Game Review: Game #72, Canadiens 4 at Leafs 3

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TORONTO, ON - MARCH 22: Carey Price #31 of the Montreal Canadiens defends the net against the Toronto Maple Leafs during an NHL game at the Air Canada Centre on March 22, 2014 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images)

This is may be the darkest night in Leafland since May 13, 2003. It was a crucial loss to the Montreal Canadiens that took the Maple Leafs from in the mix for the third divisional playoff spot to no longer in control of their own destiny when it comes to making the playoffs in a wildcard position. The Leafs have now lost their third “four-point game” in the span of a week. Crushing stuff.

Screen Shot 2014-03-23 at 12
Leafs playoff odds now at 44%

The reality is that the Leafs, with their current flaws, are among the large group of middling teams in the East who aren’t separated by all that much. Unless you’re among  the elite teams who have already built a big cushion by this point, the first 60 or 65 games are all about putting yourself in a position to make the playoffs when the dust settles.

Among that group jousting for playoff spots down the stretch, who is getting good goaltending vs. average goaltending is going to be the major difference maker. With this team’s defensive deficiencies, average goaltending won’t cut it for the Leafs and they’ll sink right out of the spot they’re tenuously holding onto. Few live and die by their goaltending as much as the Leafs; it was their biggest differentiator and had them situated to take over 2nd in the Division a little over a week ago. Now, they’re on the verge of falling out of the playoffs with 10 games to go. There was very little between the Habs and Leafs tonight, much as there was little between the Leafs and Wings on Tuesday. The margins are so thin in these games. James Reimer has to step up and stop two of those goals he let in tonight. Simple as that.

The other disappointing part is the poor PK from the Leafs on the only penalty it had to kill half way through the third. Playoff teams get that kill. Instead — with no pressure on the points, poor clearing attempts by McClement and a foul up by Phaneuf, who tried to be too patient on the play — the Leafs didn’t and it cost them at least one vital point.

It’s hard to find the positives in a night like this, but the Leafs played a pretty good game overall. Lupul and Kadri scored a couple of nice goals. Jake Gardiner had himself a hell of a game. There was something to like about Bolland’s return, too. You could tell he set out to make sure he engaged in the game with some physical play, and while he looks like he’s still down half a step, much of his game is rooted in savvy play. He should be able to help this team in the final 10, hopefully by giving them three contributing forward lines. He missed nearly 60 games and yet he seemed ready to go from the first shift onward. Granted, Carlyle eased him in with 9:01 TOI tonight.

It might be worth putting Bolland with, say, Bodie and Kulemin on a line to start the game so the Leafs can set the tone better than they have been off the puck drop.

Not a tonne of anaylsis tonight, for it was a downer and one all of us fans are going to need to sleep on to fully digest and put behind us.  12 out of 20 points isn’t a yeoman’s feat if the Leafs get their act together soon, soon as in 18 hours from now, but it’s no longer fully in the Leafs’ control. Jonathan Bernier is reportedly not going to make the trip to Jersey.

Fenwick chart for 2014-03-22 Canadiens 4 at Maple Leafs 3EV fenwick chart for 2014-03-22 Canadiens 4 at Maple Leafs 3Toronto Maple Leafs vs Montreal Canadiens

Toronto Maple Leafs_vs_Montreal Canadiens Boxscore

TORONTO STATISTICS            
GOALIEDEC.SHOTSSAVESSAVE %MIN.
James Reimer (11-12-1)L36320.88958:40:00
PLAYERGATOI+/-SOGPIMFWFLHITSBSTAKEGIVE
Troy Bodie009:33020000100
Dave Bolland009:01-110813000
Tyler Bozak1018:58020990001
David Clarkson008:54-210001100
Cody Franson0024:39:00-150006011
Jake Gardiner0022:37020003003
Tim Gleason0018:00-110004111
Carl Gunnarsson0014:42-100001110
Nazem Kadri1017:15040371010
Phil Kessel0120:16030010100
Nikolai Kulemin0018:16-110113122
Joffrey Lupul1120:18130002210
Jay McClement0013:50-100984100
Colton Orr002:32000002001
Dion Phaneuf0020:44-120003202
Mason Raymond0216:41-130001020
Morgan Rielly0019:18020001111
James van Riemsdyk0021:46-152102020
MONTREAL STATISTICS
GOALIEDEC.SHOTSSAVESSAVE %MIN.
Carey Price (29-18-5)W36330.91760:00:00
PLAYERGATOI+/-SOGPIMFWFLHITSBSTAKEGIVE
Francis Bouillon0025:10:00-100002111
Rene Bourque1111:52160000000
Daniel Briere0013:20110461011
David Desharnais0116:260221080020
Lars Eller006:37010420100
Alexei Emelin0020:52030003311
Alex Galchenyuk0016:38110001110
Brendan Gallagher0015:26110000000
Brian Gionta1114:30130020011
Andrei Markov0124:07:00150001211
Travis Moen0013:47000000101
Douglas Murray0010:13200004501
Max Pacioretty1017:29040000200
Tomas Plekanec1020:591129131110
P.K. Subban0126:14:00030000201
Thomas Vanek0016:43020000000
Mike Weaver0113:24210002400
Dale Weise0012:25020003013
  • MLHS_Luke

    Sigh.

