Game Recap: Game 46, Capitals 3 vs. Leafs 2

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Photo: NHLI via Getty Images

The Leafs lost a hard-fought, 50/50 game in Washington by a score of 3-2. There’s positives to be gleaned, as Toronto was more combative than in recent games, but there’s only such thing as a “good loss” if it begets the end of a losing streak. The issue is the Leafs have so rarely been able to use a good effort as a building block this season. Carlyle’s message will have been to keep heads high after this one as the effort wasn’t in question.

Notes:

– Always love watching the Ovechkin vs. Phaneuf battle. They play each other hard, and Phaneuf seems to bring his best stuff against Great 8. He kept OV quiet in their shifts against one another; unfortunately, Grabovski and Ovechkin capitalized on the Leafs’ worst pairing possession-wise tonight (Franson-Gleason were on the ice for #8’s goal).

– Nice to see the 4th line turn the temperature up on the game with a couple of fights in the late second, as Carter Ashton and Colton Orr dropped the gloves in succession with Tom Wilson and John Erskine. Believe it or not, Ashton came out of it with a bloody nose. That was Colton Orr’s first fight since a November 30 bout with George Parros.

– There’s probably a correlation between the above events and Kadri absolutely steam rolling Troy Brouwer behind the net later in the game. Full engagement from Kadri throughout the 60 minutes. Naz and Lupul have shown a real desire to turn things around these past few games, and could’ve tied the game late on a couple of occasions. Their best chance was a backpost empty net opportunity for Lupul off a centering attempt by Kadri moments before Naz buried Brouwer.

– The Leafs PP was floundering in this game before an adjustment to switch Kessel to the right side saw the Leafs cash in on a JvR tip off a Kessel shot from the half wall in the second period.

– Indeed, the top line got going in this one. Kessel showed a determination throughout at both ends of the rink and directed a ton of rubber at the net. Despite only one registered shot on net before his 2-1 tally, Kessel directed three or four wide and took the shot JvR tipped home on the powerplay in the 2nd. Shoot enough and good things happen; after a good feed from JvR to a streaking Kessel down the right wing, his shot took a deflection off of Alzner’s blade and shot up over Neuvirth’s shoulder to make it 2-1 early in the 3rd.

– If not for a Neuvirth ten beller on Mason Raymond seconds later, by the way, the Leafs go up 3-1 and probably win this game.

– Frnason got beat to another puck after missing (on an admittedly difficult pass from McClement) the puck  behind the net on the 2-2 goal. Beat out front from behind the net, a centering pass bounced off McClement and in to make it 2-2. At the end of the 2nd, Gleason bailed Franson out with a good defensive play in a 2 on 1 type of situation on the penalty kill after Franson got caught sleeping outside his own blueline. He seems to be at the center of trouble lately and might be worth considering for a scratch in favour of Paul Ranger. Losing short races to the puck and quite a few of his battles due to the foot speed.

– Franson-Gleason seemed to be underwater possession wise for much of the game, and it looked to be Franson’s doing more than the new guy, who played a pretty solid game. (Stats check: Franson and Gleason were the problem pairing in terms of shot attempts). Not that Gleason was perfect, but I do like his willingness to stand up players at the blueline a little, as it too rarely happens in a system where the Leafs concede the blueline easily and retreat into a shell around their own crease.

Not enough mobility on that pairing.

– Clarkson improved his growing reputation in Toronto with a costly penalty half way through the third period. In his defense, it was a shinpad tap followed by a dive, but that’s the risk involved with reaching in with the stick. As the penalty expired, Clarkson was just arriving fractions of a second too late out of the box to tie up Joel Ward in the slot. Ward was left by Bozak, who opted for a swoop at Johansen rather than blocking off that slot option.

– Bozak also needed to make a harder play on the puck on the opening goal by Alex Ovechkin (with the obligatory Mikhail Grabovski point). A soft out up the boards sent the Leafs scrambling to start that play off.

– The losing goal seemed like one Bernier could’ve stopped, as Ward didn’t make clean contact on the one timer. Maybe it fooled Bernier, who got beat five hole. Bernier was great in periods 1 and 2, but I think the Caps got the bigger saves in the third.

Two more regulation losses in games with playoff implications. Times are dark in Leafland.

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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]
  • peterbleafs

    Nice summary of the game…however I dont give a shit….we lost.  I didnt watch this one either.   A good effort does not bestow any leniency on a totally disgusting season…the Leafs better make changes now.  Fire people, trade people I dont care.

  • darthNihilus

    peterbleafs I think randy should just take everyone to the whorehouse and get everyone laid

  • Jmessih

    So a 13 year old kid has already verbally agreed to going to the University of Maine (youngest in history). If he is any good we all know what well happen when the time comes, he will say sorry and go to the OHL, or if UofM is lucky he will play 1 year there than go to the OHL.

  • Loric76

    Jmessih wow grats!

  • Loric76

    https://twitter.com/mirtlehttps://twitter.com/mirtle/status/421851093836898305
    Bernier: “We know we deserve a better fate. At least to get a point. But that’s the way it goes.”

  • Loric76

    peterbleafs of the two games since yesterday morning, tonights wasn’t the one to miss…

  • http://i.imgur.com/MyKj5C3.gif ingy56

    Loric76 Ho-hum, ladee dah…that’s the way it goes.

  • Ydargo

    Other than not getting the victory, there isn’t really anything to complain about (ie: lineup decisions, effort)
    Can anyone explains to me why James Mirtle is the most negative guy in the media for the Leafs?

