Game gets away
For the first time in 15 games, the Maple Leafs lost when they were leading after two periods of play. Up 4-2 through 40 minutes, the Panthers scored four unanswered. The Panthers came into the game with the fifth-worst goals per game average with 2.12. There have been many examples this season where the Leafs were heavily outshot, but have managed to score their way to a victory. Possession has to improve.
The Maple Leafs lost 67% of their faceoffs. This was particularly troublesome against a team that ranks 20th in faceoff proficiency. A good possession game starts with the draw and the Leafs struggled in Florida. The Leafs have dropped the faceoff battle in five straight games and nine of their last 10 games. It’s an area that is trending in a negative direction and needs to be fixed. Better faceoff numbers lead to increased possession, which ultimately leads to more offensive zone time.
Offence still strong
The Maple Leafs offence is an area that needs no improvement whatsoever. James van Reimsdyk’s goal and assist means he has points in all six seasons he has played a game at BB&T Center. Nazem Kadri has nine points in ten career games against the Panthers after scoring a goal on Sunday. Richard Panik scored his career high seventh goal of the season. He was promoted to the third line prior to tonight. The bad news is Panik was unable to finish the game, after taking a nasty hit from Scottie Upshall. No word on how much time he could miss, if any.
The Maple Leafs were 1-4 on the power-play and 2-3 on the penalty-kill. The power-play goal scored by the Panthers was costly, as Brad Boyes scored the game-winner with 3:15 left to play in regulation time. The veteran has had Toronto’s number throughout his career. Boyes registered his 26th career point against Toronto. That is more than any other team he played against, passing Columbus who was tied with Toronto at 25.
The Maple Leafs were dealt with a surprise when Jonathan Bernier fell ill. Christopher Gibson was called up by the Leafs to backup James Reimer. Through 40 minutes, Reimer held the Panthers in check. The third period wasn’t as flattering, with Reimer giving up three goals on five shots. Judging by post-game comments from Randy Carlyle, it appears that the starter in goal against Tampa is up in the air.
Joffrey Lupul got his 400th NHL point when he assisted on Roman Polak’s goal. Richard Panik leads the NHL in shooting percentage among players who have skated in 30+ games (26.9%). Jake Gardiner played in his 200th NHL game.