If these Leafs stand any chance of getting into the playoffs, they are going to need their top players to start scoring more often (which they did last night), and, they are also going to need some help from at least two other teams tonight and tomorrow.
They did not get any help at all Wednesday or Thursday. Boston couldn’t handle Detroit on Wednesday, and Philadelphia couldn’t take the Blue Jackets last night.
Against Boston, Toronto did what it needed to do: score first, and score a couple more times afterwards and hope the time on the clock runs out before Boston could manage to do what they did last spring.
Those F-in Bruins did manage to do it partially in making a comeback to tie the game, but fortunately Toronto still made off with the win. So, they now head into their second-last Saturday night game which has them playing the Winnipeg Jets.
Leafs are still behind the eight-ball in terms of the remaining schedule. They play four more games, Columbus plays six, the last of which comes the day after the season ends, a make up game from the night that Rich Peverley suffered a heart attack on the bench when CBJ played Dallas. If Columbus wins out, they will make the playoffs.
Hopefully a big win against the Bruins will give enough confidence in Leafland for them to win out.
Here is what happened last night:
-Kessel got two assists last night, his first multi-point game since March 10.
-JVR got his 30th goal of the year, career high
-Paul Ranger scored again
-James Reimer had to come in and hold the fort, allowed one goal but it could have been worse
-Nazem Kadri who usually talks a pretty big game, came up with the goal of the night at the midway mark of overtime. See it right here: Kadri winner
-And above all, Leafs won the game, 4-3 in OT.
Roster moves: with Joffrey Lupul out prior to the start of last night’s game, and now Bernier joining him on the IR, Jerry D’Amigo got called up to help try and replace Lupul (good luck), and Toronto Marlies main keeper Drew MacIntyre also got the call for at least the second time this season.
Leafs vs Jets
Leafs at Tampa
Leafs at Florida
Leafs at Ottawa
At Chicago tonight
Vs NYI april 6
Vs Phoenix April 8
@Dallas April 9
@Tampa Bay April 11
Vs Buffalo April 4
@Montreal April 5
@Buffalo April 8
@Pittsburgh April 9
Vs Carolina April 11
Moreso interesting in all of this is that assuming Toronto ends up making it, better than 50/50 chance that guess who they will play in the opening round…AGAIN? Boston.
‘We didn’t paint a Mona Lisa here’: Carlyle
Leaf netminder faces only 20 shots in 3-2 win
If you thought last night’s game was a little bit too close for comfort, don’t expect much less for the remaining games of the NHL season.
Not only do we get to sit back and watch the craziness that is Leafs hockey, we also watch the out-of-town scoreboards to find out how 3-4 other teams are doing, often at the exact same time.
Last night was a bit of a break, Leafs beat Flames 3-2, although it came down to the last 3.4 seconds like it always does, then Dion Phaneuf gets called for a dumbass penalty THEN the asshole ref adds time on the clock, all with the faceoff in front of the Leaf net.
In other action around the league, Columbus scored two early goals on Colorado but wound up losing in overtime. A regulation win for the Avs would set the Leafs up in a playoff spot right now although the Blue Jackets hold the tie breaker.
And the Devils get a point out of their shootout loss to the Sabres, so they climb up one point in the standings too.
“The entertainment value was a little too high for coaches,” says Leaf Head Coach Randy Carlyle.
“When Mason Raymond iced the puck, he was trying so hard not to turn the puck over, he knows the red line is right there. Those are the signals, you just have to breathe a little bit deeper.”
David bolland scored the goal that put Leafs up 2-1. It was a signature Bolland goal says Carlyle, adding that the painful part of the losing streak was the Leafs have had goals like that scored against them, in bunches.
THE TWO DAVES
As for the two guys named Dave, that both hail from just outside Toronto, they both scored key goals last night, Carlyle said it would be great if they could both do that every night, when questioned by a reporter if there was any significance to the 2 Daves both scoring.
“It would be nice if they could do that every night.”
Carlyle added that he hopes it will be a turning point in the season Clarkson has had so far.
“Personally I’m not happy with the season. I hold myself accountable, I’m someone that has to be better. But the big thing is we’ve got five games left here, we have to take care of what we can,” explains Clarkson.
Jonathan Bernier. Here is what the Leaf goalie had to say (this is the first time this season that I noticed him laughing at reporter questions, one of them is actually funny!).
BEST PART Clarkson’s goal, good to see him finally score for the first time in weeks.
WORST PART cheesy penalty call on phaneuf with less than 5 seconds left and THEN asshole refs go and put 3.4 seconds on the clock with the faceoff in front of bernier.
BIGGEST BREAK the no-goal call on the high stick shot that went in past Bernier, it took awhile to finalize it but it was waived off, would have tied the game at 1-1 7 minutes into the second period
Jay McClement opened the scoring, former Leaf Matt Stajan tied it in the second period, before the Leafs got goals from Bolland and Clarkson before Kris Russell made it close with seven minutes left to close the gap to 3-2.
