Game Review: Game #73, Devils 3 vs. Leafs 2

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Photo: NHLI via Getty Images

It may have been one of James Reimer’s final starts as a Leaf, depending on how soon Jonathan Bernier returns. It sure has been excruciating to watch this train wreck play out as the team in front of Reimer hasn’t played well enough to help him through his poorest stretch of games as a professional. 14 saves on 14 shots, a few of the challenging variety (the save on Gelinas in the slot was his best of the night), could mean Drew MacIntyre will get the start the next game (if Jonathan Bernier still can’t play).

This latest run of games for Reimer seems to have people running to one polar end of the spectrum or the other; to either lambaste him in a completely over-the-top fashion, or to spring to defend Reimer when it’s plain as day he’s had his chance to run with the net and he dropped the ball at the worst time of the season. It is what it is at this point. 3 goals on 10 shots including a definitive softie, a .870 save percentage over the Leafs‘ 5-game losing streak… it is what it is.

Patrick Elias shouldn’t be allowed to go in alone on Reimer with all the time in the world to walk around him (Rielly’s error). That goal cannot be classified as anything close to Reimer’s fault. And Dave Bolland definitely shouldn’t peel for a change with the imminent danger of a rush coming his way and only one defenceman back. But Reimer’s got to come up with a save on the 1st or 3rd goal. The Leafs allowing too many shots over the course of the season doesn’t change the reality for Reimer in these past three or four crucial games. It’s an unforgiving position, but it’s how being a goalie in the NHL works. You’ve got to come up with a few big saves in these important games to be heralded as a quality starter in this League. Reimer’s fully capable of it, he’s shown he’s capable of it, but he’s not showing it right now and you worry his time here has nearly run its course.

Complete frustration has been written all over Phil Kessel these past couple of losses. He chewed out JvR after getting looked off on a 2v1 in last night’s game versus Montreal, and a similar play happened in the 2nd period tonight, followed by some negative body language and Kessel yelling on the bench (it could be heard over the stream with the sound turned up), “he can do whatever he wants out there,” in reference to JvR.

Season-ruining five-game losing streaks will do this. One one hand, it’s understandable and preferable Kessel is absolutely livid with the latest turn of results; on the other, it’s usually not a constructive thing to be going at one another’s throats on the bench.

That goal on his late rush was going in whether it was off his stick or achieved by him bowling through the goalie and carrying it into the net. He’s seething right now, and all of us fans are right there with him.

As far as consolatory positives go, Rielly and Gardiner continue to be sources of light. It was good to see the pair matched with the top powerplay forward unit, leading to Tyler Bozak’s 3-1 goal. And yet…

The Leafs will need to collect 12 points out of the 18 still up for grabs, with two games against the Blues and Bruins in the final nine. It’s all but over.

Toronot Maple Leafs vs New Jersey Devils

EV fenwick chart for 2014-03-23 Maple Leafs 2 at Devils 3

Fenwick chart for 2014-03-23 Maple Leafs 2 at Devils 3

Toronto Maple Leafs vs New Jersey Devils Mar. 24, 2014

NEW JERSEY STATISTICS            
GOALIEDEC.SHOTSSAVESSAVE %MIN.
Cory Schneider (14-14-9)W23210.91360:00:00
PLAYERGATOI+/-SOGPIMFWFLHITSBSTAKEGIVE
Damien Brunner1012:20230000001
Ryan Carter009:54010212010
Ryane Clowe0113:32110001001
Patrik Elias1017:38110170020
Mark Fayne0020:09002000000
Eric Gelinas008:13010002010
Stephen Gionta0016:45002553000
Andy Greene0021:03002000403
Peter Harrold0117:20220000010
Adam Henrique0119:39110471110
Jaromir Jagr0019:46060000010
Jon Merrill1116:31220001001
Tuomo Ruutu0011:48100002002
Michael Ryder008:06000002000
Bryce Salvador0022:03000001100
Travis Zajac0022:250301490021
Marek Zidlicky0117:34032002301
Dainius Zubrus0018:04000226010

