Game In 10: Game 57, Leafs at Flames
With Alec Brownscombe – Â With Ottawa winning, and the Leafs losing three in a row including an awful effort on Sundinâ€™s night, the boys needed to step up in a big way. Unfortunately, it was the kind of loss that will only fan the Flame on the trade/Rick Nash speculation.
1 â€“ The Leafs are 28-23-6 and our team has lost four straight. This is the first four game losing streak of the season, not sure if that’s a bad or a good thing…
2 â€“ A slow start by the Leafs caused a two goal Calgary lead, but after one the Leafs were still outshooting the Flames by a 17-12 margin. Holy Jokinen! A failed clearance by Lupul followed by a ton of standing around by all of Lupul, Kessel and Bozak leaves Tanguay open in the slot and he gives the Flames a 1-0 lead early in the game.
3 â€“ Our top line again failed on the defensive side of the puck on second goal. After the Leafs lose the puck in the neutral zone, Lupul and Bozak casually make their way to the bench (Bozak actually stood and watched the play instead of getting off for a solid three seconds), while the Flames break down the ice free of any form of backcheck. The first period was a good example of the good and bad of the Leafs top line. It must frustrate the hell out of Wilson (and was the reason why he split up Lupul and Kessel a few weeks back).
4 â€“ After a horrible period defensively, Bozak wins a draw, does the right thing and drives the net, then collects a rebound after Kessel gets the shot on net. Bozie now has five goals in his last 7 games. His game picked up significantly after the first period.
5 â€“ The Leafs found their legs in the second. Kessel hit the crossbar on a redirect, and the game really should have been tied by the midway point. Then, disaster strikes. Phaneuf is caught watching the play from the opposition’s blue line, and Byron gets in behind him off a nice flip play from Sarich. Phaneuf opts for the clear-as-day hook which results in a penalty shot, and Byron beats Gus on the penalty shot. Didn’t seem like Phaneuf thought Sarich could make that play from there. Our observation on Phaneuf – He might need his minutes managed a little better over the course of a season. Not sure he can be a 25 + minute horse every single night given the physical demands of his 200 foot game; heÂ seems to get caught flat footed towards the end of his shifts. Clear as day, our captain didnâ€™t have the best of games.
6 â€“ The team was 0/4 on the PP tonight, which can prove decisive in games like this one, especially against a goaltender who is in top form. Kiprusoff was on tonight. The Leafs used that slap pass into the slot for a redirect 3 or 4 times and are really unfortunate they haven’t scored off one. One crossbar, two good saves by the Finnish monster in goal.
7 â€“ Lupul had trouble clearing the puck out of the zone off the board tonight. His second blown clearance came in the third period and almost led to another goal, but it isnâ€™t just him – itâ€™s a problem for our entire team. The Leafs donâ€™t make the clearances they really should be making and it hems them in their own zone. Gunnarsson was missed.
8 â€“ Absolutely no problems with Gus tonight. He made some good saves and could do very little on all the goals. He did get beat on a penalty shot by a guy not named Iginla but we can hardly fault him for that. Stood tall in net and looked confident.
9 â€“ It can be argued that the boys really picked up their game in the second and third period, but the two goal hole they dug themselves into was really difficult to climb out of. The Leafs ended up shooting themselves in the foot for the fourth goal against. Iginla adds insult to injury and makes it five, and the Leafs have now conceded 14 goals in the last 3 games.
10 â€“ Out of the four opponents the Leafs faced in this four game losing streak, only Philadelphia has to be considered as a really big hurdle. The boys collected zero points from that stretch. If there’s a redeeming factor, it’s that we faced Calgary in one of their better stretches of play in the season. Gotta think the Edmonton game is a must win.