This is was a measuring stick game, a guide to how much work Burke and co. have left before their Leafs are among the best. How did we measure up to one of the best teams in the league? Answer: We might be further away than we thought.
1 â€“ The Leafs are 29-24-6 and the measuring stick went in an uncomfortable place.
2 â€“ Again, loved the GO LEAFS GO chants by the ever present Leafs Nation.
3 â€“ You could see the first goal a mile away. Aulie was caught up ice after making a pinch on Henrik, who was already on the puck. Daniel Sedin makes a perfect saucer pass to Burrows, who makes no mistake. Aulie, you’re kind of slow, maybe don’t pinch against the best line in the game?
4 â€“ Manny Malhotra scored Vancouverâ€™s second on a great individual play in which he made a superman like dive to knock the puck in. You got the feeling Franson could do more to cover his man there. Maybe close the gap a little prior to his dive. But, it was an awesome play, one you canâ€™t fully blame on Franson. Huge save by Reimer at the end of the first to keep the game within reach, at the time. If youâ€™re laughing at this youâ€™re probably a Canucks fan â€“ go away.
5 â€“ Jake Gardiner, holy cow. He was the only redeeming factor in this game. Such composure against a Stanley Cup contending team that tested him period after period. You can really see the future of this team just by looking at his game. Heâ€™s grown so much in such a short period of time, vast improvements in the defensive game.
6 â€“ Turnover by Franson not even four minutes into the second and the Canucks have a 3-0 lead. Burrows found the top corner with a blazing shot. Reimer was beaten by a great shot. Story by that point of the game was â€“ Leaf turnovers.
7 â€“ Dion Phaneuf scores after Phill â€œThe Thrillâ€ beats Hamhuis, circles around the net and makes a great pass to the captain, who drills a one timer behind Luongo. After Luongo robs Kessel, another lost board battle by the Leafs and itâ€™s 4-1 Canucks courtesy of Daniel Sedin. Reimer got pulled right after, and deservedly so. Luke Schenn on that goal? Well now, we wouldnâ€™t want to undermine his trade value, would we? As I write this, Don Cherry is making an interesting point about Schenn playing his offhanded side… interesting.
8 â€“ Salo scored another one after we Lombardied ourselves in the foot. 5-1 Vancouver. Hard not to feel sorry for our goalies after so many defensive lapses. Why does Reimer get the start when Gus has been better since the concussion? I guess because they need to show trust in a goalie they slated as their No.1, one whoâ€™s signed for 3 years. It’s pretty clear they want Reimer to be the No.1 even if he isnâ€™t playing like one. Ok, next question – why is Connolly, Lombardi, Armstrong still a line?
9 â€“ Coaching decisions and the lack of adjustment in preparation for this type of elite opponent are definitely a big question after tonightâ€™s loss. Stubbornly sticking to the system that rarely works against the best teams in the league, throwing Aulie outâ€¦ but those were just part of the problem tonight.
10 â€“ Look, we can all argue the loss until weâ€™re blue (and white) in the face, but fact is the Canucks are battling for the Presidentsâ€™ Trophy and are coming off a season in which they won that same trophy and played in the Stanley Cup Finals. They are a much better team right now. Enough said. Hate them, love them, give them a perfect 10 for form, they are an excellent hockey team. If it’s any consolation whatsoever, there was a point at the start of the 2nd where, if Lupul and Kessl score on their empty nets, this might’ve been a game.
10b - New Jersey, (San Jose), Washington and Florida until the 28th, it will make or break our season. If Burke is thinking of making a deal he better make it fast. Just to clarify, this isnâ€™t me saying we have to, if anything this was a good lesson in our distance from contention – which Rick Nash sadly doesn’t bridge. Now, Iâ€™d be perfectly fine with us not making the playoffs, keeping this team together, getting rid of the overpaid parts that are slowing us down and being a better team next year… itâ€™s what we signed up for. Again, this isnâ€™t me saying we canâ€™t make it, this is just me saying Iâ€™d hate to see Burke mortgage most of what he has built for that one playoff round.
Game High Lowlights: