Game in 10: Game #36, Panthers 3 at Leafs 1

TORONTO, ON - DECEMBER 17: David Clarkson #71 of the Toronto Maple Leafs battles for the puck with Tomas Kopecky #82 of the Florida Panthers during NHL game action December 17, 2013 at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Graig Abel/NHLI via Getty Images)

Despite losses in two of three, the Leafs looked to be fighting their way out of a slump with some good efforts against some good competition in San Jose, Los Angeles and Chicago. A 50/50 game to the Pittsburgh Penguins was kind of a writeoff defeat. A loss as sloppy as this one to the Florida Panthers, though, suggests the tailspin is still very much in progress.

1 – Three minutes into the game, Dion Phaneuf lost a gamble in an attempt to provide the drop pass option to Kadri, only for Kadri to force a pass into the middle and lose the puck. Phaneuf was caught and Gunnarsson was a step behind Tomas Fleischmann, who beat Reimer from the right circle on a shot that could have been stopped.

2 – Messy defensive coverage in the first 10 minutes. To be clear, no one was without fault, but the reinsertion of Mark Fraser doesn’t help matters. He creates issues when he’s on the ice with his inability to move the puck quickly enough; bobbles, flat footedness, losing it in his feet, you name it. Liles really didn’t deserve to sit.

3 – The Leafs woke up a little in the second half of the period, but Scott Clemmensen was up to the task on point blank chances for Kadri and a redirect off a Franson point shot, in particular. The Leafs were still pretty disjointed for the remainder of the period.

4 – The first line provided a good first 40 seconds to the 2nd period, only for a joke of a second shift to cripple any momentum. The Leafs played hot potato with the puck in their own zone until Reimer took a holding penalty.

5 – Six minutes into the 2nd period, Kessel got knocked over without the puck on what should have been an interference call. Not sure he was getting to the puck anyway given the angle Franson had chipped it off the glass, but it’s still interference. The initial point shot got gloved down and jammed in by Sean Bergenheim.

6 – Last time this team played in a back to back scenario against St. Louis, Randy Carlyle described his team’s play as braindead. That may be the best description of the team’s second period, in particular, tonight. For example(s), all of this came within the span of a few minutes:

  • A good chance opened up for Holland and Clarkson on a 2 on 1. Holland went wide as though expecting Clarkson to crash the back post, instead Clarkson followed Holland across the slot and was easily picked up by the defenceman in front.
  • Picking up a loose pick to the side of the net, Raymond, instead of getting a puck to the net with bodies in front, turned away from the net and forced a pass that led to a 3 on 1 the other way which, fortunately, Rielly had the wheels to cover back on.
  • Kessel tried a rinky dink move instead of getting a puck to the net with traffic in front, leading to a turnover.
  • There was frustrating non call on a Raymond trip moments earlier, but that didn’t explain the decision by Raymond to drop the puck to Phaneuf with a forechecker in his face and no available out. Phaneuf should have just hammered it down the ice or something instead of trying to beat the forechecker, but alas he got caught trying to deke and a few seconds later Brad Boyes scored.

There was a total of one good chance in the 2nd period for the Leafs, when Rielly fed Kadri in the slot. The Leafs didn’t have their best effort tonight, but this type of poor decision making and inappropriate fancy play made it that much harder on themselves.

7 – Gardiner sat for a good chunk of the 2nd and much of the first half of the third with Leafs trailing and in need of offence. Inexplicable. Picking one dumb defensive play on the 2nd goal out of the pile of slop in this game is nonsense. Gardiner only played 16 minutes tonight.

8 – Here’s the really concerning part about Clarkson: He hasn’t just been a nonfactor. He might now be hurting the team. The  suspension doesn’t seem to have give him much of a reset. His contribution in the first period amount to a penalty, the result of his constant use of  the free arm, and falling over during board battles.  In the 2nd period came that bizarre play on the 2 on 1. Clarkson opened one decent chance for himself in the third, but the concern is that his play is so off right now he’s a detriment to whatever line he’s on.

