Wednesday, November 11, 2009

The End of Our Roll

We really shouldn't have lost last night against Minnesota. It was a major game to win since they're the worst team in the Western Conference. Two deflections off our own defensemen in one game resulting in goals; this seems to be a theme for the Leafs this season. I feel as though the only reason one didn't go off Komisarek's helmet or shin pads is that he went off in the middle of the first period from an injury. That was really bad luck, forcing the other 5 defensemen to play extra minutes.

What truly broke the backs of the Toronto Maple Leafs last night was a bad coaching decision by Ron Wilson right before Koivu scored to make the game 3-1 nearing the end of the 2nd period. The Leafs had been hemmed into their end for a while, with Schenn and Finger being on the ice for well over a minute. Finger, with his last gasp of energy whipped the puck down the ice and was as a result called for icing. It was right here that Wilson faced the decision to either call a time-out and give Schenn and Finger a break or to let them fend for themselves. He chose the latter. Right off the draw, Schenn was battling in the corner to the right of Gustavsson and lost because of fatigue. Then, out of exhaustion Schenn lolygaged on his way to the front of the net while Finger went to fight for the puck on the left side of Gustavsson. This left Koivu wide open in front to shove the puck into the back of the net. Wilson should know that Schenn has been struggling this year and an exhausted second-year defensemen would not be good in that situation.

This goal made it a 2 goal deficit, which has been a back-breaker for the Maple Leafs this year and reminded me of their play at the beginning of the year. Thankfully however, we have Phil Kessel to at least pull us up by the bootstraps and fight on, scoring late in the third to make the game 4-2. To put the bad-tasting cherry on the not-so-awesome sundae that was this game, Owen Nolan scored a shorthanded empty net goal to make the game 5-2 with 3 seconds left on the clock.

This game was a pretty major loss because the next team the Leafs play is the Chicago Blackhawks. They are, to be put bluntly, better than the Leafs especially now that they have Toews back from injury. Also, I wouldn't be surprised if Toskala gets put in net after a couple games off watching Gustavsson show him up. The Monster has had several games to start in a row, including two back to back last weekend.

This game against Chicago will be a major test for the Leafs as it's the first game against a top-8 team-in-their respective-conference team since their loss to the Dallas Stars. With offensive forces like Toews, Kane, Versteeg etc., the Leafs will have to dig deep defensively and keep Kessel scoring.

Let's pray for 'em.

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