Game Review: Game #61, Islanders 5 vs. Leafs 4 (OT)

Game Review: Game #61, Islanders 5 vs. Leafs 4 (OT)

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UNIONDALE, NY - FEBRUARY 27: Jonathan Bernier #45 of the Toronto Maple Leafs braces for a shot by Lubomir Visnovsky #11 of the New York Islanders (not shown) at the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum on February 27, 2014 in Uniondale, New York. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

The Maple Leafs gave away a point tonight with their own boneheaded mistakes. That’s pretty much all there was to it, as they gave up the lead on three separate occasions and conceded five goals mostly through a series of avoidable giveaway errors.

Jonathan Bernier wasn’t at his sharpest in his first game back from the Olympic Break, either. You could tell he was a little off from the first shot against. His first save was on a shot from outside the blueline he seemed half asleep on, kicking a huge rebound into the slot that nearly led to a 1-0 NYI lead.

The Leafs opened the scoring on a goal that looked almost too easy from who else but Philly Snipes. Kessel swooped into the slot from his off wing and Tyler Bozak found him after rushing the puck down the right wall. Kessel’s 32nd goal (The Phil laughs at the idea of Olympic hangovers) was dedicated to Curtis Rush.

The Leafs seemed to be in good shape in this first period, conceding just two shots in the first 9 minutes, before a powerplay from hell somehow left them 2-1 down in the span of 48 seconds. With two shorthanded goals off the stick of the same player, Michael Grabner, this was a rare and ugly feat by the Maple Leafs. Grabner feasted on Leafs giveaways with his speed and endeavour throughout the night and the Leafs were fortunate not to concede a hat trick from him alone.

The first goal was Jake Gardiner’s gaffe, as he was simply too soft with his pass with Grabner bearing down on him in front of the Leaf net. 48 seconds later, Bernier came out to play a dump in and made the crazy decision to turn the puck back toward his own net rather than go hard off the boards and out, or at least into the corner. He was worried about Grabner bearing down on him, but turning toward his own net 10 feet out from it was the last thing he should’ve done. Rielly standing two feet away from the goalie didn’t help, but it was apparent he never anticipated Bernier’s decision.

What is it with Nassau Coliseum and bad Leafs goaltender gaffes, eh? Can’t wait until they move to Brooklyn.

As I was saying, Grabner could’ve had a hat trick before this game was half over as the Leafs continued to shoot themselves in the foot. A Gardiner giveaway at the blueline led to a breakway, this time with Bernier making a point-blank save look easy; he took away the top half of the net and showed off his ability to abandon the butterfly, read the shooter and make an athletic save when need be.

The Leafs were on the powerplay for the second time in the second period (fourth time in the game), but it seemed to be a case of “what’s going to go wrong next’ on the powerplay tonight. Phaneuf’s stick shattered, and with Grabner nearly taking a breakway pass for his shorthanded hat trick attempt, Dion negated the break with a smart play using his broken-twig-turned-ringette stick.

The scoreline remained tight at 2-1 up until the 48 minute mark. There was an offensive explosion in the final 12 minutes of the third, and it was who else but the top line leading the way for the Leafs. With 12 minutes to go, Kessel led the rush up ice, JvR collected, drove wide and flipped the puck off the cross bar. Paul Ranger was following up the play and jammed in the rebound.

After the Leafs gave up a grade-A chance that Josh Bailey fired high over the net, the top line completed the third period comeback. JvR caused a turnover with a good stick lift on the boards before finding Bozak in the high slot; Bozak found Phaneuf pinching down for a rocket of a one timer, his sixth goal of the season.

Carl Gunnarsson got beat and took a penalty shortly thereafter. On the penalty kill, which held steady for the first three kills of the game, Phaneuf chased up the boards trying to force the puck out and the Leafs’ PK lost its shape. The puck went D to D and Calvin De Haan found Josh Bailey to the side of the net; Bailey set up Anders Lee cross-crease for his first NHL goal. The Leafs’ PK is still 17 for its last 19, which is not too shabby.

