Ugly start to the first leg of the weekend’s back-to-back, and a spoiled debut for David Clarkson, as the Leafs drop to 7-4-0 with a 5-2 loss in Columbus.
- The local broadcast crew in Columbus called the first period the Blue Jackets‘ best of the season. Columbus had a huge edge in both shots (16 to 6) and, more importantly, a significant edge in quality scoring chances. It didn’t start out that way, as the the Leafs were playing at a great pace and moving the puck pretty well in the first couple of minutes, really dictating the flow for the first couple of shifts. Five minutes into the game, David Clarkson got drawn into a penalty when backchecking at the defensive blueline. He reached in with the stick, but the Blue Jacket seemed to latch onto his stick to draw the hooking penalty. On the subsequent BJ powerplay, with a ton of traffic in front, a rebound off Bernier’s initial save on a point shot was kicked off the post by Ranger and finished by Ryan Murray. Columbus took over the game for a good five or six minutes after the penalty.
- The positive takeaway from the first was the sight of the team in Blue and White actually cycling the puck. Quite bizarre. McClement, Bolland and Clarkson put in three shifts of solid cycling and extended offensive zone time in this period. They had only one good scoring chance out of it, a chance for David Bolland in front, but I had forgotten what that looked like. More time spent in the offensive zone is time spent wearing down the opposition and less time spent defending, at a minimum.
- 40 seconds into the 2nd period, JvR jumped on a giveaway in the slot and forced a good save out of Bobrovsky. Bozak found the rebound to the right of the net and sent a great pass to Kessel across the crease for a tap in (you read that right). That’s Kessel’s sixth goal of the season and Bozak’s first even strength primary assist of the season.
- The Leafs played a good second period for the most part, finding their rhythm and getting more offensive zone time. The shot count was 8-7 Leafs in the second frame.
- For the first ten minutes of the 3rd, the Leafs game was plagued by horrible giveaways. The Leafs struggled to complete passes and seemed to be fighting the puck all over the ice. Bernier held the Leafs in this game.
- An awful and costly breakout attempt by the Leafs four minutes into the 3rd – With the Blue Jackets changing, it started with Ranger skating into a dead end and ended in the back of the net off the stick of Marian Gaborik. Questionable decision by Bolland and a giveaway from Franson were also at play there. The Blue Jackets took the lead for good after Gaborik’s goal.
- I keep trying to be patient with Ranger, and he was one of many guilty of turnovers on the Leaf blueline tonight, but for me Mark Fraser can’t return to the fold soon enough.
- The Leafs seemed on the verge of giving up a shorthanded goal all night; a number of opportunities were coming back the other way with defencemen caught up ice with the man advantage. Sure enough it happened, and the goal stood up as the game winner. With Phaneuf caught behind the play after pinching down for a loop behind the net, Dubinsky took off the other way on a one on one with Cody Franson and roofed it on Bernier short side to make it 3-1 Jackets.
- Carlyle cobbled together a line of Orr, Bolland and Raymond with six minutes to go in the third. After Orr sent it to Raymond down the boards, Raymond cut into the slot and found Ranger coming down off the point. Bolland stuffed in a rebound to make things briefly interesting.
- On multiple occasions, it seemed that the Leafs were on the verge of controlling the game only for a penalty, in most cases a far distance away from their net, to kill any momentum that was building. It started in the first with Clarkson’s penalty and continued with the Rielly tripping call in the 2nd, before the Bolland tripping call in the offensive zone with three minutes to go in the third period all but sunk the Leafs after they had pulled within one.
- The Blue Jackets iced the game with an empty netter and another goal in garbage time. The empty netter kind of summed up the Leafs’ third period – totally sloppy and out of sync. The Blue Jackets were able to set up into what looked like a powerplay situation and score on the empty net.
Notes on David Clarkson
The first 40 minutes were what I wanted to see from Clarkson in his debut, getting in on the forecheck and hitting players down ice. He was chipping the puck in often and was first in on the forecheck; he’s quite adept at maintaining his speed and either retrieving the puck himself in behind the defence, or angling the defenceman into the boards and holding for the second layer of the forecheck. His line alongside Bolland and McClement had a number of positive shifts in the first 40. Clarkson struggled in the third period with a couple of giveaways. Expectations weren’t too high on my part for his first regular season game, but this was a decent debut game for #71.
Toronto was outshot 36-25 and were a putrid 36% in the faceoff circle.
The Leafs won’t have much time to dwell on this one, as they’re right back at it tomorrow night against a very good team for their second game in under 24 hours (with travel in between). Hard to imagine that gives Joffrey Lupul’s bone bruise enough time to heal.
Randy Carlyle Post Game
Game in 6
Maple Leafs vs Blue Jackets BoxscoreToronto Maple Leafs vs Columbus Boxscore Oct. 25th, 2013
|James van Riemsdyk||0||1||20:48||-1||3||0||1||0||0||0||1||0|
|Sergei Bobrovsky (4-5-0)||W||25||23||0.92||59:55:00|
|Jonathan Bernier (5-4-0)||L||35||31||0.886||59:42:00|