Leafs Lose to Leaderless Long Islanders, 5-4 (OT)

A picture is worth a thousand goals against. - Bruce Bennett

The Leafs played the New York Islanders tonight, and dropped the lead three times. They walked out with one point for and a whopping five goals against.

Phil Kessel took a big hit in the first, but bounced back to score a goal and an assist this game. With the two point performance, the Star's Laziest Valuable Forward has loafed his way into second place in NHL scoring. The Leafs would go on to humiliate themselves twice in under a minute, as Michael Grabner netted two power play goals on some terrible turnovers. Paul Ranger crashed the net to clean up James van Riemsdyk's initial shot, which would tie the game at  two a piece. Captain Dion Phaneuf led the team to a 3-2 lead with a ripped shot, but Anders Lee would knot it on a power play goal. Joffrey Lupul scored a backhand flip on a nice Nazem Kadri dish, but Anders Lee would spoil the party again with a game tying goal. Then, in overtime, Lubomir Visnovsky. We'll put the game in six up when it's ready.

Individual performances weren't great. Jonathan Bernier - who has an impressive save percentage on the season - had some really soft goals against, including what may as well have been an own goal, care of Grabner. Kessel's drop pass to Morgan Rielly and Gardiner's subsequent botched pass were both really weak, and complemented the team's strategy of "don't have the puck" in a horrifying way.

Tim Gleason, traded to this team in part because the Canes doubted he could recover from a concussion, fought an Islander and took some punches to the head. When he came back, he failed to clear the crease on Lee's power play goal - contributing to the kind of penalty kill that really earns "second worst in the league" status.

On the power play - not the one with two shorties against - Phaneuf's stick broke and he tried to play the puck with it (to save a breakaway). I think he was lucky to get a tripping call rather than the penalty shot (though I haven't checked the rules on that), but it turned out to save what seemed like a guaranteed high-percentage scoring chance. Sometimes, lucky penalties are good penalties. Phaneuf's third period goal - his sixth of the season - was a great shot made possible after JVR won a board battle out to Bozak really well.

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I wonder how Nonis resolves the idea that his head coach, who has been known for his defensive style, has a team that's incapable of keeping Vanek, Okposo, and then basically no one else from scoring three goals. The Leafs are bad at having the puck, and great at scoring on terrible goalies - I can't help but wonder what these wingers could do if they had the puck more often, and if the team as a whole spent less time in the defensive zone. The Leafs blew the lead three times, which ties them with Calgary for the most times doing so this season. They're also third worst offenders for shorthanded goals against in the league. I know Nonis didn't bring Carlyle in, and I know it's obvious he didn't bring Carlyle into this season expecting to give up the highest number of 5v5 shots against per game, so at this point, I'm only left to wonder what he's thinking about the distance.

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