After ripping up the league for the better part of a month, the Leafs tumbled a little this week and tonight were looking to avoid a three-game skid (Bernier says good teams don’t even lose two in a row). Unfortunately they were in Chicago on the second half of a back-to-back.
First off, Bob Cole had the call tonight, so there was nothing the Leafs could do to ruin this game for me.
Carlyle mixed things up a little for this game, breaking up Bozak and Kessel, instead starting out 81 with Kadri and Winnik, a line that looked solid earlier in the season. JVR and Bozak stayed together, with Clarkson stepping in on the “top line.”
The first period had some decent back-and-forth at times, but play was generally dictated by the Hawks, as you’d expect. The wheels started to come off for the Leafs near the end of the frame as Chicago started to look more dangerous in the offensive zone, moving the puck to the open areas a little better, and eventually the Hawks managed goals from Rundblad and Versteeg (of course) to go ahead 2-0 after twenty. Shot attempts were 21-14 in favour of the Hawks, who also held the edge 12-7 for pucks on net.
I’ll admit I was much less attentive to this game in the second, as I had the junior game on another monitor to catch up on Willie Nylander and the Swedes. I didn’t even notice until a few minutes into the frame that Carlyle had reunited Bozak and Kessel after only twenty minutes apart. Wouldn’t want Kadri to get TOO confident. Basically the second period was a lot of the same from the first. Luckily Reimer is a goaltending god, so the Leafs were still hanging around in a 2-0 game going into last twenty minutes, despite being outplayed heavily.
— Jen LC (@RegressedPDO) December 22, 2014
The Leafs came out with a lot of pushback in the third, outshooting the Hawks 11-2 in the opening half of the period, which included a powerplay they were unable to capitalize on. After the kill, the Hawks were rewarded with a powerplay of their own on a Clarkson interference call, and Kane put this one to bed. Toews added another as the Hawks rolled to a 4-0 shutout. Not a fun weekend for Leafs fans.
Again, Bob Cole made this whole thing bearable.
He didn’t play in this game, but Nylander did score a real nice penalty-shot goal in the Sweden/Canada exhibition tilt, and also had an assist along the way. Maybe he can take the honours tonight.
Nah, if we’re sticking with the rules, it was probably Kadri, who had his minutes cut for some reason but otherwise looked fine. I guess I’m just looking for someone who didn’t have an awful game.
Reimer had a solid outing as well, and you certainly can’t point to him for the loss, but it’s tough to give the player of the game to a goalie who allowed four goals.
Naz, keep up the good work. You’ll get top minutes by the time you’re 37.
- The Leafs have now lost three in a row, all in regulation. They’ll keep this road trip going into Dallas for Tuesday’s game, then have a small break before getting rolling again on the 28th. Ten of the Leafs’ next twelve games are on the road, so things might get scary.