POSTGAME – Islanderp


If there’s a positive that I can take out of a game like this, it’s that I’m reallllllly happy that John Tavares is going to play for Team Canada next month. He’s become so creative, and so smart, and is now tied for second in league scoring. Why now? Because he scored three points tonight. Why did he score three points tonight? Because the Toronto Maple Leafs allowed three or more goals. Two more, to be exact, as the Leafs dropped this one by a score of 5-3. 

The Rundown

This game actually started off pretty well for the Leafs. Five minutes into the first period, Tyler Bozak scored his sixth goal of the season, deflecting a point shot from Paul Ranger. While he didn’t get a point on the play, full credit should also be given to Phil Kessel, who aggressively forechecked to force Calvin De Haan into making a play. The two sides traded chances back and forth throughout the period, and in the final minute, Kyle Okposo beat Jonathan Bernier with a routine wrist shot from the point, tying the game.

Just three minutes into the second period, the Islanders took the lead. This time, Michael Grabner took advantage of a Bernier puck misplay, wrapping the puck around him for the 2-1 tally. On a mid-period powerplay, Mason Raymond picked up a rebound to beat Kevin Poulin. Both teams kept a pretty even pace for the rest of the period, leaving the game to be decided in the third.

In that third period, Frans Nielsen scored his sixteenth goal of the year on Toronto’s lone penalty kill. Just two minutes after that, Calvin de Haan fired a shot from behind the blue line, bounced it off of Dion Phaneuf’s stick, and past Bernier to widen the gap. A late period goal by Joffrey Lupul gave the Leafs life, but with nine seconds left, Cal Clutterbuck sealed the blue and white’s fate with an empty netter.

Why The Leafs Lost

For the first time in a while, I’m comfortable with pointing fingers at a Leafs goaltender for a loss. Simply put, Jonathan Bernier had an off night, and it cost this team a chance at winning. The Okposo goal seemed stoppable. The Grabner goal was the result of mishandling the puck and then risking getting to the net rather than taking the trapezoid penalty, and the De Haan goal was deflected early enough that he should have been able to re-evaluate.

With that said; I wouldn’t use tonight as knock on him. Soft goals happen, off games happen, and he still has an impressive rest of the season attached to it. I’d like to see James Reimer play a lot more than he has, but I’m not pointing to a night like this and saying that makes Bernier the "worse" goalie. 

Blue Warrior

Nazem Kadri quietly put up two assists and won 79% of his faceoffs over 18:23 of ice time. I wouldn’t say he had a particularly mind blowing game tonight, but the numbers were there, he created a few solid opportunities, and there weren’t any glaring mistakes on his end. If he could put up a string of games like this, he’d win back many people who have begun to question him.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

  • Jeremy Ian

    I need to gripe — Holland gets 4:30 TOI, while Orr and McLaren got 5:27 and 5:19 apiece. In fact, Holland played less than anyone on either team. This is not only a waste of talent, but cedes the second round draft pick — once he’s played 25 games (I think he’s played 22 or 23). It’s just moronic.

    The 3rd-4th line structures are a mess. The 3rd line is for “checking” (for whatever it’s worth) and the 4th line is for what? What were Orr and McLaren even doing on the ice in the 4th period when the team had to score?

    This favoritism-doghouse stuff has to stop. It’s for coaches who confuse mind-games with using your brain.

    Good points: Gleason was OK, Kadri 79% in face offs. Nice to see that turn around.

  • SkinnyFish

    Leafs had 26 shots on net. Islanders were on 2nd half of a B2B. Islanders slept on JFK tarmac due to weather. Leafs had 9:38 of PP time and only 1:08 of SH time. Facing the 29th ranked team in sv%. 26 shots.

  • Timothy Ten

    I posted this after the loss to the Rangers. I think it rings even more true today:

    “Bernier often plays at a very high level, but he doesn’t seem to have the ability to play well for long stretches. He can’t seem to win 4 in a row and he seems to play better with 3 or less consecutive games.

    This might be part of the reason why Bernier hasn’t yet become a starting goaltender, despite his save percentage, age and draft pedigree. Bernier hasn’t won 4 games in a row this season.

    That second [Rangers] goal killed the Leafs. Up to that point the Leafs weren’t bad. I think they were actually outshooting the Rangers. That goal goes in and I think the team say to themselves Bernier is having another one of those nights when he is letting in some bad goals and from that point on the Leafs mailed it in.

