The Leafs’ five worst faults—and how every one of them contributed to their 7-0 loss to the Rangers
Last night, the Toronto Maple Leafs definitively answered an important question: will the NHL’s most profitable franchise finally make the playoffs this year? Their answer was no.
In losing 7-0 to the New York Rangers, the Leafs answered in emphatic fashion. As beat reporter James Mirtle so accurately writes in the pages of the Globe and Mail today: “In a season full of losses, this was the ugliest of them all, one where there was plenty of blame to go around.” Below, the Leafs’ five most glaring faults and how last night they showcased all of them like they never have before.
1. Brutal Goaltending
Goaltending has been a serious issue and major weakness for the Leafs all season, but it was never more apparent than it was last night. Starting goalie Jonas Gustavsson, the man playfully called “The Monster,” was monstrously bad. And the same goes for Jean-Sebastien Giguere. The two Toronto netminders combined to give up four goals in only five minutes midway through the opening stanza. That’s one goal every 75 seconds. After the first three trickled in, head coach Ron Wilson mercifully yanked Gustavsson. But Giguere barely made it through to the end of the period, letting in one goal on three shots before Gustavsson was back between the pipes to start the second. On one goal, The Monster managed to lose both his goalie stick and his dignity, as he was deked right off his skates before the mesh rippled behind him. All told, Gustavsson allowed six scores on just 25 shots.
2. Bad Defending
Of course, the whopping number of goals against the Leafs was the product of a true team effort. The Leafs defencemen somehow allowed Rangers sniper Marion Gaborik to become the first player in the NHL this season to pocket four goals in a one game. This after Gaborik had been mired in an eight-game scoring slump and was being called out in the local press for failing to live up to his $7.5 million contract. New York also grabbed a pair of power play goals after converting only two of their last 32 chances before the Toronto came to town. If you need a slump-breaker, apparently, just call on the Leafs.
3. Careless Turnovers
New York’s first goal typified the Leafs night—and, perhaps, even their season. Francois Beauchemin had the puck behind is own net and was looking up ice to make a breakout pass. Somehow, he misread the situation and failed to see the Rangers Sean Avery camped firmly in the middle of the ice. Beauchemin flung the puck in front and it landed square on the tape of Avery’s stick. The result: Gaborik firmly planting the puck in the back of the Leafs net. Beauchemin should’ve got an assist.
4. Lacklustre Attack
The Leafs gifted Rangers goaltender Hendrick Lundquist his seventh shutout of the season, firing only 22 shots on the New York net. On two early power plays, Toronto failed to get even a single shot on goal. According to the National Post, it was likely the easiest clean sheet of Lundquist’s career.
5. Tendency to Wilt
Digging deep doesn’t seem to be the Leafs forte. After the first goal, the team completely capitulated and the floodgates opened. Take your pick of hackneyed sports metaphors here: the air was let out of their tires; they collapsed like a deck of cards (Wilson went with this one); they sucked big-time (OK, maybe that’s not a metaphor). Underperforming forward Phil Kessel summed it up in the postgame scrum: “We started OK and then we gave up the first one and they just poured it on us. It was just not a good game for us and we’ve got to be better.” In a word: yup.
• Leafs bottom out in New York [Globe and Mail]
• Gustavsson, Leafs embarrassed by Rangers, 7-0 [Toronto Star]
• Maple Leafs embarrassed on Broadway [National Post]
• Leafs rotten to the core [Toronto Sun]
• NHL: Highlights: TOR 0, NYR 7 [TSN]