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
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  • 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?