Game in 10: Game #36, Panthers 3 at Leafs 1

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TORONTO, ON - DECEMBER 17: David Clarkson #71 of the Toronto Maple Leafs battles for the puck with Tomas Kopecky #82 of the Florida Panthers during NHL game action December 17, 2013 at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Graig Abel/NHLI via Getty Images)

Despite losses in two of three, the Leafs looked to be fighting their way out of a slump with some good efforts against some good competition in San Jose, Los Angeles and Chicago. A 50/50 game to the Pittsburgh Penguins was kind of a writeoff defeat. A loss as sloppy as this one to the Florida Panthers, though, suggests the tailspin is still very much in progress.

1 – Three minutes into the game, Dion Phaneuf lost a gamble in an attempt to provide the drop pass option to Kadri, only for Kadri to force a pass into the middle and lose the puck. Phaneuf was caught and Gunnarsson was a step behind Tomas Fleischmann, who beat Reimer from the right circle on a shot that could have been stopped.

2 – Messy defensive coverage in the first 10 minutes. To be clear, no one was without fault, but the reinsertion of Mark Fraser doesn’t help matters. He creates issues when he’s on the ice with his inability to move the puck quickly enough; bobbles, flat footedness, losing it in his feet, you name it. Liles really didn’t deserve to sit.

3 – The Leafs woke up a little in the second half of the period, but Scott Clemmensen was up to the task on point blank chances for Kadri and a redirect off a Franson point shot, in particular. The Leafs were still pretty disjointed for the remainder of the period.

4 – The first line provided a good first 40 seconds to the 2nd period, only for a joke of a second shift to cripple any momentum. The Leafs played hot potato with the puck in their own zone until Reimer took a holding penalty.

5 – Six minutes into the 2nd period, Kessel got knocked over without the puck on what should have been an interference call. Not sure he was getting to the puck anyway given the angle Franson had chipped it off the glass, but it’s still interference. The initial point shot got gloved down and jammed in by Sean Bergenheim.

6 – Last time this team played in a back to back scenario against St. Louis, Randy Carlyle described his team’s play as braindead. That may be the best description of the team’s second period, in particular, tonight. For example(s), all of this came within the span of a few minutes:

  • A good chance opened up for Holland and Clarkson on a 2 on 1. Holland went wide as though expecting Clarkson to crash the back post, instead Clarkson followed Holland across the slot and was easily picked up by the defenceman in front.
  • Picking up a loose pick to the side of the net, Raymond, instead of getting a puck to the net with bodies in front, turned away from the net and forced a pass that led to a 3 on 1 the other way which, fortunately, Rielly had the wheels to cover back on.
  • Kessel tried a rinky dink move instead of getting a puck to the net with traffic in front, leading to a turnover.
  • There was frustrating non call on a Raymond trip moments earlier, but that didn’t explain the decision by Raymond to drop the puck to Phaneuf with a forechecker in his face and no available out. Phaneuf should have just hammered it down the ice or something instead of trying to beat the forechecker, but alas he got caught trying to deke and a few seconds later Brad Boyes scored.

There was a total of one good chance in the 2nd period for the Leafs, when Rielly fed Kadri in the slot. The Leafs didn’t have their best effort tonight, but this type of poor decision making and inappropriate fancy play made it that much harder on themselves.

7 – Gardiner sat for a good chunk of the 2nd and much of the first half of the third with Leafs trailing and in need of offence. Inexplicable. Picking one dumb defensive play on the 2nd goal out of the pile of slop in this game is nonsense. Gardiner only played 16 minutes tonight.

8 – Here’s the really concerning part about Clarkson: He hasn’t just been a nonfactor. He might now be hurting the team. The  suspension doesn’t seem to have give him much of a reset. His contribution in the first period amount to a penalty, the result of his constant use of  the free arm, and falling over during board battles.  In the 2nd period came that bizarre play on the 2 on 1. Clarkson opened one decent chance for himself in the third, but the concern is that his play is so off right now he’s a detriment to whatever line he’s on.

