clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Leafs Fall to Canes 4-1, as Randy Gets Creative

Toronto looked ugly while visiting Carolina, and Bernier wasn't able to cover it up well enough this time, despite his best efforts.

James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports

The Toronto Maple Leafs's skaters tried a bold new strategy tonight, in which they laced up their skates with cement blocks. The Canes opened the scoring off Eric Staal's centering pass, twisted the knife with a shorthanded two-on-one goal, bled a little to Dion Phaneuf's slap shot, and clinched on a power play goal and a token empty netter. Here's the game in six:

Some thoughts on players:

I kid about it being a 'new' strategy, of course: Yet again Jonathan Bernier shouldered a heavy workload (16 shots against in the first) and kept the Leafs in the realm of respectability. His insane save in the 4th minute of the first period was another one for the highlight reels.

We don't really talk about it much, but Dion Phaneuf takes a lot of minor penalties. Burtch was talking about it the other day, but it seems to put the Leafs down a man regularly. He tied the Leafs in shots on goal, was one short of James Van Riemsdyk's lead in corsi events for, and scored the Leafs' lone goal, so I think it's more of the same old mantra: Dion Phaneuf is an offense-first guy whose defensive ability, deployment, and team systems combine to keep him in his own zone way, way more often than one might hope.

Speaking of the Phaneuf goal, how crazy was Daniel Winnik's "screen" on that play? Kind of a miracle it wasn't called interference, but man Winnik is a useful depth player.

Jake Gardiner looked poor on Eric Staal's centering pass to Chris Terry (who?), and also failed to break up the pass on the two-on-one of Dwyer to Faulk. There were a lot of opportunities to look bad, especially early, but he was a little stronger later in the game.

On the team:

Interestingly, midway through the game, Carlyle started mixing up the lines a bit. JVR and Lupul swapped lines (in keeping with Randy's "forward pairs" philosophy), and the defense broke away from Leafs started mixing up the lines in the bottom half of the second. Burtch pointed out Rielly-Robidas was an awful pairing in the first (0% CF), and Randy had Rielly playing alongside Phaneuf to start the second. At first glance, it looked like it was working, but reviewing the game a little bit, the Leafs failed to really gain on the Canes' gap in shots, even after the line mixup. Which is to say: that's what it's supposed to look like.

Carolina looked fast, and they looked like they were using their speed effectively against the Leafs. Tons of chances on the rush, in close to the Leafs' net, and a surprising looking now how to use their speed to crash the net and get wraparound chances. How many did they have in the first? I thought Bernier was going to get dizzy.

The Leafs take on the Flyers on Saturday, who are considerably closer to the Leafs in terms of year-to-date possession stats. It'll be interesting to see if Randy stays with any of the blended lines, or if he reverts to the usual setup.