Game Review: Game #74, Blues 5 at Maple Leafs 3

Game Review: Game #74, Blues 5 at Maple Leafs 3

726
Toronto Maple Leafs vs St. Louis Blues

At what point do we stop saying the next game is a “must win?”

Tonight was a must win and the Leafs came out flat, at home, and got dominated. Doesn’t matter who they were playing, the effort was [censored] embarrassing. Full stop. The Blues could be seen with smirks on their faces after whistles in the first 40 minutes. It doesn’t really matter if the Leafs make it interesting in the last 8 games, this is what we got from a fully healthy Leafs team when it still mattered.

No NHL team should give up 23 shots in one period, let alone one with playoff aspirations playing in a crucial game. At home, to boot. An elite, heavy cycle team like St Louis exposed the Leafs’ leaky system like water tracing dye. The system isn’t working, and that’s on Carlyle. On the other hand, even when they were in position to do so, the team couldn’t win a board battle when the game still mattered.

It’d be nice to say it begins and ends with Carlyle. Removing him from his post is the right starting point, but there’s some bigger questions facing this management group in the off season. What alterations need to be made to the core? Who is the right coach for the makeup of this team (clearly not Carlyle)? What is the identity the team is aspiring toward, anyway? Do they aspire to be that heavy forechecking/cycle team like the Blues? They’re a 100 miles away from that. Up tempo, skill/speed, high-scoring team? How can they supplement that, and who is the right coach to oversee it? They certainly need to improve down the middle and on the back end. How are they going to improve a core that is locked into place on long term contracts without much cap space likely to be available? Big questions.

This was Dion Phaneuf’s worst game as a Leaf at a crucial time of the season, and the wolves will be circling. In his defence, he has left games with countless injuries (and recently, illness) this season, and hasn’t missed a game besides his suspension. He gets leaned on like crazy, in terms of minutes and assignments, even though he’s really not of the elite 1D ilk to be able to handle it. Even when he’s himself, he appears to hit a wall after 23 or 24 minutes, at which point he is huffing and puffing and can’t keep up. For an average skater who battles hard physically shift in shift out, a season of wear and tear, big minutes and tough assignments appears to be catching up to him.

While he was the only reason the Leafs were down just 2-1 for the first half of the game, Jonathan Bernier looked a little hesitant to go into butterfly at points in this game. It doesn’t appear his groin is close to 100%. That probably sinks any chance at a sudden turnaround in the final 8 (there wasn’t really a chance anyway).

The most depressing part of the whole thing is that we’re right back at that dismal, mediocre non-playoff team status we’ve been at for years since the lockout. The third collapse in three seasons ensures the Leafs still haven’t won a playoff round since 2004. Only this time it’s without the defence of being early in the rebuild, or a young team on the rise experiencing its very first playoff round.

Essentially, laughingstocks again.

Photo: Extraskater.com

Photo: Extraskater.com

EV fenwick chart for 2014-03-25 Blues 5 at Maple Leafs 3Toronto Maple Leafs vs St. Louis Blues

SIMILAR ARTICLES

634 comments
jrod2210
jrod2210

There is not much to say at this point about the Leafs play, that's clearly quite obvious, but one thing I was completely shocked about last nights game, was the lack of support from the fans, last nights game was a must win, as are the rest of the games left in the season. I could not believe how quiet the ACC was, like it had no life in it and I understand the "give them something to cheer about" montra, but you need to get your team going and be loud make sure they know you are supporting them, even after the 1st goal and Berniers incredible saves, this crowd was lifeless, this is something I have noticed for a while, it's a damn shame when we call ourselves the best fans in the league and when I turn on the TV the crowd sounds lifeless, maybe it's just me, curious to hear other peoples opinions.

Burtonboy
Burtonboy

Along with all this talk about Carlyle and his system we also have to call into question whether these players really have what it takes to win. They haven't shown it so far and it does make you wonder about the character of some in that dressing room.

DeclanK
DeclanK moderator

Refresh for some data. I-net connection was from 6pm until this am so couldn't help with the charts, etc. 

Lots of hand wringing this morning, I'm sure, but lost in all of this is the fucking clinic St. Louis put on. What a team. Wow.

Burtonboy
Burtonboy

Back in the late 1990's I stopped following the Leafs extensively and became a very casual fan . Mostly becuase of the type of hockey being played in the NHL at the time but the Leafs ineptitude played a role as well . I never really came back til after the lockout in 2005 and only really stated following the team closely again about 6 yrs ago. 


