TORONTO - It must have been embarrassing to be a Leafs forward this week.
First, there was the tutorial in practice stressing that to score goals in today’s NHL, it helps to stand in front of the opponent’s net.
Next, on back-to-back power plays against the Senators Tuesday, many of those same Leafs glided around the Ottawa slot as though it was Battle of the Blades night.
Of course the obvious kicker came when Ottawa scored a pair of power-play goals doing just what the Leafs’ lesson plan dictated.
On the first, forward Mike Fisher was all over Leafs goalie J-S Giguere and on the second it was Chris Neil’s turn to cause mayhem. When the Leafs finally employed the same strategey in the third, it was too little, too late.
If there was some truculence from the Leafs in the first two periods Tuesday, I’d like to see the evidence ... As for the traffic at both of ends of the ice, no better commentator than Giguere. “It’s not rocket science,” the Leafs goalie said. “Everybody does it. That’s the way the NHL is now, any goalie in this league will stop a puck they see.” ... In his between periods sermon, Leafs GM Brian Burke mentioned Tyler Bozak by name as one of the struggling Leafs scorers. But what about Mikhail Grabovski? Goalless again, that’s a 19-game drought dating back to last season, the longest in his career ... It’s not as if the Belarusian isn’t getting chances, either. He hit the post once but on two other close in chances misfired, once with a weak wrister on a near-breakaway and on another a shot from the top of the circle that went well over the net ... In the morning, Leafs coach Ron Wilson talked about Nikolai Kulemin’s need to go to the net. At night, he had to watch him ruin a first-period scoring chance by skating the puck from the top of the circle into the corner ... Kulemin woke up later, clogging the front for Francois Beauchemin’s third period goal, ending almost three hours of play without a Toronto score ... Put a lid on this one: Leafs forward Phil Kessel had his eight-game goal and 12-game point streak against the Sens snuffed.
Burke on Bozak: “He’s scuffling a bit right now. He’s not getting it done.” ... Burke on the frustration of the team’s scoring woes: “I’ve asked for patience, I’m not patient either.” Luca Caputi on Wednesday’s assignment in Washington: “They are a highly skilled team and they are going to make some plays but we’re just going to have to go in there and play a good road game and see what happens.” ... Leaf tweet of the night from Caputi, tapped out presumably while on the team bus enroute to Pearson: “We’ll be all right, on to the next one.” ... Sens D-man Peter Regin on the inadvertent gash that sent Dion Phaneuf out of the game. “I didn’t know what happened to him. I tried to just get the puck in front of the net. I hope he’s okay.”
What were they thinking? When the Leafs had a man advantage and a delayed penalty pending in the second, they should have handed the puck over immediately. Instead, they squandered a chance for a 5-on-3 (preferable to the 6-on-4 with a pulled goalie.) “We stopped thinking altogether,” Wilson said ... Who can help the Leafs get some offence? “I have nothing pending,” Burke said, referring to talk of trade winds blowing last week. “We are going to have to solve that internally for now.” ... After winning one of their first six games, the Sens have captured three of their past four ... Sportsnet closeups clearly show Phaneuf was sliced by the right skate of Regin ... Interesting debate in the press elevator immediately following the game. Sens assistant GM Tim Murray was adamant that an Ottawa goal called back in the second period should have counted. The puck ended up in the net, but a lengthy video review couldn’t confirm how it got there. “If it’s not a goal, it has to be a penalty shot,” said Murray, arguing that the puck had to be under Leafs forward Colton Orr.
Call it a week of virtuoso performances for the Fisher family at the ACC. It started with Sens forward Mike Fisher scored on a first-period penalty shot on Tuesday. Just 24 hours later, the wife takes over as Carrie Underwood performs in concert ... Wilson had no problem with the call on Mike Komisarek that gave Fisher his penalty shot ... Tough luck in that department for the Leafs goalies, having to face a PS in three of their 11 games thus far ... Fisher’s effort Tuesday was the first time the Leafs have had penalty shots in back-to-back games since 1975.