Ok, so I was going to write a blog about the debate over trading and keeping Thomas Kaberle...but after last nights game against Buffalo, something had to be written.
When you outshoot your opponent 50-31 you should really put a few pucks in the net...however when the other goalie is Ryan Miller that number drops quite drastically...especially since he comes out of nowhere to make a lot of saves.
In the past few games against Buffalo the Leafs have gotten a lot of shots, but a lot of them weren't good chances and helped make Miller look EVEN BETTER. Last night however, they had chances but just couldn't get a win...or even a point.
It was another game where Phil Kessel failed to show up on the score sheet, and now only has 1 goal in 11 games which is unacceptable. Maybe if he was setting up goals it wouldn't be too bad, but he's not doing anything. While I don't think it's time to panic over the Kessel trade, I do think if Phil doesn't pick it up soon he'll REALLY learn what it's like being in the limelight of Toronto hockey.
The Leafs DID play a pretty good game, especially in the 1st and 3rd periods outshooting them 18-10 and 22-9. But for what seems like the millionth time they lost a game because of incompetance on the PK. 3 goals on 3 PP's in NOT good...and when I say not good I really mean absolutely atrocious. You can just see how little confidence the team has in the goaltending, especially Toskala. They run around like chickens with their heads cut off the entire time, until eventually there's one in the back of the net...or in this case, 3.
There are of course some positives to come from the game. I am a strong believer that Vesa Toskala is NOT an NHL goalie, at least not on a team like Toronto. Gustavsson on the other hand WILL be a starting NHL goalie once he totally adjusts to the North American game and rink. And though I don't see Vesa being a Leaf much longer, he has played pretty well lately. He's made a bunch of key saves that earlier in the year and last year he would have let in. Last night he was actually at the .903 mark for his save percentage.
On most nights you can't say that the Leafs don't compete. But it's usually after going down 2-0. It's good to be able to still compete while losing, but they need to learn to play that way when it's still 0-0. Last night was a little different than the norm. They competed very well in the 1st period when it was still 0-0, however Ryan Miller is Ryan Miller. And as soon as Buffalo got the chance on the PP they jumped all over it. More specifically Tyler Myers jumped all over it. Myers was the first Sabers d-man to score 2 goals in a game since Phillipe Boucher in 1994. Which goes a long way to show you why Myers is going to be a finalist for the Calder Trophy at the end of the year.
On the Leafs blueline last night there's some positives as well. Sophmore Luke Schenn got 2 assists, which are only his 6th and 7th points of the season. Of course Luke was never expected to be an offensive force for the Leafs, but it's nice to see. And it was a very heads up defensive play that got him an assist on the John Mitchell goal. Luke was just able to stop the puck along the blueline on a clearing attempt and he quickly spotted Lee Stempniak hovering near the back of the net and sent the puck to him who then faked Miller to the left side of the net and quickly passed it to the right where John Mitchell got it up into the opening of the net. Those kind of plays are what I know a lot of Leafs fans are expecting to see out of Luke, and to start seeing him come to where he was last year is a fantastic thing to see.
I'm now an official Leafs blogger at www.thereedreview.com