The Toronto Maple Leafs’ play in the closing minutes of their 4-3 win over the Boston Bruins can only be described as a meltdown. The Leafs had a power play with about eight minutes left in the game, and spent it almost entirely hemmed in their own zone, allowing multiple chances.
The Toronto Maple Leafs won this hockey game in regulation, which is all that matters in the standings. The problem is the Leafs still showed their penchant of being outshot horribly, and surrendered a flurry of chances late in the game.
Jonathan Bernier made 38 saves in another sublime performance, although he probably would like to have the second goal back. Patrice Bergeron scored on a quick wraparound attempt that Bernier was in position to stop, but simply didn’t hug the post close enough. Besides that goal, there wasn’t really anything not to like about Bernier’s play.
Tyler Bozak continued his recent scoring resurgence by potting two goals. He now has five in his last seven games. James van Riemsdyk scored his 18th of the season; the same amount he scored last season in two less games. The Leafs scored four goals for the first time in seven games, and it turned out they would need every one of them.
Tuukka Rask had by far his worst regular season game of his career against the Leafs, allowing all four on 26 shots. He entered the game with a career 8-1 record and .957 save percentage in regular season games against the team that drafted him. He clearly looked off tonight.
The Leafs’ defense had another tough night. Jake Gardiner looked good for most of the game and had a power play goal in the second period, but was partially responsible for the Bruins’ third goal. He threw the puck behind his own net, but unfortunately, no Leaf was there. Instead, Daniel Paille quickly scooped up the puck and found a wide-open Gregory Campbell in front of the net, who buried the backhand.
Dion Phaneuf and Carl Gunnarsson had another tough night facing the Bergeron line. Ditto for the Cody Franson-Tim Gleason unit against the David Krejci line. The Leafs simply don’t have a top-four that can match up well against teams with two strong scoring lines like the Bruins have.
Most of the forwards didn’t fare much better. Joffrey Lupul had a horrendous night in his own zone, often being caught out of position, most notably on the Bruins’ first goal. Nazem Kadri was invisible for most of the night, although he did draw two penalties. Mason Raymond continues to baffle with his poor decision-making, and David Clarkson continues to do, well, not much of anything (although he was playing with the flu so I guess we’ll give him a pass tonight).
The Leafs’ offense could be best described as opportunistic tonight. Bozak was, as usual, Johnny-on-the-spot on both his goals; the first on a rebound which bounced right to him off a point shot, and the other a one-timer on a gorgeous feed by van Riemsdyk that threaded two defenders. The Leafs’ power play went two-for-five on the night as well.
I’m sure the Leafs are relieved to finally get their first regulation win in seven games (and just their fourth since November 19), but there is still clearly lots of work to be done to make up some ground in the tight Eastern Conference. That work will continue tomorrow night against the Buffalo Sabres.