Not unexpected, the Leafs couldn’t score and lost the game. Tough one to watch.
1 – The Leafs controlled play at even strength throughout much of the period, but the better quality chances went to Buffalo. The Sabres had the shot edge; two penalties of the period went against the Leafs, and they got caught twice on the fast break against the flow of play leading to the Sabres hitting a pair of posts. The Leafs were putting in the effort to try to grind this one out, with a committed cycle game and good work rate, but they were operating on the periphery the whole time and were not able to penetrate the good scoring areas. Jonathan Bernier made a ten-beller sprawling glove save on Tyler Ennis with 28 seconds to go on a powerplay that followed Kessel batting the puck out of mid air and over the glass for a delay of game penalty.
2 – Six minutes into the second, with a Raymond, Clarkson and Smith combination on the ice, Clarkson retrieved the puck in the corner, turned back and found Smith in the high slot. The puck must have taken a bounce off a defenceman in front because it was a nothing shot from Smith. The Leafs needed a bounce in the worst way, but unfortunately could not get another one after that. Clarkson’s primary assist was his second point on the season.
3 – Four minutes later in the second period, Fraser was assessed a cross checking call for clearing out a Sabre from the slot. It was a pretty weak call, but Fraser has to pick his spots when it comes to those type of tough plays in front as the refs love to call those when they’re a fair distance away from the net (which this one was). The Sabres evened the game on the ensuing powerplay, as a point shot fell in front of Bernier and Franson unknowingly backhanded it over to Ott for an empty net finish.
4 – Leafs were fortunate to go to the powerplay with 7 minutes to go. Gardiner gave the puck away in the neutral zone, and Foligno and Gardiner collided as Foligno tried to tow the line and stay onside, yielding a tripping call on Foligno. Some good chances on the powerplay went for naught, and the Sabres scored seconds after the expiration of the PP. Ranger and Fraser aren’t the fleetest of foot defence pairing and were caught in transition, as Ranger afforded Ott a ton of space down the left, couldn’t recover and got beat wide, while Foligno beat Fraser to the back post to finish off a cross crease pass and make it 2-1 Sabres.
5 – The Leafs had one of two big powerplay opportunities in the third with 14 minutes to go, and generated very little on much of it. Raymond may have scored in the dwindling seconds of the PP if it didn’t hit Clarkson in the shinpad. Raymond was looking skyward like it was going in after it deflected out of play.
6 – The other powerplay opportunity came with four and a half minutes to go, and boy was it ugly. The Leafs needed a nice individual shot or play to try to break this game in their favour. Unfortunately, Raymond, Kessel, JvR and Clarkson just haven’t been able to make something happen since the injuries really struck. I guess skilled wingers need centers not named Smithson, McClement and Smith to help them produce… who knew.
7 – In a decent push with the goalie pulled, the Leafs would have tied this game if not for some heroics from Christian Ehrhoff in the final seconds. In a mad scramble around the net, the puck sprung out to JvR with the net wide open. Unfortunately, the play was slow enough to develop that Ehrhoff could see it coming and get across and block off the empty net. Ehrhoff followed up his game-saving shot block by icing the puck into the empty net.
8 – Trevor Smith acquitted himself fairly well in his increased minutes (17 mins) in a more offensive role, actually looking like he could offer something in an offensive capacity as compared to the other Leaf centers. Speaking of which, there is no harm in bumping Smith up onto the top line and moving JvR back to the wing. Things couldn’t get a whole lot worse. Carlyle gave JvR some time to adjust to center and it simply isn’t working out. You can’t go on scoring one goal a game forever, with the top line generating little of note, before it’s time to move JvR back to his wing position.
9 – This is clearly a team that needs some help from its defence to generate offence with all of its centers with offensive ability out of the lineup. Carlyle should have had Rielly in the lineup. What exactly did McLaren bring as a 12th forward, in his 4 minutes and 50 seconds of ice time, to help this team out tonight? Rielly was instrumental in the Leafs one goal on Wednesday, so why he wasn’t in tonight is inexplicable to me for a team struggling for offense up front. With the forward depth obliterated, 11 forwards and 7 defence in order to play Rielly makes way more sense.
10 – Well, at least they scored an even strength goal. The one thing the Leafs couldn’t afford to do was lose the special teams battle, which they did. All we can hope for is for the Leafs to scrape a few points out of these next two games. It might require a shutout from one of the goalies.
Leafs at Sabres - November 15Sabres 3 vs. Leafs 1.
|21||J. van Riemsdyk||L||0||0||0||-1||0||5||0||0||0||1||33%||3:43:00||1:22:00||21:52:00|
|45||J. Bernier (L) 7-5-1||16 - 17||8 - 9||0 - 0||24 - 26||0.923||0||59:11:00|
|6:25:00||TOR||Trevor Smith (2) Slapshot - ASST: David Clarkson (2), Mason Raymond (7)||1 - 0 TOR|
|9:45:00||BUF||PPG - Steve Ott (3) Snap shot - ASST: Tyler Myers (4), Mark Pysyk (3)||1 - 1 Tie|
|15:22:00||BUF||Marcus Foligno (3) Backhand shot - ASST: Steve Ott (4), Drew Stafford (5)||2 - 1 BUF|
|19:32:00||BUF||EN - Christian Ehrhoff (1) Wrist shot - ASST: Mark Pysyk (4)||3 - 1 BUF|