Leafs 2 v. sens 6: Jekyll and Hyde
This game is best summed up by the head coach:
There's only one mistake that we made tonight: We didn't compete as hard as we need to as a team. That's it.
And this post from Ninja that captures the frustration of watching the Leafs pick and choose the periods they want to play as if they were good enough to give less than 100%.
If you are still curious about last night's trainwreck of a game then read last game's recap. The bad stuff still applies (except for the shootout) and there were fewer goals. Or if you want to re-read something happy check out the Flames game. Mats also made history last night AND those truths were clearly in evidence last night. However, if you are determined to read about last night's game then carry on.
The Leafs did put in a solid 30 minutes. Unfortunately, it was the second 30 minutes and the score was already 5-0. Here is a summary of how not competing and the collective mental nap that the Leafs took from the puck drop to the 8:00 mark of the second period cost the Leafs any chance in this game:
1-0 - Kaberle makes a terrible pinch at the blue line which is followed by Belak over-committing on a 2-on-1 to leave Raycroft alone.
2-0 - Leafs can't clear the zone despite numerous chances and the point shot is deflected by a Leafs player.
3-0 - Gill gets outmuscled by Patrick Eaves in front of the net and he pots the rebound to score his first goal since the season opener against the Leafs.
4-0 - Wellwood misses a great opportunity to get the puck by letting it slide under his stick in the corner. McCabe can't tie up Vermette and he fired Fisher's pass through Raycroft's pads.
5-0 - The Leafs all get outworked. Sundin had the puck on the boards and couldn't clear. Spezza eventually gets the puck and centres to Heatley who got away from Wellwood.
On the bright side, the Leafs could have easily gone into the third trailing only 5-4 instead of 5-1. The Gerber Baby made a number of last-ditch saves to rob Mats and Wellwood of goals. He did look a little weak in the third, especially on Sundin's record setting goal, but unfortunately the Leafs cannot build on that since Emery get the start Thursday night.
The two heavyweights took a little dance but it turned out to be a pretty terrible fight and indicative of the game. Belak didn't do too much while McGrattan did just enough until Wade slipped up and he pounced. It was nice to see McGrattan win his first-ever fight. I can only assume it was his first win because despite not landing any good punches and basically just falling on Belak he tried to mock Belak by making "turtle" motions.
Team pest Darcy Tucker did his best to energize the team. One sequence showed what he brings to the team. First he nailed Spezza, who proceeded to slash him and run to the bench, then Tucker hit Eaves, who jumped at Darcy as he was hit. Tucker dropped the gloves, grabbed him and said 'let's go'. Eaves made a valiant effort but Tucker dropped three huge rights and topped off the sequence by returning McGrattan's mocking by mimicking him.
Most Ottawa fans are outraged, calling Eaves a skill player and suggesting that Neil fight Wellwood in relatiation. That is just nonsense. We all know that Neil doesn't fight. Plus Eaves is the sens answer to Tomas Holmstrom (from what I have read) and he is 2 inches taller and 10 pounds heavier. Tucker didn't throw a punch until Eaves dropped the gloves.
Schubert continued the sens pattern of injuring Leafs through stick violence (Alfie was the exception, he used a hit from behind) with a hefty slash on Kilger and he was repaid by something that Harry Neale called "The Separator". Not a noble retaliation.
The sens replied to the Leafs dirty tricks with their tried and true dirty trick, a hit from behind on Tucker. This time it was Heatley, who is apparently the sens' injurer-in-chief now, who drilled Tucker. No penalty of course.
The animosity is building in anticipation of Thursday night. Of course because of the ridiculous NHL schedule, that will be the fourth game in October followed by a long layoff to let the steam cool. What a shame, things were just getting interesting. Hopefully, both teams show up tomorrow night (paging the home team) or a repeat of the 6-0 drubbing. I could handle that.
Maple Leaf Goals
O'Neill wins the faceoff back to White who gets his shot through. O'Neill sneaked past the sens centreman and was stoned (that has been a theme this season) but Stajan has an empty net for the tap in.
Shades of Lalime. White hit Tucker with a good breakout pass and he found an open Sundin on the left wing. He shot on net as he crossed the blueline and Gerber absolutely blew it. He passes Dave Keon (he of the curse) into second on the all-time Leafs scoring list. Not quite as good as his 500th but you can only score on who you're facing.
The Final Word
You know their pride will kick in and they’ll come more prepared Thursday night. The last time Ottawa beat them up on home ice, they did much worse in response.
Chris McMurtry, Hockey Country, summing up the best case scenario.
As usual when these clubs meet, not all went off without a hitch. Darcy Tucker backs down from no one, but his decision to start a fight with Eaves, a non-fighter, in the second period did not please Senators brass. "It's a cowardly act," Sens general manager John Muckler said.
Terry Koshan, Toronto Sun, probably wondering if Muckler remembers Alfie's cowardly check or Heatley's cowardly slash or Spezza's cowardly slash. Maybe it's senility kicking in.