- Yikes, the Leafs did not start this the way they wanted. Nazem Kadri missed his coverage while the Flames were cycling and let Freddy Hamilton snap a one-timer home from the slot within the first minute. Gotta get out to that man quickly, Naz.
- Next, it was Jake Gardiner who was really soft in allowing the zone entry and then didn’t tie up a man or clear the rebound - a bad one from Jhonas Enroth - before Kris Versteeg cashed in. Admittedly, it was a quick rebound for him to react to. The game was only 49 seconds old. The Flames would hit the post again before the two-minute mark.
- Things went from bad to worse in the first period when Gardiner missed picking up Matt Stajan coming into the zone; Stajan took a nice pass from close to the boards and tipped one home. Enroth could maybe have read it better, but it was still a cross-crease pass where the attacker didn’t even have to deal with a defender. Now, Auston Matthews also could have picked up Stajan and didn’t. There is room for debate about whether or not Matthews should bears the brunt of the responsibility on this one.
My staunchest defenses of Gardiner will always be crippled by the (many, many fewer) times that Gardiner does something like this. pic.twitter.com/JpSCNSL9QP— Sean Tierney (@ChartingHockey) December 1, 2016
- The Leafs didn’t just have a couple bounces go the wrong way early on, they were totally out-worked. None of the Leafs’ lines could get anything going for the first 10 minutes of play.
- The Leafs started generating a few good chances afterwards, with William Nylander briefly showing back up on the Auston Matthews line, and of course they almost immediately started clicking again.
- The PK only had to go to work once in the first period, but they did a good job - again.
- The PP also only had one opportunity in the first and although they looked good, but couldn’t cash in.
- Shots were 12-10 for the Leafs after 20 minutes.
- The Leafs started the second period with a few good shifts in the OZ but let the Flames take control of the play as the period wore on.
- James van Riemsdyk and Marner had a two-on-oh with 3:45 left in the second, but were thwarted by a backchecking Flames defender.
- The Leafs pressed in the third period and managed a few good chances, but weren’t dominant, either. Chad Johnson was good for the Flames.
- The Leafs’ best player in those terrible first 10 minutes? Marner by a mile. In fact, he made a good case for being the best Leaf on the night. He had a breakaway with 12 and a half minutes left in the third period, but his shot was stopped, but he had other chances, too.
- Nylander found himself on Matthews’ line midway through the second period as Mike Babcock tried to jump-start the Leafs’ scoring. Zach Hyman was briefly out of the game getting his skate fixed, but Nylander also had a couple shifts with Matthews after Hyman had been back in the game. Will Nye made a lot of great passes in this game and no one seemed to ever be ready for them.
- Gardiner had a rough game in terms of giveaways. Naturally, he did a lot of good things too, but there were some big lapses.
- Nikita Soshnikov saw some power play time in the second period as Babcock continued looking for answers, but he was absolutely robbed by Chad Johnson.
- Similar to Gardiner, Matthews had some great chances and looked good overall, but also had some pretty glaring defensive oversights. I’m loathe to be too critical of his defensive play given his age, but on the other hand, he’s in the NHL now, and should be held to the same standards as his teammates. He’s got some learning to do.
- Chemmy was musing on Twitter (and 67 Sound agreed) that it might be time for the Leafs to move on from Enroth because there isn’t much reason to give him more chances - Enroth has a tiny contract and the Leafs have some younger goalies they could use in his place. I tend to think that Enroth will be better going forward, but if the Leafs chose to move on, it wouldn’t be a great loss, either.
- Morgan Rielly had some good rushes and used his stick well to break up several defensive plays. I think that this is probably going to go down as an underrated defensive performance from him.