“This is like watching that movie The Fugitive, with the train wreck in slow motion. It just doesn’t seem to stop!”
1 – The Leafs are 30-32-8; that’s 15 losses in their last 17 and if you weren’t already, start questioning what this group is made of. The result may be best as far as the draft goes, but this team doesn’t seem capable of fighting its way out of the tailspin its currently mired in. That’s concerning regardless of the consequent high draft position.
2 – The scoring opens after James Reimer struggles to find the rubber on a dribbler from the point. Mike Komisarek way over-pursued for a hit up the sideboards, taking himself out of position and losing the race back to the net. An awful play from the blueline’s elder statesman/press box regular, but Reimer didn’t do much to bail him out.
The second goal wasn’t Reimer’s fault per se, but in its buildup it looked like he was watching a different game than the rest of us. Reimer’s play between the goals concerned me more than the goals themselves. He’s really struggled with his puck tracking since returning from his concussion.
4 – Carter Ashton was the Leafs most noticeable member tonight. He brought some strong play down low, tossing Keaton Ellerby into the boards in the first, and showed some net drive off the wing. Shawn Matthias made Ashton answer for his physical play in the third and he showed no hesitation in backing it up, even if he looked a little like a fish out of water in the fisticuffs. Good showing from the kid.
5 – Kessel and Bozak alongside Connolly equals a one dimensional first line. Connolly is just a passenger out there on the wing. The other two sorely miss Lupul’s impact play, big body and net presence. Lots of fancy pants passing that led nowhere from those three. It wasn’t until MacArthur briefly replaced Connolly and put something on net that the 1st line finally found the twine on the 2-1 goal.
Connolly just seems to be playing his way towards the door at the moment.
6 – Only two goals tonight after getting shut out in the two prior, and both came off the rush. Last night it wasn’t even so much that the team is learning to use the cycle more, though that’s certainly a part of it. Through two periods tonight the pass/shot selection was absolutely mind numbing, and the Leafs don’t have enough players that can fight for the good ice in the offensive zone.
7 – The third Panther goal, which proved the winner, was another example of Dion Phaneuf giong through the motions towards the end of a shift. There was no real attempt from Kulemin to get in the shooting lane, but Phaneuf gives Kopecky free rein to position himself out front for the tip with no real attempt to tie him up. You can speculate on the reason, but Phaneuf seems to lose focus (and effort) towards the end of shifts. It seems to me the Leafs will need another big minute guy to help relieve Phaneuf of some minutes before they have a winning defence core.
8 – As for the fourth Panther goal – that’s our top pairing, everyone! Gunnarsson opts for the riskiest play imaginable to try to hit a streaking Phaneuf, who was prematurely flying the zone with vigor. Since this extended slump started, it seems the Leafs can’t get away with anything without it resulting in a face off at center ice, but that one deserved the punishment.
9 – The empty netter bothered me more than the previous four, believe it or not. The Leafs weren’t coming back, but Dion Phaneuf totally gave up on the play. That’s not the message your captain should be sending to his group in the midst of an embarrassing losing streak. Phaneuf laid an egg tonight when he should’ve been leading by example.
10 – In summary, same old shit. Galchenyuk, anyone?