With another rotten showing by the Toronto Maple Leafs last evening against the much improved Montreal Canadiens, Leafs fans are thinking really hard about making the serious jump of the LEAF NATION bandwagon these days.
But what makes the difference between the two teams can be summed up by both teams’ “Protectors of the Twine”, first with the Canadiens’ Carey Price:
“I’m going to keep emphasizing that… We’re playing excellent hockey in front of me. We’re putting out 100 percent effort every night. There’s no quit. That’s been the key to our success so far.”
Now from Jonathan Bernier of the Leafs:
“If you look at our games we’ve been giving up a lot of shots, and at a certain point you can’t have luck on your side all season.”
“There will be highs and lows, and right now we need to find the little spark we had at the beginning of the season and be excited to come play hockey and find a way to score. If we give up four then score five. I think that’s what we had at the beginning of the season.”
But Bernier finished off his comments with this statement:
“I’ve got to be better. Obviously giving up four goals, I need to find a way to keep it a tight game,” Bernier said. “I’ve just got to re-focus. It’s a long season and there’s going to be lots of ups and downs. I’ve just got to find a way to get my game back.”
Just 20 seconds into the game, the Leafs’ Carl Gunnarsson is called for interference and this feeling of ’Oh no not this type of game’ was coming over this ol’ coach as I sat and watched. Then, only 58 seconds into the game, Pacioretty received a beautiful stretch pass from P.K. Subban and tucked the puck away for his first goal.
At 16:13 of the first, the passer Subban became the scorer now as he made it 2-0 as the first period ended.
In the second period, the scoring continued for the Habs. At the 15:05 mark they went up 3-0 on a goal by Tomas Plekanec with a nifty set-up by Daniel Briere. Then a shorthanded goal by Max ‘The Leaf Killer’ Pacioretty at the 17:22 mark made it 4-0.
When was this going to stop!
Your Toronto Maple Leafs finally seemed to wake up as, in a span of 22 seconds late in the second period, they scored two goals. The first was at 18:10 by van Riemsdyk with a slippery flip shot over Price’s shoulder and then speedy Mason Raymond at 18:38 where he was able to stuff the puck past Price to go into the third down by two.
But those 22 seconds late in the second did not matter as the third period was a draw and the Canadiens came out of the third with the same score going into it: 4-2 Habs over the Leafs.
The game plan for the Habs was to attack the Leafs’ defenders with speed and get the pucks deep into their zone. They played their game plan to a ‘T’ and this seemed to baffle the Leafs to no end.
Montreal did out-shoot the Leafs but only by three, and they also had more penalty minutes than the Leafs, but the Leafs went 0-for-4 on the power play. The special teams battle was even more lopsided than that, as the Leafs gave up a short-handed goal as again this shows me a couple of things.
One: the Leafs are lacking intensity in their play right from the drop of the puck and there seems to be a lack of leadership from the ‘Big Boys’; players like Phil Kessel, JvR, David Clarkson and Tyler Bozak who have to take the bull by the horns and shake things up.
If they don’t and, like I have said before, come mid-December the Leafs will be looking at a lot of different teams’ ‘backends’ and it won’t be a pretty sight.