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The Leafs weren’t going to run the table anyway, right? (But they do have a decision to make Saturday night)

Not much point trying to offer up some deep analysis of the Leafs loss in Dallas—it was predictable that when this recent streak came to an end, it would likely happen with a thud.

Long road trip, tired players, some soft play and not the goaltending we have seen much of the season and the result was Dallas in a walkover.  It didn’t help that a lot of Stars were “due”, and some of their forwards found their scoring touch at an inopportune time for the blue and white.

Again, this game will mean precious little in April when we are talking about the Leafs playing truly meaningful games.  As important as every game is in terms of the playoff race, we are talking about a regular-season game in January in the midst of an 82-game schedule.  Toronto was going to lose at some point, and this one made sense.

If this was one of my earlier talked-about “statement” games, or a match-up at the ACC with a divisional rival, maybe it would be worth breaking this one down.  But my sense is even the coaching staff will toss the game film and chalk this one up to fatigue and playing a team that probably “needed” it more than the Leafs. (Yes, you always want to see the Leafs show some grit and push back, even when they are getting hammered, but sometimes you just have to turn the page. I will say I wasn't thrilled with Kadri's two-handed slash in the third period.  That fell a bit into the category of behaviour I referred to in a recent Kadri post. That's not the kind of grit I was alluding to above.)


One question I do have for you:  with the Leafs visiting the Jets in James Reimer’s old stomping grounds on Saturday night, would you go back with Bernier or start Reimer?  We know games in Manitoba have a little extra meaning for Reimer.  I’ll be interested to see what Carlyle decides, because we know ex-Leaf coach Paul Maurice will have the Jets ready to play.

17 comments:

  1. I'm expecting a tough game for the Leafs vs the Jets. I'd guess they'll start Bernier, because that's pretty much the way it's going when there's a day off. Tonight's game certainly can't be hung on our goalies - it was obvious within the first 15 minutes we weren't ready to play.
    As I said a while ago, I see the Leafs as a middle-of-the-pack team this year (perhaps that's why the O'Malley glass is half full or half empty so often!) and a blow-out like tonight is just going to happen from time to time. Our challenge will be to not let this turn into a slide that negates the ground we've picked up. A solid game on Saturday will at least allow a glimmer of hope that the Leafs may yet find their mojo this season. But if we're going to continue dishing up giveaways in our zone and leaving our goalies on their own, we really can't expect much more than we've seen, pretty consistently, to date!

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    1. If that was an isolated off-night, no issue. As you say, we'll see how they respond in Winnipeg. Thanks Gerund.

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  2. The streak might be over, but nonetheless, it is a building block for the Leafs this season. A time when the Leafs' fans could have a little swagger and such. I'd go with Reimer against the Jets. Just feels right!

    What is it, btw, with the Minny / Dallas Stars ending The Streaks with 7-1 wins. That's the score they stopped the Flyers streak with (36 games without a loss, coached by Pat Quinn!) back in 1979/80.

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    1. The Leafs earned some big point during that six game stretch. One loss should not change much. We'll see if Carlyle lets Reimer have a shot.

      You've got a great memory, Scott, harkening back to that long ago Flyers streak! Thanks for visiting.

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  3. Since neither goalie did much in Dallas, Randy can do whatever he likes without being questioned.
    But I'd be surprised if Bernier wasn't allowed a do-over.
    Following the Leaf sure can't be called dull! Not enough to lose a game after putting together an impressive win streak - they have to have one of their worst games in a few years.
    It is hard to predict what this team will do next.

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    1. Yes, it would be difficult to make much money betting on Leaf games, Steve. Tough to anticipate how they're going to play most nights!

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  4. If Carlyle is smart (insert your own jokes here) he walked into the room and said "we all know what went wront tonight. It is over. Winnipeg is next" and they totally ignore the game tape. As you said Michael, some times you have to just ignore the analysis as fans, media AND as coaches. This is one of those times.

    There is no question this team has issues with highs and lows. They get too down on themselves and things spiral when they get into a bit of a slump and when things go well they seem to start to think we got this, we don't have to work hard anymore. A very very dangerous mental state either way.

    I would start Reimer. RC tends to go back to Bernier right after he has a bad game to put him back up on the horse so to speak.

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    1. Thanks Pep. I think Bernier will get the start, but if Carlyle truly wants to have two goalies who feel they are a part of this, Reimer will get the nod in his home province.

