Jan 25, 2014; Winnipeg, Manitoba, CAN; Winnipeg Jets forward Dustin Byfuglien (33) celebrates his game-winning goal in overtime against the Toronto Maple Leafs at MTS Centre. Mandatory Credit: Shawn Coates-USA TODAY Sports

Toronto Maple Leafs Fight Back Against Winnipeg Jets But Lose In OT 5-4

The Toronto Maple Leafs are a funny team. In one stretch they lose four straight, in the next they win six straight. Now, after a 7-1 drubbing at the hands of the Dallas Stars they lost a game in OT when they had no business even getting to OT.

I’m confused. And I think Randy Carlyle is too.

Allow me to explain. In two successive games, he has pulled his starting goalie. In two successive games, the Leafs have been out shot. Over the season, the Leafs have given up a league worst 36 shots a game.

But hey, let’s just pull the goalies, because that must be the problem. Of course. I like the way Carlyle thinks. He has an easy scapegoat every single time the Leafs get whipped, and since he has two pawns, he can sacrifice either one at will.

Now, ignoring that, by some stroke of luck, the Leafs find themselves in 4th place in the East with 60 points. By luck, I mean shootout wins. Seriously.

The Leafs have a 9-4 record in shootouts. Those nine wins are tops in the NHL and their 18 points from those wins have given them a strange sense of strength.

I like to imagine the Toronto Maple Leafs players were hoping just to get through the last 2:30 of the OT frame, and get on with their pot-o-gold.

For contrast, the New Jersey Devils, who are in 11th place with 55 points, are 0-8 in shootouts.

I wonder if the Leafs have cornered the market on shootout specialists, which in today’s NHL is pretty important. Unfortunately.

When Dustin Byfuglien snapped home the winning shot, the Leafs still got a point, as they have in 10 other games in which they lost in OT or the shootout. In all, 19 of their 54 games has gone beyond regulation.

Again, for contrast, the Pitssburgh Penguins have only seen 6 of their 52 games go to OT. Which brings me to my point, I guess.

Is this Leafs team successful because it is a good team, or is it because they’ve been lucky? When I look at all the lopsided blowouts, I’m inclined to think the latter.

Phil Kessel kept up his scoring pace by adding a goal and assist. He now has 27 goals and 27 assists on the season. His 54 points finds him tied for 7th overall, he and everyone else trailing Sidney Crosby, who is scorching with 72 points.

A couple of non-scorers got the Leafs back into this one. Tim Gleason and Troy Bodie scored back-to-back in the 2nd, bringing their season totals to 1 and 2 respectively.

Dion Phaneuf broke a 2-0 deficit with his 5th goal of the season with a one-timer on the power play.

The Toronto Maple Leafs have 2 days off until they host the Tampa Bay Lightning on Tuesday night. Let’s hope for a shootout!


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Tags: Toronto Maple Leafs

  • Duncan_from_Fredericton

    I hear what you are saying about luck, but you can’t call fighting back from 4-1 luck – that’s more attitude and refusing to give up. You can’t call Kessel’s tying goal luck because few in the league have the skill to shoot with that kind of precision from such a tough angle. As for giving up more shots than other teams, when they win anyway that can’t be called luck either because while shots on goal is the predominant stat, scoring chances is the most relevant one. As I’m sure you will agree not all shots are created equal, and when the majority of the shots you give up are long unscreened one or low percentage angles, it’s no big deal. I see luck more along the lines of winning when the other team hits 3 posts. Deflections are often luck, but luck that you make and I think they tend to average out IF you are putting your fair number of shots on net or that general vicinity. Luck is a factor, no doubt, but I think the Leafs are where they are in the standings more or less because it is where they deserve to be.

    • John maudsley

      That Kessel goal was a beauty! Nothing against him at all. The problem lies in the fact that they get blown out bad seemingly once a week/every 2 weeks.

      That to me doesn’t showcase a strong team. A strong team doesn’t let itself go down 4-1, or get blown out 7-1. While they showed resilience, do you really think they have everything put together?

      I agree not all shots are the same, but so many goals come off screens. I’d say for every amazing goal like Kessel’s there are two or three that just happen to make it through the bodies in front.

      Whatever it is, I don’t think it bodes well for the Leafs chances.

      • Duncan_from_Fredericton

        Totally agree there’s a major issue with consistency. As a long suffering Leafs fan, I’m only to well aware we never know which Leafs team is going to show up on a given night. As for blow-outs, they happen to the best of teams – The Leafs blew out Chicago, The Pens were blown out not that long ago. The goals that just happen to go through bodies are a percentage game. Put enough pucks on net with enough players in the goalie’s way, and some will go through. But these shots weren’t the majority of high number of shots the Leafs allow, at least based on the games I get to see (here in Atlantic Canada we don’t get the Leafs Rogers broadcasts) but I’m not aware on any stats on that.

  • Scottie Smalls

    Every strong NHL team loses games we all thought they should have won…Detroit lost to Florida during the 24/7 taping. No team wins every game they should have won.