Leafs' shortcomings brutally exposed
STEVE BUFFERY, QMI Agency
|Maple Leafs head coach Randy Carlyle looks at his bench during a game against the Bruins at TD Garden in Boston, Mass., March 19, 2012. (BRIAN SNYDER/Reuters)
You like Randy Carlyle’s tough, take-no-prisoners style?
If you like old-time hockey, you’re probably a fan.
But the problem with the rough-and-tough, defence-first style employed by the Leafs’ new coach was abundantly clear on Monday in the Leafs’ 8-0 loss to the big, bad Boston Bruins. It’s virtually impossible to climb back into a game after you get down a couple of goals when there’s no accent on offensive play. Monday’s contest was over after Gregory Campbell put Boston ahead less than six minutes into the first. Not that the Leafs had a chance anyway. From the opening face-off, Toronto looked intimidated against the defending Stanley Cup champions, and totally unprepared. The Leafs are supposedly a desperate team, fighting to reach the playoffs. Yet they lost virtually every battle for the puck in the first two periods. The cameras caught Carlyle screaming at his charges during a break in the first. One can only imagine what he might have said between periods with the Bruins ahead 4-0 and dominating pretty every aspect of the game.
The Leafs won two in a row prior to the Boston game, which is great. But it seems some segments of the Toronto media were getting a little carried away the last couple of days in terms of suggesting that the Leafs were actually back in the playoff race, when they are really not. Yes, there are only eight points separating the Leafs from eighth place, but there are four teams to leap frog. And that’s nearly impossible with so few games remaining. And as far as their two wins before Monday’s game against the Bruins, if not for the inspired play of goaltender James Reimer — who was pulled in the first period after giving up four goals against the Bruins — the Leafs probably would have lost two in a row. Reimer stopped 63 of 65 shots in those two contests. The Leafs managed only 18 shots on goal in their 3-1 victory on Saturday in Ottawa.
UPPER CUT MANIA
The linesmen have to let fighters go once the gloves come off, but when one guy gets the upper hand, it’s time to step in, which wasn’t the case when Mike Komisarek and Milan Lucic squared off. The hulking Lucic hammered Komisarek with at least three devastating uppercuts before the zebras finally did their job. Komisarek looked much worse for wear. My former boss Scott Morrison made that very point on Sportsnet. And he’s right. To my way of thinking, not breaking a fight up when it’s one-sided just gives the anti-fighting crowd more ammunition for their weasly rants.
In talking about Alexander Radulov joining the Nashville Predators late this season from the Russian League (KHL), Sportsnet broadcaster Doug MacLean called the KHL the ‘Russian Recreational Hockey League’. (He did so earlier in the day as well on the radio). Is the KHL really that bad? I keep reading that it’s the second-best pro hockey league in the world. I must be reading the wrong publications.
Boston swept the Leafs in six games this season ... Carlyle now knows how Ron Wilson felt many times earlier this season when Luke Schenn gets up to his giveaway shenanigans. Quoth my Filipino “friend” while watching Monday’s game. “Don’t give it to Schenn. He’s a dopey.” ... Two defensive gaffs, two early Boston goals. First a Schenn giveaway, resulting in Boston’s first goal by Chris Kelly, and then Gregory Campbell’s wraparound goal partly the result of John-Michael Liles losing track of puck ... It seems at least once a game, a Leafs goalie lands on the seat of his pants trying to play a puck behind the net. This time it was Gustavsson’s turn ... At one point in the second period. Boston had six goals, the Leafs had six shots on goal. Not impressive ... Phil Kessel just can’t get going with Zdeno Chara on the ice. Then again, Kessel has to work a little harder. Kessel is minus 17 in games against Boston since being traded by the Bruins to the Leafs ... Clarke MacArthur’s stat line: One very dumb holding penalty (resulting in a Boston power play goal), two giveaways, a minus three, no shots ... Giveaways are a bigger stat in basketball, but the Leafs gave the puck away 11 times compared to three by Boston.