  • WendelGilmour

    ingy56Loric76 
    So tired of that BS. Just win.

  • Jmessih

    Ydargo From Vancouver…it always rains there. Never sunny.

  • http://i.imgur.com/MyKj5C3.gif ingy56

    WendelGilmour ingy56 Loric76 Get mad, something.

  • Loric76

    Ydargo He’s secretly a cranky old lady

  • Jmessih

    Holly hell I just saw Kadri’s hit on Brouwer……wowowowowowowooow!!!!
    Brouwer is a big boy, absolutely great hit by Kadri.

  • Loric76

    ingy56 WendelGilmour Loric76 meh, goalies are supposed to be mellow.  I want the rest of the team to get mad, not him.

  • wendelsfist

    Ydargo Mirtle has been calling for the collapse in the leafs due to poor shot differential both last season and this season.  Last season he got embarrassed with the prediction of no playoffs and so his reputation is riding on the leafs failing this season.

  • Ydargo

    My God, I thought Healy was bad…….he’s next level.

  • Loric76

    Jmessih I thought he was going to get his head ripped off after that lol

  • http://i.imgur.com/MyKj5C3.gif ingy56

    Loric76 ingy56 WendelGilmour I know it’s a quote out of context but it just sounds bad, like he’s accepted it.

  • rustynail

    ingy56 Loric76 WendelGilmour why so you think it was taen out of context if not to make it look bad?

  • WendelGilmour

    ingy56WendelGilmourLoric76 
    Yeah, I’m waiting for someone to step up ad actually show they’re pissed-off.

  • DJBrianBurke

    Loric76JmessihFranson did though. A flying crosscheck to send him to his ass.

  • Jmessih

    DJBrianBurke Loric76 Jmessih Don’t know about that, but I would have like to see Dion run someone there.

  • http://i.imgur.com/MyKj5C3.gif ingy56

    rustynail ingy56 Loric76 WendelGilmour True that. Just grumpy I guess.

  • DJBrianBurke

    JmessihYdargoSo true. I’ll take -50 than spend another winter there.

  • Ydargo

    It’s just so sad that anyone would employ a guy who seems so miserable covering a specific team……..it’s like he thinks he has to convince us to hate the the leafs
    Newsflash Mirtle, it’s an effin Love/Hate relationship most of Leaf Nation have with the Leafs

  • DJBrianBurke

    YdargoIt’s still stronger and larger than any other team.

  • Wilbur

    On the other hand…If Kadri is going to start hitting again like he did tonight on Brouwer then maybe Orr should remain in the line up…

  • http://i.imgur.com/MyKj5C3.gif ingy56

    Ydargo They all do, bad news sells. Actually, Mirtle isn’t as bad as some of the others, namely Simmons, Feschuk and Cox.

  • Burtonboy

    My prediction . If the Leafs play like this the rest of the way and Carlyle doesn’t tamper with the line up too much the Leafs will make the playoffs.

  • wiski

    darthNihilus peterbleafs Big acid trip if they don’t find themselves after that then fuck em

  • Loric76

    Wilbur meh, he’s useless on the bench, where he’s likely to be when Kadri’s on the ice

  • http://i.imgur.com/MyKj5C3.gif ingy56

    Burtonboy 74 point pace right now, not nearly enough to make it. They really have to step their game up.

  • WendelGilmour

    Jmessih 
    Youtube?

  • Jmessih

    Burtonboy 100% agree

  • darthNihilus

    Murph2417 gino beats and freestyle

  • DJBrianBurke

    JmessihDJBrianBurkeLoric76He did. I was surprised it didn’t get called, but I guess they “let” hit go. It could have been bad, but luckily it wasn’t.
    I wish the entire D core did that on a nightly bases. Not run exactly, just murder.

  • Wilbur

    Loric76 Wilbur That’s true and Ashton’s nose can beat the shit out of opposition player’s fists…

  • Jmessih

    ingy56 Burtonboy With a shitter line up, this was 1 game.

  • Loric76

    Burtonboy My prediction – the Leafs won’t play like this the rest of the way and Carlyle will tample with the line up too much.  Maybe they still make the playoffs, maybe they don’t.

  • Burtonboy

    ingy56 Burtonboy They will win a lot of games playing like that

  • Jmessih

    WendelGilmour Jmessih  http://video.mapleleafs.nhl.com/videocenter/

  • Ydargo

    I’m not sure I can agree with you, the other guys will change their tune from time to time
    Cox and Simmons are negative with all TO teams……Mirtle’s primary job is covering the Leafs and he doesn’t have 1, not 1 good thing to say

  • http://i.imgur.com/MyKj5C3.gif ingy56

    Jmessih ingy56 Burtonboy That they lost. I know they are better than they appear, but the clock is ticking. This is almost three months of dysfunctional play for the most part.

  • Burtonboy

    Loric76 Burtonboy Whatever

  • wiski

    Burtonboy ingy56 Problem is they play like that once every 20 games lol

  • darthNihilus

    i wonder what was said at the players only meeting

  • Loric76

    Burtonboy ingy56 but they won’t.  Don’t get me wrong I’m not trying to be pessimistic.  These 2-3 game slumps aren’t the major problem this season, the inconsistency all season long is.

  • Jmessih

    darthNihilus Lups, Dion and McC “You guys wanna start trying?”

  • http://i.imgur.com/MyKj5C3.gif ingy56

    darthNihilus “That chick in the 3rd row in Carolina had nice tits”

  • Ydargo

    I agree, the next few games are crucial……we’re the the 3 shit shows just what the doctor ordered to get the boys to wake up? That’s the million dollar question