Game In 10: #76, Leafs 2 vs. Rangers 3 (SO)

Game In 10: #76, Leafs 2 vs. Rangers 3 (SO)

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Boxscore | Ice Time | Recap

1 - The Leafs are 33-34-9 and this was another good effort against the first-placed Rangers to wrap up the season series at 2-1-1. This was also a back to back situation, which New York has thrived in and the Leafs have not.

2 - As opposed to making the selfish decision with 40 goals in mind, Kessel makes a beautiful pass over to Cody Franson to finish on an odd man counter attack initiated by a nice breakout bounce pass from Bozak. 1-0 Leafs nine minutes into the 1st.

It’s looking unlikely Kessel will crack 40 without Lupul and with only six games remaining, but it speaks to both Phil’s team-first concept and his skill set that he chose to make (a beautiful) pass there.

3 – Tough luck after a good opening 10 minutes in which the Leafs carried a majority share of possession – Gaborik tosses a pass from the sideboards that deflects off Phaneuf and beats Gustavsson near post, who was shifting across in anticipation of the pass.

4 - From beginning to end, Crabb – Steckel – Connolly pinned Gaborik Richards in their own end for significant spells. Carlyle’s favourite line also chipped in its first of two goals to take a 2-1 lead, as Crabb scored his tenth of the season 7 minutes into the second frame.

5 - I’m not saying the Leafs would be in the playoffs right now if Kadri was up here all along, but he’s shown more in two games than Lombardi typically does in 10. With Burke taking on a contract in Lombardi in order to land Franson and then not being ruthless enough to bury him, the cost was a roster spot for a kid like Kadri. That’s a shame for a developing organization. It wouldn’t have looked good on Burke to consign a veteran like Lombardi to a season in the AHL while he’s trying to get his career back on track, but that’s something Burke should keep in mind in the future before taking on such contracts. That trade looked like a genius move at the time, and it still may be, but it did Kadri no favours. Meanwhile, Lebda started the year with Springfield in the AHL.

6 - Back to the game, with four minutes left in the second, Gardiner doesn’t handle a defensive zone draw win very well, loses the puck in front, and  a few bounces later it’s in the back of the net. 2-2.

7 – The Leafs then get fumbled up trying to get the Steckel line out against Gaborik and Richards and the pair burn five confused looking Leafs for Gaborik’s second goal of the game. Another cheap one to concede; seemed the Leafs worked much harder for their goals than the Rangers did tonight.

8 - The Steckel line strikes again with an immediate answer to even the game at 3s, this time off the stick of Tim Connolly. Crabb and Steckel are auditioning for permanent roles on Carlyle’s checking line going forward, but I’m not sold either are anything more than decent 4th liners on a winning team. They haven’t won the key matchups with any consistency. That line lost the battle big time against John Tavares and PA Parenteau in a 5-2 loss last week, remember, and had no answers for Boston’s best.

Two good games from that unit nonetheless, and Steckel now has three points in his last two after just two in his 33 prior as he enjoys his status as coach’s pet.

9 – The Leafs took over the game once it was 3-3, earning three third period powerplays but to no avail. Three big missed chances there. An end to end but scoreless OT period gives way to the second shootout in as many nights, and the Leafs fail to come out on the right end of this one.

10 - A bad bounce and two avoidable errors cost the Leafs tonight. A good effort but only one point to show for it. That’s probably for the best.

Alec Brownscombe is the founder of MapleLeafsHotStove.com, where he has written daily about the Leafs since September of 2008. He was also the editor of the 2009-12 Maple Leafs Annuals. You can contact him at [email protected]