A long layoff appeared to hurt the Toronto Maple Leafs on Thursday night. Having not played since last Saturday, the Leafs came out sluggish and were once again out-shot by their opponent. The Philadelphia Flyers were powered to a 5-3 victory, by of all people, Luke Schenn. The former Leaf blue liner had a strong game going plus-3 with five shots on goal, four blocked shots, six hits, and he scored an empty-net goal as well.
There were few positives to take from a Leafs perspective, but one of which was James van Riemsdyk who scored a beautiful goal in the third period to cut the deficit to 4-3. It was van Riemsdyk’s first goal in 11 games.
Here are a few things that stood out from the game.
Toronto was out of sorts tonight defensively and made several bad passes that led to costly turnovers. Mike Kostka had a particularly rough outing as he went minus-1 and stood out for the wrong reasons. On an early shift he made a poor outlet pass that resulted in an icing where Toronto couldn’t change. Kostka then promptly took a penalty.
On the fourth Flyers goal he shot the puck up the boards to no one and it resulted in a point shot that found its way in. Whether or not there was goalie interference on the play is up for debate, but the pass should have never been made to begin with. It makes little sense for Kostka to be playing over Jake Gardiner and with Ryan O’Byrne now a part of the team, he may find himself as the odd man out.
Dion Phaneuf deserves a little more credit
Phaneuf had another strong game with two assists and he is starting to become the player the Leafs thought they were getting when they brought him over from Calgary. He has been a real leader on that inexperienced defense corps and ranks 7th in the NHL when it comes to ice-time. Phaneuf isn’t getting nearly enough credit league wide for his efforts this season.
Joffrey Lupul goes down
Lupul took a big hit in the first period and was forced to leave the game. It’s currently being listed as an upper-body injury, but the way he left the ice it’s probably closer to a concussion than a toothache. This is a tough break for the Leafs as Lupul has been on a roll since returning from injury, scoring 14 points in seven games. Hopefully for Toronto he doesn’t miss anymore significant time.
Ryan Hamilton needs more opportunities
Hamilton played just over 10 minutes in this one and much of that time was spent with Colton Orr and Frazer McLaren. It was only when Lupul went down that he got a few shifts with the third line. Hamilton has 30 goals with the Marlies this year and it would be nice to see him getting more than the 11 seconds of power play time he is averaging per game with the Leafs.