9 – Here are the results from the second game in the last four back to backs:

  • 4-2 loss to Montreal
  • 5-2 loss to Boston
  • 6-3 loss to St. Louis
  • 3-1 loss to Florida

If legs aren’t all there, this team hasn’t had much to offer. In a midseason back to back against a team like Florida, they just don’t seem to have the ability to grind out wins by winning battles in the trenches.

10 – Not a lot going right for the Leafs at the moment. Even Phaneuf seems to be forcing some things trying to get his team going. The top line had its chances tonight, but has been unable to break through in the past three games except for the 7th goal against Chicago. It’s at the point where we, as fans, and seemingly the players, are expecting bad things to happen when one thing goes against them.

What now? Beats me.

Leafs/Panthers Shot Location Data
Leafs/Panthers Shot Location Data
NO.PLAYERPOSGAPTS+/-PIMSHITSBSGVATVAFO%PPTOISHTOITOI
2M. FraserD0001016220-0:00:001:22:0013:36:00
3D. PhaneufD000-2046110-2:21:002:36:0024:43:00
4C. FransonD000-1024140-2:21:001:57:0023:36:00
11J. McClementC000002501245%0:00:002:24:0013:35:00
12M. RaymondL1010020100100%1:51:000:45:0016:17:00
19J. LupulL0001030011100%2:09:000:00:0016:04:00
21J. van RiemsdykL000-20320000%2:09:001:13:0021:33:00
23T. SmithC000000310025%0:00:000:44:009:27:00
24P. HollandC011002111145%0:00:000:00:0013:49:00
29J. D'AmigoR0000010011-0:00:000:58:0010:44:00
36C. GunnarssonD000-1004200-0:35:002:03:0022:28:00
40T. BodieR0000011000-0:00:000:00:007:17:00
41N. KuleminL0000000000-0:00:001:52:0012:37:00
43N. KadriC000-203210037%1:51:000:02:0020:10:00
44M. RiellyD0000002211-1:39:000:00:0019:38:00
51J. GardinerD000-1011021-1:04:000:02:0016:03:00
71D. ClarksonR000-1212000-1:51:000:00:0015:27:00
81P. KesselC000-2032010-2:09:000:02:0021:05:00
Goalie
NO.PLAYERSAVES - SHOTSSV%PIMTOI
34J. Reimer20 - 230.87257:51:00

REVIEW OVERVIEW
Forwards
30 %
Defence
20 %
Goaltending
70 %
Special Teams
50 %
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Alec Brownscombe is the founder of MapleLeafsHotStove.com, where he has written daily about the Leafs since September of 2008. He was also the editor of the 2009-12 Maple Leafs Annuals. You can contact him at [email protected]
  • happy_gilmour

    Meh… on to the next game…

  • MaxwellHowe

    I am absolutely puzzled about the game Saturday night.  How did this team beat the Blackhawks????

  • happy_gilmour

    MaxwellHowe Consistency is the issue

  • lieffan

    all 10 points were spot on. thanks. I know these must be tough to write after games like tonite’s.

  • http://mapleleafshotstove.com/ DeclanK

    Cam: trade proposals, lets go. 

    (said like so)

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LWCoCb6Bfrw

  • vji67

    DeclanK Randy Carlyle for Joel Quenneville?

  • Jay31

    Thanks for somehow writing this after the pile of crap the Leafs served up tonight. 

    Agreed 100% about Clarkson having shifted from a non-factor to being detrimental to the team… I wish he’d go back to the former. I don’t have any good feelings about his future on this team.

    I’m not sure how much a coaching change will really help things when most of these players seem to lack the will and intensity to win any battles

  • Jay31

    MaxwellHowe Sabres beat the Sharks and Kings earlier in the season

  • http://i.imgur.com/MyKj5C3.gif ingy56

    I didn’t see the game thankfully, but Clarkson’s stat line sure isn’t impressive… 2 hits? 1 shot? How were the intangibles?

  • lieffan

    ingy56 His eyes looked fucking crazy. So good?