all the right things, just not getting rewarded.

    Feel like the team as a whole has this problem. A lot of doing the right thing and not being rewarded.

    Just have to stick with it. Especially the young guys. The overall talent isn’t there but the system and the style of play will long-term lead to success. Much more than the Carlyle run-and-gun system which led to a lot of defensive irresponsibility.

    When they get the reinforcements from the minors and draft in the coming seasons and the team develops more I really like where they are headed.

    Just going to take a little while. And a ton of patience.

    I always find it funny some of the guys who say “I wanted a rebuild from the start” are usually the ones having a hard time accepting the rebuild’s timetable. “We’ve won two games!!!”… Yeah… It’s a rebuild. The season isn’t about winning or stats, it’s about teaching… Deep breaths, Leafs Nation. We’ve only just begun.

  • TGT23

    I don’t understand why everyone is saying that the 3rd goal was ‘lucky’ – kadri failed to show up for the beautiful saucer pass from JVR for a tap-in on a powerplay and of course the play went the other way. A team is supposed to be aware of the man coming out of the box. The clock is there for everyone to see – after 2 minutes the man is coming out of the box.

    I really hope Babcock is pointing out to Kadri the glaring and fatal mistakes that he is making like giving away the puck on the 2nd goal (and see above) tonight. The kid (and this is the last year he gets to be called that) is costing us games like Gardiner did over the last few seasons and the coach is praising him. I really hope there’s some reverse psychology thing going on here.

    Did anyone else notice how the Leafs came out in the third protecting the tie? Low expectation this year indeed.

    Rilley, Gardiner and Phaneuf are playing really good hockey. Polak had a great game. Hunwick is coming back to earth – there’s no way that guy remains on the top pairing all season.

  • Gary Empey

    It is easy to see the improvement in the Leaf’s game this year under Babcock. Overall positional play is much improved. We still need to score more goals to win some games. We do seem to be getting some chances. Most of the assets (draft pick/prospect) in the Kessel trade are not on the team yet. None of our prospects from the last draft are with the team or Marlies yet. We seem to be in every game to the end. Special teams are improving. Goaltending is improving. Faceoffs are improving. Other teams are being forced to play a good game to beat us. (which they seem to be doing). I wonder if Phaneuf is playing with an injury as it is not like him not to throw a few checks. As for those jumping on the Winnipeg band wagon. Expect a short ride. They went out four straight in last years playoffs to this years bottom feeding Ducks.

    My Blue Warrior was Komarov. Terrific back checking, fore checking and an offensive threat every time he was on the ice.

  • Gary Empey

    Great game last night was it as great a game as Monday’s Game NO” but still a good game..

    Was it a great game like against Dallas for Reims “NO”

    Did he let on a softie “YES”

    Did he get his groove back and give his team a chance to come back “YES”

    Did the last goal suck due to the players on the ice not paying attention to the time of the penalty “YES”

    Would the team come though this with a tie to the end “POSSIBLY”

    I still believe in Reims and although the team loss this game I still think Reims deserves to run with it and that this should be his chance to play a run of games win or loose to see just what he has, instead of playing here and there….Bernier has had many chances to show his game and has not stepped up….(not getting into another war regarding Bernier) enough said… He’s played good this season and the team seems to groove with him this season so why no let him and the team gel for a stretch????

    Give Reims his chance see what he and this team can do together once and for all….but really give him the ball and let him know that this is your time use it wisely and prove yourself worthy of the gig…..seems fair to me after all that he’s gone through and still stands tall and loves being here in Toronto, loves the fans, his team-mates and seems to handle himself on a personal and professional manner….Even the coach says he’s a great kid….

    Just my thoughts…..

  • wheresaldo

    The Leaf are improving in areas and you could see it in this game vs the Jets, They’re more organized in the defensive zone, they’re not scrambling in the defensive zone as much they are matching the physicality or even out hitting their opponents. The issue still remains their turnovers. Their Faceoff percentage keeps getting better each game. Their Special Teams looked pretty solid vs the Jets. Especially the Penalty Kill. This team has issues scoring and that’s what’s really holding them back. Phaneuf looks improved Because he’s being utilized properly by Babcock, and the fact he’s playing on his natural side unlike when he was forced to play on his offside under Wilson & Carlyle go figure hey.

  • jimithy

    So,for the next 5 months the fans are forced to witness sub-par hockey again, and proudly support an incompetent management group and scouts that keep picking up average players that you could have found on craigslist. Thanks a lot.

    • Gary Empey

      The Leafs other choice for a rebuild would have been to trade draft picks and prospects for better players at the trade deadline. Sign high sought after free agents (eg. Clark) This may have provided immediate results. This also has been the strategy for the last 10 years. It used to work, now and it usually backfires leaving the team with no depth and little future.

      Most of us here, while not happy with the Leafs losing, can foresee a bright future around the corner.

      As for Phaneuf and his salary…. Tampa took leafer2000’s advice and signed their captain to a short-term contract. They are now in real danger of losing him at the just turned age of 26 for absolutely nothing.

      The same people that complain about Kessel, Phaneuf, will soon be complaining about Marner, and Nylander and maybe Stamkos too.