Again the Leafs should’ve ended this game late in the third, only this time it was Joffrey Lupul and Nazem Kadri chipping in after a quiet game from that second line. Lupul led a rush up ice, working a give and go with Kadri and lifting a backhand top corner on the far side for another beautiful quick-strike goal off the rush by the Leafs.

The Leaf giveaways were too much to overcome in this game, however. A failure to get the puck out by David Clarkson started the play off in the build up to the 4-4 tying goal, sending a blind clearance up the boards. Again, this wasn’t Jonathan Bernier’s best game and it cost the Leafs late; a squeaker slipped between his legs after a pass out from the corner, with a late whistle by the ref not helping matters.

In overtime, a turnover in the slot by the Leafs was the fitting conclusion to the game. This one was more misfortune than poor decision making, as a puck rolling on edge was fanned on by JvR and Anders Lee scored the game winner, his second goal in his first ever NHL game.

Notes:

– The Leafs continue to lead the league in third period goals against, now with 70 through 61 games. Not pretty.

– Positive note: 12 goals from the defence in the last 15 games after Phaneuf’s sixth of the season in the third period.

– Another positive note: as bad as the powerplay was, it’s usually very good and the Leafs manufactured four goals all at even strength. Their even strength offence has been much improved since they turned the season around around 14 games ago; their 114 goals at 5 v 5 put them 10th in the league and they were seriously lagging in this area (near the bottom in the League, if I recall correctly) during their protracted slump.

– On the note of the powerplay, I don’t like the dynamics of the second powerplay unit. It should run through Kadri or Lupul, not Mason Raymond. Kadri is also a lefty but has far better playmaking skills or, alternatively, Lupul is a right-handed shot who could actually step into a few from that half wall position (latter scenario would require Clarkson in front).

– Interestingly, Tyler Bozak, who had nearly the same primary assists per 60 minute rate as Frazer McLaren last season at five on five despite centering one of the league’s most dynamic duos, is leading the team in 1st assists per 60 at five on five with nearly 1.2/60. That’s not just good enough to lead the Leafs; that’s top five in the league among players with significant minutes played and just a notch below the likes of Thornton, Malkin, Getzlaf. Bozak had two primary assists tonight on the Kessel and Phaneuf goals.

– Tyler Bozak was also 68% on the dot tonight, schooling Brock Nelson with 7 out of 8 draws won. Nikolai Kulemin won 63% of his draws, mostly facing Ryan Strome. Nice to beat up on some rookies in the circle, I suppose.

– Paul Ranger made good use of his 12 minutes of ice time. He comes in handy on the penalty kill, where the Leafs can use his strength in front of the net. He prevented a goal with an impressive show of strength, clearing out a Isles attacker before he beat him to a loose puck for a sure goal. He both saved a goal and scored one of his own after following up JvR’s drive to the net in the third period.

– Could be alone here, but still think Kulemin beside Kadri and Lupul is the best option on line two if Bolland returns on Saturday, with Clarkson next to Bolland, which looked good before Bolland went down to injury.

Fenwick chart for 2014-02-27 Maple Leafs 4 at Islanders 5 (OT)
Photo: ExtraSkater.com

Leafs-vs-Isles

Toronto Maple Leafs vs New York Islanders

NEW YORK STATISTICS

GOALIEDEC.SHOTSSAVESSAVE %MIN.
Evgeni NabokovÊ(11-12-5)W22180.81861:55:00
PLAYERGATOI+/-SOGPIMFWFLHITSBSTAKEGIVE
Josh Bailey0117:21-2021191202
Eric Boulton006:12027001000
Casey Cizikas0112:37222541100
Cal Clutterbuck0015:12020101010
Calvin de Haan0123:11-100002610
Michael Grabner2018:14060000142
Mike Halmo009:01010004000
Travis Hamonic0123:27032002003
Thomas Hickey0016:47100000200
Anders Lee2012:21140011000
Andrew MacDonald0022:55010000100
Colin McDonald0012:06000004000
Brock Nelson0020:10-1104132210
Kyle Okposo0019:26-220330121
Brian Strait0018:10010002101
Ryan Strome0114:04140340000
Thomas Vanek0019:01-240002002
Lubomir Visnovsky10:0020000200