When Burkie came on board there was hope and I was really encouraged that maybe we finally had someone who was going to fix what can only be described as a complete and utter disaster of an organization . Nonis has continued that work and I truly believe that direction and plan has to stay in place . 


However the results we've seen the last 3 seasons culminating in our present situation has called into question what is actually happening here . This collapse is totally unacceptable. I can sit here like all the rest and try to dissect whats happened and discuss all the potential fixes that can be put in place, and I will  because that's part of the fun of being a follower of MLHS.  But in reality it means nothing. 


What I do expect at the very least is an explanation as to what happened and what they intend to do to about it. That will determine whether I once again become a very casual fan of the Toronto Maple leafs. I'm sick and tired of being disappointed year in year out.


Tim Lieweke and Dave Nonis , its up to you to show us you will be accountable to this fan base who deserve a full and honest  explanation as to what happened and where this organization is headed. 


End Rant 

CanuckUKinToronto
CanuckUKinToronto

On a positive note-  Gardiner and Rielly are tied for 57th in pts for D men in the league.. Not bad for two young players in a 30 team league.. Those are two very bright spots for this team

CanuckUKinToronto
CanuckUKinToronto

I know we just signed Knoedel .. He was a draft pick.. Are there any Free agent college players we may pick up who can have an impact (like Bozak?) except on D?  Like Shultz?

Jordan29
Jordan29

ENOUGH TALK ABOUT THE LEAFS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

-

My favorite girl in the world celebrating her 13th birthday in style yesterday!


CanuckUKinToronto
CanuckUKinToronto

Does anyone think Percy or Granberg can make the top 6 next year on this team and not detract from it?  Look at like Leddy on Chicago-  just turned 23 and fits perfectly..

RandomScrub
RandomScrub

Hell of a lot of back to backs for all the other teams were competing with so that always helps.

GreekGod
GreekGod


@Burtonboy

Yup... bad system and too many players that aren't putting in a consistent hard effort. Gotta think a coaching and roster changes will be made in the off season. Nonis has a lot of work to do...


wendelsfist
wendelsfist

@Burtonboy  We want to blame Reimer  or Phaneuf or Carlyle but the blame is spread all around that team. 

CanuckUKinToronto
CanuckUKinToronto

@Burtonboy it is ok if he takes a spot off of someone slugging it out..if that is the bottom of the team prospect list and mgmt dont see them progressing.. why not? 

Greg Fenton
Greg Fenton

@Burtonboy  The problem is Burke and Nonis didn't fix what was wrong with how the Leafs had opperated for years that lead to them being an utter disaster, they just did the same things. And keeping the same plan in place is to just continue doing what they've done the last 10+ years. 

CanuckUKinToronto
CanuckUKinToronto

@Burtonboy Lieweke will do something.  He will have a fear of losing fans - only seeing playoffs once in 8 years and making regular season a waste if 2 of three years and the last two full seasons that the team has the 18 wheeler collapse.. Why get excited if you think you will just collapse in the end?  He talks a big talk about -"why not greatness"... well doing nothing after 2 epic collapses and an epic/historical collapse in last years Game 7 - as well as setting record for most shots against (and maybe greatest non expansion team shot differential) team.. 


As James Bond would say-  Things will get "Shaken.. not stirred"

LeafFan15
LeafFan15

@CanuckUKinToronto  We can start expecting more production from Gardiner next season too as he's been amazing offensively the past month or two

Mind Bomb
Mind Bomb

@CanuckUKinToronto   No offense Bro, but we are in this position partly because of our Defense, I dont know if I can survive adding more rookies to it lol


Jordan29
Jordan29

@CanuckUKinToronto  I thought Percy was as good as Rielly this summer in training camp personally, didnt overly love Granberg, but didnt see him much

Greg Fenton
Greg Fenton

@CanuckUKinToronto  Little bit of a different situation, Leddy is the one new guy on that defense (along with Rundblad, who has played like 15 games). Percy or Granberg would be 2nd or 3rd young, inexperienced D-man (depending on how you view Gradiner, and he how plays next year). THey'd also be part of a group that isn't as good as what the Hawks have. 


That also might mean they might not detract from the group, if it isn't that great to begin with. 


That also isn't to say they shouldnt get the chance to play, but they'll be rookie D-men, who make mistakes, and one a weaker defense, those mistakes tend to be more visible and more costly. 

