Leafs postgame – Leafs are so done with Carlyle, lose 3-1 to Florida

Is there any good news to glean from the Leafs most recent loss to the Florida Panthers? Well, at last check, the New York Islanders were up 2-0 on the Tampa Bay Lightning, which might improve the Maple Leafs’ lottery processes.

Throughout the game, the broadcast showed images of Randy Carlyle furiously scribbling away on a whiteboard and nobody on the Leafs bench seemed to really pay attention to him. That’s sort of become the theme for Toronto. Randy Carlyle is just flat out of answers. He benched Jake Gardiner for an extended period of time against the Florida Panthers because of one giveaway, yet never feels the need to hold other Maple Leafs players accountable for the same rare moments of lapses.

As it turns out, the giveaway by Gardiner was elementary. The Toronto Maple Leafs demon on Tuesday night again, was familiar. This team can’t score, and this team can’t score because it was put together by an inept management group that favoured intangibles and birthplace over talent and production. It was 3-1 Florida, but who cares.


The Leafs certainly weren’t the better team in the early going, but they didn’t deserve to be down 1-0 after 3-and-a-half minutes, but a turnover from Nazem Kadri and a lousy pinch decision by Dion Phaneuf gave Tomas Fleischmann (the *dangerous* Tomas Fleischmann) the puck on a partial breakaway and he made a pretty good shot over James Reimer to give the Panthers a 1-0 lead.

The remainder of the first was relatively tame. The Leafs, who have been doing much better by way of penalty differential over the last two games, earned a taste of the familiar with a stupid holding the stick penalty taken by David Clarkson. The Panthers didn’t do anything on the powerplay, but it was nice that there was an air of familiarity about the game. The unblocked shot attempts were even going into the second.

Sort of fell apart there. Jake Gardiner made the giveaway a little under five minutes into the second that led to an extended period of zone time for the Panthers second line of Sasha Barkov, Brad Boyes and Sean Bergenheim. Knowing that Carlyle is a results-based coach, does Gardiner get benched for that turnover if the interference is called on Dmitry Kulikov here…

…hence negating the goal? I think no. Bergenhim scored at the end of the shift.

The third Panthers goal was helped out on another missed call on Kulikov, who took out Mason Raymond’s legs from under him, and after the Panthers cleared the zone, Carl Gunnarsson got a little too casual with the puck and gave it away to Brad Boyes, who had enough time to skate in on James Reimer and find his own rebound before any Leaf so much as laid a finger on him.

Finally, a bit later in the period, the Leafs were able to test Scott Clemmensen, but Nazem Kadri was stopped point blank. That was… about it. Peter Holland made a great move to set up a goal by Mason Raymond early in the third to break the shutout, but ultimately, the Leafs didn’t generate enough on Clemmensen, and though they out-shot Florida, teams should be getting more than 29 shots if they’re trailing for 56 minutes.


This was something Greg Millen picked up on in the second period. It didn’t lead to a goal against, or an icing, but it just sums up how predictable and counter-productive the Leafs’ breakout is:

Now, Mark Fraser isn’t a great hockey player. He has difficulty making passes from his own goal-line to his own blue-line, let alone tape-to-tape aerials. Is he supposed to have support in the neutral zone? He should, because the odds of making this pass are pretty slim.

This had no impact on the final result, but neither did Carlyle scribbling on his board like so:


I liked Phil Kessel’s game tonight. He was flying through the neutral zone, led the team in controlled carries by a wide margin, and his line with Kadri and van Riemsdyk were the only ones that were generating any sort of consistent effort all night. Three shots on goal for each of the players on that line, and I thought they deserved a goal or two. Kessel had one entry that I marked with a star where he just exploded on a loose puck in the neutral zone and kicked it up to top speed, and only just missed the net with his hard wrist shot.

It was cool. Should the game have had a better result I’d have uploaded it.


