The Toronto Maple Leafs were soundly outplayed for about three-quarters of the match on Thursday night, hardly shocking if you watch the team with regularity. The shocking part was the fact the Leafs did not win the game, as has almost exclusively been the case.
To date, the Toronto Maple Leafs, whether measured by advanced statistics or traditional, have been one of the worst performing teams in the league. They are worst in stats such as giveaways (30th), shot differential (29th), corsi (30th) and fenwick (29th). Yet they continue to manage to win. In short, they statistically occupy the same space as the Buffalo Sabres, minus the place in the standings. History has already proven what will inevitably happen, which will be a plummet in the standings (see 2011-2012 season post all-star break).
It was only a matter of time before the shooting percentage, save percentage and special teams could no longer prevent the inevitable. This loss could not be hung on Jonathan Bernier. It can be blamed on many things, such as a lacklustre penalty kill and overall lack of effort. It can be blamed on an insistence to rely on shot selection rather than work on improving possession numbers.
For all the talk of Randy Carlyle and his big, bad, blue and white club, the only physical play that occurred was initiated by the club from Tennessee. This game was vintage Maple Leafs, almost straight out of the 1980s. Everything went downhill seven or eight minutes in, even with a one-goal handicap.
On to the game:
– It should be noted that any time you can say that Colton Orr‘s line is one of the best-performing in a game, the Leafs will probably lose. There is enough skill on this team that Orr should seldom be on the ice, let alone be a difference maker.
– I can’t recall a less interesting weeknight game in years. Usually somebody does something stupid in these type of games that is at least worth talking about. The clock could have run with a screen saver for 60 minutes and it may have been slightly better.
– The empty net situation at the end of the game was comical. I have never seen multiple odd-man rushes with an empty net against. Further, I have never seen an empty net get a shutout in that situation.
– Tonight’s Maddie’s Mark player of the game was tough, as the whole team looked terrible, but for the most part, Mason Raymond played well (the high sticking double-minor penalty excluded). Maybe not one of his “best days ever”, but compared to his compatriots, he was fantastic. For more information on how you can provide many more “best days ever” for terminally sick children, visit www.maddiesmark.org.