  • BingoDabber

    These tight games down the stretch begin and end with goaltending. All of the teams in and around the Leafs are flawed. Habs no less flawed than we, on this night and in general. They got one or two more saves on the night.
    Shitty buzz and funny to say as the only reason we’re here is great goaltending
    Get well soon Bernie

  • Leafbites

    MLHS_Luke  Aye.

  • Bon Scott was a Leaf fan

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O7hmF_IX9Ic

  • Bon Scott was a Leaf fan

    Leafbites MLHS_Luke  
    Oi

  • HeatherRickAkin

    Have only seen the Leafs once in the past month (T Bay beat them) and my guess is that the team aren’t terrible, but whereas they got points earlier in the season on nights they really didn’t deserve a point, or a win, now its beginning to even out. All four of these losses were close, and with luck, the Leafs may have gotten a point in every one of those games. It didn’t happen, and now they need 12 points in the next ten games . I doubt they get the points needed to make the playoffs, but you never know .

  • Giller

    Again, where is this magical third period Reimer?

  • gjdevlin

    Upitty fuck. We hit the crossbar 3 or 4 times. Tampa can’t always maintain winning streak and fucking scabs play the Bruins on Monday night. We gotta win tomorrow to stay in the hunt.

    Honestly, what I saw tonight was fairly solid. We skated hard and created some quality chances. Reimer’s rebound control is still spotty and he had no chance with the deflection goal from Gleason. It was an all around effort that came up short. (sigh)

  • gjdevlin

    Giller Clap if you believe in goalies.

  • GeorgeCastanza

    ………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..

  • BingoDabber

    HeatherRickAkin  It’s not really a karmic explanation about the universe balancing out to screw over the Leafs. They aren’t playing terrible, they played just as well as they did during their hot streak tonight, it’s just they give up a lot of shots and don’t have Bernier.

  • BPsotka

    Screw you guys. We have just as solid goaltending as we had before. Just as many weak goals, just as many awesome stops. We just aren’t fitting the bill. Not finishing games or coming out the gate. I blame the skaters for their difficult starts and am not worried to see Reimer playing over Bernier – We’ll come around

  • http://www.goodnewsnetwork.org/ DylanJ

    A dark part of me almost wishes this team doesn’t make the playoffs…. will inspire some change within the group

    but my logical reasoning and faith-driven self hopes that they do squeeze in, build more character within the young core, and keep growin’
    not making the playoffs with a good young core after making them last year would feel almost shameful

  • maple1967leafs

    Breaker–Breaker– Leafs Semi is reaching the top of the Coquihalla ,Leaf fans can expect a rapid descent

  • JR from Halifax

    Quiet in here this morning

  • Yaknowwhat

    Last night came down to one thing…goaltending….we needed a couple saves that we didn’t get…this team simply cannot be successful with average to below average goaltending….2 questionable goals was the difference ..take those away and we either win or take this game to overtime…

  • StanSmith

    Few observations.  I thought the leafs were clearly the better team the last two periods after an evenly played first.  Gardiner and Lupul had great games.  Phaneuf and Gleason not so good.  Bolland can, and will make a difference.  I don’t think I have seen Kulemin play a worse game.  He turned away from at least three possible hits and by my count completed 1 maybe two passes all night.  But,the biggest issue right now is goaltending.  Yes they give up a lot of shots but the Habs did not out chance them last night by any means.  It is not only how many goals a goalie lets in but also when, and Reimer is struggling with both of these aspects right now.  I have been a Reimer supporter all year and I think he has not been given a fair shake by Carlyle but he has now had ample time to get his game going and prove himself.  You can complain Carlyle has ruined his confidence but he is a professional NHL player and if he wants to stick he has to learn to fight through these things.

  • JMAC17

    If Bernier is a no go today think we see McIntyre?

  • http://mapleleafshotstove.com/ Radar O’Rielly

    Yaknowwhat  It could also be argued we needed a few less turnovers and bad defensive zone coverage.

  • daniel marois

    I will give Nonis and his crew due.  They knew Reimer was not the answer and set out to get Bernier.  Now we know why…

  • TheCanucksnaphook

    JMAC17  Since Bernier isnt making the trip…..I suggest he is a no-go.

    I would head right back to Reimer.  “you want to be a #1 in this league, here ya go”

  • Burtonboy

    Whats been the shot differential the last 3 games ?  That’s what everyone said was wrong with the Leafs all season long and good goaltending was the only reason they were winning. Go back to getting out shot by 10-15 and we might have a chance of winning. I’m so pissed off right now . The team has played really well ,in fact good enough to win at least the Detroit and Habs game but the one thing we have to have decided not to show up.

  • JWaterdrager

    Why did Gunnarson only play 14:42? Thought he looked like one of our best D.