Game in 6 minutes
Washington Capitals (81, six games left)
Detroit Red Wings (84, seven games left)
Columbus Blue Jackets (83, seven games left)
Next Game: Thursday night vs Boston
Don’t pay too much attention to that picture up there at the top, especially if you are a Leaf fan too. With all of those teams listed in the possible playoff bracket for the opening round, you won’t find the Leafs up there, at least not right now.
If the playoffs were to start tonight, you would have Columbus playing Boston in the opening round, and have Detroit visiting Pittsburgh. Other Eastern Conference matchups would have Montreal playing Tampa and the most boring of all, Rangers and Philly.
In the West, it would be Phoenix vs the St. Louis Blues, Chicago vs Colorado (whoever wins that one would be favourites, even with Kane and Toews injured right now). Minnesota plays Anaheim and the Kings would play San Jose.
If the Blue and White want to advance this point, they moreless need to win six games in a row, it would start tonight as they take on the 31-37 Calgary Flames.
FLAMES (31-37-7) at MAPLE LEAFS (36-32-8)
TV: SNET-W, SNET-O
Last 10: Calgary 6-4-0; Toronto 1-9-0
This is the second game of the season between the two clubs. Jonathan Bernier will look for his second win of the season against Calgary. The first meeting was a 4-2 win back on Oct. 30.
Unlike October, the Leafs are desperate to get back into the winning column, and are in their worst losing streak in about 20 years. The jokes have been flying around, none of them are funny, especially if you are dead serious about this team making up for eight close-to-embarrassing games and finally getting their shit together in time.
Calgary on the other hand is doing a swell job playing spoiler, having knocked down several playoff teams in the last three weeks (Anaheim, Dallas, SJ and NYR).
Calgary was dropped by Ottawa over the weekend by a score of 6-3 and Kari Ramo will be getting the start tonight.
Phil Kessel who took a JVR shot off the ankle in the Detroit game over the weekend, apparently is good to go, and they just must need a herculean effort from their leading scorer for two seasons in a row. You can’t count on a guy like Kessel to singlehandedly win a game for this team (at least not like you could when Curtis Joseph played on this team) but as anyone who follows Toronto knows, as Kessel operates at high gear, so does the rest of the team.
“He says he’s available to play,” Carlyle said. “So basically it’s been two days of treatment and he’s telling us he’s ready.”
If he can get on the scoreboard early, maybe an assist from Tyler Bozak, this should be a very winnable game for the Leafs.
If you are one of the fans debating over which goaltender will give them the best chance to win, you might as well put all of your eggs in Bernier’s basket; Bernier (forwhatever reason) has been management’s favour from day one, will have the team on his shoulder’s again.
“We all knew [Saturday] was a big game but, the crazy thing is, we’re still in it. We lost eight in a row now and we are still in it so, we know we just have to win one and I’m sure the ball is going to start going on our side,” said Bernier, who has allowed four goals in each of his past three starts.
“We have to make sure we prepare for Calgary and hopefully turn the tide around here,” Maple Leafs forward Nazem Kadri , whose last goal came on March 25 against St. Louis, since said. “It’s been tough on everyone the last 12 or 13 days just dealing with all of this. A lot of those games we’ve played we felt we played well enough to win but we just haven’t.”
The Leafs need a win tonight to avoid losing their season series with Detroit, and also to help inch their way back into playoff contention.
To do all of that, I think the Leafs need to be able to contain the newest Red Wing, and former Ottawa Senator, Daniel Alfreddsson.
Twice this season, Alfredsson has gotten the better of the Leafs, scoring the GWGs in two of the previous Leafs/Wings game this season. Toronto and Detroit have three games against each other already this year, Wings won two, in those two games, Alfie helped put the Leafs away, one more time and it’ll probably be for the rest of the season. Leafs/Wings’ head to head matches this season could easily dictate which of the two clubs makes the playoffs, and which one heads to the golf course early.
Alfie killed the Leafs many many times with the Sens, and is so far doing it again in Michigan.
The one game that stands up right now as being huge for the Leafs is the Winter Classic game which Tyler Bozak scored in the shootout. If tonight’s game needs a shootout, hang on!
You don’t usually see both of these teams struggling at the exact same time but ever since before that HBO 24/7 series aired in December, both of these teams are barely surviving, and are struggling for every single point. Detroit fell at home to Montreal on Thursday night, 4-3, while Toronto fell behind early (again) and lost in Philadelphia last night, 4-2.
Life has been brutal for both of these teams.
“It’s the biggest game of the year,” says Leafs Head Coach Randy Carlyle, who is currently coaching his team through a seven-game losing streak.
When Detroit visits tonight, expect Wings Head Coach Mike Babcock to juggle the lines a lot. It almost worked on Thursday.
