This was the first loss of the season that can be definitively attributed to poor Maple Leafs‘ goaltending. Not that the Leafs were totally convincing otherwise, but they carried the shots advantage and play for the first 40, as well as a 4-0 advantage in powerplay opportunities, and came out of it tied at 2s. No excusing three of the four goals on Jonathan Bernier tonight, and yet he remained in the net through 59 minutes.
Randy Carlyle called the goaltending situation a “1A/1B” situation just two days ago, but you know what a coach with a real 1A/1B situation in net doesn’t do? Start the same goalie who got pulled after 5 goals against in less than two periods, and then leave him when he lets in three softies the next game. Carlyle could turn a good situation into a controversy here by playing favorites. Reimer will play versus Carolina, but playing Bernier tonight in the first place and leaving him in was clear evidence of a double standard.
For the team’s part, just four shots in the third period was feeble. With just two regulation wins in their last 23 games, it’s hard to envision how this isn’t leading to a major trade shakeup or a firing. This was the second straight loss to non playoff Eastern team while rested versus tired opponents.
In terms of positives:
- Tim Gleason’s first game as a Leaf wasn’t without encouraging signs. He’s no saviour, but he had a couple of good shifts. Around the 12 minute mark of the first, he made a strong poke behind the net to free up puck followed by pass up the ice, before joining the rush and getting a good shot off. He was safe with his first pass throughout the game. In the second period, he recovered well vs. Tavares after a misplay at the offensive blueline. He wears his former number, but Gleason doesn’t appear to be Komisarek-slow.
Gleason played 15:55 as Carlyle moved Gardiner next to Phaneuf when the Leafs fell behind.
- Tyler Bozak extended his points streak to 8 games, with 11 points over the span. Impressive tip from distance in the slot to open the scoring in this game and he could’ve added to his account twice more; once led to a powerplay after beating Carkner for a breakaway opportunity and another was off a feed in front that he backhanded just wide.
- Nazem Kadri was back on the scoresheet with two assists, looking dangerous throughout and drawing the powerplay the Leafs scored on. He had as strong of a night in the faceoff dot as I can remember, finishing at 79%. The 2nd line in general came to life, with Raymond scoring his second in 16 games and Lupul scoring for the second consecutive game.
On the outrageous side, Peter Holland played 4:30 because his linemates were Frazer McLaren and Colton Orr. Goes without saying Carlyle is not maximizing the scoring capacity of this lineup. It finally produced tonight, but I’m not sure about that 2nd line staying together going forward. The composition (McClement, Kulemin, D’Amigo) and role of the shutdown line (15 minutes, mostly against Tavares’ line) ensures it’s going to play quite a bit but isn’t going to contribute much in the way of secondary offense. That’s OK, but combine it with a written-off 4th line and it handicaps the team’s chances night in, night out.