Goaltending has covered up for a lot of mistakes and indifferent play this season for the Toronto Maple Leafs
, but James Reimer
wasn't pulling rabbits out of hats Monday night.
More like digging pucks out of the net.
The Maple Leafs turned in their most lackluster performance of the season in dropping a shocking 6-0 decision
to the visiting Columbus Blue Jackets
and now head out on the road for three games.
On this night, Reimer didn't have it and neither did the 18 skaters
that played in front of him.
"I don't really have much to offer," Reimer said following the game. "It just wasn't my night tonight. People have nights like that where the puck just alludes you and as hard as you work, as much as you try to bear down, it just doesn't work out sometimes. It's obviously disappointing when it happens and frustrating, but it's just the way she goes."
This was not the kind of home effort coach Randy Carlyle expected from his players.
"We just couldn't find the pace of the game at all," Carlyle said. "It was like we were playing in our boots and they were playing in their skates. Every time the puck was up for grabs, it seemed like when we had it we gave it away or we lost it off the end of our stick. We couldn't get shots directed toward the net when we tried and then when we tried to pass we put it in the guy's feet. It was very frustrating.
"The most disappointing part for me was we didn't have energy off a day off yesterday," Carlyle said. "It just seemed like we lacked the necessary pace that was required to compete in the game. That's mindboggling."
The visiting Blue Jackets wasted no time in establishing ownership of the game by scoring two goals in 20 seconds
midway through the first period. Remarkably the Maple Leafs had absolutely no push back and things went from bad to worse in the second period when Columbus scored two more to put the game away.
Typically, the Leafs were out-shot 7-5 in the first period and 8-7 in the second. They were out-shot 22-18 through three periods.
As one pro scout from another organization said, "They get all kinds of offensive zone time; they just don't shoot the puck."
That will come as no surprise to anybody who has followed the team this season. The Maple Leafs, despite a winning record, are routinely out-shot.
Reimer was finally put out of his misery at 11:24 of the third period when he was pulled with Columbus leading 6-0. He was replaced by Jonathan Bernier. Carlyle said he considered pulling Reimer after the third goal and again after the fourth, but hoped the other players would rally around their stopper. He said the coaching staff made a decision after the second period to put Reimer back in net, but to throw Bernier in for the final 10 minutes.
Asked if goaltending played a part in the defeat, Carlyle said, "I think that was on par with the rest of our group. I would say with the way our hockey club played tonight, our performance would be labeled a team effort. It was nowhere near what we needed and obviously goaltending is a part of that."
Left-winger Joffrey Lupul
missed the third period with a pulled groin. Carlyle didn't know the extent of the injury. "He has a sore groin so I don't know what that means," Carlyle said.
Toronto captain Dion Phaneuf
was tagged two minutes for an illegal hit to the head on Columbus' Artem Anisimov at 10:50. Only one problem; TV replays showed it was clearly a shoulder-to-shoulder hit.
After the game Phaneuf said he watched the replay and is convinced he did not make contact with Anisimov's head. He argued his case on the ice, but was told by the referee that from his angle, it appeared he had hit the Blue Jacket player's head.
Carlyle did not like the penalty call, but avoided saying anything after the game that might get him in trouble with the league.
"I have not reviewed it; I haven't had a chance to see it on video, but from where I was standing it looked like he went chest-to-chest," Carlyle said. "Now did he make contact with his head? You tell me. I better not say what I want to say."
Hero to zero
On Saturday night Reimer was the toast of the town, making 49 saves in a 2-1 shootout victory
over the Washington Capitals. Two nights later with Toronto trailing 4-0 midway through the second period, the fans gave him the Bronx cheer after he stopped a long dribbler from the far end of the rink. The Maple Leafs were completely uninspired and it was their goaltender that took the brunt of the fans frustration and disapproval.
Maple Leafs centre Nazem Kadri
took the worst of it in a third-period fight with Matt Calvert of the Blue Jackets. Kadri slashed the Columbus player and didn't appear to want to fight when challenged, but that didn't stop Calvert from throwing punches. Toronto's David Clarkson appeared to be ready to step in, but thought better of it.
"I wanted to get in there and help and make it me that was the guy fighting," Clarkson said. "The ref started yelling and I thought Naz did a great job. When I heard the yelling I had to back away."
Blue Jackets fire power
So the Blue Jackets come to Toronto and kick a little butt on the scoreboard. Imagine how bad it could have been if Columbus had its best scorers in the lineup. The visitors were without Marian Gaborik (knee), Brandon Dubinsky (bruised foot) and Nathan Horton (concussion). That's a lot of fire power out of the lineup.
Centre Tyler Bozak
returned to the Leafs lineup after missing 12 games with a hamstring injury. Bozak has been back practising with the team for a week and coach Carlyle expressed surprise that he wasn't available for the team on Saturday's game against the Capitals. As expected, Bozak was back on Toronto's top line skating between James van Riemsdyk and Phil Kessel.
Bozak played 20:32 over 23 shifts and didn't look any better or worse than anybody else playing for the Maple Leafs. He said he felt fine, but had a little trouble with the pace of the game and his timing.
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