Penalties Kill as Leafs Fall to Habs in Overtime, 4-3

One of these two players didn't get benched through the Olympics. - Richard Wolowicz

Top wingers score, goalie makes a dumb decision. This is: the Toronto Maple Leafs.

The Habs went up 2-0 early, on goals from Galchenyuk and Pacioretty, although they could be re-named "the forward with time and space in the slot." The Leafs put themselves on the board as Kessel sprung a 2-on-1 with a great stretch pass, recovered the puck and took it to the corner, then shot to JVR's tip and in. JVR would raise his arms again after converting on a shorthanded breakaway. Phil Kessel would do what Phil Kessel does - rip a sick wrister past a goalie with no chance. Subban would tie the game on a PPG, and Pacioretty would score a power play goal to convert on a terrible decision by Bernier.

Great game by JVR. I've never been an NHL forward or anything, but the decision to tip through Budaj's legs with the back side of the blade, rather than the forehand, when the puck was coming straight at him, seems like incredible awareness to me. JVR's diving call was a real shame - you hate to see a ref that can't account for "if his arms are hooked to his chest, he might lose balance." It's not like JVR needed to draw attention to an obvious call.

Phaneuf ended up playing over 30 minutes last night. It's more time than I think anyone should get, but man is he a work horse. The Leafs continue to search for someone who can take a share of his defensive usage. Offensively, I liked Rielly's game - the kid is just fun to watch. He was jumping in to the rush, taking some good shots, and it wouldn't have shocked me to see him put up some points.

Bernier has had some excellent play this season, but it seems his Olympic break ran long. In overtime, a loose puck led to a footrace: Bernier v. a Hab. Bernier rushed out and got to the faceoff circle first, but elected to cover the puck rather than poke check it or sweep it intot he corner.  Covering the puck when you're closer to the faceoff dot than the goal crease is a penalty every time. I've been warned for it in beer leagues, and I'd expect an NHL goalie to know what is/isn't in the rulebook. It's not even discretionary:

63.2 A minor penalty shall be imposed on any player, including the goalkeeper, who holds, freezes or plays the puck with his stick, skates or body in such a manner as to deliberately cause a stoppage of play. With regard to a goalkeeper, this rule applies outside of his goal crease area.

That's two straight games where Bernier has significantly increased the opponents' chances of scoring a goal. Not good, to say the least.

He's a popular whipping boy, but Clarkson didn't have a great game. Dallas Eakins had an interesting quote about Taylor Hall, in which he said Hall was executing some coaching decisions too often. I think Dellow speculated this included dumps and tip-ins, and I wonder if Clarkson - bound to be feeling at least some pressure to play management's way - could be doing something similar. Last night's game included more than a few poor decisions with the puck, including what looked like a lot more dumping/turning over than carrying.

Don Cherry was upset with Kessel failing to rush the blueline, which I'm pretty sure is a coaching decision. It may just be that Kessel doesn't practice hard enough, but considering the Olympic winger put up a goal and an assist yet again last night, that's probably a stupid idea. It does strike me as odd to look at a blueline including Subban, Markov, and Gorges and decide to still play a passive game - doubly so when the players seem incapable of locking down the front of the net, even with the (relative) man-advantage.

And I do think there were failures by the players (as I have in lots of games prior). The first two goals against were a Keystone Cops of zone coverage, where Leafs failed to communicate, failed to mark a man, and ended up double-covering nothing but empty ice. The first period in general was atrocious - the Habs had their first goal before the Leafs had their first shot attempt.

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