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Franson Tallies Lone Goal As Leafs Fall to Wild, 3-1

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Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

Four tallies, and despite getting their fair share of the shots, only one of them fell to the Leafs. Kyle Brodziak stopped a puck into the goal, Cody Franson scored a nice shot from the high slot during a Leafs 5-on-3, Jared Spurgeon rips a heavy shot past Jonathan Bernier, and Mikko Koivu scores a power play insurance goal.

The game was fairly run-and-gun throughout, and the Leafs were actually getting their share of shots. They just weren't getting the bounces (or the calls) that vary night in and night out.

Mysterious Ice Time

David Clarkson played 17 minutes tonight, so I guess Randy didn't like the press coverage about him being a fourth liner or something. In return, the Leafs got a holding the stick penalty (Suter was away from the play) and a goal waved off after Clarkson was determined to have interfered with Kuemper. In fairness to Clarkson though, Spurgeon lightly put his hands on Clarkson's back, and really, Clarkson just isn't good enough to stop that quickly.

Tyler Bozak and Phil Kessel played over 25:45 tonight. There's another game tomorrow. At some point, you have to expect something like that is going to impact performance. As an aside, James Van Riemsdyk behind and near the goal line is a magician.

I was sad to see Greg McKegg get 4 minutes of ice time, and I wouldn't say they were oh-my-gosh-standout or anything. David Booth's six minutes of ice time was another odd one, but maybe he gets a little more tomorrow night.

The Team Stuff

Normally, I'm sick of the stretch pass to clear the zone - it introduces so much risk into the breakout. But against the Wild, it seemed to be pretty effective. They were relatively passive on the forecheck, and the intermission panel had a good clip of two Wild forecheckers being caught behind the goal line when they were both pressuring the puck carrier at once. I have to imagine the effective breakout contributed to the possession numbers on the evening.

The Refs

Winnik got called for a retaliatory slash on Jonas Brodin, who had shoved a stick into Daniel Winnik's side. They reversed the call on the Clarkson goal after conferring among each other (I think it would've been reversed with video review as well, but bear with me here), and Phil Kessel got a penalty for mentioning the fact that the refs missed a pretty egregious slashing call - which there was less than five minutes to go, with the Leafs down by two.

It's a real shame that the refs and the NHL won't be under any obligation to talk about these calls. Even if it amounts to owning up to it, they ended up influencing the game pretty heavily, and the decision making is both interesting and important to fans and the league for calls going forward. Obviously this isn't really something that could/would be applied to tonight, but I'm really looking forward to a day when the NHL and its refs are pressured to embrace a little more transparency in the whole system. And man I wish I knew what Kessel said.

The Rest

I think the second goal on Bernier wasn't great, but it was a really, really strong shot. Neither the first nor third goals seemed like something he could be held responsible for, but he made a great diving save on Vanek early. Bernier's performance reflected the evening as a whole, really: The Leafs lost well tonight, really. They had a little more than even shot attempts, the rushes went both ways and weren't lopsided in attempts, but Toronto couldn't get the bounces they needed. The usual concerns about the top line hang around, but the depth of the forwards - shining now with Kadri, Holland, and Lupul sitting - did pretty well, all things considered. Let's hope that carries on tomorrow against Winnipeg.