Leafs Post Game – Devils Down Leafs

You’d have thought that the New Jersey Devils would have been ripe for the taking, considering they headed into tonight’s game against the Toronto Maple Leafs having lost five straight games. But the Leafs, who’ve been playing pretty good hockey for two weeks now, came out flat and never really seemed to find a groove.

The Devils scored early and often on route to a 5-3 victory, handing the Leafs their ninth loss of the season.

The Rundown

The Leafs often like to give up goals in the first five seconds of the game, but they were cool about it tonight and waited until five minutes into the game before Eric Gelinas sent a powerplay point shot past Jonathan Bernier. The period would end with the Devils up 1-0.

It was in the second period that things would open up, as Toronto and New Jersey traded began trading goals back and forth. Mike Santorelli would tie the game up on a nice deflection in front, before Stephen Gionta would put the Devils ahead again by a score of 2-1.

Then, my favourite part of the game. Nazem Kadri would tie the game at 2’s shorthanded. No, really. I don’t know who messed up on the bench but somehow Nazem “PP QB” Kadri found his way on to the ice while down a man, and scored a goal. Watch it in all its glory below:

Even Pete DeBoer doesn’t know what the hell just happened.

Screen Shot 2014-12-04 at 11.17.01 PM

Alas, we can’t have nice things, like a 2-2 tie.

Mike Cammalleri would put the Devils up 3-2 before the end of the second, and both Steve Bernier and Adam Henrique would add their own tallies in the third to seal the deal. 

To keep things a little interesting, Phil Kessel would score a late goal to make it 5-3, fall, bounce his head off the ice, and yell at the Devils’ bench before the night was over. That’s some pretty good compete, right there.

After the game…

Haha, yeah you did, bud.

Blue Warrior

I’m pretty sure you’ve got to give it to Mike Santorelli, who continues to be excellent for the Leafs. As seen above, Santorelli opened the scoring for Toronto and later assisted on Kadri’s shorthanded goal (I’m still having fun saying that). Santorelli now has 18 points in 25 games so far this season while averaging only 13:35 minutes per game, and he leads the team with a +13 (which is a flawed stat, but impressive nonetheless).

That’s pretty good for $1.5M a season, in my humble opinion. I think the Leafs should resign him. 

See You Saturday

The Leafs continue their homestand on Saturday night against the Vancouver Canucks, who shutout the Pittsburgh Penguins tonight by a score of 3-0. Oh joy. Talk to you then!

  • Kessel needs to stop this “macho tough guy” act by playing hurt. The leaf doctors can’t keep him off the ice if he won’t say that he is hurt. I don’t know if this is Phaneuf’s leadership here but it doesn’t help the team for the players to play hurt.

    • He indeed does appear to be hurt but through out his career Phil will decide what nights he will be one of the best offensive players in the world. A lot of the other nights he just doesn’t seem interested in playing like a true leader and winner. Sadly a guy with all that talent can’t see how much more he could contribute to a team by applying all that skill at least 90% of the games.

      Poor Bozak has taken a lot of heat over his defensive game but you need look no farther than Kessel not giving a care about playing a 200 foot game. He truly is an enigma, kind of your Andre Bargnani of the N.H.L.

      • Dawgfan1980

        I don’t want to dog Kessel. The point is he does not have to do what wendel did getting ready for games with his wonky back. This macho tough guy routine might make you look great in front of your team mates.

        When you hear leaf stories of Giggy playing with a bad groin, Gunnar playing with a damaged hip, Colbourne playing with a unhealed wrist etc you soon realize that something is not right in the leaf dressing room. Now I admire these players and Kessel for playing hurt but they would do the leafs this season and in the future more good if they got themselves healthy and stopped this “playing through the pain” and tough guy routine nonsense.

  • As much as I love kessel. What he is doing is just not enough. He needs to force turn overs and do other things more often. If he doesn’t do any of that, he should limit the amount of turn overs he has. Tonight he had way to many. With Leo returning to the line-up, we should add him to the first line and let kessel rest. I just think it is best if he takes a little break for a weekend because he does seem like he is playing injured. BTW, does anyone know the reason behind why we have to wait till JAN 1st before extending people with one year contracts?

  • CMpuck

    Not a total surprise tonight as the leafs played similar games last year including a loss to Detroit when the Red Wings had 8 regulars out of the line up and a defeat to the Penguins who had 5 minor league defenceman on their roster. This is what 500 teams do or clubs that haven’t got over 85 points in 7 years.

    Looking at some of the other games tonight, it is a scary thought that Buffalo now has just 4 less victories than the leafs and Vancouver is 18 and 7. Yep the leafs next opponent have had one bad year in the past decade. But they got rid of the crazy Tortorella and brought in a good junior coach along with a classy president in Trevor Linden and a talented assistant G.M. with the Bruins, Jim Benning. Presto from a non playoff team last year that played like the leafs to the leading team in the west. Kind of makes one envious if you are a leaf fan.

    Now saturday night do me a favour and watch the always, always, disciplined, steady, reliable, properly positioned Canucks defence v.s. the leafs defence. You won’t see any Gardinerian moves of a Canuck D man caught up ice. You won’t see a Canuck screening his goalie or moving like a pylon. This is why they have been a solid team for a decade and our leafs have one playoff showing over the past decade. If you refuse to play defence you are going nowheresville.

