Game in 10: Game #9, Hawks 3 vs. Leafs 1

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Dave Bolland vs Patrick Kane
Photo: NHLI via Getty Images

Simply outclassed by the league’s premier team, the Leafs fell to 6-3-0 after a 3-1 loss in Chicago.

1 – It started off not so bad for the Leafs. It was a well played opening 20 minutes by both teams, without many mistakes. The Leafs were moving the puck a little better coming out of their zone than in recent games, but this didn’t last much longer than the first.

2 – The Leafs came out looking dreadful to start the 2nd, puck chasing for the majority of the first seven minutes of the period. After all of Bozak, Kessel and JvR got caught up ice after a brief foray into the offensive zone, Toronto fell behind 1-0. The Leafs deserved to concede one, probably, but the actual goal was avoidable. Bernier bobbled a routine catch (something I was led to believe only Reimer ever does), and spilled the rebound into the slot. Bickell picked the puck up and patiently walked around Bernier, who had come a few feet out to try to poke at the loose puck.

3 – The Lupul-Kadri connection erased the 1-0 deficit shortly thereafter. After a penalty draw by Kadri, Nazem gained the zone and rang the boards, where Lupul picked up the puck to the right of the net. Lupul found Kadri as he slipped between coverage in front of the net. Kadri did a great job of going to the net and finding a seam with his stick firmly on the ice.

4 – The game returned to even strength and the Hawks continued to dominate possession. The Leafs couldn’t pick up a loose puck a couple of times in the defensive zone, before the Hawks worked it back to the points. Kostka was afforded a wide berth on the point by David Broll, but this is another one I would argue Bernier should have had. There was some traffic, but he had a pretty good look and it simply went through him. The points are often open in the Leafs defensive zone coverage scheme and they rely on their goaltender being able to make those stops.

Of course Mike Kostka waits until he’s not on the Leafs to score his first career goal against the Leafs, by the way.

5 – Leafs played right into the Hawks’ supreme transition game all period with really poor puck management and a nonexistent forecheck. The Leafs could not sustain any sort of offensive zone time in this period when they did manage to venture outside of their own zone, and were unable to disrupt the Hawks’ high tempo generated from easy breakouts. The Leafs were outplayed in all three zones in the second period and out shot 20 to 6. On a late period penalty, with needed penalty killer Dion Phaneuf in the box, Paul Ranger and Jake Gardiner made a mess of their coverage in front of the net leading to a Brandon Pirri PP goal, as the Hawks took a 3-1 lead to finish up the period.

6 – The Leafs’ only way back into this game in the third period was to capitalize on a powerplay. A borderline call that canceled out at 4-1 Hawks goal gave them their first opportunity. The PP was stagnant and dysfunctional. A second call, a hooking penalty after a great net drive by Nazem Kadri, produced a 2nd opportunity. The result was no better as the Leafs  could not break down the box of penalty killers with their puck movement.

7 – The opportunistic scoring hasn’t been there the past few games to get the Leafs by. Maybe by some serious stroke of luck this could have been a game the Leafs could have stole with stops on the Kostka and Bickell goals, but the goal support wasn’t there, and it’s not something you can ask of a goaltender night in, night out.

The Leafs were outshot 40-20, for those wondering about the final damage.

8 – The Leafs are certainly not the only team to get outpossessed in a game against the Blackhawks, but they’re not even playing “their game,” as we knew it last season, effectively right now. The intensity level wasn’t there, and I saw next to zero good forechecks by the Leafs tonight, which were needed to slow the Hawks down and disrupt their tempo. Naz has been the Leafs’ most physical forward the last few games, which is good on Naz, but also pretty concerning.  Fortunately, help is on the way.

9 – The top line was one big struggle tonight. Kessel was really forcing things, turning the puck over repeatedly. JvR was fighting the puck throughout. Bozak may not have been playing tonight, I can’t say for sure. I do see in the box score that he was a sterling 36% on the dot. Kadri and Lupul is all the Leafs really had going up front in this one.

10 – Back to the drawing board for Carlyle, as the Leafs have been handed a two-game wake up call. This loss in particular was humbling, but an acknowledgement also goes to the quality of the opponent the Leafs were up against tonight. Back to Reimer for Tuesday against Anaheim.

