Trade deadline in the rear view, let’s hope this game doesn’t set the tone for the Leafs’ finish this season. Between a 5-3 loss and Joffrey Lupul leaving the game with a head injury, this was a return to Earth after the highs of the win in Ottawa.
1 – An eventful first period. The Leafs started flat, showing some rust on their legs against the more game ready Flyers. A scramble off a faceoff wound up at the point and a good tip by Simon Gagne put the Flyers up 1-0. Kadri’s line got the Leafs back even just two minutes later. Kulemin was again doing the lunchpail work for that line, winning a couple of battles and parking himself in position to grab a rebound and even the score. Bryzgalov managed to both churn out an ugly rebound and completely take himself out of the net on a routine point shot.
2 – After a couple of penalty kills James Reimer was huge on, Mikhail Grabovski retrieved a puck off a dump in and sent it back to the point to John Michael Liles, who beat Bryzgalov clean from the point. Frazer McLaren was on for a shift with Grabovski and Hamilton and provided the screen. Bryzgalov seemed more content to shrug his shoulders and attribute his fortunes to the ways of the universe than fight for a view on that one. 2-1 Leafs.
3 – The Leafs conceded the tying goal late off of a bit of a nothing play. Phaneuf took Simmonds into the corner, Simmonds tossed it across the net and Gunnarsson was in position to either take his man or make a play on the puck and did neither. Jakub Voracek tucked it into the empty net on the backdoor and it was 2-2.
4 – Joffrey Lupul – truly star crossed. I’d love to say Rosehill should be suspended for that, but it’s more of a case of continued terrible luck for Lupul. He was making an essential play on the boards, receiving the hit to do it, and he took contact from Hall shortly before Rosehill went to finish his check from the backside. Hall’s hit sent Lupul’s head into Rosehill’s shoulder, jarring his head in brutal fashion. Rosehill looked to be intending to plant the shoulder into Lupul’s back. By the way, Lupul picked up a point in the 10 minutes he did play, of course. Let’s hope for the best.
5 – Start of the second, the floodgates remain open in the Leaf zone. Nikolai Kulemin tried to make a quick hand off to Kadri on the breakout with a pass to the middle. Kulemin needed to identify the backside pressure (or someone needed to let him know) and chip that off the boards instead. Brayden Schenn picked off the pass, walked right in on Reimer and his shot trickled through. 3-2 Flyers.
6 – From there, the Leafs spent a series of shifts in their own end chasing the puck and struggling to initiate clean breakouts out of their zone in a really bad first 10 minutes to the 2nd period. Kadri again was the catalyst to getting the Leafs back into the game. He finished three hits on bigger combatants and gave the crowd and his team a lift. What a beaut. The Leafs played a better 5 minutes afterward.
7 – Kostka gave the puck away to start the whole thing, but what can you say about that 4th Flyers goal at the end of the 2nd? Other than to say the refs completely blew it? Adam Hall clearly grabbed a hold of Reimer’s stick and twisted him around. I’d say every team gets hurt by a bad call now and then but that second frame was an awful period of officiating. Missed call after missed call, most of which should’ve sent the Leafs to the powerplay. I wanted to throw a stick at them like a Lithuanian tonight.
8 – Giveaways, giveaways, giveaways. The Leafs didn’t do themselves a whole lot of favours tonight, bad officiating notwithstanding. It’s a stat column the Leafs lead the league in, for what it’s worth, and it was a big problem tonight. Looked pretty dopey coming off the break.
9 – Kadri played a shift with James van Riemsdyk and Phil Kessel half way through the third. Didn’t see if Carlyle called the new combination or if Kadri just stayed on the ice. Anyway, the results were excellent. They had about a minute of sustained zone time and puck movement before JvR made a sexy little play to pull the puck back and lift it straight into the roof from beside the crease. 4-3 Leafs, game on.
10 – The Leafs, to their credit, fought their way back in it with ample pressure in the third. JvR had an empty net to the right of the net and nearly tied it in just one of many good chances in the final 10 minutes. Entering the third down two doesn’t always end up like the Pittsburgh or Winnipeg games, though. It’s not a recipe for consistent success, but again credit to the Leafs for their refusal to quit. The goaltender interference goal ended up the winner, by the way. The Leafs should have some new bodies in the lineup on Saturday with the return of Clarke MacArthur and/or Leo Komarov, while deadline add Ryan O’Byrne and Jake Gardiner may figure into the mix. We’ll eagerly await news on Lupul.