Game Review: Game #69, Capitals 4 vs. Leafs 2

672
Photo: NHLI via Getty Images

The Maple Leafs took a couple of big wins out of Anaheim and Los Angeles, only to come out flat as a bottle of Coke left out in the sun for a week against a far more beatable opponent in Washington.

Early start time? Sickness coursing through the locker room? All the recent travel? Who knows, but the Leafs have had too many full periods like this throughout the season with the only simple explanation being they’re a skating team that gets into big trouble if their legs aren’t there. Three goals against in the first 9 minutes and a 14-2 shot deficit through 20 minutes is an extremely difficult start to overcome.

The Leafs also took three penalties in the first period, and ran their usual set up to try to isolate Alex Ovechkin and remove him from the equation. The tradeoff is that it creates a 4 on 3 situation on the other side of the ice. Twice the Leafs were outnumbered down low and Phaneuf and Gleason couldn’t take the pass away to the man in front; both times the other D (Franson on the first, Ranger on the 2nd) had stepped up to apply pressure on the puck off the half wall.

Perhaps the bigger issue on both occasions was the ease with which the Capitals were allowed to set themselves up in the first place. Passively allow the 2nd-best powerplay in the League to get themselves set and they’re going to make you pay more often than not. Alex Ovechkin was content to play decoy and let the rest of the PP unit slice the Leafs apart.

The call leading up to the Caps’ third goal was a total mystery, as the ref seemed to invent a slash by Phaneuf out of thin air and send him to the box for it. Joel Ward scored his second of the game on the ensuing powerplay.

A late goal by Troy Bodie off a chip shot over the shoulder of Jaroslav Halak gave the Leafs a fighting chance going into the 2nd. They responded with one of their best periods of the season in terms of shots (20-6 in favour of the Leafs; they took 16 of the first 17 shots of the period).

The Leafs got their fair share of powerplay opportunities as well, with three consecutive in the second period. They generated a good amount of pressure, but the Capitals did a good job of blocking shots at timely moments and the Leafs didn’t generate enough in the way of point shots with a presence in front.

Dion Phaneuf put the Leafs within one after showing good patience on the blueline and tossing one on net. It either was a wounded duck change-up or it hit Nazem Kadri in the pants and the scorekeepers didn’t take notice; either way, the Leafs’ offense from their defence continues to be a positive of late, with Phaneuf individually collecting five points in his last five and seven points in his last 9.

Credit to Phaneuf big time for gutting this one out despite being less than 100% (goal and an assist from #3). Cody Franson led the defence core with 22 minutes while Carlyle tried to limit Phaneuf’s minutes, which is not something we’ll want to see going forward (Franson did not have a game worth framing).

David Clarkson hit a crossbar late in the second on what would’ve been the tying goal. He had a couple of really poor shifts, but if that goes in it changes the perception. He’s neither playing well nor getting the breaks.

Reimer was a part of the first period woes, no doubt. He wasn’t absorbing pucks and killing plays when the team needed a whistle (sometimes simply not catching pucks), and it caused issues in and around a couple of the goals and contributed to the 2nd one directly. But he took the much quieter 2nd period to settle into the game and came up big in the third time and again, giving this team a chance to even the score in the final 20. Reimer didn’t have a chance on goals 1 or 3 and played well enough to give the team a chance overall.

The team in front of Reimer, though, didn’t generate any serious chances in the third, with Randy Carlyle turning on the line blender (Lupul, Kadri and Kessel skated a few shifts together). There were some putrid attempts at breakouts with long stretch passes sent hopelessly into the neutral zone. The Leafs had to kill a penalty for two of the final three minutes, but did manage to apply some late pressure only for Joffrey Lupul to send an overly hopeful pass (looking for a bounce or a no-look connection) all the way down the ice.

This was a painful game to watch for the most part, one the Leafs will need to put behind them before getting ready for another big game against a fringe playoff team in the East, Detroit, on Tuesday. James Reimer is expected to remain in goal.

