Leafs v. Pens Postgame Thoughts
The Toronto Maple Leafs are now four points removed from eight placeÂ and five points from seventhÂ in the Eastern Conference.
Here’s some quick thoughts on tonight’s tilt against the Penguins:
- The Leafs’ need for a powerplay quarterback was once again apparent tonight (0-5 on the PP). They failed to sustain any sort of pressure on the man-advantage and relying on Phaneuf and Lebda to shoot pucks through traffic is a failed experiment. Lebda can’t shoot or receive a pass and Phaneuf’s shooting accuracy speaks for itself. WithÂ a limitedÂ amount of options from theÂ blueline on the powerplay, the Penguins had little trouble containing the Leafs’ forwards to the outside.
- I’m in utter disbelief, but Mike Komisarek has been playing his role adequately of late. His turnovers have diminished, he’s aggressive downlow and isn’t out of position or screening the goaltender as frequently. With a $4.5 million cap-hit, however,Â he’s still vastly overpaid even if he continues at this pace. But if he canÂ turn his game around and provide the Leafs with the type of play thatÂ Brian Burke covetedÂ two summers ago, it’ll go a long way in stabilizing the Leafs’ defense.
- Even if the hot streak could end abruptly, Leafs fans have to love Phil Kessel‘s willingness to drive to the net and cut inside for quality scoring chances, rather than shoot from the outside (which he could be prone to at times). Now that he’s not playing with two American Hockey League players, there’s less attention fixated on Kessel from the oppositionÂ and he’s creating scoring opportunities with linemates Tyler Bozak and Joffrey Lupul. If the 23-year-old can find consistency he could score over 40 goalsÂ before entering his primeÂ (a number-one center wouldn’t hurt either).
- James Reimer had another average game against the Penguins tonight. He struggled to read plays and his positioning was off on the first two goals, but he looked more comfortable as the game wore on.Â Reimer made some big saves throughoutÂ but by no means bailed the Leafs out of trouble. To be fair, the Leafs have to be one of the worst in the league at clearing puck past its blueline. Whether it’s losing battles to loose pucks or neutral zone turnovers, it has cost the Leafs on numerous nights.
- If the Leafs have any chance of making the playoffs, the team needs its captain to contribute as a defenseman. Not capable of scoring goals? Fine. But on the second goal againstÂ Phaneuf was caught in la-la land and allowedÂ Chris Connor (I had toÂ checkÂ nhl.com toÂ make sure I spelled his name correctly)Â to skate upÂ the neutral zone unchallengedÂ and beat Reimer through the wickets on the breakaway. With the Leafs in the thick of the playoff race the team needs Phaneuf to display more intensity and defensive awareness. Otherwise, Phaneuf is being paid $6.5 million for his supposed leadership abilities.
- Mikhail Grabovski. That is all.
Bring on the Philadelphia Flyers.
You stay classy, MLHS.
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