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.
Follow me on Twitter @RonGuillet
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@ Uncle Otis: Thank ya for the kind words, btw. Very much appreciated! As long as it’s sparking debate criticism doesn’t bother me. Always something to learn from.
@ Andrew R: Lol.. Yes,but he seems to relish the challenge.Hopefully a little wiser after the last outcome. Kid’s worn the scarlet letter his whole career.
@ Cameron: cant argue that logic at all man. then again, the timing is pretty coincidental.. @ Uncle Otis: its amazing – the kid plays with zero fear, gets absolutely hammered and keeps on going. not sure how long his career is going to last like this – but, it does look like he got his bell rung, and like the warriors of old, he’s playing through it and it will be forgotten. though, for the love of everything holy, when we play the B’s again, maybe he can avoid Chara’s corner and head into Kaberles instead?
@ Andrew R: - No, I suspect it’s just part of the learning curve. It’s a part of the game that never goes away fully for any player though. It’s not as though even Crosby, and Datsyuk don’t occassionally watch their game struggle as they try to do too much to correct otherwise minor problems.
@ Uncle Otis: yup – I was going to say that – but, I took serious heat at the time for suggesting Burke should take those hits to his head more serious and at least do due diligence. He has not been the same since those hits – but, none the less, he was their best player through the 1st 2 periods tonight. to your point though, yeah, he has not been the same since that game – no denying it.
@ Andrew R: I know you love Grabo,and he certainly had his moments tonight,but don’t you think his game has been out of sync since the B’s match? And yes,ripping on Ron was uncalled for. Guy was telling it like it is and while that may not be popular after a win,it was true nonetheless.
@ TRUE-BLUE: its why I had the double ?? after backhand.. only way it made sense to miss it – but, yeah, obviously a lefty and from where I was sitting, had to be the forehand.. off to find video cause I dont get how he missed it – our whole section were on our feet with that move and all of us thought it was in..
@ Tim Horton: - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oZGE-Y1C_nk - This might keep the opposition from scoring.
And this when they lose http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=veJ37hhPIc4&feature=related Sorry I just think a beatles song can be played for every situation in life…
@ TRUE-BLUE: yeah, hes a lefty – that makes sense from where I was – even more confusing how he missed it though..
imagine if we could somehow sneak into the playoffs in 8th and face the Flyers 1st round. I know it’s 99.9% unlikely and I’m dreaming here but it would be sooooo sick if we could beat the FLyers first round then beat the Bruins 2nd round, making our 2 picks better than the pick the bruins own!
buddys went to the game couldnt stop telling me how lazy phaneuf and kessel were going around the ice. also that aulie is huge. glad we won but we cant show up tomorrow like this against philly!
Grabovski looked awesome out there – he was the only sign of life for the Leafs in the 1st 2 periods. Still trying to figure out how he missed that breakaway – from my angle – looked like his move almost broke the goalies ankle and somehow he missed on the backhand?? not sure what happened, got to see some highlights I think..