Leafs Losing Streak Hits 8, Leafs Lose In Overtime
Another game, another loss, this time 4-3 in overtime against the rival Montreal Canadiens. For the first 50 minutes of the contest, the Leafs looked pretty good, especially our defense with 3 rookies manning the blueline. It was a night that was not to be as the Leafs could not hold their 2-1 lead and were down 3-2 late in the 3rd period before Ken Klee teed up a hard low slapshot to force overtime. As per usual, defensive miscues cost the Leafs the game in overtime while they were short handed due to a foolish Alexander Khavanov penalty on the follow through of a good play to stop Alex Kovalev on his drive to the net.
Darcy Tucker made his return to action after missing the six previous losses and played very well, scoring the Leafs first goal and was the best Leaf on the ice. Oshawa native Jay Harrison made his debut tonight and played well. On the post game shows, Don Cherry remarked that Harrison is a big, tough defenceman who played a great game and should have been called up by the Leafs a long time ago. Gary Green and Andy Frost echoed Grape's comments on After The Horn on Leafs TV. On a similar play to the one where Khavanov drew his foolish penalty, Harrison did his best to stop speedy Michael Ryder. Not only did Tellqvist make a nice save, but, Harrison didn't pull a Khavanov and hold his opponent after the play was made.
Jason Allison played a fair game and chipped in a couple of assists. Allison may as well be the number one centre on the Leafs as Lindros is still hurting and Mats Sundin is evolving more and more into a bit player. You rarely see Sundin leading a rush anymore.
Tie Domi and Wade Belak made some foolish comments in the past week. Domi said that Leafs fans were pointing the finger at everyone and anyone and the players didn't really care. Belak said that if the Leafs win a game or two the fans will forgive them and love them again. Well Tie, you played poor last night and I don't even know if Belak dressed last night, I certainly can't recall him being on the ice. Domi has a terrible set of hands and is rarely capable of completing a leading pass so that the receiver can get the pass at full steam. Sorry to say it, but, Tie is done. He's not the fighter he used to be, he skates well, but, there are lots of young guys who could be getting his ice time who skate as well or better and who could be improving into something more than what Domi will give them.
Andy Wozniewski went from playing alright early on to playing poorly late in the game. Wozniewski almost gave the game away with 30 seconds left in the 3rd period when he made a poor pass and the puck was laying in the Leafs slot unattended. I guess Pat Quinn didn't notice the giveaway though as he showed confidence in Wozniewski putting him on the ice to kill a penalty less than a minute into OT.
When I noticed Wozniewski coming onto the ice, I wondered what the heck Quinn was thinking. Of course at 1:04 of overtime Wozniewski was unable to check Saku Koivu from his spot to the left of the crease where he banged away at Tellqvist until the puck went into the net. I'm not sure if I should be upset with Wozniewski, upset with Quinn for having him on the ice at that time or upset with John Ferguson Jr. for masterminding this edition of the Leafs with the most porous defence in recent memory. Steve Simmon wrote a very good article on the failings of JFJ.
Next game is Monday night in Florida against the Panthers. There is a chance Bryan McCabe could be back for this one. If so, I hope JFJ understands that Wozniewski needs to go back to the Marlies for further seasoning. Even if McCabe doesn't come back, shuffling Wozniewski with Brendan Bell would be a good move. Tellqvist deserves the start Monday, let's see if Pat Quinn has the guts to do that.