Toronto Maple Leafs Game Preview: Looking For Something Better Against the Tampa Bay Lightning
Mar 19, 2014; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Maple Leafs right wing Phil Kessel (81) celebrates his goal with left wing James van Riemsdyk (21) and center Tyler Bozak (42) against the Tampa Bay Lightning at Air Canada Centre. Mandatory Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports
The Leafs have lost three straight games by a combined score of 17-5.
Leafs Injury Report
Brandon Kozun is out with a high ankle sprain.
David Booth is out with a broken foot.
Joffrey Lupul is out with a broken hand.
Lightning Injury Report
Brett Connolly out with a lower-body injury
Victor Hedman out with a hand injury
Mattias Ohlund out with a knee
Nov 9, 2014; Detroit, MI, USA; Tampa Bay Lightning center Steven Stamkos (91) skates against the Detroit Red Wings at Joe Louis Arena. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports
Can things get any worse for the Leafs? After an embarrassing 9-2 loss to the Nashville Predators, Toronto will now have to handle a much more difficult opponent with Steven Stamkos and the Lightning coming to town.
Right now it looks like it is on the players to try and regroup, because there is nothing Randy Carlyle and Dave Nonis can do to make the team better. If the Leafs come out with the same effort as they did against the Buffalo Sabres and Predators then it will probably force Brendan Shanahan to do something. Interestingly, the Toronto Marlies are also currently struggling offensively through a five-game losing streak.
Nov 18, 2014; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Nashville Predators forward Derek Roy (21) scores against Toronto Maple Leafs goaltender Jonathan Bernier (45) as Toronto Maple Leafs defenceman Dion Phaneuf (3) tries to defend during the first period at the Air Canada Centre. Mandatory Credit: John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports
One of the players that has not taken enough blame for the Leafs problems is captain Dion Phaneuf. The team has been incapable of playing Carlyle’s system and showing any sense of pride. The captain should be the one to step in and set an example for the team. Unfortunately for the Leafs, their captain is actually a part of the problem. When I watch Phaneuf play, he lacks intensity and passion – he was not like that in his early days with the Calgary Flames.
If the Leafs want to turn things around, it better come sooner rather than later.
Toronto Maple Leafs
Apr 8, 2014; Tampa, FL, USA; Toronto Maple Leafs right wing Phil Kessel (81) passes the puck against the Tampa Bay Lightning during the first period at Tampa Bay Times Forum. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
Phil Kessel career vs Tampa Bay: 10 goals- 14 assists- 24 PTS
Dion Phaneuf career vs Tampa Bay: 17 GP- 4 goals- 8 assists- 12 PTS
Nazem Kadri career vs Tampa Bay: 9 GP- 2 goals- 4 assists- 6 PTS
James van Riemsdyk career vs Tampa Bay: 18 GP- 5 goals- 7 assists- 12 PTs
Tyler Bozak career vs Tampa Bay: 15 GP- 5 goals- 8 assists- 13 PTS
Jake Gardiner career vs Tampa Bay: 9 GP- 3 goals- 4 assists- 7 PTS
Jonathan Bernier career vs Tampa Bay: 2 GP- 2 wins- 1.50 GAA- .961 sv%
Tampa Bay Lightning
Mar 19, 2014; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Tampa Bay Lightning center Steven Stamkos (91) carries the puck against the Toronto Maple Leafs at Air Canada Centre. Mandatory Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports
Steven Stamkos career vs Toronto: 21 GP- 13 goals- 13 assists- 26 PTS
Ben Bishop career vs Toronto: 9 GP- 3 wins- 4 losses- 2.99 GAA- .893 sv%
Tyler Johnson career vs Toronto: 5 GP- 1 goal- 3 assists- 4 PTS
Ondrej Palat career vs Toronto: 5 GP- 3 goals- 2 assists- 5 PTS
Keys to Victory
Nov 18, 2014; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Nashville Predators forward Taylor Beck (41) and Toronto Maple Leafs forward Mike Santorelli (25) watches a goal by Nashville Predators defenseman Roman Josi (not pictured) against Toronto Maple Leafs goaltender James Reimer (34) at the Air Canada Centre. Nashville defeated Toronto 9-2. Mandatory Credit: John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports
Enough talking about how things need to change. The only way fans will understand that the players are ready to play with pride, is by coming out with a half decent effort against the Lightning.
At this point the fans would rather see the team lose with dignity then be embarrassed time and time again. If the Leafs allow Tampa to take control of the game early, Carlyle better consider cutting the ice-time of those who refuse to be a team player. The team needs to be disciplined and play as a group because hockey is a team game (a real no-brainer). Players need to buy-in and if they refuse to, then it might be time for a change to be made.
Nov 12, 2014; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Maple Leafs forward Tyler Bozak (42) scores on Boston Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask (40) during the second period at the Air Canada Centre. Mandatory Credit: John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports
The Leafs cannot focus all their attention on Stamkos. Although he is a dangerous player, the Lightning have done a good job surrounding him with great talent (Leafs should take note). That does not mean Stamkos should be left to do what he wants – the Leafs need to make life tough for him.
The individual mistakes such as bad pinches by the defence and terrible turnovers, have led to terrible starts for the Leafs. They need to play with intensity in their own zone, because if they do not the Lightning will take advantage. If players decide that the name on the back of their jersey is more important than the one on the front, this team will not learn from their mistakes.
Also, if Jonathan Bernier does get the start, he needs to give the team confidence that he can bail them out if they make a mistake. If a goal goes in as a result of a mistake by the teammate but the goalie had a chance to stop it, then he should take part of the blame.
For the Leafs, the goal should be to come in and stick together as a team. They should not let their opponent intimidate them, but at the same time they cannot be passive.