Toronto Maple Leafs vs Chicago Blackhawks Boxscore

PLAYERGATOI+/-SOGPIMFWFLHITSBSTAKEGIVE
Bryan Bickell1010:47132002100
Brandon Bollig005:27100000000
Michal Handzus0014:01000572210
Niklas Hjalmarsson0021:02110001101
Marian Hossa0018:46070002000
Patrick Kane0017:42040000000
Duncan Keith0023:55032000210
Michael Kostka1013:45142002000
Marcus Kruger0114:32100440200
Nick Leddy0214:11120002000
Joakim Nordstrom007:42100000000
Johnny Oduya0021:01100000301
Brandon Pirri119:37120230000
Brandon Saad0117:46010102000
Brent Seabrook0023:17032004201
Patrick Sharp0018:16062310120
Andrew Shaw0114:39120411000
Jonathan Toews0023:080221180000
TORONTO STATISTICS
PLAYERGATOI+/-SOGPIMFWFLHITSBSTAKEGIVE
Troy Bodie006:23000000000
Dave Bolland0016:05022451010
Tyler Bozak0022:46-1009164010
David Broll004:13-100000000
Cody Franson0122:12000002210
Jake Gardiner0019:56-100001100
Carl Gunnarsson0016:31-110001411
Nazem Kadri1017:32020861010
Phil Kessel0022:23-130001100
Josh Leivo009:18000001010
Joffrey Lupul0119:41042001000
Jay McClement0010:15-102330100
Colton Orr006:00-100003100
Dion Phaneuf0022:28012002200
Paul Ranger0018:23-220003100
Mason Raymond0018:36030001000
Morgan Rielly0020:19000003200
James van Riemsdyk0020:39-120000010
  • Optimustic

    Rough game.   Leafs didn’t look like I was hoping.   I wanted to see them play up to their opponents level.  Instead they played pretty much like they have all season so far.   Maybe when Clarkson and Fraser and Kulemin come back they’ll look better.   Here’s to hoping anyway.

  • Optimustic

    Yaknowwhat I didn’t make any prediction mostly because I knew it would be a tough game.  I was hoping that they would at least play better than they did though.

  • Zep2

    Yaknowwhat They’ve been the better team against the Habs, nashville, Oilers, Ottawa ,Corsi bedamned  Unlucky against Carolina. 
    Colorado outplayed them, Chicago outclassed them

  • Black_Hawk

    Is that a real picture of Kessel, Kane and hossa?

  • Optimustic

    Zep2 Yaknowwhat They may have been better than the other team some games, but they haven’t played many if any 60 minute games.  Like tonight, one period won’t cut it against a good team.

  • Zep2

    Optimustic Zep2 Yaknowwhat Wont argue that.

  • Black_Hawk

    Man i got to admit Brett burns transition to forward has been one of the best defence man to forward conversion

  • Zep2

    I believe the leafs play the Pens next Sat. 
    If the Leafs  play with the same lack of intensity, Ill be officially worried. Weve played them pretty evenly for while now
    Good nite folks

  • Dangle_My_Berries

    Black_Hawk kind surprised seeing as Kane picked kessel last……lol

  • vji67

    I was at the game tonight (paid a pretty penny for lower bowl, 9th row seats) and my amateurish observations fall in line with the game in 10. We got outplayed pretty badly and it seemed like the awesome chemistry our best players normally have (Kessel & JVR, Lupul & Kadri) was almost entirely absent. There was a pretty big lack of cohesiveness on the team and it seemed like each player was trying to do their own thing in order to contribute and change the tide of the game. Overall a pretty poor effort from the buds and they need to seriously do something to address their puck possession issues because that part of their game will continue to be exposed pretty badly against elite teams like the Hawks. 
    Also, maybe I should stop watching them live since I’m 0-5 in my lifetime now :(

  • Alec Brownscombe

    vji67 0-4 before tonight? You’re kind of an asshole for going.
    Lol, thanks for sharing. Too bad about the result.

  • Black_Hawk

    vji67 lol yeah maybe you shouldn’t go see em 😉

  • Black_Hawk

    Dangle_My_Berries Black_Hawk lol that and why are they together pre-game?

  • Black_Hawk

    Dangle_My_Berries Black_Hawk or is that the all star game?

  • Tommy Cat

    vji67 I think at one point or another all us long time Leaf fans thought we were a jinx.

