Quick hits from tonight's game in Boston:
• Much better effort, at least in the first forty minutes. At one point the shots were 17-11 before Boston was able to the tie game off two really unfortunate bounces. Bottom line, despite the third period in which the Bruins dominated, Toronto deserved to at least come away with a point, but got two via the shootout. Not a victory in my book, but gladly taken.
• The game did swing into Boston's favor after Joffrey Lupul was injured and left the game. Randy Carlyle did a poor job of assessing his bench after that, as he went back to the old Phil Kessel and James van Riemsdyk pairing which led to several "fire drills" in the Toronto end and several near misses from Boston to win in regulation. These two guys CANNOT be on the ice at the same time. They are constantly standing around watching their defense and Tyler Bozak get double teamed down low. I am tired of the five-on-three attack just because #81 and #21 refuse to support their defense and toughen up in their own end. The game was almost lost with that decision by Carlyle when he could have easily given top line duties to hard working guys like Leo Komarov and Mike Santorelli.
• Dion Phaneuf and Cody Franson were awful again in the third period after a decent opening forty minutes of play. The Leafs could have easily lost this one with the poor effort in the third period thanks to these two guys being very soft in their own end again. This is your top D pairing folks!
• Decent performance for Jonathan Bernier. The first goal was bad. The second goal was a bad bounce. The third goal was an unlucky deflection off the skate of Komarov. To me he seemed a little sleepy and weak, no doubt due to some of the meds he has been taking and loss of fluids with the flu. But he found a way to help steal the extra point.
• I saw a much needed commitment to the little things tonight. In the first forty, the Leafs were in good support of the defense, and did what they do best, they skated. This was not the story in the third period, but still a much better effort. I happened to count a grand total of 12 decent shots on Bernier (that's the coach in me, sitting in front of the TV with a notepad and pen). I didn't even count the second Boston goal as a scoring chance.
• The officiating was awful once again tonight. More guessing by the zebras. I counted seven dangerous hits, cross checks and possible infractions in the first period alone. Even awarding Kessel with a penalty shot was a mistake. Kessel was hooked well before he was able to finally break away and got a pretty good shot on goal. I'd rather ask for the 2 minute PP and an opportunity to make Boston work a little harder and possibly get another goal. There were three more pretty obvious calls left alone in the third period where Toronto really should have gotten at least a PP or two. Brad Marchand's dirty little hook on Phaneuf dropped both the captain and Bernier in the blue crease. Pretty bad night for the refs in Beantown. Maybe they had a New Years Eve Party to get to?!
• Your best Maple Leaf on the ice, Nazem Kadri. Like I just posted a few days ago, this kid is getting better and better at his position and is using his offensive skills at the right time. The goals will come, as he has been in a little bit of a dry spell. But I am really liking his two-way play as of late. He deserves the first star tonight.
• Welcome back LEO! #47 was all over the ice, and should have been on the ice a bit more in the third. The Leafs are a much tougher group to play against when the proud Estonian is in the lineup. He is your second star in my book.
HAPPY NEW YEAR LEAFS AND KINGS FANS!!!
We say goodbye to a great year, when the LA Kings once again hoisted Lord's Stanley Cup...I don't see that happening in 2015 unfortunately.