How do you undo any progress and momentum gained by a 5-2 win over Pens in their home opener? How about a 7-3 loss to the Islanders back at home, coughing up a two goal lead and conceding five unanswered? That’ll do it.
1 - I’m going to go ahead and say the Leafs didn’t look good from puck drop. They went up 3-1, scoring three goals in 13 minutes, you say? True, but it was wide open hockey and not at all what the team was doing well in the first three games of the season. The first period kind of reminded me of the good of the Wilson era: fun (but not good), high-chance hockey, quite a few goals, but constantly playing with fire. And the opening goal on Scrivens was actually the worst one he conceded tonight (of three awful ones).
2 - It’s hard to pinpoint exactly what went wrong in this one, because it was a bit of everything. What literally started it: The Leafs were feeling pretty good about themselves up 3-1, nearly scored a couple times on an early second period penalty kill, Komarov makes a dangerous pass out of the corner while shorthanded, the Leafs get caught up ice, and it’s 3-2.
3 - The mental mistakes then start flying, beginning with a soft play up the boards by Franson (who had a game to forget and then some), as the forwards collectively flew the zone. Gunnarsson does a demonstration on how not to take away a forward’s stick out front and it’s 3-3. Collapse is on.
4 - The Leafs then start doing a lot of giving away and standing around, and Ben Scrivens starts doing a lot of sucking.
5 - Hey, what do you know, Keith Aucoin scored. Brad Boyes, too. When it rains it really does pour in Leafland.
6 - I’m not going to get bent out of shape about the goal on Reimer. Phaneuf thought there was going to be a whistle and that the Isles would be coming after him for that hit on Tavares, which amazingly went unpenalized. He kind of just tossed the puck away and it fell to Moulson in the slot, who sniped top left. I think Moulson was the only one who was still thinking about the puck on that play.
7 - On the upside, Frattin and Kadri were all over the scoresheet and showed some chemistry together. That line looks like it will be ok despite losing JvR, who has moved up the lineup after the Lupul injury. Goal and assist for Kadri, goal and two assists for Frattin in his first game. Frattin had two particularly sweet plays tonight: one, that deft touch in the neutral zone setting up Grabovski’s goal; two, the Leafs’ fourth goal when he kicked it up and batted it in out of mid air.
8 - The Leafs really need to start scoring on five on threes when they can actually affect the outcome of the game.
9 - Was this about the back to back games? We better hope this doesn’t mean last season’s trend is carrying into this one because the Leafs will be a tired team playing a rested one eight more times this season. One thing you will notice about this team is how they’re still a skating team first – opposing team’s coaches often mention this about the Leafs, as Dan Bylsma did yesterday – without much of a grind-it-out game to fall back on (this hasn’t changed really from last season, because the personnel hasn’t drastically changed in the direction of the more physical, particularly in the top six). It makes them quite dangerous when they’re using it to their advantage, but combine tired legs with suspect goaltending – the Leafs can’t rely on one of their goaltenders to win them a game – and it could be disadvantageous in back to back scenarios.
10 - This was a nightmarish rewind to the end of last season, and as wide open and undisciplined from a systems standpoint as some of the worst, high-scoring losses of the Wilson era. The Leafs can expect some Carlyle-induced hell at practice tomorrow.