Maple Leafs 1, Hurricanes 4
Why should I ever get my hopes up on the Toronto Maple Leafs?
The blue and white played well against Boston, despite getting outworked and out-muscled in the offensive zone. They did score a good goal that somehow was taken away from them. Chris Kelly plays for the Bruins, just in case you referee's did not know that. Besides the fact that he was wearing and white and black jersey, a very different contrast to the Leafs blue should have made it an even easier call.
Still, the Leafs lost a close one; one that could have gone either way. Fans cannot be too upset after an effort like that. Perhaps unhappy due to the fact the referee may have felt bad for Tuukka Rask being squashed by his own player in the crease as the Leafs shot the puck in to tie the game at 1. Still, the fans cannot be too disappointed in their team.
Okay, so it doesn't bounce your way tonight, maybe the next night will be better...
Spoke to soon!
Well, hold on. What a terrific start for the Maple Leafs against a very mediocre Hurricanes club. Cam Ward did all he could to keep the game within reach after the first period, trailing an aggressive Toronto team, always on the attack, 1-0.
Then in the second period, the wheels completely came flying off, similar to the sticky bombs used by Tom Hanks and Matt Damon in "Saving Private Ryan".
Kaboom! The Hurricanes countered, but not with an aggressive attack of their own, but with a self-destructing bomb placed at the other end of Cam Ward.
Everything that could have gone wrong in the second period, did; and fast! Carolina took advantage off terrible zone coverage scoring a pair of close-in-tight goals. The first one with Marlie defender Korbinian Holzer out of position. The second a garbage goal off the stick of Mike Kostka, after his defense partner Dion Phaneuf got a good view out in no-mans land.
I will argue the simple fact right now that the Maple Leafs will never, NEVER be a playoff team with such a soft and dumb defenseman like Dion Phaneuf. I can totally see why the Calgary Flames shipped him to Toronto for basically nothing at such a young and promising age. The fact that he is wearing the "C" on his jersey tells you everything you need to know about the Maple Leafs and their style of play.
I believe that coach Randy Carlyle sees this, which is why the organization is allowing more ice time to guys like Leo Komarov, Colton Orr and the newly acquired Fraser McClaren. Perhaps if the Leafs can somehow move Phaneuf, I think it would set this club in the right direction. This team needs more reliable stay-at-home defensemen, not wandering puck handling wannabe defensemen. Holzer was especially awful tonight, who seemed to be playing at the pace of a 40-year or over Rat Hockey League player. I know it may sound harsh as he had been called up earlier in the day, but still no excuse as the Leafs' farm team is just a few blocks away.
I actually missed Carl Gunnarsson tonight. He was playing much better over the last few games in which Toronto had won.
It is a simple well-known fact about the Maple Leafs defensive core; they all play like they are forwards...and it shows. It is not just Phaneuf, but all six defensive players dressed tonight were nothing short of awful. They were constantly out of position, losing battles for loose pucks and simply could not get the puck out of their own end.
What is up with J-M Liles? Is it me, or has he really lost a step or two? Wow! Still, another defenseman who plays like a forward.
To add more salt to the many open wounds in the second period was the disallowed goal from Tyler Bozak. In no way, shape or form is that worthy of being deemed a kicking motion. This is not soccer, and in no way in the name of God above, was that even close to a "soccer style" play. With both Bozak and Eric Staal driving to the open spot on top of the crease, it is obvious that both guys are trying to come to a stop and not run into the goaltender or into the goal itself. For the integrity of the game, that should have been ruled a good goal.
Obviously, I thought that was a terrible decision by the referees, who have now disallowed two good Maple Leaf goals in as many games. To me, that is unacceptable. With the aid of video review, it is disgraceful to miss two calls in back-to-back games against the same team in the same building. With that being said, it does not make up for the awful hockey put on display by the boys in blue during the disastrous middle period. But at least it should have offered some hope.
Simply put, this is a team that the Maple Leafs should be able to handle. As I mentioned just before the game; find a way to shut down or limit the danger of the Staal brothers and put a couple past Ward. Playing and beating the Carolina Hurricanes should be an easy plan of attack. Easier said that done, but at least the game plan should be simple enough.
I also said tonight would be the night Phil Kessel would light the lamp. Although he had some more excellent chances, it didn't seem to go his way again...speak for himself. Nothing is going the Leafs way in these last two games. Perhaps a trip to Washington will help get their confidence back. To h-e double hockey sticks with calling Buffalo's HSBC Arena (or whatever the heck they call it now) the Leafs "House of Horrors", Air Canada Centre now seems to be the new "House of Horrors" for the Maple Leafs!
Off to D.C. ... where two circuses will be featured in town. Perhaps good old VP Joe Biden will be on attendance to be the ring master for this one?