Untimely goals got the better of the Leafs. Despite having a slightly better showing in terms of possession than the previous stretch of games, Chicago’s goal in the dying seconds of the first period deflated any momentum going into the middle frame. In the third period, the Leafs had some sustained pressure before the Blackhawks took advantage on the power-play, and Patrick Kane scored to make it 3-0, effectively eliminating any chance at a comeback.
Leafs head coach Randy Carlyle has been known to mix up his lines when he feels the offence isn’t getting the job done. On Sunday night, Carlyle mixed and matched line combos several times over. With no goals to show for it, there is bound to be more experimentation with the lines going into Tuesday’s game against the Dallas Stars. That may extend to special teams, where the Leafs were 0/2 on the power-play and just 1/2 on the penalty-kill.
Disarray on defence
Over the last several games, the Leafs have found themselves out of the position on the back end. Carlyle has suggested as much following the Leafs 4-0 loss to Chicago, which could mean more drills on defence during practices, or perhaps some changing of defensive combinations. Jake Gardiner stood out, leading the Leafs with nearly 23 minutes and Carlyle appeared pleased with Gardiner’s play after sitting out Saturday’s game as a healthy scratch.
The Blackhawks have won two cups in the last four years. Their ability to possess the puck, be stable on defence and produce a high-octane offence, has been a model teams are striving to be like. The Leafs themselves have conceded it time and time again. They are working at trying to being a better puck possession team. On this night, they matched up a little better in the shot department, but the quality of scoring changes were much better in favour of Chicago.
James Reimer made 30 saves, a lot of them of a very difficult variety to keep the Maple Leafs in the game until the Chicago’s third goal. Reimer performed well, giving the Leafs every chance to mount a comeback against the Blackhawks. Even in a loss, the Leafs should be quite content with the depth they currently have between the pipes.