    Hats off to a really great G.M. in Masai Ujuri for organizing the tribute to the late great humanitarian Nelson Mandela. A lot of great athletes will be at the game to pay tribute to this man and watch the number one N.B.A. team in the east the Toronto Raptors take on Lebron and company.

    In fact Shanahan, Bernier and other leaf management will be at the game. Maybe they can observe the Raptors and learn something about winning.

    • Jeremy Ian

      Your narrative about the Canucks misses the point. “Presto?” That’s a team with such a tremendous core that losing stalwart players, shoddy management, and disgraceful coaching couldn’t even ruin it. The Sedins, Burrows, Bieksa, Hamhuis, Hansen, Vrbata…. Horvat. It’s not “presto” — it’s about cleaning up a managerial mess and mobilizing the players to play the game they were assembled to play.

      The only presto miracle turn-around is Calgary, and let’s see how sustainable their record is.

      Teams are not built over night; miracles aren’t models.

      If we want to take a lesson from the Canucks, it’s about foundations. I actually don’t think the Leafs are that far off a decent foundation — considering what this franchise has come from.

      So catastrophistic narratives about Leaf failure doesn’t help anyone, and they lead to stupid decisions.

      (But the game last night was a bummer; really should seize the gimmes)

      Totally agreed on the Raptors’ leadership, though. I think Dwane Casey deserves a lot of credit as well. Lesson in there about management and coaching….

      • CMpuck

        Ironically the Raptors were built over a night as just a year ago they were determined to tank and then made the famous trade for the gang of four from Sacramento. John Salmons of this gang of four was then dealt off to Atlanta for sweet Lou Williams. Obviously a different game.

        My point about the Canucks was that yes a foundation was still there but they totally cleaned up management. Not retaining the hopeless Nonis, Carlyle etc. and going out and hiring a bunch of snot nosed stat geek kids as the solution to your problems. Now who would you rather have the classy Trevor Linden or Shanahan running your operation?? I enjoy your postings. Btw I still haven’t read that the incompetent Morris, Watt, Penny etc. have been fired by Hunter who has supposably taken over the scouting staff. I guess the old boys along with old, old, old Cliff Fletcher are still feeding at the trough.

        As long as your so called leadership is Phaneuf, Kessel and Clarkson you are going nowheressville and trying to reach that mount everest total of 85 points which the leafs haven’t obtained for 7 years.

        • Jeremy Ian

          Yeah, paradoxical about those Raptors, eh? But the fact were, they were at the bottom and their pieces were mobile. NBA’s got a more forgivable cap to work with (and under) and the Raptors spent a LOT of $$$. 4th highest in the NBA.

          The Leaf drama is that they are in the middle of a pack, should be starting their rise now (not rebuilding), and have immobile parts even if they did want to retool. Nonis doled out a lot of no-trade clauses and blew the buy-outs. So, they are sort of boxed in.

          I am more concerned about what goes on behind the bench than the bench itself. The organization has all the trademarks of trouble; a president of operations dropped in over a general manager; new assistant coaches beside the old coach; a corps with a mandate to conduct player analysis but a coach who’s innumerate, and a new director of player personnel governing a pretty archaic scouting staff, as you point out.

          That’s a mess. Let’s hope it’s the kind of mess you’d predict when the senior brass is shaking things up.

          PS: Kessel’s a stud. He’s not Darryl Sittler-leader material, but man am I glad that he’s a Leaf.

  • We’re missing Komarov and Polak. It’s gonna get ugly in a hurry over the next few weeks. I can’t wait for Gardiner to start showing up. I really hope it doesn’t take him 3/4 way into the season again. Kadri, Santo and Lupul are stepping up (and Dion and Winnik are solid) but I’m afraid it’s not enough when the defence is letting in so many goals. Where is JVR? Phil better feel better on Saturday or we’re getting blown out of the building again.

  • You guys’ schedule for the next few games is brutal. First you have the west leading Canucks, then the third in the pacific, 17-8-2 Flames, and rounding out your next three games is a Detroit team that’s on a role. This could be interesting to see where they stand.

  • Dawgfan1980

    Literally, I’ve stopped reading if you haven’t signed up for an account in the comments section.

    As for tonight, it was an off night. We’ve all had them at work. Heck, yesterday, second half of the day? My compete level was really low. I would’ve lost. It happens. Some nights you just don’t have it physically or mentally. Its 1.2% of the season. If it continues for say, 10 games Edmonton, then panic.

    Kessel looks like he has a slight illness or twinge somewhere. As a person with a wonky back, it looks like he isn’t trusting his own body.

    Also, the fourth line could play a bit more in my opinion. I think though the team is still progressing in the right direction overall and most of the correct pieces are in place to make the playoffs this year.

  • STAN

    Sadly Franson, with a few defensive challenges, is still the ‘best’ Leafs D-man.

    Best point shot. Best first pass from the D zone. Best (softest) hands. Keep him. Sign him.

    It’s bizarre that Carlyle replaced Franson on the first PP unit with Kadri when he should have inserted Kadri for Phaneuf. But there’s still this myth that The Pylon has a more effective shot and brain than any defender in the NHL.