  • Optimustic

    vji67 Sorry about your luck, I’m 2 for 3. A win in Buffalo, a loss to the Rags, and a shootout win against the Jets.  The 2 – 0 loss to New York was a really boring game. I was with one of my bosses who is a Rags fan.   He was there with his Sean Avery jersey.

  • Uncle Otis

    vji67 
    Think of the colossal big screen you could have bought and watched them win 😉

  • Wilbur

    Just finished watching the game. Contenders vs pretenders tonight. Really I had no issues with Bernier or the D tonight. To me this one was on the forwards. I’m presuming Bozak is playing with an injury like a broken femur.

  • vji67

    Alec Brownscombe vji67 Hahaha thanks 😀 thankfully i’m only guaranteeing a loss for the Leafs once a year against the Hawks

  • vji67

    Black_Hawk vji67 ha i’m starting to wonder…

  • Uncle Otis

    Wilbur 
    Playing more like a broken lemur :)

  • vji67

    Tommy Cat vji67 it’s only natural :-/

  • vji67

    Optimustic vji67 you should attend more to ensure they keep that .66 win percentage going!

  • vji67

    Uncle Otis vji67 It only cost $340 for the pair (b/c some dude was actually selling them at face value) but that’s still preeeeeeeeeety rich for my blood

  • Uncle Otis

    vji67 
    That’s a 36 inch RCA at Factory Direct 😉
    I was adding up all five 😉

  • Optimustic

    vji67 Optimustic Ha, I was thinking that,  but also thinking I’d like to keep my percentage up.  The way they’re playing right now, I’d more likely be 50% . Maybe I should wait until the Devils come to TO.

  • vji67

    Optimustic vji67 don’t the devils usually have our number?

  • Wilbur

    I thought Don Cherry was bang on about Gardiner tonight. He doesn’t need to play with reckless abandon but he does need to grab the puck and go on a regular basis. Him and Rielly should eventually spend the better part of future games backing defenders up into their own end.

  • vji67

    Uncle Otis vji67 hahah that’s so true it’s kinda sad

  • Optimustic

    vji67 Optimustic I know they used to,  not sure they have anyones  number now though.

  • wiski

    Wilbur Me too just finished watching, good first and that’s about it, besides Kostka with the game winner, why did we let him go and play Ranger? 😉

  • vji67

    Optimustic vji67 yea, they’re off to a rough start and i’m not sure if they have any real offensive threats left, but i think they’re still a pretty strong possession team which could spell trouble for us

  • Wilbur

    wiski Wilbur I realize you’re being somewhat sarcastic about Ranger/Koska. At the end of the day I’m not sure how much those two matter. I fully expect our top four in the near future to be:
    Rielly/Phaneuf
    Gardiner/Franson
    The remaining two (5/6) will only play 10 – 12 minutes per night and I expect one of those to be Fraser because of the sandpaper he brings and shot blocking.

  • Wilbur

    Sean Monahan just scored his 5th of the season playing centre for Calgary on the top line. Tell me we can’t do better than Bozak…

  • wiski

    Wilbur wiski Any word on when Fraser is due back?

  • Wilbur

    wiski Wilbur Someone else will have to answer that one…

  • gjdevlin

    I knew a loss like this was coming. The Leafs will simply outplayed and of course as the article says – they didn’t play their physical game. There was a bit more up tempo in their skating tonight though but they just couldn’t generate. The officiating was sharp tonight and it was the right call to call off the goal but come to think of it – the Black Hawks looked ordinary – if they Leafs could up their physically then this might be a more closely contested game but they were beaten by an experienced squad. They were not HORRIBLE in that sense but the lack of offense is bothersome…I wish they dump Phanuef.

  • gjdevlin

    Wilbur – I agree – watching Bernier handle those rebounds is a far cry from what Reimer does..lets them bounce off his chest. I think the leafs might have to make a case to trade for another forward eventually but I think management wants to see how Clarkson does when he arrives..hope the Leafs will feed off him.
    I would dump Bozak in a heartbeat.

