Toronto Maple Leafs Rocked By Carolina Hurricanes

December 30th, 2011 No Comments

The Toronto Maple Leafs let another two points slip away Thursday night as the Carolina Hurricanes erased a 3-1 Toronto lead en route to a 4-3 overtime victory over the Blue and White.

The loss to the Hurricanes brought Toronto’s record to 3-4-3 in their past ten games and put them dangerously close to slipping out of a playoff spot. It also marked the second time the Hurricanes have beaten Toronto this season—a team that is well below the Maple Leafs in the standings.

The Maple Leafs currently sit eighth overall in the Eastern Conference, but with the Winnipeg Jets, and New Jersey Devils tied with the Leafs at 41 points apiece and the Ottawa Senators (39 points) and Washington Capitals (38 points) nipping at the Buds heals, the point lost Thursday night may come back to haunt the Maple Leafs in the long run.

Losses happen, but when you consider the Maple Leafs had a two goal lead with less than 11 minutes to go in the third period, this loss was inexcusable.

The Maple Leafs breakdown began when Hurricanes captain Eric Staal beat Toronto goaltender James Reimer with a wrist shot a mere 40 seconds after the Maple Leafs took a two-goal lead on the Hurricanes.

Carolina quickly pressed for more, culminating in the tying goal just over two minutes later when Zac Dalpe backhanded a nice shot past Reimer. Adding insult to injury, former Maple Leaf Jiri Tlusty assisted on both the goals, which had more than a few Leaf fans cursing.

Staal capped off his three point night in overtime, netting his ninth goal of the season with a power play marker in overtime. Tim Connolly’s tripping penalty was as undisciplined as they come and when you consider it came in overtime, the act was inexcusable.

Thursday nights loss marked the second consecutive loss on the Leafs three game road trip, which will end on New Years Eve when the Buds take on the Winnipeg Jets Saturday night.

When the road trip began there were great hopes by the players and management alike that the Maple Leafs could bank some much needed points. Instead, the Buds now find themselves in a huge hole.

Simply put, if you want to be a playoff team you cannot lose games to the teams that are below you in the standings, especially not a team that is missing one of their better forwards (Jeff Skinner) and their best offensive defenseman (Joni Pitkanen).

On the positive side, Nazem Kadri had another good game, notching his third goal of the season and third in four games since being recalled from the Maple Leafs AHL affiliate, Toronto Marlies.

Nikolai Kulemin and Joffrey Lupul also scored for the Buds, bringing their goal totals to four and 17 on the season, respectively.

Mental breakdowns, questionable defensive coverage and yet another night of poor execution on the penalty kill all played a role in the Maple Leafs loss against the Hurricanes.

The Maple Leaf power play, which has been amongst the best in the NHL this season, was also inept against the Canes, going 0 for 6 and looking uncharacteristically out of synch.

Of greater concern, the goaltending of James Reimer continues to be questionable at best since his return from concussion-like symptoms. Since coming back on December 3rd, Reimer has registered three wins in ten games. Reimer’s save percentage has been below .900 on six of those occasions and he has given up three or more goals in seven of those contests.

That said, hockey is a team game. If the Maple Leafs are looking for someone to blame each player needs to look at themselves in the mirror and make improvements.

One thing is for sure, Maple Leafs head coach Ron Wilson was not pleased with Thursday night’s outcome. Look for Wilson to skate his troops hard in the upcoming practice in an effort to send the message that losing in the style the Buds did against the Hurricanes is not acceptable.

Until next time,


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