9 – Here are the results from the second game in the last four back to backs:

  • 4-2 loss to Montreal
  • 5-2 loss to Boston
  • 6-3 loss to St. Louis
  • 3-1 loss to Florida

If legs aren’t all there, this team hasn’t had much to offer. In a midseason back to back against a team like Florida, they just don’t seem to have the ability to grind out wins by winning battles in the trenches.

10 – Not a lot going right for the Leafs at the moment. Even Phaneuf seems to be forcing some things trying to get his team going. The top line had its chances tonight, but has been unable to break through in the past three games except for the 7th goal against Chicago. It’s at the point where we, as fans, and seemingly the players, are expecting bad things to happen when one thing goes against them.

What now? Beats me.

Leafs/Panthers Shot Location Data
Leafs/Panthers Shot Location Data
2M. FraserD0001016220-0:00:001:22:0013:36:00
3D. PhaneufD000-2046110-2:21:002:36:0024:43:00
4C. FransonD000-1024140-2:21:001:57:0023:36:00
11J. McClementC000002501245%0:00:002:24:0013:35:00
12M. RaymondL1010020100100%1:51:000:45:0016:17:00
19J. LupulL0001030011100%2:09:000:00:0016:04:00
21J. van RiemsdykL000-20320000%2:09:001:13:0021:33:00
23T. SmithC000000310025%0:00:000:44:009:27:00
24P. HollandC011002111145%0:00:000:00:0013:49:00
29J. D'AmigoR0000010011-0:00:000:58:0010:44:00
36C. GunnarssonD000-1004200-0:35:002:03:0022:28:00
40T. BodieR0000011000-0:00:000:00:007:17:00
41N. KuleminL0000000000-0:00:001:52:0012:37:00
43N. KadriC000-203210037%1:51:000:02:0020:10:00
44M. RiellyD0000002211-1:39:000:00:0019:38:00
51J. GardinerD000-1011021-1:04:000:02:0016:03:00
71D. ClarksonR000-1212000-1:51:000:00:0015:27:00
81P. KesselC000-2032010-2:09:000:02:0021:05:00
34J. Reimer20 - 230.87257:51:00

30 %
20 %
70 %
Special Teams
50 %
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Alec Brownscombe is the founder of, 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]
  • happy_gilmour

    Meh… on to the next game…

  • MaxwellHowe

    I am absolutely puzzled about the game Saturday night.  How did this team beat the Blackhawks????

  • happy_gilmour

    MaxwellHowe Consistency is the issue

  • lieffan

    all 10 points were spot on. thanks. I know these must be tough to write after games like tonite’s.

  • DeclanK

    Cam: trade proposals, lets go. 

    (said like so)

  • vji67

    DeclanK Randy Carlyle for Joel Quenneville?

  • Jay31

    Thanks for somehow writing this after the pile of crap the Leafs served up tonight. 

    Agreed 100% about Clarkson having shifted from a non-factor to being detrimental to the team… I wish he’d go back to the former. I don’t have any good feelings about his future on this team.

    I’m not sure how much a coaching change will really help things when most of these players seem to lack the will and intensity to win any battles

  • Jay31

    MaxwellHowe Sabres beat the Sharks and Kings earlier in the season

  • ingy56

    I didn’t see the game thankfully, but Clarkson’s stat line sure isn’t impressive… 2 hits? 1 shot? How were the intangibles?

  • lieffan

    ingy56 His eyes looked fucking crazy. So good?

  • lieffan

    -Keon- Reading between the lines, Kessel is being blamed? lol

  • ingy56

    @lieffan ingy56 Ahh good, thanks

  • wiski

    This game was not worthy of a git but thanks for the effort Alec.

  • vji67

    I’m not saying Carlyle should be fired or that he’s lost the room, buuuuuuuut the effort and look from the players is eerily similar to what we saw before Wilson got fired. Considering all of the reports of Carlyle being a very tough and even unforgiving coach, it’s not entirely impossible that he’s lost the room….

