The Leafs front office enjoys getting on the radio and talk about how injuries to their second and third best centers are really holding the team back. Pittsburgh, on the other hand, is missing Evgeni Malkin, James Neal, Paul Martin, Kris Letang, Brooks Orpik, Rob Scuderi, Tanner Glass, Beau Bennett, Andrew Ebbett, and Tomas Vokoun - and they sit atop the Metropolitan division with wins in 10 of their last 11. With all these injuries backfilled by prospects and projects, surely the Leafs could get some quality shots to net two points, right? Here's your game in six:
Morgan Rielly scored his first NHL goal. The Leafs' mobile defensemen were notable, in part because they were getting the puck and jumping in to the rush. In my opinion, it's one of the most valuable assets this Leafs roster has, and it gets severely underutilized in favor of the "dump and chase."
And we got to see this from Jonathan Bernier tonight:
The Leafs couldn't sustain zone time, in part because their zone entries looked terrible. Even with less than a minute to play, at 6-on-4, the Leafs ended up resorting to dump and chase. Sutter's line played well against Peter Holland's, and Jay McClement was tasked with Sidney Crosby, which pretty much left the Leafs entirely dependent on chances from JVR-Kadri-Kessel.
McClement did a decent job of negating Crosby through the game, except for when he didn't:
The two wingers go up to the points, McClement's starts shadowing Crosby, curls towards the half boards, and lets Crosby hang out, open at the top of the slot. Great.
Jerry D'Amigo took a hit to the head from Robert Bortuzzo. Play was stopped after the hit, Bortuzzo was given a minor penalty, and D'Amigo went to the bench...until his next shift, where he got back on the ice and immediately got crushed by another Bortuzzo hit. It's pretty appalling that the Leafs didn't pull a depth player off the bench following a direct hit to the head. I don't know whether D'Amigo lied to the staff or not, but if the league is going to continue to claim that it has players' best interests at heart, this seems like a textbook situation where the Leafs' coaching and medical staff should have their decisions examined.
It's a shame that the Leafs gave up the first goal off an unlucky bounce, but they need to be able to score more than one goal against a team that's missing three of its top four defensemen. Tomorrow night they'll play the second half of this back to back against the Florida Panthers.