Photo Credit: Bruce Fedyk/USA TODAY Sports
After the well-structured, happy go lucky game that the Leafs had against the Edmonton Oilers, some of you may have thought that the good vibes would keep going for more than a few minutes.
Those of you who did are probably new here. This was a game to the fans to forget, and the staff to remember. An absolute trainwreck of an outing from the Leafs, and one that ends in a 6-1 loss.
Why The Leafs Lost
This was one of the worst defensive efforts from the Leafs this season. The Jets started shooting, and never really stopped doing so throughout; regardless of whether they were at even strength, on the powerplay, or killing a penalty, the Jets didn’t stagnate at any point.
Most of their shots found their way to Garret Sparks. I’m not going to tell you that he was without fault tonight; the Andrew Ladd goal, in particular, was one that he didn’t correctly square up for, and as a result, he was easily defeated by an NHL-quality snipe. But the rest of it?
This game reminded me of a Toronto Marlies game on October 24th, which Sparks and his teammates lost 5-1. Every goal, with the exception of one long bomb, was the result of an odd-man rush or a breakaway, and it made him look worse than he was.
Similar happened to him tonight. Drew Stafford scores Winnipeg’s first goal as a result of Matt Hunwick pinching, allowing him to go on the half-break and score on the deke. Sparks overcommits a little on the second one, but fully loses his balance and chance at making a sve once Roman Polak bumps into him, allowing the Jets to finish their slot one-timer. Leo Komarov goes in too deep on the third goal, leaving a man (Mark Scheifele) wide open for the rebound. Polak gets in the way of Sparks once again on the fifth tally, allowing for a cross-crease feed in the slot, and for the final goal, PA Parenteau misses a risky stick check that forces Shawn Matthias to focus on Andrew Copp rather than the streaking in Anthony Peluso.
Other than Ladd, all of these goals were close-quarters defensive catastrophes. Yes, an elite goalie probably bails his team out better than the 22-year-old playing his second game, but I don’t think James Reimer or Jonathan Bernier would’ve won this game.
The Marlies cleaned up their act in the games that followed their defensive massacre and went on an 11-1-1 run. I don’t think the Leafs are capable of the same, but a rebound from this would be nice.
Nice Things To Say
I’m very happy for Michael Grabner, who picked up his first goal with the Leafs tonight. I’ve always liked him, and though he’s basically here as an asset to flip after a contract quantity dump, it’s still nice to see him have a little bit of success.
Michael grabs his first goal as a Leaf.
ITS FUNNY BECAUSE HIS LAST NAME IS GRABNER
LAUGH AT OUR PUNS pic.twitter.com/3oucWLjK4W
— The Leafs Nation (@TLNdc) December 3, 2015
I also felt that things seemed to be going Peter Holland’s way tonight, and the numbers agree. 75% of attempted shots when Holland was on the ice went in Toronto’s favour at even strength, which led the team.
If there’s any shred of accountability on this team, Frank Corrado has to play some hockey tomorrow. There has to be someone you’d take out in his place; Matt Hunwick was slaughtered on the possession charts tonight (the only negative defenceman at 44%), and Roman Polak was a goalie’s worst enemy throughout. Take one of them out and put Corrado in. It’s only been two months now.
On To Minnesota
The Leafs will want to move on from this game as soon as they can, and they can start with a decent result against the Minnesota Wild tomorrow night. Minnesota hockey traits include:
- Letting their original team be relocated (just like Winnipeg!)
- Overpaying medium-star players
- Focusing too much on high school players
- The dumbest jersey retirement in sports (#1 for “The Fans”)
- Wasting Marian Gaborik for eternity
- Giving birth to Jake Gardiner (WE FOUND A GOOD THING)
Puck drop is at 8 PM and you can catch the game on TSN. Until then, go do something more productive. I’m gonna grab a drink and hit up the local outdoor rink and pretend tonight never happened.