The Leafs set the tone early in tonight's game, allowing a goal 59 seconds into the first. Mike Komisarek went for a tour of the defensive zone - a bad game of "Where in the defensive zone is Carmen Sandiego?", with the role of Carmen being played by "a mediocre, inconsequential hit", and Komisarek playing hockey like a 12 year old contestant (yes, this makes Randy Carlyle the Chief). A soft deflection takes a weird bounce off Reimer's pads, which he loses track of, and then it's a tap in as the Leafs get beat to the rebound.
And that was it. That was the end of the game. Nothing else happened.
Or at least, it kinda felt that way. In truth, four Leafs players watched Jason Garrison drop a pass to the half boards, then waltz through a PK box as the penalty expired, sending a perfect tip to the far post. In the second, Clarke MacArthur fired a shot off the far side of Theodore, which Tyler Bozak puts home to get the Leafs on the board. A slap shot from Garrison goes off Tomas Kopecky's pants and in, Carl Gunnarsson flubs a risky pass which turns in to a 2-on-0 (James Reimer's too deep, but nothing was keeping that puck out), and Grabbo crashes the net and cleans up Schenn's rebound. An empty netter from Bergenheim seals the loss.
Garrison's goal counted as even strength but Carter Ashton hadn't gotten back into the zone and in reality it was a 5v4 play. With that in mind, the Leafs' PK went 1/4 and the PP went 0/2, so we've still got our special teams problems. The stats paint a good game from Liles - he led the team in Corsi and tied for second in Scoring Chances On, despite getting just 2 offensive zone starts. Just when I'd decided to really not like the guy.
A normally boring game against the Panthers, this was, to me, one of the slowest of the season, not because the Leafs were horribly outplayed - they weren't, really - but because it just felt like going through the motions. Despite outshooting the Panthers 11-5 in the second and Bozak cutting the deficit to 1 - and outchancing the Panthers 16-9 through the game - I never really had that feeling of "we're back in this!" Shitty defense and poor goaltending sunk the Leafs' game. This is a recording.
It turns out that no matter how much you talk about stats, projections, and the Leafs' play being above their collective heads, it's little consolation for the team's late season failures failures. I had, however briefly, gotten used to the idea that a 2 goal lead was actually defensible - or, if it wasn't, we could outscore the issue. Now we're back to the days when I seem to get that gut feeling of inevitable defeat, though as the Leafs have either set or are in the middle of setting a franchise record for awful stretches of play, I'm getting that feeling before the puck even drops.