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Maple Leafs hand 2 points to their closest rival in 8-4 loss to Florida Panthers

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I was really mad about this game and I ranted for quite a while.

NHL: Toronto Maple Leafs at Florida Panthers
Jan 12, 2020; Sunrise, Florida, USA; Florida Panthers left wing Jonathan Huberdeau (11) shoots and scores as Toronto Maple Leafs goaltender Michael Hutchinson (30) defends during the second period at BB&T Center.
Douglas DeFelice-USA TODAY Sports

You’re not getting much optimism from this game other than the first little bit I wrote when the game was only 2-0 and the birds still sang. you’re going to get players getting called out for laziness, mistakes, and genuine lack of ability. Once the game was done, the big guns (aka the top two lines and Morgan Rielly) looked good and got a couple goals back on the board, but what good were they when the game mattered. All in all, the Toronto Maple Leafs slept in all of Sunday, missing their 10-3 loss to the Florida Panthers.

The Leafs are now clinging to third place in the Atlantic Division, one point ahead of the Panthers with one game less to play. They are six points back of the Lightning, who have zoomed past them with all the skill and tenacity they’ve always had. I don’t actually know if the Lightning beat the New Jersey Devils in their game that started at the same time as Toronto’s, but c’mon. Oh, they lost? Hahahahahahahahah.

I’m done with Tyson Barrie. I know it makes virtually no sense to trade him with where the Leafs are. Kyle Dubas bought him as a year-long rental over the summer and that’s that, but oh my god, he is so bad offensively and defensively. He shuts down offense with his fancy moves that push him into the corners and make his elite linemates do all the heavy lifting all over again. This is exacerbated on the power play.

On defense, he misses assignments and pinches without support (that lack of support is its own issue). He’s like Cody Ceci. He *looks* good in the areas of the game people give him praise for, but he doesn’t actually do anything to help or move the puck in a positive direction. He got saved on the shot metrics by the Matthews line having a good second half of the game, but his shots against numbers were awful and have been as such all season.

I also worry I see too much of Tyson Barrie in Travis Dermott. Twitchy, electric movements, but not idea where to be and how to use them in a productive, team way. That really worries me as the 23-year-old is an RFA this summer.

I feel like I ranted a lot about Barrie in this game, but it takes that much to explain all the things that deteriorate his value for me. There were a lot more awful performances in the first half of this game, and then all through the rest of the night, namely the goaltending.

Frederik Andersen simply did not have it in this one. Four goals on 12 shots, despite only a total expected goals against of 0.82. Yep, three goals above expected. Two of the goals he gave up were 2-on-1’s that the forwards goofed on, but Freddy Andersen would stop them more often than not. He did not in this one.

Once Michael Hutchinson got in the game, it was done, but he didn’t do much of a good job settling the game down and giving the Leafs a chance to get back. He gave up the first shot he faced and two more before the end of the second. Yes, I’m writing this at the second intermission, wouldn’t you?

I saw some really concerning things out of captain John Tavares in this game. Failures to backcheck, failures to cover sticks in front of the net, and a real lack of energy when attempting to lead by example. He scored in this game, but I don’t really care. It was 3-7 when he scored that one. I wasn’t surprised when Katya said he had the least amount of ice time in the first period ignoring the fourth line. It’s a shame, really, because I thought William Nylander was having a great game but wasn’t getting anything out of it.

Pierre Engvall centred the third line just fine. I got worried when he injured his back when Josh Brown shoved him awkwardly into the boards after one of his better rush chances. He works well with Kapanen and Andreas Johnsson. Johnsson had some moments where I recognized him, but I’m giving him a bit of a pass since he’s coming back from a leg injury and it takes time to get your game feet back.

As I write this, the third period started and Mitch Marner scored his second of the game. He and Zach Hyman were quite good throughout the contest, scoring three of the four goals that brought the Leafs (somewhat) back into the contest.

Next point in my rant: penalties. You know what I felt when Marner made it 4-7? Hope. Perhaps misguided hope, but hope nonetheless. You know what kills hope? Back-to-back penalties and an embarrassing goal against that gave Jonathan Huberdeau the franchise lead in points. The lack of discipline and effort from this team to stay in the right position and not force themselves into taking penalties is infuriating. I hate it. It makes me question whether this team has enough flaws covered to succeed in the playoffs.