CanuckUKinToronto
CanuckUKinToronto

@Greg Fenton @Burtonboy Disagree with that point.  This team had ZERO prospects and an aged roster.. No young talent.  They spent money on scouts, faclities, beefed up mgmt, and addressed getting a better asset pool.  It is the next set of steps that will define the Leafs

Greg Fenton
Greg Fenton

@LeafFan15 @CanuckUKinToronto  He's done this before though. 


He had 5 points in 6 games in the playoffs last year and most people thought he had broken out. To end the 11-12 season he 9 points in 12 games, and people thought he had broken out. 


Lets wait and see if this is the real deal, or if its another flash. 

CanuckUKinToronto
CanuckUKinToronto

@Jordan29 @CanuckUKinToronto Maybe this is a guy to consider:

Ahti Oksanen, D
Sophomore, Boston University (Hockey East)

Ahti Oksanen has been arguably the most consistent player on a struggling Boston University team this season. Although he’s been on the scouting radar for quite some time, Oksanen’s developmental progress and numbers are making NHL teams pay closer attention to him this season.

The Kirkkonummi, Finland native currently ranks second on the team with 24 points (seven goals, 17 assists) in 35 games to date. His four power-play goals lead the Terriers, while his 17 assists co-lead the team. Oksanen, who has played much of the season as senior Garrett Noonan’s (NSH) defensive partner, logs upwards of 20-25 minutes of ice time per game playing in all situations. He is as effective on the penalty kill as he is on the power-play.

Oksanen is an excellent skating, two-way defenseman with size (6’3”, 207 lbs.) who possesses excellent puck-moving ability and has improved his decision-making with the puck. He shows good poise and patience with the puck and can make crisp, tape-to-tape passes. He can also quarterback the power-play quite well, too.

One of Oksanen’s attributes that has really gotten the attention of scouts is his shot, particularly from the point. He possesses a very hard shot and can get pucks to the net. For a man his size, Oksanen skates remarkably well. His improved footwork has added to his overall speed and allows him to be quicker in transition. On the defensive side, Oksanen has made great strides in his one-on-one play. He uses his strengthened frame and added grit effectively in limiting time and space. He is also an outstanding shot-blocker.

Greg Fenton
Greg Fenton

@Mind Bomb @CanuckUKinToronto  As I said, rookie D-men - Rookie mistakes


But you have to either move them up or let them languish in the AHL at some point. 


I wouldn't say a defense that features Rielly, Gardiner, Percy and Granberg next year is something we should all shoot and hope for (unless Nonis blows the roster up int he off-season), but you also can't do nothing with them. 

Greg Fenton
Greg Fenton

@Burtonboy @CanuckUKinToronto  He hasn't had a problem playing young players when he likes their game, what they bring, thinks they deserve a spot etc.... He's playing/played Kadri, Gardiner, Rielly

Greg Fenton
Greg Fenton

@CanuckUKinToronto @Greg Fenton @Burtonboy  Thats my point. Burke went the wrong way. The team wasn't in a position to be turned around quickly, so trying too was a mistake. They needed to take 5 years, be bad, draft early and often, develop talent etc... 


He shouldn't have signed Gerber, let Pogge play out the rest of the season and gotten a higher pick. Shouldn't moved 1sts and a 2nd for Kessel, been bad and drafted highly himself. He shouldn't have moved Kaberle, and Stajan and White and Hagman and Blake for what he did, but for picks and prospects. He should have developed players like Tlusty and Stalberg instead of trading them away. 


I agree with you that the Leafs 1-2, maybe 3 players away from really being a contender. The problem is those players are extremely hard to find and keeping this group together under the cap may not allow them to maket he additions even if possible. 


Yes the possibility is there that today the Leafs would be the Oilers, but they might also be the Avs (competitive) or the Islanders (pretty bright looking future). 

CanuckUKinToronto
CanuckUKinToronto

@Greg Fenton @CanuckUKinToronto@Burtonboy how could they have wons so quickly when the team and farm was that depleted?  that would require 40+ good selections/trades and signings.. how do you do that without any assets other than picks to deal?  Hence why so long.. . and the team really is not that many players away contradictory to what many may say

Greg Fenton
Greg Fenton

@CanuckUKinToronto @Greg Fenton @Burtonboy  And have they won anything? What has the team with all of Burkes additions really performed any better? 


