The Maple Leafs suffered another hard luck loss, this time at the hands of the Philadelphia Flyers. Here are five takeaways.
I don’t care who you are, anyone going through this kind of adversity is going to suffer some of the negative effects that come with it. The Leafs nine-game winless streak could be summed up by the final five seconds. A key faceoff win from Tyler Bozak (who won 16 of 21 draws on the night) to help set up Phil Kessel for the final shot, and the attempt goes wide. It just takes a bad bounce to go their favour to snap out of it.
This only serves to bother people. A lot of fans don’t want to hear about how the team is playing better defensively, but it’s the truth. Toronto allowed 18 shots on goal. It was their second fewest allowed all season, and it’s the first time they have lost a game while allowing under 20 shots since February 19, 2013. There will be a reversal of fortune if they stick to it.
Emergence of Rielly
Since the injury to Dion Phaneuf, Morgan Rielly has really stepped up his game. In the midst of the Leafs offensive drought, Rielly has done his part by trying to pinch and setting up a lot of scoring chances in the process. A late third period attempt saw Rielly buzzing around the net before his shot was blocked, sending the puck over top of the net.
Nazem Kadri had four shots on goal, the second most of any Leaf on the night. There was a play late in the first period where the Leafs had applied a lot of pressure. Kadri kept the play going longer by saving a Flyers clear attempt by intercepting the puck at the blue line. Kadri got arguably the best scoring chance of the night, but Flyers goaltender Steve Mason robbed him clean. The puck luck is just not there.
Guys to the net
The only antidote for these goal droughts are to get them in an ugly fashion. While the Leafs had their chances, there weren’t a lot of bodies at the net. Players will be looking to park themselves there going forward. It’s the only way.