EV fenwick chart for 2014-03-16 Maple Leafs 2 at Capitals 4Fenwick-chart-for-2014-03-16-Maple-Leafs-2-at-Capitals-4.png”>
Fenwick chart for 2014-03-16 Maple Leafs 2 at Capitals 4

Toronto Maple Leafs vs Washington Capitals

WASHINGTON STATISTICS

GOALIEDEC.SHOTSSAVESSAVE %MIN.
Jaroslav Halak (27-11-4)W29270.93160:00:00
PLAYERGATOI+/-SOGPIMFWFLHITSBSTAKEGIVE
Karl Alzner0220:14220001310
Nicklas Backstrom0120:32-1201181100
Jay Beagle0012:430121061010
Troy Brouwer2019:27150214113
John Carlson0022:39210000501
Connor Carrick0011:50-200000111
Jason Chimera1012:41140021000
Eric Fehr00:0002381011
Mike Green0025:31:00050002000
Jack Hillen0022:00002001100
Marcus Johansson0119:25-120001010
Evgeny Kuznetsov0115:48020010000
Dmitry Orlov0013:30-200000210
Alex Ovechkin0019:02-210002001
Dustin Penner0110:56000001100
Joel Ward1115:48140134000
Casey Wellman009:42010660000
Tom Wilson007:55030002010

TORONTO STATISTICS

GOALIEDEC.SHOTSSAVESSAVE %MIN.
James Reimer (11-9-1)L32290.90659:34:00
PLAYERGATOI+/-SOGPIMFWFLHITSBSTAKEGIVE
Carter Ashton002:29000000000
Troy Bodie1010:19110110200
Tyler Bozak0021:12-21011100031
David Clarkson0018:12110002010
Cody Franson0022:29032003300
Jake Gardiner0018:47032000300
Tim Gleason0011:00100003000
Carl Gunnarsson0116:09110000102
Nazem Kadri0020:02120882000
Phil Kessel0022:02-240001000
Nikolai Kulemin0014:41120491210
Joffrey Lupul0121:16030000010
Jay McClement008:440021151000
Dion Phaneuf1120:01-132002000
Paul Ranger0016:21030000120
Mason Raymond0113:54110001000
Morgan Rielly0015:42-100000201
James van Riemsdyk0021:38-210000010
  • MLHS_Luke

    Well, can’t win ’em all.

  • NotInsane

    MLHS_Luke  
    sadly no.  Big week coming up!  DET, TB, MON

  • Lonsmos2

    Not sure why RC doesn’t use Ashton more particularly when clarkson it struggling

  • Burtonboy

    A win in Detroit and we will have a successful road trip all thing considered . 7 of the last 12 are at home makes for a more palatable schedule. Getting real antsy if we even see Bolland this season

  • Burtonboy

    Lonsmos2  He doesn’t trust him for what ever reason

  • Lonsmos2

    Crazy then when using only 11 forwards to have anyone on the bench you don’t trust and only use 2 min in a game

  • Burtonboy

    Lonsmos2  Don’t make much sense to  me either

  • Lonsmos2

    So we can deduce from that that it wasn’t Ron Wilson system to collapse the Pk but likely Cronin since he’s still here
    Not sure why then fall back to that useless system when it’s so obvious when they play a pressure PK they’ve had success

  • Burtonboy

    CanuckUKinToronto  Don’t think the collapsing defense has anything to do with it really . A lot of teams in the NHL play the same type of system just different variations . Our problem is too many missed assignments

  • Alec Brownscombe

    Burtonboy CanuckUKinToronto  We also let teams get set up far too quickly and easily.

  • MaxwellHowe

    Complete lack of execution.  Seemed like no one could make a pass or collect it.  That sounds simple, but that’s the way it seemed for the whole game, even in the second period when the Leafs had 20 shots.  Just not really in the game.  Please no more afternoon matchups.  Must be their usual naptime.

  • Xxxxxnew

    A lot of teams have been used it ever since the blue lines were moved back by two feet. It’s a Jacques Lemaire invention.

  • Burtonboy

    CanuckUKinToronto Burtonboy  Definitely not aggressive enough but you can’t leave a guy wide open in the slot 10 ‘ in front of the goalie

  • MaxwellHowe

    Alec Brownscombe Burtonboy In general the Leafs, when they play poorly, just concede the blueline like it ain’t no thang

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

    MaxwellHowe  Thankfully no more this season but I wouldn’t rule out a matinee in the playoffs, depending on the opponent.

  • MaxwellHowe

    CanuckUKinToronto MaxwellHowe someone forgot to set the alarm

  • Burtonboy

    CanuckUKinToronto Burtonboy  missed assignment, its as simple as that

  • Alec Brownscombe

    Xxxxxnew  These same issues still apply http://mapleleafshotstove.com/2014/01/27/leafs-notebook-january-27/

  • MaxwellHowe

    CanuckUKinToronto Yup, the Caps were driving the setting up camp on Reimer’s lap, and the Leafs D didn’t seem too concerned.  Down one goalie, a career AHL guy on the bench, a little more protection may have been warranted

  • Burtonboy

    Alec Brownscombe Xxxxxnew  Been a lot better lately. Today was a letdown for sure . How many times have you seen a team return from out west and have a bad start or a bad game the first one back ?

