Leafs get Beat-up Bad

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    Updated: November 25, 2013
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    Last night, the Leafs’ pitiful attempt against the middling Columbus Blue Jackets proved that lady luck is a fickle dame, indeed. I say this because the Leafs have been a lucky team so far. Despite being outshot by a wide margin most games, they’ve been able to rely on strong performances from their goalie tandem to pull out wins. James Reimer, hot after single-handedly taking down the Washington Capitals Saturday night, had his worst game of the year against Columbus, stopping 15/21 shots while posting a brutal .714 save percentage.

    Don’t throw Reimer under the bus for the Leafs’ 6-0 loss though, because he’s not the only one at fault. If the Buds want to keep their playoff berth, the first line needs to start putting up points and their d-corps has to get better at clearing the puck out of their own end.

    Even though Tyler Bozak made his first appearance back since his injury, there was nothing he could do to reinvigorate Toronto’s first line wingers: Phil Kessel and James Van Riemsdyk, who have been suspiciously quiet as of late.

    The first two goals from Columbus came only twenty seconds apart midway through the first period. Cam Atkinson who was wide open, dished one past Reimer. RJ Umberger quickly followed with a goal from the slot.

    The Buds didn’t have the wherewithal to come back after those first two goals. They were flat and passionless. Worse, though, was the fact that they couldn’t complete their passes. Before last night’s match, seven Maple Leafs had over twenty giveaways… a terrible stat, no doubt, and a testament to their inability to make clean passes up the ice.

    In the second period, Jack Skille scored a goal on an odd-man rush that resulted from Mark Fraser misplaying the puck. Ryan Murray added Columbus’ fourth on the power play, beating Reimer glove side, high. Lupul left the game with an apparent injury, although no news has been released yet regarding his status.   

    Midway through the third period, Ryan Johansson netted a snapshot on an odd-man rush. In an attempt to get the boys revved up, Mark Fraser dropped his gloves and soundly thrashed Dalton Prout. The Leafs brought a more physical game afterwards, which culminated in a penalty against Dion Phaneuf for an illegal check to the head against Artem Anisimov. In the replay footage it looked like shoulder-on-shoulder contact, but hey, what do I know. Johanssen scored his second of the night on the ensuing power play, effectively silencing the Air Canada Centre.

    The Leafs have basically been playing .500 hockey over their last ten games, with a 4-5-1 record, which is definitely not playoff worthy. I’m haunted by the image of Coach Randy Carlyle, worn and tired looking, stooping over to tell Phil Kessel something. Kessel’s eyes are glazed over, out of focus, and I wonder: is Phil “The Eight Million Dollar Thrill” even listening? Is anybody listening? And I fear that maybe Carlyle has lost the bench. If he has, what does this mean for the Toronto Maple Leafs? 

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