Leafs 2 v. Panthers 4: Groundhog Day
The above link has changed from the NHL.com scoresheet to Hockey-Recap's game report because, as you can see, it houses all of the game's information on one page. The best addition that has been made is the shift chart that shows all of the forward line and defence pairing permutations that are used in a game. Maurice's penchant for shuffling his lines in order to find a working set is evident in the sheer number of lines that the Leafs use compared to other teams and, most especially, Pat Quinn who seemed to prefer the roll the same four lines ad nauseum. At least Maurice seems to acknowledge that adjustments need to be made.
Unfortunately, the Leafs played another terrible first 40 minutes only that this time they were unable to recover in the third. They did make it close on the back of a 10 minute outburst of hockey but aside from that they seemed to have enjoyed their time in the sun too much to be bothered with playing a game. Clearly they did not care that some people had shelled out $10 to get a game atmosphere. What are the odds that the people in the best seats left early for each period and returned late?
Basically, nothing good can be written about this game other than that no one was injured. That is probably because no one threw a body check, blocked a shot, drove the net, or made an effort. I am literally quaking in fear of a repeat performance on Saturday. There are already some dire predictions being made; Ninja and Mad Hockey Blogger are not optimistic. I'll add that Buffalo are much better than Ottawa (and playing like it) and the Leafs actually played better against the Panthers than they did against Ottawa. Taking those two things into account makes me fear that double digits are attainable and not by the boys in blue (I mean the ones in blue and without a hideous slug on the front).
3 things from last night that scare me:
- The Leafs are going through the motions far too frequently. How professionals can blame the humidity of a building is beyond me. DRINK MORE WATER!
- Ian White is looking like a smaller and quicker version of Bryan McCabe. They both are struggling to clear the puck when under pressure (the Panthers' second goal resulted from White's panicked clearance). Both are terrible at hitting, Perezhogin undressed White because he put in a weak effort at hitting him and McCabe has missed his vaunted ass-check every time he has tried it. And both fall asleep in front of the net too often. In Ottawa White let a puck hit his skates and stay in the crease to be knocked in by Fisher instead of taking the body. McCabe last night watched a point shot sail by him and saw Olesz pot the rebound from the best seat in the house: right in the slot.
- The shots are drying up. The Leafs are among the league leaders in average shots but last night they were outshot 23-5!!!!!! in the first period. This team does not create enough off of the rush to be able to only take the good shots. In fact, they have to operate under the impression that there is no such thing as a bad shot.
I literally cannot write any more about last night's game without my will to cheer starting to leave my body. Unfortunately, there is one last part to write...
The Final Word
You couldn't have blamed anyone for leaving early last night from the Leafs' much-hyped first game on the big screen in Toronto theatres. This pooch, televised from the BankAmerica Centre, had no plot, no spark and no direction from a Toronto standpoint.
Mark Zwolinski, Toronto Star, compares last night's game to any of Paris Hilton's acting endeavours.
This season, the Panthers already have a victory in November and broke a six-game stranglehold the Leafs held over them; the Panthers hadn't defeated the Leafs since Feb. 25, 2004.
George Richards, Miami Herald, reminds the Leafs that they should win these games.