  • Alec Brownscombe

    Burtonboy Alec Brownscombe Xxxxxnew  I’m not too bent out of shape about the loss at all, but I am worried about the PK in general. That’s a big issue when the games tighten up

  • Burtonboy

    Alec Brownscombe Burtonboy Xxxxxnew  Its definetly an issue . Was Bolland playing PK before he got hurt ?

  • Alec Brownscombe

    Burtonboy Alec Brownscombe Xxxxxnew  1:49 per game on average

  • Burtonboy

    Alec Brownscombe Burtonboy Xxxxxnew  Well he might help but I doubt he gets much PK time to start…….. if he ever does start

  • Alec Brownscombe

    Burtonboy Alec Brownscombe Xxxxxnew  Not even being talked about anymore

  • Burtonboy

    Alec Brownscombe Burtonboy Xxxxxnew  Nope he’s the forgotten man the last week or so

  • Burtonboy

    Scabs up 1-0

  • Burtonboy

    CanuckUKinToronto Burtonboy  I would actually like the Habs to remain close . I want to see that matchup in the 1st rd

  • Burtonboy

    CanuckUKinToronto Burtonboy  For sure . Be nice if the Leafs finished 2nd and the Habs 3rd

  • Burtonboy

    2-0 Habs

  • TheCanucksnaphook

    Fuckin junk effort by Leafs.

  • Great Dane

    Depending on the period it was different teams on the ice. This is simply not working.

    Carlyle could put a sign before each: “Please open shooting gallery in designated area”  – our defensive zone.
    Swarm-collapse or what even they call it, is awful to watch and completely useless.

    TWO shoots for the Leafs in the first period. 7 shoots in the third while trailing with one goal.
    I can’t understand that this way of playing is acceptable to Nonis or Leiweke.

  • TheCanucksnaphook

    System or personnel.  We are right back to that simple question.

  • Dangle_My_Berries

    TheCanucksnaphook  personnel

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

    TheCanucksnaphook  Missed the first, heard some of it on the radio, but they seemed to wake up , too late again though.

  • Leafs rule

    ingy56 TheCanucksnaphook Yea but there is still hope  !

  • Alec Brownscombe

    TheCanucksnaphook  2 pk goals and an empty netter.
    I’d start with the PK.

  • PEIleafnation

    TheCanucksnaphook very frustrating once again to watch…no killer instinct..

  • MaxwellHowe

    TheCanucksnaphook system of choosing personnel

  • Great Dane

    TheCanucksnaphook System and coach need to go.

    Skills level are there otherwise they can’t beat the Ducks and Kings. If the Leafs thereafter can’t generate more than 2 shoots in the a period the coach was not been able to motivate his players

  • TheCanucksnaphook

    Alec Brownscombe  Ok but why hasnt it be fixed?  We are still playing the same fuckin system.

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

    Leafs rule ingy56 TheCanucksnaphook  I say that after every LottoMax draw!

  • TheCanucksnaphook

    hello HH.

  • Alec Brownscombe

    TheCanucksnaphook Alec Brownscombe  There’s a lot of merit to this I think. http://www.mckeenshockey.com/nhl-blog/57090/

  • Great Dane

    TheCanucksnaphook Alec BrownscombeBecause Carlyle can’t adjust to the current situation and if that is not possible he should be gone

  • TheCanucksnaphook

    Alec Brownscombe I cannot read tonite….just got off the golf course where I realized again today I am fuckin terrible.

  • Jay31

    TheCanucksnaphook  here are some thoughts Gus Katsaros had on twitter earlier, Im putting them all together, multiple tweets

    “Not surprisingly the Leafs biggest issue stems from a misguided blueline. They dont work the ‘transition’ & rely too much on big hits. Franson has greater hit totals but how does that fit into the isolate, regain the puck and move into transition system? 

    This same logic is What makes Gardiner cough up pucks in the dzone and forces getting into transition when he en have support in numbers. Thats partly also why there is such a gap in the dmen and forwards as the fwds move up in quick transition qhen dmen slow the play down as a Controlled breakout. 

    The disconnect ia fairly obvious .. Fixing it is not. The result is just too much time in the defensive zone”

  • Burtonboy

    Great Dane  36-25-8 for 80 pts with 13 to go doesn’t get any coach fired

  • Leafs rule

    ingy56 Leafs ruleTheCanucksnaphook ,ha but ,its the truth relative to leafs performance so far

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

    Leafs rule ingy56 TheCanucksnaphook  True, but so many of us have been hoping for 47 years now. I’d like to get past hope and on to expectation instead.