Leafs Postgame: Emergency Landing

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.

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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?

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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.

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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.

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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.

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  • Gary Empey

    I am going to mention the Coaches Challenge. I realize it likely would have made no difference to the game, but after the refs reviewed it how could they possibly overturn the goal. Winnik was clearly pushed into the goaltender by the Jets defenceman. He was not even in the blue ice when it happened.

    • Jeremy Ian

      I agree; bad call. My guess is that the war-room guys — and so the league — are signaling to players who wind up in the crease (voluntarily or not) that they have to try to get out. If you look at the replay, Winnik took a bit of a rest. Though having Myers, a guy with the wing span of a Pterodactyl, behind you didn’t exactly give Winnik much room to escape.

      Where the league is getting into muddy water is reading intentions into behaviour in what are crowded, split second (unlike a clear, bee-line, open-ice, hits to the head) situations. Just wait till the playoffs and this is going to be a nightmare for the NHL.

  • jimithy

    Winnipeg is too big for the little Leafs. Completely manhandled in every which way but loose. Phaneuf’s true worth was on display throughout. Reilly’s too. Reilly has to go back to the juniors for two or three more years. JVR, it’s unbelievable this guy was the second overall pick in the first round behind Patrick Kane. And Kadri, he’ll score his next goal in January and everyone will think he’s back. Back! Back from where. Back from nowhere but your mind of make beleaf dreams. Shanahan is not doing what he said he would do. And also Babcock, he said if you don’t play well you don’t play. Well nobody is playing well, so therefore nobody should play. Nobody. The team play like they have given up already and it’s only the 2nd of December 2015.

  • Gary Empey

    Hunwick has been pretty bad these last 6 games his passes are getting picked off he’s getting caught on his high Gambling pinches. He’s out of position Defensively. But he won’t be the one to sit. It will be Marincin. Anything for Corrado. Have some mercy for this guy geez.

  • FlareKnight

    I agree, time to let Corrado have a darn game. This was a disaster of a game. Babcock can’t actually say that none of the 6 guys out there tonight shouldn’t sit a game.

    Just a mess. Sure hope they give Reimer a bit more support in his return tomorrow.

  • FlareKnight

    I think a trade may need to be made soon. Not one of these rental guys getting sold but I strongly believe that Rielly needs a proper Defensive partner. I would say put Gardiner w him which should happen at some point but they need a quieter defenseman that can do what Gunnarsson would do for Phanuef still. Percy may be recalled sooner rather than later. He would be perfect for that role w Phanuef but The question is if he is ready.

    Also I think Marincin should sit a couple games. Too many defensive zone turnovers. I know people say the team is a +50% corsi w him on the ice but he looks aweful in his own end and too often last night I saw his and Polaks pairing get heemed in there own end as neither could cordinate a proper breakout.My hopefule D-Pairings for tonight are Gardiner-Rielly, Percy-Phanuef, Corrado-Polak. Polak was bad last night but it was mostly because of bumping into sparks and leaving his position on the 3rd goal while the entire team covered the point giving the jets the entire lower half of the zone to score.

    That was an ugly ugly game. Worst of the season so far. Hopefully it stays that way.

  • Jeremy Ian

    It still smells in my living room of the rancid meat the Leafs dished out last night.

    I am with the sit Hunwick and free Corrado crowd. Hunwick has been deteriorating and Corrado deserves a humanitarian intervention.

    Though I’d like to see some trades, at least for the optics, the market timing is not good. We have to get the value up on some of these UFA’s. Boyes, PAP, et al, please save your careers.

    And what’s with the Polak ice time? 23:36, leading the team????