The Fenwick graph from Extra Skater. If you don’t know how to read this, it’s essentially a progression of unblocked shot attempts throughout the game. The Leafs were generally in it but got a couple of bad breaks. I think if this loss doesn’t come tacked on to a long slump, we shrug it off as “team got unlucky, playing a back-to-back against a rested team” but I’m angry now. I’ve spent a lot of time watching the Leafs this year and there has yet to be a payoff.

  • Credit to the Leafs for managing to out-shoot Florida 7-4 with Mark Fraser on the ice. Didn’t see that coming.
  • My eyeballs liked the top line tonight, and the data confirmed it. Leafs out-attempted Florida 19-12 with Kadri on the ice, and the best three Leaf forwards were 1-2-3 in Corsi on the night by a healthy margin.
  • Dion Phaneuf had another good night, this time up against Fleischmann-Bjugstad-Upshall. Other than the brain fart on the first Florida goal, that line didn’t generate much, combining for three shots on net, all from Fleischmann.
  • I liked Holland’s play on the goal, but his line was the Leafs’ weak link. Despite five offensive zone shift starts and just three in the defensive zone, the Leafs were out-attempted 12-16 with him on the ice. To be fair, he saw a lot of time against the Tom Gilbert and Brian Campbell pairing.
  • The Leafs ate up on the Panthers’ fourth line, but most of the Panthers’ top three units were in the black, possession-wise. I guess the fair thing to say is that it was a very even game, but the Leafs took advantage of the Panthers’ lack of depth. Troy Bodie and Jerry D’Amigo played well-enough on the wings to help Jay McClement to another positive possession night.
  • Leafs won the Corsi Close battle 19-15, which is encouraging, especially on the second half of a back-to-back. Their number has crept up from 41% to about 43% over the last couple of weeks, but they’re still nowhere good enough to play well against the best teams in the league.
  • Data via ExtraSkater
  • Phaneuf didn’t have a great game, lol.

    I’m a fan of the guy, but seriously, that’s a stretch.

    Dude contributed to the first and third goal against. On the first I’d also blame Kadri, and Reimer a bit. Third one, I’d also blame Raymond.

    That’s not a great game.

    • STAN

      What is even more comedic (or sad) from reading this tonight is that somehow Fraser is the reason for the leaf loss. Sure Fraser should be in the AHL but sorry he is not the scapegoat for this loss.

      Sometimes reading this advanced statistical analysis, I’m not sure if I should feel my intelligence is being mocked or if the wool is being pulled over my eyes. Please let’s stick to the facts as not only will that build credibility in advanced statistics but more importantly it will reflect more positively and promote the acceptance of them.

      Fun fact, Fraser was not only a positive corsi leaf tonight but he was also on ice for the only leaf goal for and on for none against.

        • paul wodehouse

          Maybe, you need to re-read the article because under the heading of all “why the leafs lost”, of all the leafs and poor execution on plays last night one could choose from, it is the name of Fraser that first appears with regards to a irrelevant and forgettable breakout.

      • Nate

        “Fun fact, Fraser was not only a positive corsi leaf tonight but he was also on ice for the only leaf goal for and on for none against.”

        While I wasnt aware of his positive corsi, dont give him too much credit for being on the ice for the leafs goal. He literally stands there doing nothing as Holland dances around and eventually scores. The kind of goal which led to people realizing +/- is useless.

        • paul wodehouse

          “He literally stands there doing nothing as Holland dances around and eventually scores”

          To clarify- Holland dances around and takes the shot that is tipped in for the goal.

  • Jeremy Ian

    Some of these leafs fans think the leafs are going to make the playoffs so I had to educate them on advanced stats and regression to the mean. And then, I saw in Phaneuf’s interview of how he is confident the leafs will turn it around and realized leaf’s captain, like most leaf fans, is just not very smart person.

    I have always defended Phaneuf’s terrible Corsi and advanced stats because of the high quality of competition he faced. And I looked past his poor on ice leadership/mental lapase and his now never ending apologies for his and the teams poor play because of his heavy workload.

