February 22, 2012

Devils Win Game but Leave Leafs Wondering

A game that they should of won, the Toronto Maple Leafs came away with one point but will it be enough in the long run?

On a overtime goal scored by Mark Fayne of NJ, an unknown to most hockey fans, shot a 'flutter ball' towards the net at Gustavsson and as everyone watched it float on by the Leaf goalie, the NJ Devils skated away with the win that should of gone the other way.

Don't get the coach wrong here, the Devils played their ususal game of 'get up by a couple' then shut it all down the rest of the way. Boring hockey but effective as the Devils are ahead of the Leafs in the standings and have been playing that way forever, so it must work (it does help that you have a future Hall of Famer in net!)

As nothing changed in the standings last night, the Leafs still tied with the Jets (also lost in OT vs the Flyers) and with 2 games up on them it is going to make a fun playoff race for sure. But with uncertainty in the nets (see Feb 16th blog with my question, Who is #1 in net? ), some poor defensive decisions and not all lines going at once the Leafs will be looking over their shoulders right till the final buzzer of the final game.

In last night's match the Devils had goaltending when it counted and they played the tight defensive game when called upon and by who I saw score their goals, received timely goals when needed too. Maybe something the Leafs could look at and develop into or maybe not?

After the Devils went 2-0, goals by P.Sykora and D.Clarkson about the 16 minute mark saw the Devils Clarkson and Leafs Doin Phaneuf go head to head in a lively fist a cuffs. You see the Devils don't like to be hit especially one of their goal scorers as in Z.Parise. Captain Dion laid Parise out with a beauty of a hit which Clarkson took exception to and challenged Phaneuf which he gladly accepted. My opinion here is, this wouldn't of happen if the instigator penalty rule was in forced but that's another subject for another day! In between that little mix up the Leafs did bring the score back to 2-1 with a nice tip in by Tim Connolly.

In the 2nd the two teams traded off goals which put the Devils up by one heading to the third. Please Note: There is a lack of print writing here as the Devils went into the defensive mode play and boarded the heck out of everyone!

But come the final minute of the third after a quick time out the Leafs tied it up just the way the coach had drawn it up on the board.  Phil "The Thrill' Kessel put in a beautiful wrist shot pass the glove of Brodeur that sent this game into overtime.

With that momentum the Leafs should of put the game away and they did have their chances (Gardiner rang one off the post) but with 1:18 left that 'flutter ball' shot from the defenseman Fayne floated by the  Monster for the loss. As Coach Wilson mentioned after the game ' We can't let those get away on us, it's simple as that. We have to be focused all through the game and don't dwell on the pass bad bounces.'

I think that sums up the way the whole season for the Leafs has been this year!

Game Notes.

Shots were even up at 32 a piece.

Another strong showing from rookie defenseman Jake Gardiner.

C.Gunnarsson was back on the Leafs blueline and logged 19:27 of ice time right behind Phaneuf who had 21:16

Hard to trade MacArthur in my opinion, some good hands there and starting to get his rhythm back but we will wait and see.

Leafs back at it on Thursday with the Sharks in town. Game time at 7pm.

Until Next Time.

See You After the Game

Coach Nye

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