Outside of the play of Joffrey Lupul, there really isn't much good to say about the Leafs' performance tonight. Bad luck and bad play conspired to make this the worst night of the season thus far. The Leafs were 6-1-0, facing the Hurricanes (a former SE Division member) on a Thursday night. Maybe it was just time.
First off, James Reimer was injured less than a minute into the game, after he left the crease to smother a rebound, only to have Leivo accidentally knee him in the head. Reimer's helmet once again came off, which has to be about the 10th time that's happened in his career. Just unreal. For a guy who has had so many concussion problems, you'd think by now someone on the team would have the good sense to get him to tie up his mask a little tighter. Word is, he had a headache in the game, but is expected to practice tomorrow.
Randy Carlyle says expectation is that James Reimer will be able to practice tomorrow. Said Reimer had a headache from collision.— Jonas Siegel (@jonasTSN1050) October 18, 2013
The Leafs were out-played through the first two periods of the game. While it's true they lead in shots after the first, they had a number of power play chances to help that along. It's also true that they lead by two goals heading into the the third period, but Lupul finishing off a 2-on-1 and Leivo scoring a pretty first NHL goal were bright spots in an otherwise uneven period. The Leafs looked OK at the outset of the second but gradually retreated into a shell as they went up on the scoreboard.
The third period is when the wheels fell off the bus. Once again, the Hurricanes were the better team, and they finally cashed in on the power play. And then Jordan Stall picked up a puck in the slot off a broken play and tied it. Then, on what was initially supposed to be a hybrid icing call, Jonathan Bernier misplayed the puck coming off the boards by haphazardly swinging his stick at it and deflected the puck into his own net. Jonathan Quick breathed a sigh of relief.
The Leafs put on a bit of a push in the remaining 5 minutes, with Tyler Bozak getting a decent chance and Nazem Kadri even managed to hit the crossbar. Kadri then took a penalty for boarding with about 30 seconds left to seal the fate of the Leafs.
Some other game notes:
- Phil Kessel was almost entirely invisible tonight. It looked like one of those games from 2009 where the opposition didn't have to worry about shutting down any other player on his line, rendering him pretty ineffective. We miss you, James van Riemsdyk.
- Mason Raymond didn't look great, despite the chance to play on the top line. Little things like chipping pucks out down the boards in his own end were missing, tonight.
- Morgan Rielly and Jake Gardiner both looked OK. There might have been a couple mistakes, but nothing horrendous.
- Dion Phaneuf played a relatively quiet, effective game, leading the defence in TOI.
Will update with the GI6 and post-game presser by Carlyle when it comes available.