Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Toronto Maple Leafs News & Notes: December 18, 2013

I’m visiting Mexico in February, so yesterday I installed this app (it’s called Duolingo, I highly recommend it if you’re interested in learning a language) on my iPhone to try and learn how to speak Spanish. I literally spent hours yesterday on this thing, it’s so addicting. Naturally, during the Toronto Maple Leafs game against the Florida Panthers last night, I found myself spending long stretches on this app while the game was on in the background.

This isn’t common for me. Usually I like to be totally free of distractions while I’m watching the Leafs. But last night’s game was different. It was boring. The Leafs showed little to no effort all game and predictably lost 3-1…to the freakin’ Panthers.

To be honest, the final score should have been worse for the Leafs. The Cats missed a couple of wide-open nets, including a Shawn Matthias chance when the Leafs inexplicably gave up a three-on-one while they were on the power play. This was mentioned on the Leafs TV broadcast repeatedly, but it will definitely be interesting to see some behind-the-scenes reaction from the players and coaches during and after this game on HBO’s 24/7 in a couple of weeks.

The Leafs have now lost 8 of 11 games and have a grand total of one (one) regulation win since November 19. This is a struggling club that is capable of bringing a full effort (as we saw in games against the Blackhawks and Kings last week), but unfortunately those efforts seem to be few and far between.

Oh yeah, and did I mention Trevor Smith broke his hand last night and is expected to miss four-to-six weeks? That limited centre depth just got a little more limited.

There was too much wrong with last night’s performance for me to rehash in this space, so check out recaps from Maple Leafs Hot Stove, The LeafsNation and Pension Plan Puppets (I guess you can call that PPP piece a recap) for more on the game.

Elsewhere, Jonas Siegel shares some “sour tones” from Leafs players as they find themselves here:

I know I wasn’t going to opine more about the game here, but Siegel noted something, um, interesting in that piece. Jake Gardiner was benched for the last eight minutes in the second period and first 10 minutes of the third. I know Randy Carlyle is all about sending messages and whatnot, but plain and simply this team needs Gardiner. Meanwhile, Dion Phaneuf had a horrible game. Two of his mistakes led directly to goals. But Carlyle makes Gardiner the sacrificial lamb? That makes no sense.

And in other news:

My opinion is if Morgan Rielly is playing significant minutes, he should stay with the Leafs, and lately that’s been the case. I still wonder if John-Michael Liles could easily replace his minutes, but there probably won’t be room for Liles under the salary cap when players start to get off injured reserve. I don’t mind the move at all, although the Canadian hockey fan in me is a little disappointed.

(P.S.: Don’t read any of the replies to that McKenzie tweet. They will send your brain to the pit of despair.)

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Tags: Dion Phaneuf Jake Gardiner Morgan Rielly Toronto Maple Leafs Trevor Smith

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