After the first period, this was a 50/50 game that the Leafs didn’t end up on the right end of. Toronto will be ruing some missed scoring chances and blown powerplay opportunities on the plane ride home.
1 – Randy Carlyle started the game with the Holland, Lupul and Raymond line and Phaneuf-Gunnarsson on defence. They simply weren’t ready to start the game, while the Penguins came flying out of the gates with a Vitale, Conner and Sutter combination. The Leafs were a scrambling mess; with Holland laying down in the crease and the wingers collapsed, the Penguins scored off a point shot by Brian Dumoulin that took a deflection off of Chris Conner, making it 1-0 Pittsburgh 39 seconds into the game. Amid a scramble around the net before the goal, Lupul ended up way down by the goalline to the right of the net and was late closing on Dumoulin as a result.
The next shift, Kadri got stick lifted at his own blueline with a ton of time to move the puck. The Leafs just didn’t seem ready from the start, which is disappointing given the Penguins’ thrown-together, undermanned defence may have wilted under some early pressure.
2 – There wasn’t much to report on in the rest of the 1st. A couple of point blank saves by Bernier kept the lead at 1. A good hit by Dion gave up a 2 on 1, before Bodie threw a big hit followed by a good bout with Bortuzzo. The Leafs had the lone powerplay opportunity of the period. The Leafs’ first-unit powerplay D pair (Franson-Dion) again struggled to break and hold the zone. Gadiner and Rielly each skated it in themselves in the second half of the powerplay, but the Lupul line was struggling to get itself set up in the zone.
First period shot locations:
That isn’t good enough. Sportsnet yammered on about point shots, which is how the Penguins scored their goal, but the grade A chances there are the bigger concern. Bernier bailed the Leafs out a couple of times to keep them in this one after 20.
3 – The Leafs could only muster chip outs to no one into the neutral zone for the first few minutes of the 2nd period, and struggled with their organization on the breakout to start the period.
Five minutes into the period, Nazem Kadri drew a hard-earned powerplay after taking a punch and high stick to the face from Matt Niskanen.
4 – The first PP unit at least got set up this time, but nothing was doing on this PP. That’s until Morgan Rielly hopped over the boards, hit the accelerator, and caught Marc-Andre Fleury sleeping with a high shot short side from the top of the circle after weaving right to left through the Penguin zone. Rielly at full sprint is a sight to behold. Congratulations to Morgan Rielly on his first career NHL goal (his second unofficially).
Rielly, Gardiner and Franson are now on the board, which is a welcome sight as the Leafs goal production from the D has been slow in the first half of the season.
The Leafs did a much better job generating chances in this period. The top line was buzzing, but couldn’t convert; Kessel had a couple of good looks. An amazing stretch pass from Gardiner to Raymond for a breakaway was a prime chance that went unconverted as well.
6 – Amid a tight checking third period, a borderline hit by Robert Bortuzzo on Jerry D’Amigo sent Jerry D to the dressing room. The hit looked worse in real time than it was, I think. As much as I feel for D’Amigo there – he’s been great in his role the past few games – it was more of an unfortunate play than a dirty hit. It was one of those borderline bodychecks where D’Amigo is hunched over reaching forwards while Bertuzzo is 6’4 and standing up a player who is 5’10. Difficult one to assess if the League looks at it.
D’Amigo returned a few minutes later, only to get rocked by Bortuzzo for a second time and return to the dressing room. Looked like a rib or shoulder injury.
7 – After Gardiner iced the puck with six minutes left in the third period, the Penguins got the Crosby line out for an offensive zone faceoff against McClement, JvR, Kulemin, Liles and Gardiner. The Leafs won the draw, but Gardiner’s clear along the boards sent the forwards for a loop as they seemed to think the puck was going to clear the zone. McClement lost Crosby in the slot, which is a cardinal sin. That was the game winner.
8 – Before that goal, Nikolai Kulemin had an empty net and the potential game winner on his stick after a bounce off the end boards fell to him in front. After the goal, Dion Phaneuf beat a defender wide, found McClement in front, and the puck deflected off the crossbar. This game was 50/50.