    Look at Bernier’s save% in his game log for this season

    5th game .839 9th game .886 15th game .857 17th game .896 18th game .897 20th game .895 21th game .870 23rd game .893 30th game .844

    The only time Bernier plays well for a long stretch is his 9th to 14th game and his 23rd to 29th game. In each of those runs he gets some time off. During the 9th to 14th game run for Bernier, Reimer comes in and gets 5 starts. In the 23rd to 29th game run, Reimer gets 3 starts and there is the Christmas break with 3 days off on December 24, 25, 26. After a nice break, Bernier posts 3 wins.

    Carlyle needs to resist the temptation of playing Bernier too much. The Leafs goaltending tandem will be much more effective if Carlyle regularly gives Reimer a start.”

    So staring Bernier, who seems to tire easily, for 6 games in row is just crazy. Carlyle needs to understand the individual strengths of each goalie and play them to that. My thoughts are that the rotation is Bernier for two or three games and then Reimer until he loses, then repeat. Reimer can real off 8 good games in row, but sometimes doesn’t…Bernier can’t. Bernier can play at a high level, but only for short stretches.

    As long as he is playing well, and especially if he is winning, Reimer should keep playing. If he goes on a 6 game run, let him play.

    But rarely if ever play Bernier more that 3 or 4, even if he is playing well . It’s proven not to work. The next games are likely to be stinkers.

    I’m a bit surprised Leafs management hasn’t figured this out. It’s right there in the numbers.

    • Jeremy Ian

      You may be right about Bernier’s inability to build a streak. So, why not go with the 1A-1B model that Carlyle professed? I have a hunch that they are auditioning Bernier for 1, with an eye to shopping Reimer to bidders by trade deadline. It just keeps backfiring. But otherwise, the decision-making makes no sense.

      Do you think it’s that Bernier doesn’t have the stamina?

      Maybe what all this auditioning has shown is that they need to stand by the 1A-1B model instead of spouting one thing and doing something else. (now, there’s a recipe for confusion…)

      I am still steaming about how Holland is being coached — it’s an index for a lot of the troubles. One may not agree with (all) Nonis’s moves, but he sure must be starting to fume about his coaches. He’s done pretty much everything Carlyle wanted but things are backsliding. These public displays of humiliation of players that management works hard to sign (hey Naz, red wine for Christmas, hey Naz, do you believe in complacency? — and this from the “motivational” coach?) or trade for (hey, Holland, sit here on the bench and watch us struggle to get goals from McLaren), or may have to rely on again (hey, Reimer, work on your crosswords while we showcase the new guy; I’ll call you when I need you), are supposed to fire up a young team? We know enough about psychology to predict that this is not going to work.

      Sorry, I just don’t have anyone around here to rant to living in central New Jersey.

      Has anyone though about tipping points for staff changes?

      BTW, Jeffler, I love the choice of photo for your piece. Reimer sitting there looking at himself sitting there…. I was watching the game on MSG and Grabner was interviewed after the 2nd period and he and the rink side reporter (I think Rob Carlin) actually laughed about Bernier’s brain cramp.

  • Jeremy Ian

    @Jeremy Ian

    “Do you think it’s that Bernier doesn’t have the stamina?”

    He’s a smaller goalie, shorter and 23 lbs lighter than Reimer. Compare Bernier with Ben Bishop who 7 inches taller and 30 lbs heavier and you relize Bernier is really on the lower end of where goalies are going. He also isn’t used to playing lots of games.

    Because of his smaller size, Bernier has to work harder and be technically perfect to cover the net. A larger goalie doesn’t move as much or at all to make some of the same saves. That means the larger goalie can conserve some energy and go more games.

    People have remarked that Bernier is a quiet goaltender without lots of excess movement. I think that is Bernier trying to conserve energy.

    I think Bernier’s lighter weight may also hurt his endurance. He might have to work harder against the weight of his equipment than a larger goalie. You would have to weigh his equipment and compare it against the weight of goalies and their equipment. Larger goalies would have larger pads, but the total weight would not be that much more and the ratio favours larger, more muscular guys like Mike Smith and Luongo who is 32 lbs heavier.

    Don’t worry too much about Holland, these things tend to sort themselves out as the games become more important.

