Frustrating night on Long Island: Muzzy’s Muzings

Photo credit:Dennis Schneidler-USA TODAY Sports
Nick Alberga
1 year ago
From a Leafs perspective, that game was uglier than the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum.
Cal Clutterbuck notched two goals and an assist while Ilya Sorokin made 25 saves as Pierre Engvall’s New York Islanders smothered the Leafs 7-2 on Tuesday night at UBS Arena.
Believe it or not, Toronto led 1-0 after one thanks to a hard-fought Sam Lafferty goal. After that, clearly, it was all Islanders. Mitch Marner had the other goal for the Leafs, who fell to 1-1-0 on their five-game road trip.
In three outings with New York this season, Toronto went 1-1-1 tallying three of a possible six points.
The good news on the night for Toronto came in Montreal where the Canadiens edged the Lightning 3-2. That means the Leafs are still 3 points up on Tampa with 2 games in hand.
 Let’s start with a positive. For the seventh straight game, the Leafs opened the scoring as Sam Lafferty had a puck deflect off him for his first with his new squad. All in all, I thought the Leafs had a fairly good first period. They played with jam, bite and desperation. In a barn like that one, it’s important to take the crowd out of it early and that opening goal established just that. That was playoff hockey to a tee. They need to find a way to bottle that up.
One team was desperate, one was not. Full credit to the Islanders for coming out strong in the second period after trailing 1-0 after one. Additionally, I thought Toronto was a trainwreck defensively. They were running around, something we’ve seen a lot from this team recently. Again, there’s no need to panic here, but you would like to see hem rectify their defensive issues sooner rather than later. Not to point anyone out, but it was a rough night for Timothy Liljegren. It goes without saying but he needs to make better decisions with the puck moving forward. It’s mistakes like the ones he made in this one that can effectively cost a team a series.
Not that Ilya Samsonov was terrible, but indisputably, the Leafs witnessed first-hand what a Vezina calibre goalie can do for a team. Ilya Sorokin was fantastic —especially that paddle save on Erik Gustafsson. Ridiculous. From a Leafs perspective, there’s not much you can do in that scenario. Having said that, sometimes you need that big save, and with Andrei Vasilevskiy looming come Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, it’s important for Toronto’s crease to stay consistent. Any way you slice, we’re going to really see what this team is made of over the next six weeks. The regular season is nice and everything, but the postseason is a different animal.
Attention Sheldon Keefe: It’s time to put the blender away. Enough is enough. Personally, I think they’re overdoing it now. From here on out, I want to see some consistency with the lineup decisions. The coaching staff has had plenty of time to evaluate, it’s time to start making some decisions here. There are 12 games remaining. Use them wisely!
 The Leafs will continue their five-game road trip on Thursday night when they visit the Florida Panthers. And get used to that matchup. Toronto and Florida will square off three times between now and the end of the regular season. The Leafs took the opener of their four-game season series, 5-4 in OT, back on January 17th at Scotiabank Arena.
Don’t forget to check out ‘Leafs Morning Take’ with yours truly, Nick Alberga, and former Leaf Jay Rosehill every weekday morning LIVE at 11 a.m. ET on The Nation Network YouTube page.

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