Leafs Postgame: Started From The Bottom (Now We There Again)

You knew it was coming. No matter how many pucks James Reimer stopped, no matter how much better Mike Babcock was at executing a system than his predecessors, and no matter how nifty Nazem Kadri’s mittens were, the Leafs simply didn’t have the talent to make a serious run.

Or half of a run. Or a spot away from the bottom of the division. Or a spot away from the bottom of the conference.

Or the bottom of the league. In front of the collective fatherhood of the roster, the Leafs suffered a blowout loss to the Florida Panthers, which, with the help of a few other games, moved the team into a tie for the bottom seed.

The craziest part about this mess of a game was the fact that the Leafs actually got on the board first. Late in the first period, Jake Gardiner sent a breakout pass out for Kadri. While it was a little too hard for him to hold onto, Peter Holland held onto it for him at the blue line, allowing Naz to swoop in and deke out Roberto Luongo. Things actually looked pretty good, if only for a few minutes.

I say a few minutes because it completely fell apart in the second period. A minute after Dion Phaneuf was penalized for sending Quinton Howden into the boards, Brian Campbell sent a stretch pass to Aleksander Barkov for an equalizer. The bleeding didn’t stop there, though; Vincent Trocheck added a second powerplay goal just four minutes later, and Jussi Jokinen added insurance to their lead before the period closed.

By the time the third came around, most people had tuned out; there may have been fewer people still watching the game than there were people in the Sunrise stands. Even still, Rielly Smith expanded on Florida’s efforts with his sixteenth of the year, ending James Reimer’s franchise record-setting “three or fewer” streak of eighteen games. At this point, he checked out as well, as proven by whatever this was by Alex Petrovic.

Some other things happened between the first and final buzzer. Michael Grabner took a puck to the face, which presumably was incredibly painful. Peter Holland fought Aaron Ekblad, which I presume was about a Tinder-related drama. Rich Clune and Shawn Thornton almost fought, which I presume was because Thornton had another one of his late game “say something insane” moments that other teams have been concerned without throughout the year. None of these things I can say for sure, of course. But the presumptions are fun enough to give some entertainment in a time of darkness. Minus the puck to the face. I wouldn’t want a puck to the face.

Columbus’ win over makes them Toronto’s equals in points. Technically, Toronto has fewer Regulation/Overtime Wins, which would be the tiebreaker if every team had played 82 games thus far, but they’ve also played fewer games than the Blue Jackets and Oilers, who also have 43 points. None of this matters, though; the Oilers are expected to get their McSaviour back soon, the Jackets haven’t been half bad of late, and Toronto’s situation will likely get worse before it gets better.

If I had to give a Blue Warrior tonight, it would be to Sam Kadri. He probably got the most positive happiness out of the Father’s Night festivities, and he wore a jersey this year! I suppose it helps that the Habs (his favourite team, minus cheering for his son) are free falling as well, but it’s nice to see him finally join the other dads after previous years of suiting up.

Toronto’s next game is against future Leafs centre Steven Stamkos and the Tampa Bay Lightning. Look for him to be a dominant presence tomorrow night, as every goal gets him closer to working with Auston Matthews on the top powerplay unit in October. Puck drop is tomorrow night at 7:00 PM.

  • SEER

    Good-bye Reims, you deserve better….what a way for Reims to fall….this is so sad…..I hope the team can look at themselves in the mirror and be happy when themselves because as a fan I sure am not…. its ok to tank but don’t drag Reims to the gutter with you…
    I don’t blame him for his frustration tonight…he needed to go out there and wack the whole team upside the head…

    awful effort again tonight…all the Dad’s must be so proud… yeah right

    • SEER

      Shame on Reimer for having his first bad performance in 19 games. But Reimer fan it just goes to show you that the diluted , watered down N.H.L allows a team like Florida to get a stud defenceman because the Edmonton management team are idiots and the young rising star center Barkov with a few grizzled veterans including a possible future hall of fame goalie having one of his best seasons and presto you are the best team in the east.

      Reimer you nailed it as these dads were the ones along with the moms in helping these guys to get to the big show and speaking of shows most were a non show. Way to go kids, nice respect for your dads. I did notice with a magnifying glass in the picture of some of the fathers that a few were intelligent enough to turn around and watch the red hot Raptors win their 9th in a row.

      • TGT23

        I meant that Reims has been the only player who has stood on his head this season, doing all he can to be the best player he can. I understand the tanking part, but there is what’s called loosing well and loosing bad, and they (The Players) not Reims, has been dam right awful for awhile now.. Reims has lost a string of games here since his return but was able to retain his stats, unheard of but because the losses were not so extreme….

        It must be frustrating to be him right now….

      • TGT23

        Weeeeelllll… First bad performance is a bit disingenuous… 3 goals on 28 shots vs Chicago (.893), 2 goals on 21 shots vs CBJ (.905), 3 goals on 29 shots vs Boston (.897). He’s had a couple rough ones, but they have been extremely rare. He’s been very good this season, rebuilt some of the faith that was lost in him after two… underwhelming years (to put it as nicely as I can).

  • TGT23

    we all expect and accept low scoring to struggling to score but to play this sloppy defensively is unacceptable. they look like Carlyle is still behind the bench these days! bad first periods, in too deep early on, no shots until the 1st period is almost done, multiple odd man rushes, bad defensive positioning, hunwick/rielly are always on the ice when a goal is scored especially on the pk, there is always only one defenceman defending odd man rushes while the rest of the team is no where to be seen. reimer has one bad goal (the last one). 2 were on the pp. one was marincin’s fault (4th goal). most were due to odd man rushes, giveaways in their own zone, screened shots, bad defensive positioning by the team… if you’re not going to score, at least compete and defend ffs. awful game. not one of reimer’s best games but I don’t blame reimer for this horrible game. everyone look horrible!! great dads trip huh. welcome to the show babs!