Third period shot locations:
9 – Nazem Kadri drew his third penalty of the night with 1:05 remaining; a tripping call on Kunitz. Phaneuf and Franson came over the boards. Not that it was their fault the Leafs didn’t tie it up, but at least one of Gardiner and Rielly needs to be out there. The Leafs had a few half-looks, before Lupul threw a puck at the back of the net and lost a battle behind the goal, with no support down low despite a 6 on 4 advantage. Phaneuf knocked down the clearance attempt with a nice desperation play, but couldn’t get the puck around Brent Sutter, who skated the puck into neutral ice and scored on the empty net.
10 – No time to dwell, as the Leafs are back at it tomorrow night against the Florida Panthers. The Panthers are no easier of a challenge than the injury and suspension-riddled Penguins; they’ve won five of six and are rested.
Given the Leafs took just one penalty and had five powerplay opportunities – plus the Penguins’ heavily depleted lineup – we were hoping for better.
|21||J. van Riemsdyk||L||0||0||0||-2||0||5||2||0||1||1||0%||5:28:00||0:22:00||22:27:00|
|NO.||PLAYER||SAVES - SHOTS||SV%||PIM||TOI|
|45||J. Bernier (L)||28 - 30||0.933||0||58:56:00|
Carlyle Post Game:
Game in 6 Highlights:
And no one stands up for D'amigo who got the crap kicked out of him twice by Bortuzzi.....Great job Leafs; toughest team in the league.. Oh wait, that was LAST year.
sad isn't, the Leafs are the worse team in sticking up for each other.
Surprised that the site's so slow today......I expected lots of complaining today......people jumping already?...lol
@wendelsway1 The game wasn't that bad last night. One mistake to the best player in the world and we lost. A little puck luck lat night and we would have been up 4-1. Kuli, Phaneuf. The puck just didn't bounce right. I just hope we're ready for tonight. Florida always plays us hard.
Moringin Gents. Sorry to hear D''Amigo is out with a shoulder injury. No luck for our boys in blue. Last nights game wasn't completely a bust, but hopefully they bounce back tonight.
@mcloki Morning MC, tonight is a Leafs Victory !
@mcloki Morning loki
Two things I loved in last night's game.....Rielly with his first.....GO MORGAN!! and Bernier taking matters into his own hands......that hip check had me LOL......FEISTY FRENCHIE!!!
@Murph2417 No! so much for christmas gifts!
Morning everyone. Win some, lose some. It'd be nice to win some, lose some with 4 lines. Outside of 2 useless fights, McClaren/Smith/Bodie may as well have remained in Toronto. Replacing them with Bolland, Clarkson and Bozak would be nice. Really liked the Kule/McClement/D'Amigo line again last night. Too bad about Jerry D.
@Wilbur Good Morning Wilbur.....I really feel bad for D'Amigo and have been impressed with his play.....hoping for a speedy recovery.
Now is BB is probably going to post - I told you so last night but here we go:
Right now I believe that there are two major problems for the Leafs: Confidence and match setup.
I am not particular impressed with Carlyles prep for the games and how to play the other team.
If the team is not well prepared then thee small things goes against the team. That of course leads to lag of confidence and thereby the team is always running a bit behind.
To me the question remain: Given the players Nonis has given him, is Carlyle the right coach for this team?
@darthNihilus Leafs still need one or two major characters has can lead the team independent of the coach.
OK guys - this is not working, now we change.
@Great Dane he is not the right coach and the players are not the right players (or they cannot execute basic requirements). I think even if you changed the coach today we would not be winning much more than we are now. I also don't believe the Leafs players have bailed on Carlysle.
@wendelsway1 I don't disagree that is players should be and is responsible. But I can't see the required flexibility regarding the execution of the game plan from Carlyle.
He seems stuck and when it is not working or not getting executed then nothing happens.
@Burtonboy I don't think they've given up on Carlyle.....I think they're a team that is still trying to figure things out and really gel as a team....they'll get there IMO.
@Great Dane I believe that Carlyle is a professional and does prepare the boys for the game....but he can't play the game for them.......a player's responsibility to come to the game, mentally prepared to battle for the win....they are well paid professionals, after all......just my opinion
The LA and Chicago game are certainly not indicative of a team that's ill prepared or checked out on its coach . If you expect perfection every game then I suggest you follow a different sport
Good Game Day Morning.....nice that the boys have a game to concentrate on today.....looking for the bounces to go our way tonight. A shame we couldn't get a point, at least, last night as I thought the game was pretty even.....Oh well, new day, hopefully they'll get a better result tonight....GLG!
