The Toronto Maple Leafs and Ottawa Senators meet for the final time this season to answer an age old question; is it possible for both teams in a hockey game to lose? The answer remains no for the time being, but as we have all heard there’s always next year. The game started out about how you would expect for two eliminated teams, sluggishly. Clarke MacArthur and former teammate Dion Phaneuf pushed and shoved a little in Toronto’s zone in a halfhearted attempt to get some fire into the bellies of both teams, but nothing came of it.
Tim Gleason had an abysmal start to the game (as I’m typing this Brian Gionta of the Montreal Canadiens got awarded a penalty shot in overtime, hooray for hockey that matters! I’ll let you go to their fansided page to see how things turned out) looking completely immobilized in his own zone and taking a needless penalty on a puck that Phaneuf had anyways.
Within the first ten minutes of the first both teams had a goal taken away from them on a Novak Djokovic inspired overhand smash from the slot by Tyler Bozak and a close goaltender interference call against the Sens forward.
A few minutes into the second Jason Spezza scored on a very nice slapper just inside the post to put the Senators ahead by a goal, which would prove to be enough as the Maple leafs were unable to crack the score sheet for the rest of the game. Despite a few moderately good chances and a post from close in by Cody Franson, the Leafs played hockey’s equivalent of “keep ball” for a sizable portion of the game.
Petter Granberg made his NHL debut tonight. He played very smart, simple and positional hockey in his own end but occasionally got out of position trying to get involved physically. For the massive size of the 21 year old he seemed to move okay (I’ve watched him a fair amount with the Toronto Marlies and he’s not excessively slow) but his awkward footwork especially in the “home plate” zone in front of his own goaltender is still a weak spot in his game.
The kids on the point once again seemed to be among the better Leafs tonight, with Morgan Rielly and Jake Gardiner getting over 19 and 23 minutes of ice time respectively. For a game described by Jim Hughson (I think) as having the “intensity of a bubble bath” both of the mobile defenders seemed to have an extra step with Rielly getting in on the forecheck late in the game and Gardiner moving the puck in both directions with authority throughout the game.
Randy Carlyle has almost certainly coached his final Leafs game to a regular season finish as I predicted early in the season, but there has already been more than enough written and said about that.
Finally, unless the currently evolving management group in the front office insists on flexing their power over his restricted status, it is very likely that we’ve seen the last of the now contractless James Reimer in the blue and white. This crushes me to say as I’ve always been vocal about the fact that he’s my favorite Maple Leaf. James played excellently tonight, making another 37 saves to finalize the monumental team total that I’ve long since stopped paying attention to. Hopefully the Leafs can get a decent return on him if/when they do move his rights and hopefully the always modest and rarely frustrated Winnipeger can find success in a new city.
Toronto has officially concluded the season 6th in the wildcard race and with a 38-36-8 record. Here’s to stress free playoff hockey and what’s bound to be a lively and important offseason.