Bernier Carries Leafs to Shootout, Where They Lose, 2-1

Bruce Bennett

Leafs get massively outshot. Goaltending gets the team a point. You've heard this song before.

The Leafs played well against the Rangers in the opening stanza. There were some strong power play chances, with nice puck movement, primarily driven by the defensemen. Then the Leafs never came out of the locker for the first intermission. The ACC staff was dispatched to search for them, and surprised everyone when they announced on the PA that there were five Leafs on the ice skating with Bernier. The Rangers took 29 shot attempts in the second, 22 of which were on goal, while the Leafs notched just 6. The goal scoring finally showed up in the third period, as the Rangers struck first when nobody picked up a streaking JT Miller, who took a strong shot from the soft, squishy center of the slot. The Leafs would tie it up when Kadri jammed home a Clarkson stuff attempt, and the shootout coin would fall in the Rangers favor. Here's your game in six:

Dion played 27:34 last night because he's a freaking workhorse, with just over five minutes of PP time and just under four minutes of SH time. Bernier was a machine - 42 saves on 43 shots, 10 on the PK? Yet again, goaltending is the reason the Leafs stayed in this game.

JVR-Kessel-Kadri played well against Stepan and Nash. A lot of the Rangers' opportunities came when Holland's line was getting torched by Brad Richards' line, and the goal against was a failure by both Lupul and Raymond to identify the winger joining the rush. It didn't come into play, but I think Ranger (Paul) also made a poor decision to double-cover Holland's man when there was an open Ranger (not Paul) on the back door.

Colton Orr drew back in even though Bodie has almost as many points in 14 games as Orr does in his last 70. On his first shift failed to clear the zone, gave the puck to a Ranger, and it turned into a chance against. Orr would later take a holding penalty. Good to see he's back to pre-injury form. If anyone can mount a plausible defense of why he should be on this team while Bodie sits in the minors, Leafs management has a job for you. You don't need to be as talented as your peers, you just need a reputation of some sort.

The Leafs have just four regular or overtime wins since November 1st. They're tied with the most games played, and Eastern conference teams have as many as two in hand. Here's hoping Santa bring Randy Carlyle a "Wilson extension" this Christmas. Speaking of which, why are you reading my drivel? Don't you have family that pretends to love you for the holidays? Get outta here (or post your thoughts on the game in the comments. Whichever).

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