@wendelsway1 Morning WW, time to de claw so Kitties tonight, they are playing above their talent, time for some reality
Panthers have won 5 out of 6 and have been siting in Toronto waiting since yesterday . Could be another long freakin night
@Burtonboy I'm creeping toward the ledge again....
@Burtonboy Fuck those Guys, eh.....they're due for a loss :)
@Burtonboy on a positive note, we won the last three with them, allowing just 2 goals
This team has tons of talent ....and virtually no heart. What a darned shame. They just will not put out the effort to win on a nightly basis . I don't see Nonis moving a bunch of guys...its pretty well impossible . Carlyle will pay the price for this group of softies, and while I am not a huge Carlyle fan, I doubt that any coach can come in and make these guys into a team that is difficult to play against. That collection of AHLers that the Leafs played against last night had to do one thing - play with determination. They did that, the Leafs had no answer, and eventually Crosby got the winner. At the end of the day, when the Leafs win, it will be pretty . When they lose, it will be because they lost most of those battles for the puck that good...or hungry...teams win. Frustrating, but, it is what it is.
@HeatherRickAkin But I've seen everyone of those players show heart and determination. Kessel with his hard play in last years playoffs, Phanuef with a big hit at the right time, Lupul with his end to end rushes and fighting Voynov, Clarkson, JVR, McClement.
@MaxwellHowe@HeatherRickAkin you are absolutely right Max ...and you don't trade a Kessel or a Lupul just because they aren't bangers . But, we do need more guys who play the thrash and bang game . I guess my point is that the Leafs, as a group, do not show enough determination to win on a consistent basis. Win one, lose one , is not consistent, and only lands you mid-pack in the standings. Finishing around 15th out of 30 , you are either not in the playoffs, or facing Boston in round one . Until the team mindset is such that , every night they go out there and make it tough for their opponents , the wins wont come often enough for their loyal fanbase .
@HeatherRickAkin @MaxwellHowe If your expectations were above a 7th - 8th finish, than you set your expectations too high. This team still needs to add 3-5 more pieces over the course of the next 2-3 years to have the kind of success you're talking about. There's no need to call down the whole team every night because of it though.
@Cameron19@HeatherRickAkin well Cameron, as I stated above, I think this team has decent talent, so if that is the case, then something is missing. And as I read your last post, you have a point. We are still missing some pieces . But, if ever we were going to tale 2 pts from Pitt, last night would have been the night. I actually missed the first half of last nights game , so should back off a bit on the puck battle comment. Anyway , lets hope they have some gas in tank for tonight.
@HeatherRickAkin They weren't losing puck battles last night. They were just having a hard time with pass selections, particularly in the offensive zone. This constant need to jump to "heart" and "effort" is so tiring already. Enough The team is trying. The guys aren't content to lose or mailing in games. They didn't cash in on chances last night, and Crosby did. End of story. No need to try and make every loss into this grand indictment of every player on the roster.
@Cameron19 @darthNihilus @HeatherRickAkin @MaxwellHowe where will the pieces come from? You are right kessel and JVR will still be in their primes. I don't think Dion will be but by then Gardiner and Rielly might be. So unless we can make a game altering trade by the time we draft and develop one of our own core key pieces the other guys might be on their downswing.
pretty solid AHL D-corps if you ask me
an apple and a big hit... good game by Bernier lol
I had a feeling the guys were trying to do the same things all the night long and it simply didn't work
@KoubaThis seems like the same issue under Wilson. Once teams have figured out what the Leafs are trying to do the teams adapt and shut down them. The Leafs however don't seem to adapt to that at all, like there's no other game plan.
@Kouba@listerWell, it is a player issue as well. I think the team may be stuck solidly in the middle of things for quite the conceivable time. It's not easy acquiring truly talented players via trade or free agency. There's no guarantee of course following the Edmonton or NYI model of sucking for a while and getting high drafted talent.