This was a tough loss to stomach. The Leafs played quite well, but a mistake or two is all it takes to sink the whole ship.
James Reimer had a tough start to this game.On just the Jets' second attempt on goal, Reimer allowed a bad angle Dustin Byfuglien shot to find its way between his arm and the post, leaving the Leafs trailing to start the game once again, all before the four minute mark. It's true that Byfuglien should have been better covered, but the shot just went through Reimer, and really, he needs to have that one.
The Leafs managed to score a power play goal to tie the game, with Alexander Burmistrov off for holding on Morgan Rielly. It was Pierre-Alexandre Parenteau who finally cashed in, swiping a shot by Andrei Pavelec short side to tie the game.
Unfortunately, the Jets would respond to take back the lead just over 30 seconds later on a broken play that saw Rielly deflect the puck to a wide-open Mark Sheifele leaving Reimer virtually no chance.
Overall, it was another period of what is quickly becoming something of a trademark for the Leafs: a good period of hockey sunk by a soft goal and a bounce. Really, the Leafs played reasonably well, out-shooting the Jets 13-10 through the first 20 minutes.
The only goal of the second came from Leo Komarov, who played an excellent game tonight. He was the Leafs' best possession stat forward, scored the tying goal, and was basically an all-around menace to the Jets, being pesky on the forecheck and covering well for pinching defencemen on more than one occasion. He also drew two penalties in the third period. Afterward, Komarov was named the game's second star, and deservedly so.
The second period was an evenly-played period between the two teams, with the Jets out-shooting the Leafs 10-8. Nazem Kadri was again fantastic, once again creating all kinds of chances and came ever so close to scoring on multiple plays. In fact, he took a huge hit to start the play that lead to Komarov's goal. Komarov wound up scoring on a delayed penalty that Kadri drew getting crunched into the boards.
The Jets managed a substantially more shots in the third period than the Leafs did, but it wasn't because the Leafs weren't ever in the Jets' end. In fact, the shot attempts looked quite even, and I can't help but wonder if not getting the puck to the net is becoming something of a pattern for this team. (As an aside, it could be a good Fanpost if someone wants to investigate that further!)
It wasn't until the last few minutes of the third, as a Leafs' power play had just expired that Burmistrov atoned for his two bad penalties earlier in the game by scoring the game-winning goal. Jake Gardiner got back to catch him, but couldn't handle the criss-crossing rush - really, that part wasn't so much his fault. Gardiner had to put on the brakes to keep Burmistrov from going directly to the net, and he couldn't break up the pass that left Reimer helpless. After the Leafs had been pressing for the winner, it was tough to watch them catch a break like that.
You have to feel bad for this team. They're playing much better than the Leafs of previous seasons but are getting worse results, and though the team is admittedly short on scoring, they've also been short on luck.
It's also too bad that Reimer couldn't come up with a better game when offered the chance to shine, but if Bernier is still injured (Babcock said earlier today he doesn't know if Bernier will practice tomorrow) Reimer may get another shot at another consecutive game.
The Jets cashed in on an empty net by icing the puck during a last-minute penalty kill and then beating Joffrey Lupul and Dion Phaneuf back to the puck in the Leafs' end.
A few thoughts on individual performances:
- Martin Marincin plays a very quiet game. He's definitely a player who does a lot of little things well, but stops short of shining.
- James van Riemsdyk had a great game, getting 7 scoring chances by himself. He was the Leafs' second-best forward according to his possession numbers, with Kadri rounding out the top 3 in that regard. Together, they were easily the Leafs' best line again tonight.
- This was a quiet game, relatively speaking for the likes of Morgan Rielly and Dion Phaneuf. There didn't seem to be as much offence coming from the blue line, tonight.
- Roman Polak was again the Leafs' worst possession player. Methinks it's time to bring someone else in and have him sit a few games.
- Brad Boyes: why doesn't he play more?