Game Review: Game #58, Panthers 4 vs. Leafs 1

Game Review: Game #58, Panthers 4 vs. Leafs 1

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One might look at a 1-0 scoreline after 40 minutes in this game and think it’s not as bad as being down four or five to Dallas a few weeks ago. And yes, there is a difference: The Leafs played better in the first period in Dallas, only they couldn’t get a save. The only reason the Leafs had a chance in the final 10 minutes in the third in this 4-1 loss to Florida was because of Jonathan Bernier, who stopped 44 of 47 shots (hey, he had an easy night against Ottawa, right? It’s the least he could do).

The concept was similar nonetheless. The Leafs were winning lately at home, took off for a southern road trip, and simply laid an egg. On one hand it is awesome that Leafs Nation is so omnipresent it can bronx cheer the team for its first shot coming 8 minutes into the game, on the other it was a testament to how bad this game was. It doesn’t matter what your system is, the only way to get outshot 19-4 by the Florida Panthers in one period is by looking at the start of this trip as a chance to take it easy. Lazy changes,  easy entries for the Panthers, second to pucks in the defensive zone, inability to get pucks deep and/or establish a forecheck… it all went into the shots total of 37-12 through the first 40.

If we’re being honest this game is right there with the Columbus, New York, Dallas, St. Louis and Carolina blowouts. This team seems to have this type of game more than most, where the bad habits they often win in spite of come home to roost. They seem to need the wake up call. Great goaltending and plenty of goal scoring skill wins this team games; when you rely on that to begin with and then put in a half-effort, it leads to games where it’s just plain embarrassing.

The other factor is that the Leafs rely on a great powerplay for a sizable chunk of their offense and sometimes to get them going in a game; they got zero powerplay opportunities in this game. It takes the minimum requirement of effort to draw penalties, though. There may have been one trip on Clarkson that could’ve been called, but other than that there wasn’t much to complain about.

The positive takeaway is David Clarkson scoring in his first game back from injury. It was his first point in 10 games and first goal in 11. Maybe that’s just what he needed to essentially start anew after some games spent on the sideline. Maybe. Nazem Kadri  extended his points streak to seven after making a nice play at the blueline to pick the pocket and set up Clarkson in the slot.

Another positive was Phil Kessel, one of few to show jump from the start. There were a couple of times he orchestrated the only successful Leaf breakout in forever by coming back deep to pick up a pass and just rushing it through the neutral zone.

These games certainly feel a hell of lot worse than a hard-fought 2-1 or 3-2 game, but it’s one out of 82 and in the standings it counts the same. We’ll see how they respond on Thursday in Tampa Bay. A wider concern over and above this one really bad game is the Leafs‘ record on the road, which falls to 10-12-5 after tonight.

Leafs-Panthers

 

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Toronto Maple Leafs vs Florida Panthers Game Sheet

FLORIDA STATISTICS
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
GOALIEDEC.SHOTSSAVESSAVE %MIN.
Tim Thomas (15-16-3)W21200.95260:00:00
PLAYERGATOI+/-SOGPIMFWFLHITSBSTAKEGIVE
Aleksander Barkov0019:031305100111
Sean Bergenheim0018:29030005000
Nick Bjugstad0014:19030681010
Brad Boyes0017:48120320010
Brian Campbell1124:13040000010
Tomas Fleischmann0115:25040000010
Tom Gilbert1021:39030002300
Marcel Goc1013:490301050000
Scott Gomez0112:49120451001
Erik Gudbranson0014:59120004120
Jonathan Huberdeau0114:06035001000
Ed Jovanovski0015:54110001301
Tomas Kopecky0114:26020000130
Dmitry Kulikov0022:55150000100
Shawn Matthias1012:20210001010
Scottie Upshall0014:18030011100
Mike Weaver0120:20110002300
Jesse Winchester0013:08130201000
TORONTO STATISTICS
GOALIEDEC.SHOTSSAVESSAVE %MIN.
Jonathan Bernier (20-16-5)L47440.93659:48:00
PLAYERGATOI+/-SOGPIMFWFLHITSBSTAKEGIVE
Troy Bodie006:30000002100
Tyler Bozak0018:51-20012102100
David Clarkson1016:30012007020
Cody Franson0019:50-120002110
Jake Gardiner0017:34005000001
Tim Gleason0021:45-120006210
Carl Gunnarsson0021:05-110002100
Nazem Kadri0116:221101192010
Phil Kessel0018:23-130000000
Nikolai Kulemin0016:58-110001000
Joffrey Lupul0017:27-110001300
Jay McClement0018:49-1107101000
Colton Orr007:27000002010
Dion Phaneuf0018:26022002100
Mason Raymond0017:19-210100000
Morgan Rielly0021:28-120001110
Jerred Smithson005:52010012000
James van Riemsdyk0016:52020004000
Review overview
Forwards - 30 %
Defence - 30 %
Special Teams - 30 %
Goaltending - 90 %
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]