Leafs Postgame: Sold Our Goals To The Devil


I’m not even worried about this game. It was a bad game. There were some really questionable goals. The Leafs have lost five straight. If a couple of teams that have games in hand win a single one of them, they’re out of a playoff spot. David Clarkson has two points in his past 24 games, and James Reimer’s stock is crashing faster than Enron’s.

But please, just let Phil Kessel be okay. That’s all I ask. That was a rough helmet hit to the head, and while he came back on seconds after the ref held him back (of course he did, it’s the Leafs), he didn’t seem in great shape after impact. That play would be an awful way to finally miss a game with the team, having played in 362 straight since his debut. Let’s talk about the game, though.

The Rundown

The two teams played the game pretty evenly throughout; New Jersey is very good at limiting the opposition’s chances, but does it in a way that limits their ability to take risks offensively.

New Jersey was first to strike, heading back into the offensive zone on a two on one rush. James Reimer looked for the shot, but Tim Gleason.. couldn’t decide. As such, the pass to Damien Brunner made it across uninterrupted, which lead to an easy goal. 

That was all in the first period, but five minutes into the second, a stretch pass went past Morgan Rielly and onto Patrik Elias’ stick, giving him a breakaway, which saw him fake a slap shot and dangle for the insurance marker. Thirty seconds later, the Devils set up in the offensive zone, and a Jon Merrill slapshot trickled through James Reimer’s pads, making it a 3-0 game and prompting a goalie switch.

Tyler Bozak gave the Leafs their first goal of the game about three minutes later, with a spectacular play to get into position to tip a Rielly pass beyond Cory Schneider. From there, the goals dried up, until just two minutes remained. Phil Kessel came in with a burst of speed, a quick move, and a goal.. only to crash into the net, as seen above. 

Why The Leafs Lost

Two key mistakes. This one is on Tim Gleason, because while this looks a little nice, it’s ineffective. His stick isn’t doing anything at all, and he doesn’t pick a guy to commit to. He’s a statute, which makes this play an effective 2-on-0.


And this one is on Reimer:


Stephen Gionta is a little in the way, but Reimer is clearly looking at the shot and knows where it is. For it to trickle in was a disappointment, to say the least. While it was the only bad goal of the night, it was definitely the dagger.

Something I’d like to point out: Ever since his “bell ringing” that gave him a quick headache, Reimer has a 0.871 SV%. After getting hit by Brian Gionta in 2011/12, he had a 0.876 SV%. It turned out he was playing out the year with post-concussion symptoms. Not saying correlation implies causation, but it makes you lift an eyebrow.

Blue Warrior


In a game with not much to be happy about, I’m giving this one to Drew MacIntyre, who made his partial Leafs regular season debut. He stopped all 14 shots he faced, though the Devils were also pretty passive by that point and not pushing heavily to score. As such, I’m not ready to declare it reflective of anything, but I’m immensely happy for him nonetheless.

    • jonathan123

      I don’t think so. The Leafs need at least about 92 points to qualify for the playoffs. That means 6 wins in 9 games. Or 5 wins and a bunch of OT losses. In the nine games, they play Boston and St Louis, the two best teams in each conference, and a back to back against Philly and Detroit, two teams fighting hard to keep their playoff spot. But if they claw for a couple of OT pity points, win an upset or two, and pull wins from Calgary, Tampa, Florida, and Ottawa, then they’re in.

    • jonathan123

      I haven’t like the leafs playoff chances all season. Even with a healthy Bernier and a league Reimer the leafs would not have made the playoffs because they give up too many shots.

      Corsi predicted the demise and the excuse of the leafs are only losing because Bernier is injured and Reimer is struggling is bogus. This is simple math – the leafs will not make the playoffs.

      • TGT23

        “Simple math” based on the fact that pre-injury the team was in 2nd or based on the fact that they are still in a playoff spot?

        What you’re saying doesn’t make any sense…. When Bernier was healthy the teams playoff chances were great.

        All the math showed them with a great probability of making the playoffs pre-injury. Especially with games against Washington, Detroit, Montreal, and New Jersey on the schedule… Teams they are better than.

        I think you’re basing your opinion on what has happened and not what would have happened. Saying they wouldn’t have made the playoffs even if Bernier was healthy isn’t based on the facts of the team with Bernier. It is based on the team without him.

        That’s like saying “The Thunder wouldn’t have made the playoffs even with Durant because they were 0-5 without him”. Having that player makes a difference. Having Bernier against those teams makes a difference.

        Pretending like it doesn’t and then claiming that you knew all along is not math. It is bias.

  • STAN

    This season is just like the infamous ’18-wheeler heading off a cliff’ stretch that Brian Burke lamented two years ago.

    In crunch time, these guys are even worse than the 2012 gang. Carlyle seems have NO system; there’s been no improvement in any aspect of the game; there’s no leadership from the so-called core group (Phaneuf, Kessel, Lupul and Clarkson) and they don’t deserve to make he playoffs.

    Far too many wins this season were thanks to quick breaks and individual talent. You can’t have sustained success when you don’t have the puck and give it away more than 29 other teams.

    Oh well, as Leafs Nation has said 46 times since the last Cup, there’s always next year.

    • i was a little lost in the reference to Enron too, but can figure out the gist of what he was saying, lol. Happy for Macintyre did an awesome job tonight and feel bad that Reimer was pulled he didnt have any support from the defense. Have to wonder now if hell even play Tuesday or if Macintyre will start in net. Heres hoping they can hang on to a wildcard spot.

  • The biggest positive I saw from this game is that Kessel is awesome. And he willing this team into the playoffs who don’t seem to that interested.

    I expect a big game from Kessel against the Blues because he is so freaking awesome. 40 goals for kessel this season and a big playoff run.

  • Quasijr

    Do I think the Leafs now will make the play offs I say NO!!!!
    After being in 2nd place 3 points up going into Washington, Detroit, TB & Montreal we should have won 2 maybe 3 games. What I found was no passion from this team. They refused to play hard, & with out urgency. Kessel was the only player who played consistent through this period the rest coasted.
    Im a huge Riemer fan, this was his chance to shine, make his stock go up & show he should be a number one goalie, he let in 5-6 questionable goals during this stretch. As a fan I lost all faith in him
    You can sit here & blame Carlyle for this but when your this close & play without passion no matter how bad the coaching is this is on the players.
    This isn’t the Febuary collapse, this is playoff pressure folding.
    I will say this they will only win 2 more games this season & players heads should rool!!!!!!

  • Jeremy Ian

    I was at the game last night, and after the long drive home on the turnpike, I just went to bed. We were seated three rows back on the Devils’ end. The non bird’s eye view:

    1. We saw see goals sail over Reimer’s glove. It’s like his reactions have been dulled. The third goal was absolutely crushing.

    2. All around us jeering at Clarkson. Some of it deserved. He plays lost. You can watch Lupul and Kadri thinking strategically; Clarkson is all reaction and a half-step behind (though he is willing to muck it up in the corners). At this stage, this line is playing with 2.5 players.

    3. Orr. What can be said? He should go to the Marlies and let Ashton play wing.

    3. Kessel is awesome to watch. We could see the expression on his face as he picked up the puck on the left side, saw no other Leaf in his midst, and decided to charge on his own. Even Devils fans cheered him when he got up off the ice. Easily playing with the most emotion on the ice last night of both teams.