    Just saying….

  • TJohnston71

    MapleLeafsHS #TMLtalk Can’t even watch anymore, pathetic….. Fed up…

  • lieffan

    -Keon- well Phaneuf’s contract is expiring, Kadri is on a show me deal, Franson is on a one year deal, I don’t get your point

  • ingy56

    TheCanucksnaphook ingy56 Our bantam team coughed up a 3-0 lead, were down 4-3 but tied it up with the goalie out. Exciting anyways…I’m frozen solid though.

  • Not Norm

    About Gardiner sitting. Watch the highlights of that 2nd goal. Jake wanders from the front of the net out 15′ past the tops of the circles, to try and stop what he thinks will be a point shot.  This is off a puck that’s been in the zone for some time. Carlyle freaked because…. i mean… why in the hell are you way out there? And then, the guy behind you back at the net scores. I love Jake, but no excuse there. 

    Thing is, if you’re in the lesson-teaching business, he should’ve sat Dion for that 1st goal. i mean, people hated Ranger’s pinch in LA, but this one was 8 miles dumb, nowhere near making a critical difference at a critical time, but instead, giving up a horrible, effort-killing goal early.

  • DeclanK

    ingy56 He didn’t have any hits. 
    Did they talk about his complete loop of the o-zone with the puck while there were about 15 passing opportunities available to him and instead got stripped of the puck unnecessarily?

  • Zep2

    The addition of Clarkson makes sense. He’s your 5.2 million dollar man. What are you gonna do bench him? 
    Bringing Fraser in Fraser and d=sitting Liles though is fucking bizarre. The least of our worries against the Pens was Liles. yet he sits

    BTW ,benching Clarkson should be considered. A message needs to be sent

  • Alec Brownscombe

    Not Norm I just don’t understand how you pick that one from the pile, Norm. Especially when, if we were coming back tonight, Gardiner had to be apart of it.

  • ingy56

    DeclanK ingy56 Just looking at the stats above, they have him with 2, so he did a Cy Young? Damn

  • Cameron19

    Zep2 I would have sent the message by not pulling the goalie tonight.

  • DeclanK

    MaxwellHowe Everyone bought into the Leafs playing well, but it was more a case of Chicago playing an awful game with poor goaltending. They didn’t skate even a little bit.

  • wiski

    ingy56 stupid penalty count?

  • ingy56

    wiski ingy56 That too?


    I knew Clarkson’s play “when he’s not scoring” was ridiculously over-valued (as “intangible” qualities in players always are).

    I knew his scoring would likely drop, because unlike the Devils, the Leafs obviously wouldn’t use him on the 1st PP unit. 

    I knew the contract was going to be absurd. 

    But I didn’t expect him to be a complete non-factor. I always said he’s a good player, just over-rated and over-paid, but the way he has played this season… it’s hard to even call him a good player.

  • wiski

    ingy56 wiski yep

  • Bluenwhitediehard

    If the season ended today who should we keep, trade or let go?

  • Alec Brownscombe

    DWCMLHS North south gamer who can win a board battle and bring a repeatable effort. A few goals mixed. This is whee my bar was set. And he’s performing well below it.

  • ingy56

    TheCanucksnaphook Haha… we only played 2 out of 3 periods but it sounds like it’s more than the Leafs did. tonight

  • wiski

    DWCMLHS If he was a call up he’d be back down. lol

  • DeclanK

    TheCanucksnaphook Bluenwhitediehard 
    Everyone is available in my eyes (for the right player, obvs).

  • ingy56

    -Keon- Shit, tough luck for him. He’s been decent at least.

  • Zep2

    Cameron19 Zep2 From the game in 10 the only player who was ok was Rielly. 
    Right now , he any trade proposal you make Ill agree with as long as he’s not included

  • ingy56

    TheCanucksnaphook ingy56 In a row?

