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Still On Course: Leafs Lose To Rangers In SO, 3-2

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The Leafs took a point from the New York Rangers thanks to the excellent play of Phil Kessel and James Reimer.

"Oh, you gave up the inside? No problem, I'll bail you out."
"Oh, you gave up the inside? No problem, I'll bail you out."
Al Bello

The Story

After a slow first, Phil Kessel shot the puck off someone else's stick. It was a great play from a guy who didn't have the puck, but put the puck in the back of the net in the blink of an eye. The Rangers stormed back, getting one from Hagelin and one from Ryan McDonaugh. Phil Kessel tied the game thanks to a perfect pass by JVR on a 2-on-0-ish. The Skills Competition Coin would come up against the Leafs, who continue their abysmal shootout shooting percentage.

The Game in Six

The most important thing to say about this game: The Leafs are almost certainly going to the playoffs. The Jets are 7 points behind the Leafs, with one more game played, and the Devils fell to 9 points behind the Leafs last night. With only 7 and 8 more games remaining for each team, they are basically hoping the Leafs lose every single game from here on out.

With that said, oh boy were there some bad things last night. But first, the good: Phil Kessel. Two goals, great play in the offensive zone, but his line was a big problem in the defensive zone. They got dominated by the Richards line, but Phil Kessel carried the offense for the Leafs last night.

James Reimer. Didn't stand a chance on either of the goals - The first one had Hagelin left all alone on the back door after several defensive breakdowns, including a lot of puck watching by John-Michael Liles. On the Rangers' second goal, Liles floats to the half boards then floats up to the dot, then floats back towards his man. Reimer's screened more by Ryan O'Byrne than by the Rangers' players, and gets the corner picked from the blueline.

There's no way you can call either of those "bad goals" by Reimer (though I would've liked to see him challenge a little more on the second, that'd have been an amazing save through traffic). The rule continues: if you refer to Reimer as "Red Light Reimer," you'd better delete that tweet because you look like a moron. And yes, Liles should be watching from the press box next game in favor of Gardiner - despite his heavy offensive-zone starts, he was involved in some terrible defensive zone plays. If we're going to shelter the crap out of somebody, it should probably be the younger guy.

Mikhail Grabovski, a former 58-point, 29 goal scorer, had more ice time than only Colton Orr and Fraser McLaren. Career AHL'er Ryan Hamilton had more time on the ice. And Grabbo looked good - when he wasn't dragging around Carlyle's Anchors. He had the puck in the offensive zone for most of overtime, when Carlyle was finally playing him. He's still struggling to convert, but he's generating good chances, and that's more important to focus on than the idea of a "blown opportunity."

The Leafs went 24 minutes without a shot on goal last night. Forget possession, forget metrics - that's bad from every angle. When asked about the stretch, Carlyle responded "Stats are for you guys." Yeah, really. The Leafs fail to generate meaningful offense for almost half a game, and Carlyle brushes it off. He later added that the Leafs played well for 53 minutes, so either Carlyle's dicking the media around (totally possible) or doesn't mind a failure to generate offense. Jesse Spector took a great look at the post-game comments here.

I do want to say that - and I've got a compliment for Carlyle here - he did a good job of keeping Phaneuf up against Nash, something I was looking for after Tortorella's last postgame comments. This did leave Fraser-Franson up against Richards' line, where they got pretty much run over, but that's a problem about defensive depth on the roster, not Carlyle's decisions.

Zone Starts - Shift Chart - Head to Head - Corsi/Fenwick