TORONTO

GOALIEDEC.SHOTSSAVESSAVE %MIN.
Drew MacIntyre (0-0-0)1414136:04:00
James Reimer (11-13-1)L1070.721:50
PLAYERGATOI+/-SOGPIMFWFLHITSBSTAKEGIVE
Troy Bodie006:44000003000
Dave Bolland009:42000341000
Tyler Bozak1025:13:0002013121000
David Clarkson0010:00-210001000
Cody Franson0021:41130005001
Jake Gardiner0121:40020000000
Tim Gleason0012:47-310001110
Carl Gunnarsson0019:35000000200
Nazem Kadri0014:20-202941100
Phil Kessel1025:00:00140001001
Nikolai Kulemin0013:00-110100000
Joffrey Lupul0018:56-100002001
Jay McClement009:42000571100
Colton Orr002:17002002000
Dion Phaneuf0126:01:00140003011
Mason Raymond0016:58-100000000
Morgan Rielly0118:16-300000010
James van Riemsdyk0026:14:00150010011
Toronto Maple Leafs vs New Jersey Devils Mar. 24, 2014
  • Reversethecurse13

    What most characterizes this losing streak is how this team couldn’t manage to get it to overtime once.
    Lots of blame to go around, tragically.

    From it all, i mostly question Randy’s roster decisions, day-in day-out. Same coach who rumour has it had a (one-way) discussion from above about his use of the roster.
    The seeds of this collapse were sewn many months ago. RIP ’14 Leafs

  • Bring the Cup Home

    worst thing about this team compared to last year is our lack of TEAM character.  what is our team character?  is there one?  last year it was clear……we are HARD to play against.  we will hit you.  we will fight you.  we will beat you down and you won’t enjoy playing us.  ask anyone in the league.  that was our identity last year.  

    this year what is it?  i certainly don’t know.

  • Reversethecurse13

    Bring the Cup Home  identity this year is: “hey look at our shiny goalie and our shiny top line.”

  • Cloud09

    Bring the Cup Home  
    David Clarkson buyout from CapGeek.com2014-15: $2,291,6672015-16: $1,541,6672016-17: $41,6672017-18: $41,6672018-19: $2,291,6672019-20: $3,791,6672020-21: $1,791,6672021-22: $1,791,6672022-23: $1,791,6672023-24: $1,791,6672024-25: $1,791,6672025-26: $1,791,667

  • Hammertownleaffan

    I will never understand how clarkson gets away with going into corners and fighting battles with one hand on his stick. It happens every time and he loses 80% of his puck battles. I would duct tape his other hand to his stick. What a plug.

  • Alec Brownscombe

    Hammertownleaffan  takes penalties because of it, too.

  • Reversethecurse13

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W9HYuIpgwsY
    Bye bye love
    Bye bye happiness
    Hello loneliness
    I think I’m gonna cry

  • Hammertownleaffan

    Man this is peewee hockey stuff. Little kids get screamed at every day for doing stuff he does while getting paid 5.5 million. He floats around and tries to dig pucks out with one hand. I. Can’t. Stand. Him.

  • Hammertownleaffan

    It’s typical of this franchise that they will now go a decade with only making the playoffs once, and that one trip comprised of one of the biggest breakdowns in playoff history. We deserve better than what this billion dollar franchise shovels down our throats. I’m not asking them to make the finals every year. I am asking them to put someone behind the bench that can make logical roster decisions. Spend some of the money you make from your 18 dollar beers MLSE, and hire someone with a semblance of competence.

  • KenBreadner

    Hammertownleaffan  Ah, yes, competence. Why is it that every coach that comes through here is only incompetent while they’re here? Last year, as I recall, it was Eakins that was supposed to be the coaching saviour. He’s done wonders in Edmonton, hasn’t he?

  • leafsjon

    I’m glad I didn’t see this one. Why torture yourself? F**k.

  • Hammertownleaffan

    KenBreadner Hammertownleaffan  I’m not entirely sure I understand your comment. Are you in favour of the decisions Carlyle continues to make? Eakins, while he probably hasn’t helped his own cause with the way he’s handled some on the kids, was placed in a no-win situation in Edmonton. That team is terrible.

  • RickC1983

    https://twitter.com/APetriellihttps://twitter.com/APetrielli
    Amazing neither Gardiner nor Rielly were on to tie. Perfectly summed up by Phaneuf dumping it in for no reason and no retrieval to end game.