“We didn’t play very good, so we changed things during the game,” coach Mike Babcock told The Detroit News after practice Friday. “We’re just going to stay with what we finished (in line combinations).”
RED WINGS (33-26-14) at MAPLE LEAFS (36-31-8)
TV: NHLN-US, CBC, FS-D, TSN 1050 Radio
Last 10: Detroit 4-5-1; Toronto 2-8-0
The Red Wings and Maple Leafs join Columbus and Washington in the biggest logjam race for a playoff spot in the entire NHL. All four teams play tonight. Columbus is in Carolina, Washington has Boston in action right now.
Toronto has played two more games than each of the other three teams.
“If we regroup and tidy up the turnover situation,” he said. “We have to win more 1-on-1 battles for the puck. We’re not strong enough on the puck in those areas. Those are the things at this juncture in the season, it’s imperative we win those battles, and right now we’re not winning enough of them.”
Goaltender Jonathan Bernier, who made 25 saves Friday, has not played on consecutive days since Dec. 11-12. Backup James Reimer has lost five in a row, allowing 18 goals.
Who’s hot: Nyquist had a nine-goal, six-game streak end Thursday; he had an assist. Forward Tomas Tatar has six points in a three-game streak. Forward Riley Sheahan has six points in his past five games. … Van Riemsdyk has a goal in two straight games, and is one shy of his first 30-goal season. Defenseman Jake Gardiner has six points in his past six games.
Forward Tyler Bozak has five points in his past five. Forward Dave Bolland on Friday scored his first goal since Oct. 26.
Injury report: Red Wings forward Pavel Datsyuk (knee) skated with the team Friday, the first time since he last played Feb. 27; he will take part in a full practice Tuesday. Forward Stephen Weiss (sports hernia) will skate for a second day in a row Saturday as he tries to return from a 42-game absence. Forward Justin Abdelkader (leg laceration) skated. Forwards Henrik Zetterberg (back), Justin Abdelkader (leg laceration), Daniel Cleary (knee) and Mikael Samuelsson (shoulder), and defenseman Jonathan Ericsson (finger fracture) are out. … Maple Leafs defenseman Paul Ranger(concussion) is close to a return.
Battle of two team with 4-6 records over their last 10 games
I love it how leaf fans all over the place put all kinds of emphasis on a hockey game and make it out to be like a playoff game.
We saw it again last night and we will probably see it again tonight.
Last night of course was the renewal of the greatest rivalry in the history of pro hockey, the Leafs and Canadiens. Tonight it is going to be a much more down-to-earth game where the Leafs play the New Jersey
Hopefully tonight, in David Clarkson’s return to his former home arena, he can show those Devils why they shouldn’t have let him go, probably won’t happen lol, but fun to think it will/could/should blahblahblah.
MAPLE LEAFS (36-28-8) at DEVILS (30-28-13)
TV: RDS2, LEAFS TV, MSG PLUS, TSN 1050 Radio
Last 10: Toronto 4-6-0; New Jersey 4-6-0
Toronto has beaten NJ twice this season, James van Riemsdyk scored the deciding goal in both cases. The Leafs have not lost to NJ since February of 2012, winning six games in a row. Tonight the intensity might be a tad higher given last night’s disappointing result at home against the Montreal Canadiens.
Zach Parise who was signed by the Minnesota Wild, returned to the swamp three days ago to a chorus of
boos from the Jersey faithful, could the same fate await David Clarkson? If so, what better night to have a break out night, in front of his former fans!
Even goaltender Martin Brodeur appears to be licking his chops over this game tonight.
“Probably. I hope so,” Brodeur told NJ.com “Get him rattled a little bit. It’s a pretty similar situation, another guy that went home. Hopefully [the fans are] all over him.”
Clarkson has played in 50 games this season after signing a contract worth $36.7 million. His point total is four goals and six assists and a -10 rating.
Clarkson was a -2 rating in last night’s crushing defeat to the Canadiens. Most of it was spent playing alongside David Bolland who was making his first appearance since Nov. 2 when he had his ankle slashed open in a game in Vancouver.
“I think that [Bolland] will get better,” coach Randy Carlyle said afterward. “I think tomorrow will be a tough game for him, with the back-to-back and having to travel tonight. But that’s why he did all the laps and extra work and the conditioning part with our strength and conditioning people prior to this.”
The Devils, like the Leafs are in a losing skid and both are literally clinging to playoff contention.
Both teams are 4-6 through their last 10 games.
Corey Schneider will start for the home side tonight, while it’s anybody’s guess who may start (and finish) for the Leafs. The likely choice is James Reimer, but if he gives up a pair of early goals again, it could be another long night for Leaf fans.
LEAFS TO WATCH OUT FOR: Joffrey Lupul has four points in the last four games which were all losses, Tyler Bozak has two points, Nazem Kadri scored his 18th goal last night vs Montreal.