Maple Leafs 3 v. Kings 5: "I Can't Believe We Got Worse"

Godd Till just tweeted that phrase as his 2009-2010 season review. It's hard to look back at just how terrible those Leafs teams were and think that this team is even worse. I think the clearest conclusion is that Mats Sundin was just that damn good. He required every bit of the opposition's best defenders' attention which opened up space for second and third liners to face second and third rate players. Forget what Sundin could have brought in a trade and, now that losing isn't the best thing since sliced bread, staying would have had a huge impact. Imagine him centering Phil Kessel?

Today there were a lot of people looking to get rid of tickets. A friend that went messaged me about 10 minutes after the game ended:

Leafs fans have thrown in the towel. I just got back from the leafs game and you can to post this on the blog: I have never been to a quieter game in my life and you know I've been to some doozies.

The scary thing is that I've been there for those doozies and it says something that it's the quietest he's ever heard. We went to that 7-2 destruction against Carolina when McCabe got tripped up by his own net and I thought I'd never hear it quieter. I feel like Leafs fans at games are just waiting for failure to strike even when the team is playing well (which isn't often enough) and during games like tonight it's not hard to see that it was just a matter of when goals would be scored by the Kings   

Corsi and Fenwick | Head-to-Head | EV Face OffsGame Summary | Event Summary | Jewels From The Crown

 

The Corsi and Fenwick numbers really show how lopsided this game was at even strength. There were times when the game looked like a lopsided beer league game and the Leafs could not get out of their zone. The lone bright spots were Niklas Hagman and Alexei Ponikarovsky.

GP G A P +/- PIM PPG SHG GWG GTG SOG PCT
2009 - Niklas Hagman 53 20 13 33 0 21 4 0 1 0 141 14.2

Toss in a very competitive contract and Niklas Hagman starts looking like a tempting trade asset for the Leafs. He likely won't go this year in part because of that contract but next deadline he will likely be targeted.

GP G A P +/- PIM PPG SHG GWG GTG SOG PCT
2009 - Alexei Ponikarovsky 54 18 17 35 3 40 4 0 1 0 137 13.1

As a rental he's an attractive winger especially for a team looking for secondary scoring. He's not the biggest banger and crasher but he immediately makes the Caps' forwards tougher or he gives the Penguins an excellent second scoring line.

I'd recommend taking a look at the head-to-head ice-time page linked. You can see how the players were deployed at even strength. You'll notice that for 13 of Anze Kopitar's 17.5 even strength minutes Francois Beauchemin was on the ice. On the other side Phil Kessel spent most of his time against Drew Doughty and Rob Scuderi. Looking at the even strength face-offs Pony and Hagman's Corsi numbers look even better because they were among the handful of players that were on the ice for more defensive zone face-offs than offensive zone ones.

Then again, it's probably best that we not dwell too long on any particular loss...for our sanity's sake.

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