Leafs postgame – What the hell was that?

Shot clock in Florida midway through the second period

Well, I suppose Jeffler posted the above photo across social media for a reason. For those of you who never saw Space Jam, log off right now and go watch the movie, and THEN come re-join us in the postgame thread. For those that need a refresher, scrawny aliens need to play a basketball game against the Looney Tunes, so they capture the talents of NBA stars and beat up on the Looney Tunes until the second half, when the Tunes are led by Michael Jordan to a heroic comeback and also get clutch performances from Bill Murray and Newman for some reason.

As best as I can tell, the Florida Panthers captured the talent of a real NHL team and just absolutely hammered the Leafs. The final score was 4-1 but that flattered the Leafs somewhat. I have no idea what I just saw.


Well… it started out with the Panthers dominating zone time, locking the Maple Leafs first line in their defensive zone for a good minute, and didn’t really stop there. Jonathan Bernier was insane, stopping 19 pucks in the first, and it carried over to the second.

Mostly, anyway. David Clarkson took a pretty weak slashing call (considering the stuff the referees were allowing, I didn’t like the penalty) and the 30th-ranked Florida PP scored within a minute on a Tom Gilbert slapshot. Still, that was all the Panthers got past Bernier in the second frame, and Bernier had to make two breakaway stops off of Jonathan Huberdeau and Scottie Upshall to preserve the one-goal deficit.

It looked like it could be one of those games where the Leafs got their show run on the shot clock but somehow pull it out with a timely goal or two. Not so. Tim Thomas robbed James van Riemsdyk twice, and stopped 20-of-21 overall, with lots of those shots quality.

In the third, the Panthers scored early on with Jesse Winchester being lucky enough to have a Brian Campbell wrist shot bank in off him. David Clarkson scored his fifth four minutes later to pull the Leafs close, and Phil Kessel nearly tied it but for a great stop by Thomas. Then, a Cody Franson turnover led to a Shawn Matthias partial break and he wired home a wrist shot short-side to restore the two-goal lead.



Because the only positive to glean from this game was that Dion Phaneuf returned to the bench after sustaining an awkward hit from Sean Bergenheim. Also, a few of us MAY have bet the over on David Clarkson’s goal total this season (got it at 14.5 after he struggled to open the year. Score!) so there’s at least some solace in watching this mess.

More technically though, I noted a few times the Leafs were sitting back in a penalty killing formation throughout the game, with the extra guy in the middle of the four-man box:

This is a bit tighter than the Leafs normally play in their own end. Usually, they like to pressure the point-men, something which could theoretically work against the Panthers but not in theory tonight. The Panthers generate a lot of their offence from their defencemen, particularly in their top pair of Brian Campbell and Tom Gilbert.

The Leafs defensive zone system theoretically works if you can beat opponents to puck races and start covering those points before the opposition has time to set up, but the Panthers were able to extend these long zone sequences thanks to their defence remaining relatively unguarded.

Remember, Florida out-shoots—their issues mostly stem from goaltending and a weak powerplay, but their team was given a lot of space for those sequences in the offensive zone time.


Poor Jonathan Bernier. He stopped 44 of 47 and that may have been one of his better performances on the year. Here he is, daydreaming about what life might be like back on the Los Angeles Kings with a struggling Jonathan Quick:

Let’s zoom in:

The last photo isn’t even that pixellated. Jonathan Bernier’s soul left him tonight and what remains is the blurred remains of one of the best goalies to ever play for the Toronto Maple Leafs.


ExtraSkater page here. Why?

Evidently, because we hate you. This was never even close. The Panthers were up 25-7 in unblocked shots by the time they scored their first goal. The Panthers were up 52-17 by the time they scored their second. The Leafs gained a bit of space before the Clarkson goal, but just three unblocked attempts after that, to Florida’s 7.

How bad was it? Not to get into anything too deep, but Jerred Smithson led the Leafs in Corsi on the night, on the ice for two attempts for and two against. Colton Orr was second with three attempts for and five against. The red-hot line of Lupul-Kadri-Kulemin were out-shot 9-1 when on the ice. This was just a total mess.

Oh my God I’m watching Sportscentre right now and the Leafs’ all had their fathers in attendance.

Anyway, I’m sure we’ll read some great stuff about the Leafs have a brutal record when David Clarkson in the lineup (16-17-5) and a historically-good record when he’s not (14-5-1). That’s completely coincidental of course, but pretty hilarious. It’s also something we can laugh at when the Leafs lose only sporadically like this. The problem is that when they lose, they lose big, and it looks brutal.

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  • Cam Thornton

    Looking at that fenwick chart makes me want to puke. Its understandable if were on a back to back situation facing St.Louis or something, but the god damn Panthers… Disgusting

    • STAN

      And this is another problem I have with advanced stats specifically applied to the leafs. The leafs are losing by a decent margin and where are the promised “score effects” excuse that people pull out of the butt whenever a team is trailing. Sure they exist if we ignore it here for the leafs.

      These stats are about as useful as predicting winning based on hits and turnovers.

  • STAN

    I’m convinced these guys, who played pretty well in their first 10 games, looked across the room at # 5.25M and thought, “Really? They’re paying THIS guy THAT much for SO little?” And consciously or subconsciously don’t play the same when he’s in their company.

    It happens in other lines of work ALL. THE. TIME.

  • STAN


  • Kanuunankuula

    This game has done nothing to change my mind that

    – Carlyle and Nonis need to be fired

    – Clarkson is a 4th liner at best with Bozak as his centre

    – The leafs need to trade back for Grabbo and Mac to back fill those positions

    After that then I can see the leafs winning the cup this year with a fair PDO and very high corsi.

  • Kanuunankuula

    That was awful! There was one two or three minute segment when there was a line with Lupul, Clarkson and maybe Kadri that was completely unable to gain possession of the puck let alone get it out of the zone!

  • Kanuunankuula

    Guess other coaches and players are getting closer to dealing with leafs coaching philosophy (that all dman most dump the puck out along the boards, when they feel any pressure). Because of great goaltending and timely scoring the leafs have gotten away with this inept defensive system, but time is running out. Pressure the Dman and pinch along the boards, and watch as shoots pile up, and leafs chase. It took Gardenier all last year of sitting to learn this lesson. He learned and is now playing the system. When he gets the puck, he gets rid of it as fast as he can. Everyone can see how well he is doing now, ice time even after terrible giveaways. After a half year they still haven’t tamed Reilly fully, but they are getting closer…less carrying the puck, and more dump along the boards every game. To be a leaf’s Dman you must dump puck along the boards, and turn it over as quick as possible (Gleason take note, bye JML). They should be a good chase team in the future (practice makes perfect) too bad they won’t win many more games. Only Leafs management and coaches could think that Franson is a quality Dman, and Phaneuf is worth the third highest salary among Dman (only after Weber and Suter) for the next
    two years.

  • Kanuunankuula

    Wow! You really have got to be kidding me. We went 9-1-1, everyone’s living life happy as ever. We lose 1 game and NOW people are calling for people to get fired or traded?

    Leafs nation is full of a bunch of drama queens. Jesus lol