“Oh well, screw it.Â It’s time to go on to the next one.”
Rinse and repeat Justin, as these words left the Toronto tender’s mouth after getting shelled for six goals in a loss to the Minnesota Wild last week.Â One would hazard a guess that the young goalie will need some more of this good humour after seeing a similar fate tonight.Â Likely exhausted from the extensive bus ride to Buffalo, the Maple Leafs as a team did very little to support their rookie netminder.
Here are a few quick hits from this Wednesday night wreck:
-Another NHL gig, and another rough start for Justin Pogge. Who else thinks he’s slowly taking each of the Leafs who hang him out to dry off his Christmas card list? On the first Buffalo goal, John Mitchell watched his man (Connolly) waltz to the net for a nice tip in. No chance for Justin on the first shot of the game.
-Stafford scored a highlight reel goal while undressing Mike Van Ryn. Tough ride for Pogge again.Â While Van Ryn was undoubtedly taken to school, I personally like the passion he showed in expressing his anger.Â He cares, which is more than can be said about some of the others in the blue and white jerseys tonight (re: Antropov’s shinny-style, one-hand tip attempt).
-A first period of dumb penalities:Â a Mitchell retaliation that made Patrick Kaleta giggle with glee, and Alexei Ponikarovsky doing his best lazy-Ukrainian-lumberjack impression.
-Mitchell took a shift on the Blake-Moore line after the second goal in an effort by Ron Wilson to jumpstart the offense.Â It’s pretty clear that the dogged puck pursuit and quick sticks of Blake and Moore are the fuel behind this fire.Â The lucky Leafs that get to ride shotgun on this line are constant benefactors of their hard work.
-Pierre MacGuire made an insightful (I know, I’m surprised too) comment on our passive penalty killing.Â It seems Ron Wilson has effectively taught our players how to keep both hands on their sticks (groundbreaking stuff really) but forgot to tell them what to do next.
-In a 20 second span in the second, the Leafs gave up a 3-on-1 and a 2-on-1, requiring a great save out of Justin Pogge to keep the score from reaching 4-0.Â I’m glad the commentators didn’t attempt to convince the viewers that this was an example of the oft-mentioned “end to end action”.Â Even an American (sorry guys) could tell that the dominance was riding a one-way street as Buffalo saw countless odd-man rushes go their way.
-Screw the Christmas card list.Â Pogge is just about ready to “de-friend” the whole Leafs squad on Facebook after a grand total of 9 shots by the Buds through two periods.Â The kid has looked big and athletic in net with little-to-no support in front of him.
-Lee Stempniak showed up just long enough tonight to choke on an attempted pass and inadvertently bank it off the Buffalo net, providing Drew Stafford with the opportunity to toss an easy layup to Thomas Vanek.Â While it’s not easy to give Pogge a free pass on essentially every Sabre goal, I think we can all agree the Vanek rocket off the post would have been a goal in just about any game.
Leafs brass has made their plan of getting Pogge some action very clear in recent weeks.Â As such, the poor kid will undoubtedly have a few more outings similar to this one on hand over the duration of the schedule.Â Ron Wilson stated that he was interested to see how the Leaf goaltender of the future handled “getting kicked around”.Â It seems that the rest of the Leafs team got on board with their coach in at least this one respect.