Sabres Steal Key Point from Lazy Leafs
Before I get into this one, I just want to make one thing clear about both of these teams on the ice; all weaknesses were greatly magnified throughout this game.
The Buffalo Sabres and Toronto Maple Leafs are two teams going absolutely nowhere this season. Both teams are lazy, they cough the puck up at bad times, and take stupid, undisciplined penalties.
But I don't care about the Sabres. I am more concerned about the Leafs, who have once again reverted back to the past, making silly mistakes and simply not being able to close out a game, especially in this building in the heart of a dump called Buffalo, New York.
James Reimer probably should not have started on back to back nights, but I am solely speaking from hindsight.
The goal Reimer allowed within the waning seconds of the opening period to bring Buffalo back into the game after Toronto scored a pair of pretty goals was the killer.
Toronto had masterfully killed off an early double minor to Colton Orr, and very nearly killed off a late penalty but for some reason, Reimer was not ready to stop an easy shot from Tyler Ennis, standing right in front of him, as the puck went right through the legs of a sleeping Reimer who never reacted to the play until the red light had been on and the horn had sounded seconds later.
Once again, another late goal allowed at the tail end of a period completely destroyed the progress the Leafs made towards what should have been a victory and two points in the bag.
Furthermore, the next time the Leafs qualify for the shootout, why not put a more athletic goalie like Ben Scrivens into the game and try and let him steal that extra point. Similar to Saturday, when the Leafs needed that one BIG save, they failed to get it as Reimer could not close the glove on a shot from Drew Stafford, in which he got a good chunk of it.
Reimer has never looked good, nor confident in shootouts, constantly looking behind him even if the puck is glancing off his pads or into the corner of the initial save.
But what the heck, I do not care for shootouts, nor do I really want my team "winning games" thanks to one.
I stated in a recent post that the Leafs success will be based on their willingness to work hard. The desire to win is not or should not be in question; if it is then that team really has a problem. But tonight, the Leafs decided to take the foot off the pedal and play lazy in their own end after building a pair of two-goal leads.
For this team to be under conditioned is totally inexcusable. They played well last night at home, but tonight was just the teams' second game in five nights. Perhaps Reimer had a bit of a reason to be tired, but not the rest of the team.
Toronto had dominated the final minutes of the third and also came very close to scoring a couple of times in the overtime period after killing off a late, undisciplined penalty from a high stick from Nikolai Kulemin. If Toronto had enough gas in the tank to put forth that kind of effort in the last 10 or so minutes of the game, then there is no excuse for them to fall asleep in the 45 second span of the second period when Buffalo skated circles around them and potted a pair of goals in the process of starting a whole new game over again.
Such lapses by this team shows me that they are not a playoff team, contrary to a playoff team, who would find a way to weather the storm and grab the two points available to them after Tyler Bozak and Nazem Kadri started the scoring scored early as they skated all alone into the slot area and beat Miller twice with some nifty skills.
But after Reimer was beaten due to his weak effort at the end of the period, it was a foreshadowing of what was to come in the following forty minutes. One just knew this game would be out of control defensively on both sides and there'd be plenty of goals for each team.
Which leads me to my final thought of this game, that the Toronto Maple Leafs are neither a good team nor a bad team. They are simply for our viewing enjoyment. By tuning into a Maple Leafs game, chances are you are going to get a good, steady dose of everything: a fight or two, plenty of goals, end to end action and plenty of power play chances on both sides. Perhaps even some good saves, but nothing spectacular (especially from the Leafs end).
I still have confidence in Reimer and Scrivens, as they are learning how to deal with inconsistency in front of them as well as adversity. Perhaps Reimer should have had the night off to prepare for Boston on Saturday, but this one is in the books and I am actually happy with the point earned. Not pleased, but not too disappointed. It is what it is...and this is Maple Leafs hockey.
Pretty soon, Dave Nonis will have to sit down with his staff and decide which players to keep and build around. With that in mind, I do not see players like Dion Phaneuf, Phil Kessel or Clark MacArthur staying around much longer.
Changes will need to be made regarding this current group, and I just do not see several current 'important' players fitting the mold.
Another Pacific Division Showdown: Kings host Stars
Dallas came into Staples Center over a week ago, and stunned the defending Cup champs with three goals in the third period.
After getting pasted by Chicago 8-1 a few nights ago, the Stars will probably be out for blood after one of the most embarrassing loses in recent NHL history....
Wait a minute, didn't the Maple Leafs lose to Boston last season 8-0?
Never mind, but it should be a tightly played game between division rivals, with Dallas needing to play with a little more urgency as they continue to battle for a playoff spot.
Time to once again defend Staples...and seek revenge against the Stars!
-Forgot to mention for you Leafs fans...I will be at the Toronto Marlies game tomorrow night as they visit Chicago to play the Wolves in Rosemont. Looks like I will be able to see Morgan Rielly, as well as Korbinian Holzer and the recently demoted Mike Komisarek in action. I will then try and blog a bit postgame when I get home from All State Arena, which is located right next to O'Hare Airport. So if any of you Toronto organization fans out there plan to ever come to Chicago or are planning on being at the game, it should be easy to find. Plus, there is a fine number of hotels located around the airport as well. Tickets for Wolves games are as low as $9.