TORONTO - There was a minute and 36 seconds to play and a season slip-sliding away and it was then that Randy Carlyle let his players down.
The way they had let him down almost all night long with their NHL season on the brink.
Carlyle pulled Jonathan Bernier. That was smart. Then he put captain Dion Phaneuf on the point with an extra attacker.
That wasn’t smart.
All night long, in maybe the Leafs’ most important game of the season, Phaneuf fought the puck. He had a sloppy, uncharacteristically terrible night, causing someone to ask if they’d ever seen him play worse as a Leaf.
It’s a coach’s job to read his players, read the game situation, put the Leafs in the best position to compete.
Phaneuf had no business being on the ice considering the evening he had. Jake Gardiner has been offensively dangerous for weeks now. Young Morgan Rielly had been smart in the offensive zone.