  • hometeem

    Burtonboy  are u serious that it s a good thing yto get outshot?

  • hometeem

    we deserved a better fate last night,  montreal got a couple bounces and we got none.  sky was fallimng on me last night.  if we play like we did last night for the rest of the year i think we r in.  more is expected of reims.  he will pull out of this slump, i just hope its very soon.

  • TheCanucksnaphook

    hometeem Burtonboy  I dont think its a good or bad thing.  It is what it is for the most part.  Goalie will STEAL games.

  • TheCanucksnaphook

    JWaterdrager  he and Dion were team lows on the blueline at one point.  Did that remain the same/

  • Burtonboy

    hometeem Burtonboy  Hardly . Pure sarcasm directed at the advanced stat crowd.

  • hometeem

    TheCanucksnaphook hometeem Burtonboy  have to disagree,  all shots are important as was the case last night, shots plus a shitty bounce cost us 2 goals.  we dont get those bounces as often as many teams more than likely because……..on the othrr hand we score a lot of really nice goals but our nice goals last night didnt cut it

  • B_Leaf

    hometeem  

    As long as he is not concussed he will pull out of it.

  • Burtonboy

    I stayed  up and watched the Was. SJ game . Holtby stood on his head last night and Was. won again

  • TheCanucksnaphook

    hometeem TheCanucksnaphook Burtonboy  You can get those bounces on 3 shots against.  All of them can go in.  The advanced stats crowd is starting to lose its lustre when it comes to hockey (as I predicted) its a very random sport with random bounces and outcomes.

    Cannot be tracked like baseball

  • B_Leaf

    Since the LA game Reimer has been lettiing in some bad goals that he normally wouldn’t.   I fear he may have scrambled his brain again…if so we might be in trouble.

  • mvw

    In all honesty leafs missing playoffs might be best thing.Look at glaring weaknesses bad signings,Clarkson,coahing,defence.This team needs serious re-evaluation and making playoffs only masks these weaknesses that everybody seems to overlook when they make playoffs.

  • hometeem

    TheCanucksnaphook hometeem Burtonboy  tip, i wouldnt bet on anything w that logic

  • TheCanucksnaphook

    mvw  Its not the best thing.  That is loser talk.  Go follow the Oilers if you want losing for draft picks.

  • Zep2

    Morning .
    The teams finds ways to lose.
    Riemer shat the bed on 2 or 3 of the goals
    At 3-3′ JVR takes a goalie interference call. This is not the 1st time he’s taken penalties at crucial times
    I love his game, but his poor judgement has cost us points this season
    The talent is there. Can it overcome the teams propensity for fucking up

  • TheCanucksnaphook

    Zep2  I really believe that was a shitty penalty to call as JVR gets shoved from behind.  All you guys want our forwards to go to the net, well JVR did that.  Sometimes penalties will get called for tough play around the goalie.  Good with the bad.

    There is no reason to bitch at JVR.  None at all, pick a more worthy candidate there are plenty around.

  • TheCanucksnaphook

    hometeem TheCanucksnaphook Burtonboy  Thanks for the tip….I will put that in the appropriate file.

  • hometeem

    Zep2  everyone knew refs were lookin for a call at that point

  • mcloki

    The Leafs aren’t as bad as some believe. They will upgrade in the summer if they make the playoffs or not. Tough to be optimistic today. But you never know what next week will hold.

  • mvw

    B_Leaf Good point never thought of that but he definetly sees off

  • TheCanucksnaphook

    mcloki  could rattle off three or four in a row.  All will be forgotten in these parts.

  • TheCanucksnaphook

    hometeem Zep2  So?  Never go near the net and hope that a guy doesnt shove you from behind near the goalie?

    You guys are seriously bitching about the wrong things this morning.

  • Zep2

    As I wrote I like his game. He’s a stud. But sometimes his exuberance is misplaced
    My main point is that this team has a special talent for losing games they should win. They are best in the works at it
    Lose season series to Buffalo
    Lose big games to FLorida
    Don’t start playing till the first period
    Don’t start playing till the 3rd period
    Don’t start playing till the last 5 minutes
    Take penalties 200 feet from your net , JVR ,Raymond

  • TheCanucksnaphook

    Zep2  Sorry, I cannot get on board with this opinion regarding JVR.  And Raymond (who I cannot stand at times) is playing well lately too.

    Enjoy the rant….its good for you to get it out.

  • TuckerForPunishment

    I hope Reims is in net tonight.   He has a lot to prove.

  • Zep2

    They played well enough to win last nite. They were the better team. They were undermined by an ordinary goaltending performance
    If the goaltending gets better, we squeak in. If Riemer can’t raise his game and Bernier can’t come back, this is a re run of the 2012 nightmare

  • TheCanucksnaphook

    TuckerForPunishment  I keep hearing he plays better with more starts.  Time for him to put up or shut up.

  • JWaterdrager

    TheCanucksnaphook JWaterdrager  in TOI? Dion got 20 min I think. I liked Gunnars game over Dions last night