The Game

Goals For

Sheldon Keefe had some fun at the start of the game, putting John Tavares in the middle of Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner. Alex Kerfoot was with William Nylander and Zach Hyman on the next shift. You know, if the Leafs want to do that full-time, I’d be very cool with it, especially if Pierre Engvall can hold his own at centre on the third line. And we all know my feelings towards Engvall.

I wrote that at the top of the game, which is about the same time this game stopped being fun. A lot of bad goals happened before these four goals came from the Leafs, but I’m putting it first because.. eh.

While the Leafs were getting their butt whooped, I thought Nylander and Engvall each had a couple nice chances that could’ve gone in. If they did, it probably would’ve been a much different game.

1-5

If there is anyone on this team that is consistent enough to work hard even in a blowout loss, count on Zach Hyman for doing so. He, Rielly, and Kapanen connected on this goal and it was faint bright light in an otherwise pitch black game.

2-7

Thank you, Mitch. Thank you, Zach. Good play from these two.

3-7

Nylander with a great play in the neutral zone to hold possession and open up the lane for Tavares. I really want to ask John where this was nine goals ago.

4-7

Still in shock that the Leafs were able to score three goals in a row and make something out of a 7-1 ass-kicking. Marner’s early goals in the third period seemed to give the Leafs some light, unfortunately, after his and Hyman’s strong effort in getting the goal, Justin Holl and Cody Ceci each took a stick infraction penalty and Mike Hoffman scored his second goal of the game.

Goals Against

TL;DR, they just couldn’t keep track of Panthers players moving in and out of the area, missing assignments way too often. After the first couple times this happened and the puck went in the net, the defense devolved into odd-man rushes and failures to cover rebounds. Also, the goaltending was trash the entire time.

0-1

On the first goal, Kasperi Kapanen completely missed the defenseman, Josh Brown, coming down from the point. It didn’t help anymore that Travis Dermott had gotten himself boxed out by a quick play by Noel Acciari and couldn’t get in the way of the shot.

0-2

The second goal, Tyson Barrie could’ve not existed and Aleksander Barkov wouldn’t have found it any easier to score. It didn’t help that Frederik Gauthier and Jason Spezza just stood there with their controllers off.

0-3

The Leafs looked like they were starting to turn things around, but then with Rielly on the bench nursing a blocked shot off his ankle, Barrie took a reckless pinch, giving the Panthers an odd-man rush against. Kerfoot was there, but he lost the puck from a weird bounce off the glass. I think my biggest issue with the goal is that Tavares stopped skating. Never stop skating on the backcheck. Go back, help, it doesn’t hurt to have an extra guy there. That moment from him was really disappointing to see.

0-4

Freddy got pulled after this goal, and honestly, yep. Just a floater he didn’t see and didn’t move to try and stop. No help moving players from the shooting lane. Just a mess and a goal that shows how gone from the game Andersen was.

0-5

Barrie was awful on the power play. Really static. I’ve linked my thoughts here. What’s worse is that defensively, he can’t keep up and stop a guy from going around the outside on him. Put Rielly back out there. Please.

1-6

What the fuck, Travis. I think this top-four experiment with him is going quite poorly. He hasn’t lived up to expectations full stop.

THIS WAS ON THE NEXT SHIFT.

1-7

This goal was Jonathan Huberdeau’s 420th career point and 420th for the Florida Panthers. That goal tied Leaf great Olli Jokinen for the most points in Florida Panthers franchise history. That was also his 61st point in 45 games, putting him on pace for 111 points. Yup.

4-8

The last goal of the game, as Huberdeau breaks the franchise point record with the primary assist.

Florida Panthers fans then sung “Na Na Na Na, hey hey hey, goodbye” as the Leafs drifted through the final 10 minutes, dreaming about what dessert they’re going to get on the plane. That’s all, folks.

I will be accepting no criticism for this game because I had to watch all two and a half hours of that and you probably didn’t.