Leafs Postgame – Long Island Blues


Sochi is over, and now that we’ve gotten “complain about practice” out of the way, it’s time to focus on what actually matters; NHL hockey! Granted, it’s debatable whether an already bottom-of-the-standings New York Islanders really count as an NHL team without superstar John Tavares, but that should make this game pretty automatic, no? Not so much, as it headed to overtime. Not just that, Lubomir Visnovsky ensured the Leafs walked away with just one point in a 5-4 loss.

The Rundown

Just seven minutes into the game, Phil Kessel reminded everybody why he’s one of the best players in the world and fired one of his trademark wrist shots past Evgeni Nabokov for his 32nd goal of the year.

This lead lasted nine minutes, as the Islanders tied it up on a 5-on-4 situation. The thing that looks bad on the Leafs? The Islanders were the four, and Michael Grabner picked up his 10th of the year shorthanded. On the very same penalty kill, Jonathan Bernier made an.. unfortunate mistake.

This gave Grabner his second shortie in as many minutes, and put the Leafs behind. The period ended with the Leafs trailing in goals, shots against, and pretty much anything you could name.

In the second, the two teams traded penalties, Tim Gleason dropped the mitts with Eric Boulton (unsurprisingly losing to the dedicated enforcer), and the Leafs controlled the shots. Scoring picked up again nine minutes into the third, as a play started by Kessel turned into a van Riemsdyk shot and a Paul Ranger rebound, giving him his third goal of the year.

Just a few minutes later, Dion Phaneuf blasted a one timer past Nabokov to give the Leafs the lead. This lead lasted a minute and a half, as Anders Lee took advantage of a Carl Gunnarsson penalty to tie the game. Continuing the high scoring period, Joffrey Lupul took back the lead a minute later with his 18th of the season, and Lee took closed it up yet again with his second of the game (and season) before the period ended.

Just two minutes into overtime, Lubomir Visnovsky skated in alone and snapped the game winner past Bernier on an unassisted effort.

Why The Leafs Lost

The attempted shots in this game stayed pretty equal throughout, so the “Leafs gonna Leaf” thing doesn’t quite apply here like it usually does. I’m going to go with a cliche here and blame “rust”. Players like Jake Gardiner and Jonathan Bernier were making a lot of small mistakes that lead to big issues. More close but not quite plays were happening then usual, and it was a road game, so I’ll give the benefit of the doubt for now and re-evaluate after their next game.

Blue Warrior

Have to go with James van Riemsdyk tonight. Three assists, 23 minutes (even with some penalty kill time) played, a couple of shots, and a relatively solid game all around. Both Kessel and himself seem to be in mid-Olympics form, not letting the two terrible USA efforts to close their tournament out spoil their good form.

“Why the Leafs Lost” and “Blue Warrior” coming soon.

  • Jeremy Ian

    Good news: That assist by Bozak on Kessel’s goal was pretty sweet. So was Kadri’s dish to Lupul. Kessel is amazing and is 2nd in scoring in the entire league. JVR was flying out there. Rielly looked decent too.

    Bad news: I say this as someone who’s been one of his biggest proponents–not the best game for Gards. I love his skating and everything but, to be blunt, he looks really dumb out there sometimes. It’s a shame because the plays he does look dumb on are so routine, you just keep thinking he’s gotta get it soon.

    He does still have 146 games left before he reaches 300 gp, which seems to be a decent benchmark for determining whether a defenseman has “got” it.

    Also, dude could really stand to get stronger. There was one play where he got bounced by an Isle where he looked particularly weak.

    Cody Franson, OTOH, has recently reached that benchmark (302 NHL gp as of tonight), and, well… nope, still hasn’t got it. The Leafs would do well to sell high on that one.

  • Jeremy Ian

    So, Jeff: what’s your read on Jake Gardiner? Jay (above) has a point. I am all for patience, but I have to wince too much.

    Reminds me sometimes of Jim McKenny — without Brian Glennie beside him to bail him out.

  • Jeremy Ian

    Jeff, like most of the TLN + PPP crowd, tends to be a little biased when it comes to Gardiner. I don’t blame him, in fact I used to be the same. I’ve been saying, “He’s an amazing skater with high upside! Can’t trade him” since he started tearing s**t up with the Marlies.

    If we’re being honest and looking at the facets of his game other than his skating, he isn’t an untouchable.

    I’m willing to give him more games, let’s see where he’s at after the 300 game mark, but I’d also entertain trading him for a similarly aged center with top line upside.

  • Jeremy Ian

    Give me a break, always excuses for this team never the reality that the Leafs suck and can’t play their way out of a paper bag….
    Beriner little mistakes??? what in God’s name was a Goaltender doing that far out of his net?? that’s a small mistake? the overtime goal lost again on Bernier’s shoulders..the guy sucks….he is lousy in one on one shots and ne proved it again last night,,Reimer is the better guy and I can’t wait for you to be crying in your beer when once again you will be looking at “THERE’S ALWAYS NEXT YEAR!!!!!

    Beriner hahahahaha good luck with that…Maybe Bernier, Carlyn and Nonis should sto so much time sleeping together and figured out that they don’t have what it takes again and that their 2.8 million goalie Bernier was a waste of money and should have went at the dam defense that was the cause of the game 7 lost last year and continue to be the reason the Leafs suck again this year…

    GO REIMER GO…but hopefully he will get traded soon before they bury him any further in the hole…..how distastful….how many times does this guy need to fight for his job with this team before he gets the resoect he deserves,,,,

    Rusty bull crap…