    Orr and Mclaren only have one year left on their contracts after this year. After that we should see David Broll and maybe Jamie Devane. Broll is a considerably better hockey player than both Orr and McLaren. Broll is an adequate enoforcer for the future NHL. We could then have a 3A and 3B line and give the 4th (3B) more minutes. In two years, Broll, Holland and Ashton could be quite a terrifying 3B line.

    • Jeremy Ian

      Thanks. I’ll watch B’s motions more carefully. But two of those goals last night looked like mental lapses, not physical ones.

      My view on Holland is (1) the games are already important, esp in this division, so the opportunity costs of leaving Holland on the bench while playing Orr more minutes (Orr, incidentally, on track for a career worst year — median TOI, PPG lowest in a decade…) is rising fat; (2) player development is a function of player experience. So, I don’t get the calculus right now.

      On Orr:

      “But back to Colton Orr, where do his 12g, 12a, and 24pts in 453 games put him among goaltenders? 14th. That’s right, 14th. There are 13 goalies in NHL history with better career ppg totals. Even worse? There are three goalies with better career ppgs in MORE GAMES PLAYED than Colton Orr; Grant Fuhr, Ron Hextall, and Tom Barrasso. ”

      In principle agreed, though. There’re some good 4th and 3rd liners emerging in the ranks.

  • STAN

    I counted at least 17 times that when Leafs regained possession in their own end they mindlessly flicked it out, high off the boards… right back to the Islanders.

    Then when a D-man actually kept the puck and tried to create something… no other Leafs went to open ice with their sticks ready to take a pass. They just stop skating.

    I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a Leafs team (the Ron Wilson era included) when so many players cruise around with their sticks up around their waste… like they’re just out for a skate and a chase.

    Kadri had a solid game. Bernier sucked. Gleason was so-so. The point about lack of time for Holland was dead on.

    Orr and McLaren need to sit and bring back Trevor Smith.

  • Timothy Ten

    “Thanks. I’ll watch B’s motions more carefully. But two of those goals last night looked like mental lapses, not physical ones.”

    That’s why you have to be careful with over playing Bernier. Just a tiny bit of fatigue can effect his mental sharpness and he’s more likely to become fatigued because of his small size.

    When you have Reimer (who is a bit like a big work horse) just sitting there on the bench, it seems crazy not to give Bernier a good break to keep him fresh and sharp.

  • SkinnyFish

    Well said! Leafs played a nice game tonight. Each player was eager to contribute, unfortunately, it was’nt the best night for their goali but this is the hocky game!! It was very inspiring to see Kadri and his line trying to come back and show their true color. They were eager to score, truely, kadri was the blue warier tonight!!

  • SkinnyFish

    The leafs again outshot the islanders and lose. I’ve been following you guys on these stats but I don’t think they work here.

    The problem with the leafs is that they are not fighting like last year. Team were intimidated playing the leafs. And if they can get to the playoffs the leafs will do well. We have some great grinder type of players that will excel in that kind of game.

    • Timothy Ten

      Really? Really?

      Orr and McLaren are obviously the answers to all of our problems. Is this Randy in disguise posting on TheLeafsNation trying to win fans over to his system?

      If you have watched Orr trying to fight other people, it would be obvious to you that no player in the NHL cares to fight him because he is an awful hockey player and does not deserve to be in the NHL. Therefore, why sacrefice yourself in a game (who is obviously better than Orr because literally everyone is) to put Orr in the box?

      Yes, we need to fight more, that’s the answer…

  • Bertly83

    on the bright side of life, the top 6 forwards and dmen are set for next season. why does lupul get a hall pass game in game out. the guy is struggling bigtime. also for those who belief the dion should be considered for the olympics, he would be the 3rd pairing on team canada 3.

  • STAN

    As a hockey fan, I really do like some of the prospects in the Leafs’ pipeline (nobody stands out as a great prospect, but lots of nice pieces, as was mentioned, for 3rd and 4th lines; I’d be surprised if one or two didn’t develop into 2nd liners), but do you really have any confidence that they will be on this team in 2 or 3 years? Your front office is horrible; if you have a prospect you like, you may want to mentally prepare yourself now for his inevitable trade, then watching him develop elsewhere. Man, I’m glad I’m not a fan of the Leafs.