Game Preview: Taking a good loss into St. Louis

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Photo: Getty Images

Who was that team in Blue and White last night?

A team in Leafs jerseys was getting out of its end efficiently. Moving up the ice together as a unit. Using fast legs to forecheck and sustain a cycle.

What explains the Leafs, a poor possession team and brutally outshot for much of the season, suddenly outpossessing and handily outshooting one of the best possession teams in the NHL? The NHL betting wasn’t in their favour.

Check out the NHL shot chart, especially in the prime scoring area:

Leafs/Kings Shot Location Data
Leafs/Kings Shot Location Data

It could partially be the team getting a kick in the ass and playing desperate without Phaneuf, it could partially be the Kings playing the second leg of a back to back, or, and I like this theory, it could be Carlyle putting together lines that make sense and using them properly, especially on the backend. The Rielly and Gardiner pairing was a treat last night, with Gardiner leading the team with 26 minutes of ice time, and showed clearly why both need to be in the lineup. Holland played more minutes in McClement’s place, on a line with Nikolai Kulemin and Joffrey Lupul that looked good while butting heads with Anze Kopitar’s unit. Holland was in the 15 minute range despite taking a costly offensive zone penalty, while McClement saw his minutes reduced to 8:11.

Franson and Gunnarsson played a fine game together, as well, in 18 minutes of even-strength work.

Even if the Leafs go 0-2 in this back to back against two of the best teams in the League, but look pretty good doing it, and manage to find a clicking line beyond the first one up front and better pairings on the backend, it will have its successes and bode well going forward.

That said, the points are dropping fast, and the Leafs sure could use a few.

The deflating part about last night is not just that the team finally played the right way and lost; it’s also that the team was in a pretty good position to take some points off both Boston and Los Angeles and got a total of 0, and now they go into St. Louis on the second night of a back to back followed by Chicago on Saturday.

The challenge is much the same as they saw last night, only tougher on paper. This is a heavy cycle team, St. Louis, only one that’s more prolific at scoring (2nd in the league with 3.34 goals/game) and plays stingier defence, allowing just a shade over 25 shots a game (also 2nd in the league).

Behind Alex Steen (Dammit, Cliff!), team leader with 33 points, the Blues have great scoring depth; St. Louis has eight players with more than 15 points this season, which is tied with the Blackhawks for the most in the league, and the Blues have only played 29 games (tied for fewest in the league). A defence built around Pietrangelo, Shattenkirk and Bouwmeester is formidable; the three have combined for an amazing 61 points, and the Blues are getting an average of 2.1 points per game from their top three D. Pretty amazing.

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Alec Brownscombe is the founder of MapleLeafsHotStove.com, where he has written daily about the Leafs since September of 2008. He was also the editor of the 2009-12 Maple Leafs Annuals. You can contact him at [email protected]
  • Burtonboy

    Just to add a little more to Alec’s excellent piece 
    Mirtle: Carlyle finally unleashes young Leafs, positive results follow
    http://www.theglobeandmail.com/sports/hockey/leafs-beat/mirtle-carlyle-finally-unleashes-young-leafs-positive-results-follow/article15908332/?click=tglobe

  • LeGoon

    Go Leafs Go!

  • mcloki

    I’m continuing this from the last thread.

    Burtonboy Unbelievable the Toronto MSM is completely backwards. More concerned with Style of gameplay than substance, errr. i mean wins. 

    From the article 
    “Now put aside the fact the Toronto Maple Leafs lost to the Los Angeles Kings in this one.”

    No I wont’ Myrtle. This is NHL hockey about winning. Not some “EMO school system” where participation is rewarded. Take your friggin MOM GOGGLES off and see this for what it was a loss. A LOSS. 

