Maple Leafs 2 v. Sabres 3 (OT): Peewee Mistakes Are Costly

Despite receiving yet another solid goaltending performance from Not Toskalol the Toronto Maple Leafs found a way to cough up a 2-1 lead on just two mistakes in the third period and overtime. It's a shame that the Leafs had two brain cramps that led to goals so late in the game because they got away with so many during the second period as they built up their lead.

 

The first period was reminiscent to the excellent display that the Leafs put on Friday night. The Leafs came out with jump - the lack thereof which has been a serious problem this year - but again were unable to make the advantage count. They actually left the period down a goal on the back of some poor defensive coverage and a howler by Jonas Gustavsson. He has to get his stick down between his legs on that one. Now don't say that I don't criticise The Monster.

The second period was back to the Sabres team we had seen all of last week. The Leafs took control of the game and scored two lucky hard working goals. Toronto tied it on a shot from behind the goal line by Viktor Stalberg. Stalberg shot it towards the front of the net and it deflected off of lanky Sabres Defenseman Tyler Myers and into the net. The second goal would be equally as strange as it deflected off the skate on Ian White who had pinched in from the point and drove hard to the net.

- David Olesky, Die By The Blade

In that second period the Maple Leafs had a few fire drills in their own end including one 8 man scrum in the crease that somehow saw the Sabres hit Nikolai Kulemin and Wayne Primeau and then slid it wide of the upturned net. At the other end, the Maple Leafs decided that one way to score goals might be to cause Ryan Miller some discomfort. As a result, Viktor Stalberg flew down the ice from the Leafs' face-off dot, burned Henrik Tallinder, and slid a pass towards a driving Colton Orr. The result of the increase in traffic was that Norris candidate Tyler Myers directed the puck past Ryan Miller.

The second goal was again a case of the Leafs doing the small things. Nikolai Kulemin - whose physical play was a highlight of the night and led to a number of other scoring opportunities - took Tyler Myers' ill-advised pinch (and a hit from behind) to set up an odd man rush. The Moustachulent Ian White drove to the far post and Lee Stempniak's pass went in off his skate. Unfortunately, that was all the offence that the Leafs were able to generate.

It's not hard to see how the Sabres are leading the Northeast. Ryan Miller leads the two most important goaltending categories:

GP MIN W L EGA GA GAA SA SV SV% SO
2009 - Ryan Miller 29 1718 20 7 54 1.89 862 808 .937 4

This unbelievable season has the Sabres' 3rd in goals against which offsets their 22nd ranked offence. That 19 spot gap plays much better than the Leafs' 17 spot gap between their 29th ranked defence and 12th ranked offence. Here are a couple of things that I picked up from the incredible Time On Ice site. TThe first is a chart looking at both the Corsi and Fenwick numbers Basically, the Corsi number looks at all of the shots that are directed at a net while at even strength and the Fenwick number ignores blocked shots. These are definitely not the be-all numbers but they do give you at least an idea of which players were on their back foot during the game.

Player Number Goals Saved shots Missed Shots Fenwick+/- Blocked Shots Corsi+/-
8 - D - KOMISAREK, MIKE 0 1 16 6 4 6 7 5 2 10
15 - D - KABERLE, TOMAS 1 1 16 6 4 6 8 5 3 10
9 - L - HAGMAN, NIKLAS 0 0 11 5 4 5 5 8 4 9
55 - L - BLAKE, JASON 0 0 11 7 4 4 4 6 2 8
84 - C - GRABOVSKI, MIKHAIL 0 1 10 6 4 6 1 7 2 6
18 - C - PRIMEAU, WAYNE 1 1 7 7 2 2 0 7 4 3
50 - G - GUSTAVSSON, JONAS 2 3 33 26 10 17 -1 18 14 3
2 - D - SCHENN, LUKE 1 0 9 5 4 6 3 6 7 2
12 - R - STEMPNIAK, LEE 1 0 6 7 2 3 -1 7 5 1
4 - D - FINGER, JEFF 0 0 7 7 4 5 -1 7 6 0
45 - L - STALBERG, VIKTOR 1 0 7 6 3 5 0 1 1 0
21 - R - MAYERS, JAMAL 1 1 4 5 2 2 -1 1 2 -2
23 - L - PONIKAROVSKY, ALEXEI 0 1 9 5 1 5 -1 2 3 -2
28 - R - ORR, COLTON 1 2 4 5 2 2 -2 1 1 -2
14 - C - STAJAN, MATT 0 0 10 7 2 7 -2 3 4 -3
81 - C - KESSEL, PHIL 0 1 12 6 2 8 -1 4 6 -3
41 - L - KULEMIN, NIKOLAI 1 1 6 10 2 2 -4 6 6 -4
22 - D - BEAUCHEMIN, FRANCOIS 1 2 10 13 2 6 -8 6 5 -7
7 - D - WHITE, IAN 1 2 8 15 2 5 -11 7 5 -9
 

The second page rom there goes towards explaining why Jamal Mayers and Colton Orr were out against Derek Roy and Jochen Hecht on the tying goal. Ron Wilson had deployed them most often at even strength against the Sabres' duo. They were a part of the unit that played the 2nd most minutes against them. If not for a momentary bobble by Mayers we wouldn't even be discussing the error.

As for the winner, that's where the title of the post comes in. I played defence once upon a time when I wasn't busy being a sniper and one thing I learned was that there should always, when possible, be a defenceman in front of the net. Frankly, trying to figure out why Francois Beauchemin felt compelled to run into the corner has left me baffled. It evidently surprised Mikhail Grabovski and Phil Kessel too because neither one was prepared to rotate down to cover Roy before he potted the winner.

The full Ron Wilson presser is below and it's great to see a coach not trying to spin things positively. Actually, it's kind of funny because the media are trying to give him an opening to do just that. Considering Gustavsson's performance over the last two games (.944 sv% and a 1.59GAA) Chemmy is right that as fans we can try to at least feel a bit better about the weekend's games considering the Toskalol bascially surrendered two on Friday night. There's still a long way to do to get into the playoffs, especially considering last night's other results, but every point does count. Let's just hope that the wasted second points don't come back to haunt the Leafs.

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