TORONTO STATISTICS

GOALIEDEC.SHOTSSAVESSAVE %MIN.
Jonathan BernierÊ(22-16-6)OTL35300.85761:54:00
PLAYERGATOI+/-SOGPIMFWFLHITSBSTAKEGIVE
Troy Bodie007:24030000000
Tyler Bozak0222:192001780100
David Clarkson0016:20010001000
Cody Franson0019:12000003100
Jake Gardiner0018:57-212000021
Tim Gleason0013:43025001000
Carl Gunnarsson0121:18202000100
Nazem Kadri0118:25-1108101001
Phil Kessel1123:01230000001
Nikolai Kulemin0013:21000532100
Joffrey Lupul1020:05-110001100
Jay McClement0010:59000450101
Dion Phaneuf1024:47:00134003001
Paul Ranger1012:28110001100
Mason Raymond0014:57-230000000
Morgan Rielly0014:25-210000100
Trevor Smith006:03000010000
James van Riemsdyk0323:13120000001
Toronto Maple Leafs vs New York Islanders
Review overview
Forwards - 85 %
Defence - 50 %
Goaltending - 50 %
Special Teams - 40 %
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]
1586 comments
Bruffins
Bruffins

alright I'm done for the night, see you all on here tomorrow I'm sure

LeafsForLife
LeafsForLife

So did barfalo make john scott the new captain yet? lol

ingy56
ingy56

Myers with two goals tonight. #newsabrescaptain

peterbleafs
peterbleafs

I think posts that degrade women should be discouraged on  this site.  There are enough pigs in the world outside of pure sport, Id rather not be exposed to them in here.

Cameron19
Cameron19

@ingy56  I wonder if San Jose is tearing their roster down and feeding everyone to the wolves after losing to a basement team that is without its two best players. 

Bruffins
Bruffins

@ingy56  

haha they are all competing 110 percent to get it so they can be out of there

peterbleafs
peterbleafs

@Belfour20 Do you really think a comment like that makes you appear to be a higher quality person?  Sad.

newkb
newkb

@Belfour20 Yeah, when I was 22 I spent an amazing summer with a lady with teenage kids, and she was 38.  Second best time of my life!  (now that my wife has joined the site)..........faaack!

Bruffins
Bruffins

@Belfour20  

47 when I was 21. Her 23 year old daughter walked in the room after and I had to hide under the bed for a bit 

ingy56
ingy56

@Belfour20  Using that math, I'd need to meet one in her 70's, think it would still be "heaven"?

newkb
newkb

@Belfour20 @Bruffins  LOL!  My wife is making salsa....which is why I'm free to say ANYTHING!


(until she logs back in after making her salsa)

Bruffins
Bruffins

@peterbleafs  

If Wendelsway said she hooked up with a 20 year old guy would it be degrading to men?

wendelsway1
wendelsway1

@peterbleafs @Belfour20  I can see how you'd take it this way....however, I took, we are a piece of meat to them too, as Belfour20's way of saying, we all ogle and can appreciate a rockin' bod.....whether it be male or female and am not offended by this.....just my take on it.....don't think he meant to offend.  :)

peterbleafs
peterbleafs

@Belfour20 @peterbleafsYou just referred to them as a piece of meat, then earlier a MILF.  Anyways, be what you are, I dont much care, Ive said what I think, which is what posting is all about.

Cameron19
Cameron19

@ingy56 @Cameron19  All the pressure is off these garbage teams and they're playing for contracts and fun. They are always the most dangerous this time of the year. Surprised people don't remember that from when we were always in that position. 

ingy56
ingy56

@Belfour20 @ingy56  I went back to university full time a few years ago. Nice to look at, but pretty vacant upstairs.