  • ingy56

    TheCanucksnaphook ingy56 Well that’s not good…I hate Decembers as a Leaf fan…hate them.

  • wiski

    ingy56 -Keon- another center down

  • Jay31

    DWCMLHS  Kulemin: 9 pts in 23 gp = 0.4 ppg.

    Clarkson: 6 pts in 23 gp = 0.26 ppg.

    2.8 cap hit vs. 5.2 cap hit

  • Gozo

    Phaneuf  confirm that he made some mistake but next time he will play better.OK

  • DeclanK

    TheCanucksnaphook DeclanK Could care less about any of the players on this team right now. A majority of the core that went into the tailspin with Wilson and basically the same team that blew Game 7. Now this. 
    They’ve played one good game this year in my opinion (a loss to LA). 
    You’ll never see change without a fire. Small changes aren’t going to fix this. Coaching staff needs to go (again) or you need a wholesale change of players.

  • Zep2

    Alec Brownscombe DWCMLHS We have that in Kulemin at half the price and a 1/4 of the grief.
    And D,Amigo has ouplayed Clarkson at a 1/10th of the price

    Clarkson needs to get his act together and start contributing SOMETHING 

    Otherwise he is ring to make Komisarek and Gomez contracts look like bargains

    Maybe Bolland is the cure , but he’s not coming back any time  soon

  • DeclanK

    -Keon- DeclanK TheCanucksnaphook Typing from a tablet. Could care less about my spelling right now.

  • Cameron19


    Well, I think history shows that massive changes are rarely successful. We have to continue to be patient and build on what we have, and work on surrounding them with the right pieces.

  • DeclanK

    TheCanucksnaphook A lot of very good and great players on this team. Tons of skill, but doesn’t make for a good team.

  • DeclanK

    -Keon- DeclanK TheCanucksnaphook Thx

  • ingy56

    Gozo Ahhh, thanks Dion, I feel better now.

  • Not Norm

    Alec Brownscombe Not Norm I agree that I can’t see the pattern to what he’s picking out anymore. Some he picks on, others he doesn’t. 

    This all now just feels to me, after 50 years of watching Leaf coaches come and go, kindof like…. why are we waiting for Carlyle to get the heave? We know NOW how this ends. He plain and simple does not have the kind of team to play the game he wants. And… after 2 full off-seasons to load up for him… this is as good as it gets.

    So… is he the right coach for the high-end guys we have, or for the young guys we’re bringing up. No chance. Time to end this thing without the months-long collapse and blame and bad trades. I always liked Carlyle, including as a player, and liked his Anaheim team. But this ain’t going there. 


  • Alec Brownscombe

    wiski I heavily considered it. Had a bunch of points sloppily written out of anger so I threw them in.
    I was sweating after this game I was so mad.


    Fire Carlyle. That will make a big difference. 

    Get rid of the Clarkson and Bozak contracts. 

    Send Ranger, Fraser, Orr and McLaren to the moon. 

    Bring in a good top-4 quality Dman. We should just be able to use futures.  

    Re-sign all actual good pending free agents.. (Phaneuf, Kulemin, Gardiner, etc.) the team’s lack of success doesn’t mean everyone sucks. The roster just has some big holes, and we’re wasting cap space on Clarkson and Bozak. 

    If possible, use whatever cap space is left to acquire a 2C and/or 3LW. Holland and D’Amigo can occupy those spots until upgrades are found. Move a goalie if necessary. 

    We don’t need to over-react and dismantle the whole team. We just need to fix some of Nonis’ mistakes from this summer, then go from there. 

    JVR – Kadri – Kessel
    Raymond – Holland – Lupul
    D’Amigo – Bolland – Kulemin
    McClement – Smith – Ashton

    Gardiner – Phaneuf
    Rielly – NEW
    Gunnarsson – Franson


    ..pending potential 2C and/or 3LW upgrade(s).