MEH (POST GAME AND PRE-GAME OPINIONS)
I was fortunate enough to be able to get tickets and see the game tonight. However, what I was treated to was what I felt to be the most boring game of the season. A stinker loss to the Penguins was a tough one to handle, only because the Leafs made the game sort of interesting in the third period (because of course). We'll see how that goes tomorrow night.
What happened and what to expect
Honestly, I felt that the Leafs did a good job in making the inductees feel special for the night. I also found some excitement for Salming for his addition to Legends Row. However, the night was filled with slow pace, a dead crowd, and some bad bounces.
After the respectful ceremony, the Penguins seemed in control of the game. They were easily able to take the puck off the Leafs and go the other way for an opportunity. While some of the shots were fairly easy to stop, it was the danger of the pressure that made me feel nervous for another long night. Fortunately, the Penguins did not explode offensively but still got away with two points. Thanks a lot Dupuis for ruining the night! This is why we can't have nice things.
While the game may have seemed slow, there were a few positive moments. The first of it being Franson scoring the lone goal for the Leafs midway through the third that stunned even the fans in attendance. It happened so quickly, that it seemed that the Leafs had a chance to come back. The other good moment was the hit by Phaneuf late in the game that really got the crowd excited. While he did not fight Malkin, I felt the crowd finally got focused on the game and really get loud.
So after a poor showing like this, the Leafs NEED to bounce back and play 100 times better against Buffalo because they are waiting for them in the worst place for the Leafs to play in: the Sabres home rink. While they are the worst team in the NHL, that doesn't mean the Leafs should take them lightly. After all, they did outshoot Buffalo 37-10 the last time the two rivals met. Hope for the best!
Ashton, Percy, Carrick, Kozun (injured), Booth (injured), Lupul (injured)
Why the loss and how to reverse fortunes
1) No power-play chances at all. I mean, really Leafs? You are given 6 chances to capitalize on the mad advantage, and you score on NONE OF THEM!?!?!?! It really frustrates me when the Leafs have the puck during these two minutes and are lucky to have two shots on net, because they only pass and not fire. That is not going to help you score goals and certainly help you win games. The only way the Leafs are going to have success on the man advantage is if they shoot more and pass less.
2) Dupuis. How do you let this guy get two goals that were because of a Leaf mistake? Dupuis just seemed to have a nose for the net all game and looked dangerous throughout. Then again, he was just promoted up to reunite with Crosby so that helps with the danger. I feel angry when we let a guy like this who has struggled and ends up becoming amazing, which is exactly what happened tonight. Simply, the Leafs need to do a better job in shutting down key players because leaving star players alone with the puck for even one second is enough for them to make you pay.
3) Leafs looked sluggish. When I saw the Leafs skate in the warm up, I was worried. This was because looking at how they were feeling and their effort on the small practice made it seemed as though the Leafs were not mentally ready to play. They should be lucky that Bernier was ready to play because he had to make numerous stops all night. Otherwise, the score would not be as close as the final results says. It took the Leafs nearly two periods to get their act together and start playing better. But too little too late, cause the Penguins were ahead and the Leafs could not come from behind. So be ready tomorrow or else.
Predictions and results
From this morning:
No, this game was barely an offensive show and the goals were not highlight worthy. However, while Dupuis did score already, he has struggled before this one. So I still lose the round.
"I expect these two teams to put on a good offensive show all night long. While there may not be a high number of goals, they will be highlight material. I also expect someone who has yet to score to finally fill the basket for the first time this season."
This new game will bring new fortunes to the Leafs and they should come out of the gate flying. The Leafs won't dominate the Sabres they way they did in the previous match-up, but I expect to see a highly intense game overall.