The Leafs visited the Vancouver on Pavel Bure night for the first of two seasonal meetings with the Canucks. In other news, Luke Schenn was a healthy scratch for the Flyers as Paul Holmgren saw fit to reward the former Leafs defenseman on his birthday. More importantly, but certainly less amusing, Liles, Bodie and Ashton were healthy scratches for the Leafs and Mason Raymond was in the lineup against his old team. Anyway, see how this one turned out… or don’t. Your choice. I’d prefer the latter.
2 – Remarkably, this was James Reimer’s first NHL game in the month of November. I guess he was saving it all for the start of this one as he made a flurry of majestic, athletic saves on Mike Santorelli and Alexandre Burrows. The Burrows toe save on what seemed to be a wide open net was beyond belief. Still, the 11-0 shots on goal total favoring the Canucks around 8 minutes in was certainly worrisome.
3 – A jittery start from the Leafs with plenty of turnovers in the neutral zone saw Toronto spend most of the time fending off the Sedins in their own zone. One such period of pressure resulted in a powerplay goal for the home side. A faceoff win resulted in a tip pass to Henrik Sedin, who made no mistake on the shot, helped by a deflection off his brother’s jersey. A man advantage in the middle of the period relieved some of the pressure, but the Leafs couldn’t make it count.
4 – The angrier 2013-14 incarnation of Phil Kessel took on Alexandre Burrows in a fight that only resulted in taking the Buds’ best player off the ice for two minutes. Nobody appreciates enthusiasm more than yours truly, but this tradeoff was clearly won by the Canucks. The game was heating up towards the end of the first as Colton Orr and Tom Sestito were sent off the ice and Fraser McLaren was jawing at Zack Kassian. The shot count was evening out, as the added intensity from the Kessel fight seemed to energize the Leafs. An entertaining first period ended with a big kill by the visitors with 30 seconds remaining on the man advantage for the Canucks.
5 - The Sedin line once again put pressure on the Leafs at the start of the second. Zach Kassian ran Dave Bolland in the corner, before parking himself in front of the net with no Leaf coverage and banked the puck in off Cody Franson for a 2-0 Canucks lead. Bolland left the ice, heavily favoring one leg. If we were Ottawa we would bring Kassian before a judge. The center depth was certainly being put to the test. When it rains it pours.
6 - An odd man rush after a lost faceoff resulted in a goal for Chris Higgins, who fired a good wrist-shot beyond Reimer. Colton Orr and Tom Sestito finished what they started in the first period by getting their gloves off. Orr got a good shot to end an evenly matched fight. Also, among all the offensive zone pressure by the hosts, the pleasantries between McLaren and Kassian continued to fester. A high stick resulted in another powerplay for Vancouver, which was negated by James Reimer and a great stick check by our captain. Besides Reimer, Kessel seemed to be the only Leaf really going tonight, but his efforts were met by Luongo, who didn’t face many shots but stopped everything that came his way. McLaren put Edler headfirst into the boards and earned a boarding penalty with additional yapping earning the Leafs a 5-on-3 penalty kill. Reimer kept playing, his team didn’t.
7 – The first two periods saw the Leafs outshot 30-16. The frustration was evident on the faces of Leafs players and in their actions on the ice. Kadri opened the period by getting tangled with Kesler, and JVR wasn’t exactly a cool customer, either. You don’t want your players to accept losing, but you also want to give your team a chance to win games. Keeping the discipline in check is one way you can still come back, even with a 3:0 deficit starting the third. Taking penalties isn’t.
8 - Immediately after that kill, Ranger made a great play to get back and negate a chance for Chris Higgins before proceeding to shoot the puck over the glass. It was just one of those nights where every good play was followed by two bad ones. Leaf composure was lost, but even an objective observer might have left with the impression the the refs tilted the ice a little bit tonight.
9 – One major positive in this game was Reimer’s play even while letting in three goals. He seems more focused and a few goals against doesn’t seem to throw him off his game as much now as it did earlier in his career. Still, it’s a sad state of affairs when your goaltender is your best player and you lose the game 4-0. Credit to Reimer for battling start to finish; the 4-0 goal saw the top line basically quit on him.
10 - It’s tough to score goals and win games when you own so little of the puck. Turnovers were as bad as ever despite the emphasis in practice, the powerplay wasn’t working, and the sooner Leaf fans forget this one and move on the better. Mental health is important, kids. Carlyle called this the Leafs’ worst game of the season and a long week of practice awaits the Leafs back home. With Bolland’s injury looking serious, the question becomes: who’s coming up?
Leafs at Canucks Game Sheet - November 2, 2013Canucks 4 vs. Leafs 0.
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