Tonight was another sixty minutes in which somebody can watch and say, that game was so Toronto Maple Leafs. For the most part it was boring, especially with the Islanders being minus a competitive roster. The Maple Leafs defensive zone coverage looked better the first two periods, then went rogue for the remainder of regulation and overtime. The second best power play in the league was minus two on the night. The penalty kill settled killing four for five. With exception of the early mistakes on the power-play, the team looked alright.
But take all of that, given this was the first game after a long layoff, and throw it away. The New York Islanders are currently without captain John Tavares, and really have little hope at grabbing a playoff spot. The bottom six forward group was mostly made up of American Hockey League players, and it was unfortunately those players that had the biggest impact in defeating the Maple Leafs this evening.
The Maple Leafs simply can’t talk about being ready for a deep playoff run, and play loose river hockey against a team that has no business beating them. The talk of repairing the defensive system over the Olympic break is all well and good, but with 21 games left to play in the regular season, the room for error is still not all that great for the blue and white. This team did themselves no favors by having so many decisions come from the shootout, and it should be even more regretful that almost every team chasing them in the standings has nearly every possible combination of tie breaker.
On to the game
– Phil Kessel is still on fire. His line was responsible for a large portion of the offense tonight, and they didn’t look awful in the back-end either.
– Not sure if tonight’s penalty killing was a result of improved coverage or the Islanders power play was just that bad. I guess we will find out on Saturday night.
– The Maple Leafs owe a lot to both Jonathon Bernier and James Reimer for the record they currently possess. His mistake tonight on the Islanders second goal deserves little attention.
– Tonight’s Maddies Mark player of the game is a tough one, as no one player really played very well, but none played too poorly either. Paul Ranger has more often than not been noticed for mistakes he has made while on the ice, but tonight he was pretty quiet, with exception of the second goal of the game, which started a frenzied scoring race that ended with an overtime loss. Tonight’s quiet steady effort was one of his best nights in a Leafs uniform. For information on how you can provide countless “Best Day’s Ever” for children battling disease, visit www.maddiesmark.org