Things are rotten in Uniondale.
John Tavares is injured, and while the International Olympic Committee will compensate the Isles by covering his salary for the balance of the injury layoff, Garth Snow also wants the IOC to just kind of give money to their season ticket holders because the team sucks.
For now it seems Snow and Jack Capuano will play Thomas Vanek, who is expected to be dealt prior to the deadline after refusing a contract offer earlier this month. Same goes for their leading-point producing defenceman Andrew MacDonald, another player in need of a contract and soon to be dealt. Third-leading point scorer Frans Neilsen is out hurt.
A team with nothing to play for can sometimes be a dangerous team and play spoiler when the games tighten up down the stretch. Especially if there’s some players playing up the lineup, hungry for the opportunity and not really expected to win. Whatever the case, the Isles are a tire fire, lost six of seven before the Break and are now without their franchise player; it’s two points the Leafs really should have to kick off the final stretch of the playoff race.
The Leafs left off with two consecutive victories and 11 wins in their last 14. JvR has ten points in his last nine and Kessel has 26 points in his last 15.
The only addition to the lineup from the group the Leafs left off with will be Trevor Smith on the Leafs’ fourth line. The Leafs may go three lines plus McClement and Smith as their 10th and 11th forwards while continuing to play Paul Ranger as the seventh defenceman, as they did in their final two games before the Olympic Break, both wins.
Nikolai Kulemin will remain at center for tonight, centering Troy Bodie and Mason Raymond.
Jonathan Bernier will start. He’s started in nine of the Leafs’ last ten wins and posted a .971 save percentage in the last two games before the Break, stopping 75 of 77 shots faced.
Evgeni Nabokov will start for the Islanders. He’s 3-0-1 against the Leafs in his last four starts but hasn’t faced the Leafs yet this season.
Thanks as always to Daily Faceoff for the lineup graphics.
My dream offseason:
1st round pick
Sign Andrew MacDonald 5 years 20 million
Sign Leo Komarov 3 years, 6million
Sign Brian Elliot 3 years, 6 million
Resign Dave Bolland, 6 years, 24 million
Its cool to think that Bozak is already a bargain in the once alleged "overpriced" contract he signed this summer.
NYI Goal # 1: Puck support. Leafs try to force passes through opposing bodies. First Kessel in the neutral zone, but this wasn't too bad with Leafs to back him up. However, Gardiner then as last man back commits the same crime trying to pass it to Bozak in his own end with 2 NYI players forechecking hard. If not off the near boards immediately to Rielly, the safer play would have been a pass off the far boards for either Bozak or himself to retrieve.
NYI Goal # 2: Fool you, fool me? Rielly with good speed would have got to the puck. If the goalie wants to play it, don't hesitate or it will fool our own player too. In practice, work out the play and signals. Did anyone hear either of them shout? If unsure, fire it somewhere safe, and get back into the net. An empty net is like an untouched virgin gift, let's not be too generous.
NYI Goal # 3: Dominos. Was that a new defensive coverage? Phaneuf way up near the blue line leaving a forward the job of covering a NYI player low in the slot. Gleason then tried to challenge the point but got caught in no man's land. The all too familiar dominos effect did not end well with just Kulemin to cover two NYI players in front of Bernier.
NYI Goal # 4: Communicate. The two D couldn't decide who would cover the lone NYI player in front of Bernier. After the shot, Phaneuf pushes the NYI player away from the crease only to have Gunnarsson cancel him out pushing him back into it. Would Bernier have spotted the puck sooner without that commotion in front? Perhaps we can give them this goal.
NYI Goal # 5: Awareness. Three Leafs taking on one NYI player in the corner and none got the man or puck. Worse, both D got bottled up, leaving JvR to handle a bouncing puck in front of the net. When Raymond went down to apply pressure in the corner, Gardiner should have realized he is beside his D partner and that the front of the net was wide open. Now what would happen if the puck ever squirts loose ... doh!
Let's hope we get over the Olympic hangover; get our game faces on for these games.