    But then it all made sense, Phaneuf is just not that smart and doesn’t seem to understand the predictive value of Corsi and the leafs getting out shot. And if he did Phaneuf would just quit on the season and pack it in like I have.

  • STAN

    It’s about time somebody roasted Carlyle for being an idiot.

    Phaneuf and a few other thick Leafs (Clarkson, Orr) will talk about getting back to ‘the system’. What system?

    There doesn’t seem to be anything remotely close to effective in this Carlyle ‘system’.

  • paul wodehouse

    Totally disagree with the point about Phaneuf playing a good game. The first goal was a giveaway by him, with resulted in a piss pour back check by him. Basically skating at 50% to even try to get the puck. Good example of what a “Captain” is. The third goal was another giveaway by him at the blue line, and not by Gunnerson. I’d say he was far from a good game. Gardiner makes one mistake and get’s benched. I didn’t see anyone else get benched from their f*** ups.

    Good on James Reimer to for calling the team out. Fatigue, missing players is BS. It’s exactly what he said. You have to have will, and heart which as of late, and since ’67 the team has lacked immensely.

    • Jeremy Ian

      On the first goal the giveaway was on Kadri & his untimely dangle inside the blue line. Phaneuf was guilty of an ill timed pinch given the turnover. Had Kadri dumped the puck into the corner the puck doesn’t go the other way and perhaps this was Phaneufs thought was he would track down the puck in the corner. The third goal was a Phaneuf turnover however the culprit there was Raymond with the drop pass to Phaneuf who had little time to make a move. Ultimately Phaneuf should have dumped the puck out. I’m in agreement that Phaneuf has played better games but this loss was a collective lack of effort. As far as Gardiner goes, he has lots of potential however his spectacular rushes to often end up with a give away ate the opponents blue line. He is too hesitant to shot the puck and he is soft in the Leafs zone. To be fair, on the giveaway that led to the goal there should have been an interference call on the Pathers D-man for taking Kessel out when the puck was not there.

    • paul wodehouse

      My thoughts exactly!

      Though Burke wasn’t perfect, I liked the general direction the Leafs were heading with him.

      Grabo, Mac, Komarov (in his short time here) were all very key contributors

  • paul wodehouse

    I also didn’t like how the Leafs played last night, against a time like Florida which they should have beaten easily if the Leafs are for real about being playoffs contenders.

    But I want to note something that I think went missing in the recap of the game: the second and the third Florida goals came right after plays where they gained possession as a result of what should have been a penalty. If these plays are called (and the game progressed exactly the same, without the Leafs scoring on the man-advantage), it would have been a tie. You might say, equally: if Florida scored on all the clear scoring situations that they had, they would have won by a wide margin. But there’s would-have-beens and there’s would-have-beens, and the present would-have-been is one that came as a result of bad referring. Twice.

    So the game wasn’t good; but it wasn’t terrible. And if it was fair, it would have ended in either a tie or a win (if the Leafs scored in one of the two man-advantages they should have had). And Florida has been playing really well as of late. I’m trying to see the glass full: I’m trying to hope that the real Leafs are the ones that came out against LA and Chicago…there’s some hope.

  • Jeremy Ian

    I think the main point — having read the piece with my glasses on — is about Carlyle, his decisions (playing Fraser, benching Gardiner, etc), and his leadership.

    I actually think he does have a system. It’s just not working (wrong type of players maybe, unsuited to the new rules and tactics, whatever).

    My takeaway from Cam’s piece and observation of Carlyle’s non-verbals is that the players aren’t really paying attention to him.

    Time for management to lead if the coach can’t.

  • Jeremy Ian

    Not a fun game to watch….

    Had a thought last night : announcers and pre game hosts appeared to go out of their way to point out that the Leafs are the 3rd youngest team in the league. I’m sure this was purposeful being Leafs TV and all…

    My question – any correlation between Corsi and a teams average age? I would guess that younger teams have lower possession scores. Just curious….