    Nail right on the head as to why Carlyle is a goof. You can say the same about the PP’s. Imagine if you put Gardiner with Phaneuf and Moved Franson with Rielly. Gives you two PMD to enter the zone with possession on each PP instead of a dump in. Also Franson couldn’t keep a puck in to save his life.

  • BingoDabber

    Interesting re Kessel and Jvr… frustrated bunch right now

  • Savo43

    Hammertownleaffan KenBreadner  Its easy to make decisions from the couch at home, but lets chill on the MLSE thing. Yeah, they are a cash cow, but lets be honest, coming into the season we looked pretty good, we were on fire until the Canucks game, which is when things seemed to get a little off in regards to the players meshing with the coach and his philosophies. Phaneuf is making 7 million dollars, and part of that luxury is to man our top PP. I think Carlyles letting the vets finish what they started, even if it doesn’t necessarily lead to success. If they fail, there are some things coming in the offseason, and one of them could be his firing, and the kids who have succeeded this season, will be part of the answer moving forward. I hate watching Phaneuf and Franson on the top PP too, but i guess the other kids are just too green for Carlyle to trust them. Unfortunately he’s put trust in a couple players who really haven’t done it for us offensively this year. I mean…Franson AND Phaneuf on for the entire 5 on 3? Being on at all was questionable, especially with how the kids played, but the hole damn thing? That was ridiculous. I honestly would rather see Gunnarsson on the PP than Franson, he’s better with the puck, knows how to use his body to shield it, and makes smart plays, but ehhh, it is what it is. We got 9 games left to do something special, we’re gonna need some friggin luck if we wanna pull out of it with a spot.

  • Great Dane

    Alec Brownscombe   Alec – good morning isn’t about time to run a couple of blogs regarding possible replacements for Carlyle and who Leafs should draft when we pick first overall 😉

  • 4evrblue

    After the 5 on 3 I had to turn the TV off and go to bed. Couldn’t take watching. Not worth the stress.
    Im glad Drew played well though.

  • Great Dane

    This is pretty exact on the current situation: The icing on the cake of Carlyle stupid roster decisions.
    http://www.bergerbytes.ca/leafs-cant-or-wont-bail-out-carlyle/

  • Great Dane

    4evrblue How can any coach be allowed to make that many mistake. That is beyond me

  • 4evrblue

    Great Dane 4evrblue The entire team has been making huge mistakes lately. Not defending Randy, just saying

  • Reversethecurse13

    Great Dane  Wow, through it all, every letter, word, sentence, paragraph, is still rich with tones of a condescending asshole.
    Kind of funny to read, given that Berger will go the grave as a bitter hack. That guy needs to just step away, live near a beach, and try and not murder anyone.

  • Great Dane

    4evrblue Agree on the players but they are not playing for Carlyle anymore.
    There are too many gaffs from Carlyle’s hand to be respected by any player

  • Great Dane

    Reversethecurse13 Berger was been very positive on the Leafs lately. He firmly believe like the rest of us that the Leafs would make the playoff.
    But Carlyle has simply made too many mistake, starting last season. Including game 7 against Boston.

  • Reversethecurse13

    Great Dane Reversethecurse13  My condolences to you, for still reading Berger. Stay strong, bud, stay strong.

  • 4evrblue

    Great Dane 4evrblue I think that would be difficult to prove. 
    Around here people say playing Orr is a gaff. When Lupul scored against the Habs I saw him and Orr fist bump on the bench and smile about it. To me there are signs like this that point to Orr being respected in the room and the players probably think of him as a solid contributor on the ice.
    To us starting Reimer was a mistake but again, the players seem to respect him and have played for him before. In the room it probably seemed like the only option.
    Franson and Phaneuf on the 1st PP seems like a mistake but the two young D behind them, Gards and Morgan, are probably really happy to watch and learn as the boys have been around the block before. Again in the room it probably seems like a good move out of respect for the “vets” on the team.

  • 4evrblue

    Good morning MLHS

  • 4evrblue

    Cloud09 Bring the Cup Home Still almost seems worth it

  • Ron Ellis

    Hammertownleaffan  It not just the one hand thing.  He also usually holds it up above his head like he is carrying a flag or something.   If I was coaching him like I coach my competitive pee wee team after the 5th or 6th time I would say do that again and you won’t see the ice the rest of the game.