    Style of play that wins is somethign that is needed and this new style hasn’t won yet and hasn’t won consistently lets hold off on the praise and buckle down on the brass tacks of finishing in front ofthe net and putting the puck in the net by any means necessary

  • Jmessih

    That pic used for the post is the future of the Toronto Maple Leafs

  • Burtonboy

    mcloki Burtonboy Good lord mcloki . The team has been struggling for the majority of the season and last night we saw signs of getting back on track . I’m trying to find small glimmers of hope any way I can so I can remain positive. Simmer down man before you have  heart attack or something

  • loomx

    mcloki Burtonboy We faced one of the best team’s in the league and played well. Why is it so bad to say that they need to keep playing that way? Constantly getting outshot and hemmed into our own zone really did us some good, eh?

  • wiski

    mcloki Burtonboy So I guess you don’t like the title of this thread either 😉

  • wiski

    Merry Christmas, from our kid to yours. https://twitter.com/search?q=%23notsetup&src=hashhttp://t.co/WQRmOesNdN

  • charlieb83

    mcloki Burtonboy I agree with Burtonboy. The play has been SO DAMN ABYSMAL recently – or rather forever – that this is indeed a good thing. They played such a terrific game last night. I really hope this is a sign of things to come because if they play this way every night, they will dominate the east without a problem.

  • wiski

    charlieb83 mcloki Burtonboy If it wasn’t for that monster in net that game was ours.

  • Airfreshener

    mcloki Burtonboy they played waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay better in last nights game than any other this year including the wins AINEC. A few mistakes lead to a loss thats all.

  • Burtonboy

    https://twitter.com/BuffNewsVoglhttps://twitter.com/BuffNewsVogl/status/411170641564274688
    Suspended Cowen on Girgensons: “Obviously he was OK because he came after me and wanted to do something. I guess he was just faking it.”

    I’m learning to hate those fuckin turds more and more every day

  • Mind Bomb

    Ok I get that he paid for the Tickets but christ you made 18 million this year. Give them to charity or something, Greedy Prick

    http://slam.canoe.ca/Slam/Basketball/NBA/Toronto/2013/12/11/21330906.html

  • mcloki

    Last week we beat San Jose and Ottawa. Got 4 points out of a possible 6 and the world was gloom and doom here. 
    Now we drop a game but we give ourselves a Platitudes the MSM signs our praises. 
    “Hey they’re finally playing the way we told them to play. Who cares if we lose. Carlyle has come around to our way of thinking and we love him for it.”

    “Hey we may have lost but we sure looked great doing it  and hey wasn’t that an exciting game to watch folks.” 

    Hey I’ll be the first to praise the guys if they can play a game like they did last night and get two points but in the immortal words of Al Davis

    Just Win Baby. 

    Style be damned.

  • mlclearwater

    mcloki We got pounded by SJ last week….

  • wiski

    It’s slow sohttps://twitter.com/Brilliant_Adshttps://twitter.com/Brilliant_Ads/status/411171646608011264
    Unfortunate Billboard Placement http://t.co/QhMthHEnvn

  • loomx

    mcloki They weren’t winning before. 6 wins in the last 17 games. Why is it so difficult to understand that if they keep playing that way, the wins will come?

  • wiski

    https://twitter.com/darenmillardhttps://twitter.com/darenmillard/status/411172136842043392
    Want the 411 on the https://twitter.com/MapleLeafs https://twitter.com/DetroitRedWings 24/7 hbo series? The sr. producer Bentley Weiner joins hc@noon today.

  • wiski

    Flirting_With_Disaster wiski Must of been laughing their asses off. 😉

  • Airfreshener

    Mind Bomb WOW

  • Mind Bomb

    You wonder why Canada Post is going under check out this shit,

    http://cnews.canoe.ca/CNEWS/Canada/2013/12/12/21331986.html

  • Burtonboy

    mcloki Holy fuck . I’m going to stop posting links to article or tweets from now on if this is the reaction it gets. I though there was lots of info in that piece to warrant posting it . Guess not.

  • mcloki

    Burtonboy mcloki OK BB. I’m sort of having fun with everyone today. lol.

