The New York Islanders came into Toronto and embarrassed the Maple Leafs Thursday night scoring a 7-4 victory at the Air Canada Centre. This loss knocks the Leafs back to .500 with a 2-2 record. There were plenty of negatives for the Maple Leafs and not many positives in this game, and although I could point them all out for you, I’m not sure that would be too constructive. Anyway, here are a few thoughts on the game:
Same Old Maple Laughs
After watching the Maple Leafs go into Pittsburgh and defeat the Stanley Cup favorite Penguins, hopes were high around the city of Toronto that the team might be better than many people were predicting. Taking a 3-1 lead to start the game on Thursday night had Maple Leaf fans on Twitter in a frenzy, but five unanswered goals by the Islanders soon reminded them that this team still has a long way to go. A combination of bad goaltending, sloppy defensive play and lack of determination were evident, and also a theme over the past few seasons.
Randy Carlyle has gone with a different lineup in each of the first four games this season. Apparently he does not subscribe to the old adage that you do not mess with a winning combination. After a big win against Pittsburgh on Wednesday, Carlyle made four changes to his lineup. Matt Frattin replaced the injured Joffrey Lupul, Ben Scrivens took James Reimer’s place in goal, Cody Franson came in for Mike Komisarek and Dave Steckel played in his first game of the season in place of Mike Brown. Of those additions, only Frattin had a good game scoring a goal and adding two assists, while also being a physical presence in limited ice time.
This was the Maple Leafs first back to back situation of the season and their fourth game in six nights to start the year. Throw in the travel from Pittsburgh last night and the fact that the Islanders last game was Monday afternoon, and it was always going to be a tough situation for the Leafs on Thursday night. They did manage to look up to the task in the first period when they out shot the Islanders 16-9 and out chanced them 7-4, while taking a 3-1 lead. However, the second period was a completely different story as the Islanders carried much of the play and tied the game up at three, before taking a 5-3 in lead in the third period and not looking back.
Ben Scrivens vs. James Reimer
I’m surprised that Randy Carlyle came back to Ben Scrivens on Thursday after James Reimer had an excellent outing on Wednesday, and I’m not sure I would have made the same decision. Although Scrivens was not poor in his first two starts, he did not do anything to instill confidence either. He continued to look shaky on Thursday giving up a number of bad rebounds, one of which leading directly to the Islanders first goal. He then let in two very soft goals in the third period before being replaced by Reimer. It will be interesting to see how Carlyle handles the goalie situation going forward, but it would be nice to see if Reimer can take the ball and run with it.
Leafs drop to 2-10-3 over past 15 at home (back to last season Feb 11) worst home record in NHL in that span
— Kevin Gibson (@TSNResearch) January 25, 2013
There is not much to say following that graphic from TSN Research’s Kevin Gibson. Clearly the Maple Leafs need to find a way to be better on home ice if they want to have any hope of trying to make the playoffs this season.
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