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Maple Leafs Lose Unimportant Game 5-2

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The Toronto Maple Leafs lost a regular season game to the will-be division rival Tampa Bay Lightning on the back of a Martin St. Louis "hat trick."

Oh, Byrne...
Oh, Byrne...
USA TODAY Sports

The Story

After a pair of posts, the Leafs got one past Ben Bishop courtesy of Phil Kessel. Stamkos burned Mark Fraser for a slick backhand wrister, which was followed up by Martin St Louis, who put one in after a feed from the double-covered Nate Thompson (what?). Joffrey Lupul would tie it up with under 25 seconds to play in the second, but by the third it was all Tampa. Radko Grudas (who?) would score the game winner, and St. Louis would put in another and an empty netter to get a faux-hat trick and the Art Ross lead.

The Game in Six

I don't know that there's much to say about this game. The Leafs have clinched, they stayed in it for most of the game last night, and the Lightning's talented forwards exploited the Leafs' mediocre-at-best defense. I think I can come up with a few things, though.

Holy hell, Ryan O'Byrne and Mike Kostka should never be paired together again. I can't figure out which is slower: O'Byrne's feet, or Kostka's decision-making. Kostka lead the Leafs in ice time, during which he got destroyed in puck possession despite only taking two defensive zone faceoffs. His play gave me some terrible flashbacks to early in this season.

Phaneuf was used only as much as Stamkos, which is fine despite he and Gunnarsson looking absolutely silly on the Thompson-to-St.-Louis goal, and Fraser took the bulk of defensive zone faceoffs for the Leafs' defense. In short, this game could really be summarized as "Leafs play terrible defensemen more than good ones, obvious result happens." The bright side is that the Leafs' forwards did a good job of controlling play and getting their chances - it was mostly a matter of the two future Hall-of-Famers that capitalized on their chances (oh, and whoever Radko Gudas is).

The Leafs play tonight against the Florida Panthers. Orr and McLaren will probably draw back into the lineup, because someone needs to intimidate George Parros - speaking of which, the Tampa Bay Lightning's B.J. Crombeen leads the league in fighting majors. He neither fought nor laid a dirty hit on any of the Leafs' last night. I guess he was intimidated from the box or something, but we should really do that every night.

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