  • wiski

    Mind Bomb spelling police are fucking everywhere

  • Reimocerous

    I’m having a hard time today with “we played a good game but unfortunately lost .. good things on the horizon”. Yes we played a good game, I get that but in the end it’s just more points off the board and slipping further down the line. Maybe it’s just a busy season getting to me but I’m becoming more and more underwhelmed by this team. Maybe it’ll be good to get away from it all for a couple weeks over the Christmas break and come back refreshed and hopeful. Just frustrating as all get out as I watch Montreal move ahead of the Leafs in the standings and 8th place much to near in the rearview mirror.
    Maybe I just woke up grouchy today.
    Bleh.

  • Mind Bomb

    wiski Mind Bomb  I could not believe I read that

  • Burtonboy

    mcloki Burtonboy You have a strange sense of humor mcloki

  • wiski

    Reimocerous philly lost last night aswell so we didn’t really slip at all 😉

  • wiski

    Burtonboy mcloki I thought HH hacked his account 😉

  • Leafs rule

    Reimocerous Fuc habs lol ,he http://mapleleafshotstove.com/prospects/morgan-rielly/ and http://mapleleafshotstove.com/roster/jake-gardiner/ pairing was a http://mapleleafshotstove.com/2013/12/12/game-preview-taking-a-good-loss-into-st-louis/?utm_medium=twitter&utm_source=twitterfeed#
    last night, with Gardiner leading the team with 26 minutes of ice time,
    and showed clearly why both need to be in the lineup. Holland played
    more minutes, Yea Holland ,good for them all cant wait to slay the habs

  • Marpole_Leafs

    2 Points be dammed , we Corsi’d the hell out of those guys last night.

  • mcloki

    wiski Bently Wiener. You are kidding me right. Someone’s pulling me leg. 😉

  • Reimocerous

    Leafs rule Reimocerous Yeah I get that some good stuff happened but at the end of the night we got nothing in the way of points. I want points! lol

  • charlieb83

    mcloki Wehn was our last win before Ottawa and Dallas? Oh right, five games prior.

  • Leafs rule

    Lmao I am

  • charlieb83

    Airfreshener mcloki Burtonboy AINEC?

  • Airfreshener

    charlieb83 Airfreshener mcloki Burtonboy And Its not even close

  • JWaterdrager

    Reimocerous Leafs rule It’s a 82 game season, 2 points are not that important.

  • Leafs rule

    Patience gettin thin here to Reimo ,but if we can play like that then teams like Buffalo,the evil ref ridin habs,the seneturds and even Detoilet are ours imho

  • MaxwellHowe

    Mind Bomb That boy has to get his act together.  Santa Claus – the man who delivers gifts to every child on the planet in one evening whilst flying on a sleigh pulled by reindeers – residing at “The North Powle”.  Now does that make any sense?

  • Mind Bomb

    MaxwellHowe Mind Bomb  I blame the crayons !

  • phaneufoundlander

    wiski Reimocerous Good think the east sucks donkey dick

  • mcloki

    JAy Fiester out

  • phaneufoundlander

    mcloki really? What took so long…..is BB the man now?

  • deedrag

    Correct me if i’m wrong but did RC say that was the best game they’ve played in 7 months?

  • mcloki

    phaneufoundlander mcloki finding out. Just head it on Hockey Central.

  • mcloki

    WharnsbyCBC
    MT #Flames have relieved GM Jay Feaster and assistant GM John Weisbrod of their duties.
    https://twitter.com/wharnsbycbc/status/411181595907735554

  • Reimocerous

    Eric Danis‏@EricDanisPokerhttps://twitter.com/EricDanisPoker/status/411181779912228864
    BREAKING https://twitter.com/search?q=%23NHL&src=hash News: Sportsnet reports that Calgary https://twitter.com/search?q=%23Flames&src=hash have fired GM Jay Feaster … Brian Burke to address the media shortly

  • mcloki

    CanuckUKinToronto mcloki Oh ya. BB is having the presser this aft. Wonder if he’ll take over teh duties.

  • MaxwellHowe

    Mind Bomb MaxwellHowe If you don’t correct his rebellious spelling behavior now, he’ll be living under a bridge when he’s 30, mark my words