  • Great Dane

    4evrblue   Let clearly separate the player and the person. Orr is probably a great chap. But this is not “Buena Vista Social Club”.
    I am only talking about the player and he is not contributing anything and should be gone from the roster asap

  • Ron Ellis

    Cloud09 Bring the Cup Home  This isn’t that bad when you consider he is playing the roll of a 3rd liner.   His current hit is 5.2.  Bring up one of the kids making 1 to play his roll and they are still better off from a cap perspective.

  • Great Dane

    4evrblue Is this really a good morning.

    But good morning to you too

  • mcloki

    Morning Gents. After last night.I’m in the it’s over camp firmly and solidly. Hopefully they can add the pieces necessary to make the playoffs next year.

  • Jordan29

    I’m so depressed today…….

  • Great Dane

    mcloki It is a long list. Starting with getting a new coach and not making the mistake of signing Bolland to big contract.

  • Great Dane

    Jordan29 Get in line – buddy – get in line

  • MaxwellHowe

    Our boys look beaten down.  Whether its the stress or fatigue from playing on a 3 line team that is always chasing the puck, seems like the only people with anything left are the youngest guys on the team.

  • MaxwellHowe

    And remember the people who said the Leafs would not hjave made the playoffs last year if the season was 82 games long?  Maybe they were on to something.

  • Zep2

    The two watershed games were against the Caps and Habs
    Against the Caps , a win would have kept us rolling and stopped them in their tracks
    Against MTL ,in our own building against a beatable team we found a way to lose and outplay them at the same time .
    I’ve no animosity towards anyone, but Riemer has shown why the move for Bernier was made.
    I’ve was a big booster of Franson, but he is not a top 4 guy and should go .
    Car lyles refusal to play any kind of 4th line, the 1st PP pairing, the teams slow starts , lack of PK, PUTS HIS AND HIS STAFFS jobs in question

  • Mind Bomb

    Good morning Folks

  • maritimernluvinit

    I’m getting to the point where I can’t even stand to watch this team any longer. I don’t know how many times last night we had control of the puck in our end only to practically hand it to a Devil’s player. Lupul could not receive a pass or get it out of his own end if his life depended on it. Kessel turned it over numerous times. And I feel like putting my fist through the TV/laptop every time I see Phaneuf and Franson start out and play the majority of a powerplay. Also, it’s pretty obvious the way to beat Reimer is on his glove side.
    This team needs more than a coaching change. I’m also not sold on Nonis. Looks like he has handcuffed us with Clarkson’s contract, much like he did in Vancouver with Luongo’s. I’ve said it before, we overachieved in a strike-shortened season last year, which set up much too lofty expectations for this season. Slow and steady would have been the way to go which, in my opinion would have been to not sign Clarkson and re-sign Komarov (yes I know hindsight is 20-20).

  • MaxwellHowe

    CanuckUKinToronto Yeah, RC might as well call it a day.

  • Zep2

    Nonis didn’t give Luongo that contract

  • Great Dane

    maritimernluvinit firing Carlyle would give an argument to move Clarkson basically for nothing but just to get him of the roster and gain the cap space.

  • MaxwellHowe

    By the way, anyone coming on today saying we’re too negative and the mockingly writing “Oh No the sky is falling” should probably go fuck themselves.  Desperation, anger, fingerpointing, new coach speculation and wild trade scenarios should be the order of the day.

  • Yaknowwhat

    WE ARE STILL MAKING THE PLAYOFFS!

  • maritimernluvinit

    My bad on him signing Luongo to the massive contract. He traded for him and Gillis made the mistake. However, I still feel Clarkson’s signing was a huge mistake!!!

  • MaxwellHowe

    Great Dane maritimernluvinit I think he is untradeable, unless the Leafs eat 1/2 that contract ot giveaway a great prospect along with him.

  • Bennett2Gareth

    MaxwellHowe  I agree, I have seen the frustration on Kessel’s face every time he misses the net.  I

  • MaxwellHowe

    Yaknowwhat still a chance.  but lets be mad now.

  • Mind Bomb

    Yaknowwhat   Dude its a Lock !