Power Play Pressure
The Maple Leafs fired 12 shots on the power play, which accounted for 40 per cent of Toronto’s 30 shots on goal. It was just the second time this season the Leafs lost a game while getting 10 shots on goal with the man advantage. It was also the highest amount of shots on the power play in nearly two years. The Leafs had 13 shots on goal on the power play, in a 4-1 loss to Carolina on February 4, 2013. The pressure was great. Their luck, not so much.
Although he was on the ice for the Leafs’ lone goal against, David Clarkson put in a solid performance otherwise. His assist on James van Reimsdyk’s goal marked the first time he recorded a point against his former team. Clarkson has been in the lineup against the Devils five times since signing with the Leafs in the summer of 2013.
What can you say about Jonathan Bernier that hasn’t been said about a Leafs goaltending performance many times this season? He kept the Leafs in this game, making 22 saves. For the 12th time this season, Bernier has posted a save percentage over .950. The only area that really needs improvement is the shootout. Among 82 active goalies in the NHL, Bernier ranks 75th in career shootout save percentage at .558. To be fair, it’s not something you can really prepare for but it is interesting to point out.
Getting the point
Although the Maple Leafs lost their seventh straight game, it was the first time during that span the Leafs salvaged a point in the standings. They are playing the right way, they just aren’t getting the results. Pretty soon, the Leafs will follow the script and win a game. It will probably be a sensation similar to the first time you were able to ride a bike. Despite falling with the training wheels off, you finally get the hang of it and it feels very freeing.
The Maple Leafs held their own without their team captain. Petter Granberg made his season debut and didn’t look out of place. That said, Phaneuf could have made the difference, like anyone else out of the lineup could have. Since joining the Leafs, the team is 5-10-4 without Phaneuf in the lineup. Their last win without him came on December 6th 2010, a 5-4 shootout win over the Washington Capitals.