  • PEIleafnation

    how can leafs dump bozak at almost 5 mill per year…stuck with him

  • Wilbur

    PEIleafnation I don’t really think there’s much wrong with Bozak other than being miscast as a 1st line centre. He got a 5 year deal at 4.2 per year. He was a UFA. If he were an elite #1C he’d have received 8 years at 8.5 – 9.0 million per and if he weren’t elite but a top tier #1C he’d have received 8 years at 7.0 – 7.5 million per. His contract is about right. I would have preferred they buy out Grabo and let Bozak go and try something completely different at #1C but maybe Nonis either really believed having Bozak signed made a difference in signing Kessel or believed the team was better off with Bozak being miscast as #1C then going the year without him.

  • reenergized

    Zep2 and it’s the second game of a back to back if I’m not mistaken

  • ConnorCrisp

    Wings lost too! Smith gets the empty net goal for
    Phx.. Awesome

  • LeafsForLife

    reenergized Zep2 It will also be the 2nd game of Clarkson and first game at home. I would expect a very fired up Clarkson which should ignite the rest of the team.

  • Coldincowtown

    While i am guessing everyone back east has packed it in, here are my observations after watching the pvr of leafs game:
    – we needed to get our asses kicked by Hawks to get players to realize they are not superstars that can play one period and win;
    -bozak is miscast as a 1C, ok, i know this is no revelation, but man , Toews versus Bozak, please, we will not win a cup with him as our best C, sorry;
    -need some jam in our lineup, will be happy to see Clarkson, Kulemin, Frazer and Fraser back;
    -wish we could have found a way to bring Corporal Komarov in as well, we don’t hit like we did last year, and he was a catalyst;
    -glad we have Reims and Bernier, both solid., i hope they both continue to play well because we will need to turn one into a center upgrade;
    -Reilly is the real deal, watching this kid make the subtle, really difficult plays in his own end under pressure, wow! he is a stud, he will be our best defenceman in two years and I think he will replace gunner with Phaneuf  very soon, I hope he stays and we use Gunner, a goalie and a prospect to upgrade other areas;
    All in all, disappointing but not surprising outcome tonight. A few years ago when we thought we were getting better, teams like chicago and boston would beat us 6-1 or 8 something. Now they respect us, but we are not there yet. Closer, hope Nonis can address our remaining gaps soon. over and out, sleep well.

  • B_Leaf

    It looks to me like we have a chemistry problem. The mix isn’t right or something. We had problems getting out of our end last year but it wasn’t this bad. Some of our forwards who were good at it last year are no longer here.   Kessel is really stinking it up right now…if people can’t see that…whatever.  Bernier is coming back to earth too. The lack of checking and hitting combined with a constant loss of puck battles is horrific.
    I would take last years team over this team in a heart beat.

  • Coldincowtown

    B_Leaf Well, in fairness, we are not really seeing this year’s squad yet. I think we need to wait to see our team when Clarkson, Kuli and the Frazer’s are back. We are missing a physical, in your face element they all bring. We are still 6-3. Not bad, let’s wait and see where we are at in another month.

  • B_Leaf

    Coldincowtown B_Leaf 
    I have been thinking the same thing but really the play of this team has been ridiculously poor. I don’t think we have played one really good period yet. I really value the contribution made by Kulemin and Fraser, but I am not sure they can turn the tide. The effort has been poor.

  • Coldincowtown

    B_Leaf Coldincowtown Agreed. I was really pissed that CBC cut grapes off tonight at end of game as he was about to share his view on leafs season. My guess is he would be saying Leafs have been winning ugly, thinking they are better than they are and ignoring coaches message to tighten up. Two losses now and total domination by Hawks should help get them to listen and result in much improved effort going forward. Our forwards are cheating in our zone, trying to get the quick breakout, we are weak on coverage in the slot and we are not hard enough on the board plays in our own zone. This is all simple effort stuff, not skill. I think they will start to pay attention to Carlyle now, but also think we may need a bit of a shake up. I am not sure it is a chemistry issue. Apart from MacArthur and Frattin (who were both pretty brutal in defensive coverage) we have not changed our forward crew much. i do think Komorov was a great add and is missed though. It would not surprise me to see him back in spring for a playoff run where cap would be more manageable. Perhaps that is wishful thinking. In any event, looking forward to a few players coming back in a few games.

  • Bring the Cup Home

    with all of carlyle’s line juggling to find chemistry, i’m surprised he’s never put kadri out there in between JVR and Phil to see what happens.  seems worth a look see.

  • Cameron19

    PEIleafnation He makes 4.2 million, and is worth probably 3.75 – so really, not even an issue.