The David Clarkson era did not get off to an otherwise inauspicious start.
With their high-priced unrestricted free agent signing finally in the lineup after a 10-game suspension, the Maple Leafs played arguably their worst game of the season losing 5-2 to the Blue Jackets
The Maple Leafs played poorly in the first period, showed signs of life in the second and then were overwhelmed by the host team in the third. If Clarkson was supposed to inject some energy into the lineup for a team that has now lost three of its last four games, it never happened. In fact, his first order of business was taking a hooking penalty at 4:16 in the first period that enabled the Blue Jackets to open the scoring at 4:55.
All told, Clarkson played 15:10 in 20 shifts and had four shots on goal with one hit. Clarkson's best scoring chance came at 12:56 of the third period from the side of the net on the power play shortly after Toronto's first power play unit had surrendered a shorthanded goal.
Coach Randy Carlyle, doing his best Simon Cowell impression, didn't exactly like what he saw, but he is willing to give the veteran some time to find his game.
"I think he looked rusty," Carlyle said. "The one thing you know is he's going to try. He's going to work and the other things -- the stick-handling and the turnovers -- you've got to give the guy some slack. He hasn't played any games this year. Everybody else is 10 games ahead of him."Lupul sits
Joffrey Lupul, Toronto's second leading scorer with six goals and 10 points in 10 games, was forced to sit out the game in Columbus with a bruised foot. He is listed as day-to-day after taking a Paul Ranger shot in the foot at practice Thursday. Coach Carlyle was upset that Lupul was not wearing foot protection at practice
Don't hang this loss on the goalie. Jonathan Bernier was really the only reason why the Maple Leafs were even in the game. Bernier, who falls to 5-4-0, played superbly in Toronto's fourth loss of the season. Bernier's best save of the game came at 6:46 of the third period with his team supposed to be enjoying a power play and looking for the equalizer while trailing 2-1. That's when Artem Anisimov of the Blue Jackets broke in alone, only to be turned back by the unflappable Toronto stopper.
Sergei Bobrovsky, who won the Vezina Trophy with Columbus last season, showed why he is considered one of the best goalies in the league. While the Maple Leafs didn't pepper him with shots, they did come up with some quality scoring chances and Goalie Bob was there, for the most part to turn them back.Leafs Nation
It was a road game, but if you watched on TV you might swear the game was played at Air Canada Centre. That's because many of the fans in the lower bowl of Nationwide Arena were adorned in Maple Leafs jerseys.First-period blues
The Maple Leafs have been, well, kind of rotten in many first periods this season and Friday night in Columbus was no exception.
"We didn't have a real good start to the hockey game at all, for whatever reason," Carlyle said. "And then our third period wasn't something I could say we'd be proud of."
They were out-shot 16-5 in the first period, out-hit 7-5 and were just 21 per cent (five-for-16) in the faceoff circle. They didn't score in the opening frame which marks four straight games that has happened.
In 11 games this season the Maple Leafs have only out-shot the opposition four times. In all, they have been out-shot 119-92 and there have been a couple of doozies such as Oct. 15 against Minnesota when they were out-shot 17-3 and Oct. 19 when Chicago out-shot them 9-3. Not surprisingly, Toronto has been out-scored 10-7 in first periods this season.
Carlyle asked if there was a common theme to the Maple Leafs poor starts and appeared to be baffled by it all.
"If I had the answer to that...I wish I did have the answer to that," he said.McLaren in, too
Clarkson wasn't the only member of the Maple Leafs to play his first game of the season in Columbus. Tough guy Frazer McLaren also made his debut. The six-foot-five, 230-pound left-winger missed the first 10 games of the year with a broken pinky finger courtesy of a slash from teammate Carter Ashton in training camp.
McLaren played his first season with the Maple Leafs last year scoring three goals and five points with 102 penalty minutes.
In his first game this season, McLaren played 3:32 on six shifts with one hit.
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