This is a page from the Canadian Olympic team. Puck support, quick short passes with no opposition in between, stretch passes only when sure. Support means the players without the puck must get into good position for an easy safe pass.
Phaneuf +1 despite 5 goals against, and scored a goal.
Belfour: Phaneuf sucks.
So tired of this totally unjustified commentary. People should have to have SOME evidence - literally ANYTHING - before being allowed to say their nonsense about Dion. It's just ridiculous at this point.
How's this for coverage!
@CanuckUKinToronto hes already a standout for us despite the random mistakes....great thing is, hes still young
any goalies in the past you know that were like that and then fixed it? Ive never really followed goalies until the last couple years
it is why the captain of the Leafs has to be like a third line defensive grinder. The expectations for Dion are impossible to match
tampa Toronto would be a great series, Id pick Montreal if Im thinking best chance at round 2 though
@Belfour20 lol, Phaneuf did nothing wrong tonight.
@Pent_House Who fights rookies? Not much you can do about those nights. No one stopped Komarov all last season.
@Cameron19 Because Neil is a douchbag? Duh Franzen
@Komas Taberle Yea, but a bit misleading as we've only lost 3 or 4 times when leading into the 3rd.
@Belfour20 @Bruffins @Cameron19 Right, you realize that we don't actually shove our opinions down your throat though. No one was on here singing about Dion, as you and the two or three other haters like to pretend. It only starts when you come on making baseless claims with no examples because it's the way you feel.
@Shift_Disturber1 @Cameron19 @Pent_House @rustynail We struggle in our end because our forwards either blow the zone looking for a stretch pass, or they have collapsed to the middle to block shots, causing them to be late getting to the boards and disadvantaged in puck battles. It has nothing to do with physical will or strength, save for maybe an individual or two (i.e. Gardiner).
"Impose their will" is massive hyperbole. They threw a few hits, intermittently throughout a 60 minute contest.
@Cameron19 @Shift_Disturber1@Pent_House@rustynail It's not hyperbole. We let them impose their will upon us. We could not or would not match their physical play and we do not have the strength to do so.
This is why we struggle in our end and still generate most of our offense off rush plays. One and done's.
@Cameron19 @Shift_Disturber1@Pent_House@rustynail It's not about the one hit. It's about letting a guy run around and do what ever the hell he wanted out there and the lack of push back. I'm not necessarily talking about everyone fighting but hit some guys, get in their faces. We lack that pack mentallity
@Shift_Disturber1 @Pent_House @rustynail @Cameron19 It's just a hit. When I played, I had a little bit of Grabovski in me, in that I actually found getting hit motivating. it riled me up. I would be more likely to score on you if you rocked me. So I don't find the fact that our players got hit all that offensive. But yes, it would have been nice to see Clarkson, Bodie, Kulemin and so forth, step up and throw some hits.
@Pent_House @rustynail@Cameron19 It's easy to run around when nobody challenges you or pushes back. I didn't think we had any kind of physical push back. When the Isles ramped up the physicality we couldn't do much to match it. We had to finally switch to finesse to stretch them out and keep them from being able to run us down.
@Pent_House @Cameron19 I guess I just don't get all emotional about that kind of thing. Hitting is part of the game. Our players are going to get hit. None of them are so beyond the other players on the ice that we should expect them to never get hit. Crosby gets rocked regularly. That was literally the 2nd big hit Kessel has seen in 5 years, lol.
@DeclanK @Cameron19 @Komas Taberle Better since 2014 started. And remember, a lot of the reasons for this were to do with roster decisions and injuries. Likely not an issue with Bolland healthy, or Carlyle using Holland and 3 lines properly instead of forcing McClement into the line-up. I don't find it all that worrying, except from the perspective that Carlyle does stupid things.
@Cameron19 @Komas Taberle Because it's not a recipe for consistent success. The team clearly is not capable of defending a lead. Sit back and get peppered, blow the lead than rely on a skilled player to hopefully bail them out with a goal in the last few minutes. The team might as well keep applying pressure rather than go into "defensive" mode.