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  5. Hi Michael.
    I expected a loss was coming with fatigue building up. It's concerning that the Leafs regressed and stopped doing the things that helped them win. Again we saw defense bringing the puck out with no support from the forward line and no options other than a long pass to a stationary forward. Dallas did a good job covering them but it's not that hard to cover someone who is standing still. In the games the Leafs have won two forwards were curling back into the zone supporting defense with pass options and giving fore-checkers three players instead of one to worry about.

    As for the goalies, they weren't sharp and were left wide open for attacks. The travel required for this road trip is brutal and takes a toll whether you play or not.

    Hopefully, this game is just one to put behind them. C.N

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    1. Hi Colleen- your line about "standing still" reminds me of a comment longtime Leaf Dave Keon made many years ago. He essentially said standing still always makes you look slower! That's no doubt why he spent most of his career on the move, never stationary. As you say, covering a guy who is not moving is not too tough. Thanks Colleen.

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  6. I'm kind of puzzled by everyone seeming to suggest that this is a one off. In the last 11 games they have been blown out in three of them. Now granted they had a six game winning streak in between so it might seem like a long time ago but really its not. If you look back at the winning streak I don't remember one game that they dominated from start to finish. Maybe the Habs game. The last two for sure against the Coyotes and Avalanche were won only because the goalies posted a .950%. The Leafs really haven't changed much in their style of play all year. The formula is outstanding goaltending and a great powerplay. When either one dries up, they lose. The Leafs kind of play like Kessel does. Never really changes, just sometimes it goes their way and sometimes it doesn't.

    As for starting goaltending on Saturday, it has to be Bernier. I'm a huge Reimer fan and don't like Bernier as you know but management has made him number one and its his net to lose. Besides, Reimer didn't do anything to deserve the start. He had a chance to go on a run with his great game in Colorado followed by Bernier being pulled in the next game. But he came in, replaced Bernier and crapped the bed. He had a chance and he blew it. That really hurts me to type because I would rather have Reimer in net any day of the week.

    Buckle up it is going to be a wild ride to the finish.

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    1. I have a different perspective eon this one, Willbur. I hope to find the time to post on that subject later today...

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  7. The guy took a run at Kadri and high sticked him. He deserved a whack. That's the way I see it. If Kadri walks away there THATS a problem.

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  8. The only comment I have about last night's game, is when the media conducted their post-game interviews with the players. One of them started off asking a player "is this a game that you just flush it and forget about it", and given the out, of course the player agreed. Soon enough each of the players was using the "flush" expression in their interviews. Would have preferred they just take ownership, admit they were awful, and show some honest determination to not let it happen again. Go back and listen to Lupul's comments after the January 4th loss to the Islanders (7-0) http://video.nhl.com/videocenter/embed?playlist=529468&
    "We got to take something out of it, which I said is we don't want to have this feeling again". Just three weeks later and flush! Wonder when we can expect the next flush? (a rhetorical question for now).

    So next game is the statement game, against a team who wants to prove their worth to their new coach, their GM, and their fans. They are trying to claw themselves into a wildcard spot. They will be very hungry to play the Leafs on HNIC.

    As for starting goalies, I'd probably get Reimer back in there. He's a Manitoba boy and will want to do well in front of friends and family. It gets him back on the horse so to speak. Also it is a bit of an audition for him, just in case he's ever in the situation where he might want to get back to Manitoba and be more than just a "1B". He'll want to do well.

    All that being said, RC will probably start Bernier. ;-)

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    1. I hear what you're saying on player reactions, Don (TML_fan). I just always struggle to worry too much about what players say in public. We know that everything they really think is filtered before they speak, so whether they sound ticked after a game or not, I probably don't pay as much attention as I should. (I just smile when players say "that wasn't acceptable" after games- what does that even mean?)

      For me, the best way to make post-game interviews unimportant is to play hard and well when you have the chance during the actual game. That way, you don't have to explain your team's performance afterwards. Thanks Don.

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  9. One of the differences between last year's Leafs and this year's edition is that the last year`s team didn`t seem to get blown out by random teams (Columbus, Carolina, Dallas, Rangers) and was a lot more predictable. You knew they`ll have trouble against the good teams and you could count on them to beat bad teams. This year`s team on the other hand - you never know - one night they are slaying the Blackhawks, the next they are getting destroyed by Carolina. I don`t know what that means. I just wish they were more consistent.

    I don`t think Bernier deserved to get pulled last night and I think Reimer was awful in relief but I`d still let Reimer play in front of his congregation tomorrow. Games against Winnipeg tend to be like the ones against Buffalo - very physical and close, grinding battles. I think those kind of games suit Reimer. I hope the Leafs can stay in it and maybe snatch a point or two.

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    1. Consistency seems to be that elusive quality/ingredient for sure, leafdreamer!

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