I only watched the second and third periods of this game. For most teams' fans, such an admission might sound like I've given up, but for those who understand what being a fan of the Toronto Maple Leafs is like these days, watching two out of three periods is a modest accomplishment.
By all accounts, the team came out and laid a turd egg of a first period, surrendering far too many shots, and two too many goals. (As an aside, I've more or less given up on checking on advanced stat numbers these days. Who honestly cares? This team will be torn apart in a matter of weeks.) Ray Ferraro had nothing but bad things to say about the Leafs' first period effort on TSN, and when his judgment aligns to closely with the numbers, it's a pretty safe bet that I wasn't upset to have missed the opening 20.
The second period, on the other hand, began with a bang, as the Leafs climbed right back into this contest. Richard Panik was again absolutely flying (he's been one of the best Leafs to my eyes lately), and had a goal and assist to show for his efforts before the period was half over. If ever a man has deserved more ice time, he has. Anyway. The team came out like gangbusters and had several great chances throughout the first half of the second. Hope as I might for a top-5 pick in this year's draft, watching the Leafs claw their way back into a game never gets old.
Things inevitably went sour once again for the Leafs later on that period, as they began to sit back and look like a bunch of men who had been beaten into submission by Randy Carlyle systems for several years. The Islanders inevitably scored again and took the lead for good in the game.
I don't care who knows it, I'll be cheering for the Islanders in the playoffs this spring. Moving on.
The Leafs mustered some good chances in the later half of the contest, and on another night might have notched the 3-3 equalizer. This game typified everything there is to say about the Peter Horachek era so far in Toronto. A poor-to-mediocre effort that might have earned a 'W' at another point in the season, but a few bad bounces in the offensive zone put this one out of reach. Really, the Isles were the better team tonight, as they have been for the rest of the season anyway.
Oh yeah, and in case you didn't hear, Phil Kessel is sounding more and more resigned to the idea of being traded. If you think you can blame him, you're dumb.
A few years ago, back when this team was still in something you might call a 'building' phase, we used to cheer when the Leafs kept things close and looked halfway decent for most of the game, even if they lost. 'Moral victories', was the slogan. At this point, a game like this can only be considered a victory, inasmuch as the more games the team loses, the better their draft picks will be come June. I don't ever advocate 'tanking', but I also don't mind seeing this team lose. Too bad their shooting percentage is likely to bounce back up before the end of the year and have the team ruin their draft spot.
Hey! 6th overall pick!
This recap brought to you by Eeyore.