And had Burke not made the Kessel deal, held onto the picks, he might have had two guys who could be top NHL scorers instead of one. They probably would ahve been in a position to add another 1-2 high potential young players. Had they moved players like Kaberle, Stajan, White, Hagman etc... for futures and draft picks, who knows might be in the system right now. 


I'll defend Burkes trades individually (something I wouldn't/can't do for Ferguson or Quinn). He always got good value. But he tried to go the quick fix route, he thought he could make some trades and additions and get the Leafs into the playoffs right away. There is no way you can say he was successful, or that he did things differently then the people who were here before him. 

Greg Fenton
Greg Fenton

@CanuckUKinToronto @Greg Fenton @Burtonboy  And the team he built has accomplished what? 


The system also had Reimer, Kulemin, Schenn, Gunnarsson, Komarov, Stalberg. And some of the guys who turned out to be busts were viewed with optimism (and remember, most of Burks picks will be busts). Its just wrong to paint the system then as NOTHING, and its over flowing with NHL talent now. 


My issue is with the direction Burke went in, signing Gerber to "win games", moving picks and prospects for likes Kessel and Versteeg to "win now", moving players for veterans like Phaneuf instead of futures. Moving prospects and young players like Tlusty because they weren't instantly good instead of developing them. Signing UFA's instead of playing prospects and seeing what they have. 


And have those moves put the Leafs any further a head the way they were susposed too?

Greg Fenton
Greg Fenton

@GreekGod @Greg Fenton @CanuckUKinToronto @Burtonboy  The Oilers are one team that has/is doing it. Yes. But Burke didn't bring in some older players known for their leadership to help the young players he was drafting and developing come along. He made trades and signings to produce a winner instead of relaying on drafting and development. 

Greg Fenton
Greg Fenton

@CanuckUKinToronto @Greg Fenton @Burtonboy  No it is true, Burke did trade away picks, prospects and young players for veteran's  (sure they weren't 33 years old) to "win right away". And all his moves failed to produce a winner. 


He the samething Ferguson did, QUinn did, Fletcher did etc... give up future assets to compete instantly. Has it ever worked? 

GreekGod
GreekGod

@Greg Fenton @CanuckUKinToronto @Burtonboy  


Proper rebuild meaning what Edmonton has done? It's a proven fact that you need to make trades and sign UFA's to help your young talented players. IE what Chicago has done, what LA has done, what SJ has done...

CanuckUKinToronto
CanuckUKinToronto

@Greg Fenton @CanuckUKinToronto@Burtonboy Your last point is not true.. Prior GMs gave up draft picks for players who were past their prime. Burke game up future assets and draft picks for "better more proven assets or better fit in their youth and still improving".  - 2 picks for Kessel, Schenn for JVR, Beauchemin for Gardiner and Lupul, Kaberle for Colborne.. etc etc..

Greg Fenton
Greg Fenton

@CanuckUKinToronto @Greg Fenton @Burtonboy  First, thats not true. Dryden and Quinn both stepped up and increased the Leafs scouting staff, training facilities etc... And they didn't have zero prospects when Burke got here. ANd if we really want ot be critical, Burke's first draft here was 09, since then the Leafs have drafted 2 players that have made the NHL. 2 players in 5 years. Yes its too early to write all those guys off, but I'd be willing to bet 2 players since 09 is probably near the bottom of the league. The Leafs system and young players are still commonly ranked near the bottom, or at the least bottom half, whenever any site, magaizine etc.... ranks teams development systems. Its not like Burke amassed an unbelievable group of prospects here. 


Second, they would have gotten young talent and prospects (hell, probably more of them, and higher quality) had they not tried to go the quick fix route and done a proper rebuild. 


Burke did what every GM has done in Toronto since the late 70's - gave up future assets and draft picks for players who were going to turn the Leafs ina playoff team and conteners right away. 

CanuckUKinToronto
CanuckUKinToronto

@Greg Fenton @LeafFan15@CanuckUKinToronto It is all in the head with Gardiner.  If he keeps playing well defensively, he gains confidence to take chances offensively and is very creative.  So far he has been covered by his linemates and a bit lucky.. hopefully that continues

Greg Fenton
Greg Fenton

@Mind Bomb @Greg Fenton @CanuckUKinToronto  They still allow them to come up and join the NHL team though. 


And Percy will be a rookie next year, the year after that and the yer after that. WHenever they start playing him, they'll have to go through 1-2, maybe even 3 years of him learning how to play int he NHL. Same with Granberg.