That was one of those games. Nothing seemed to go right. Players coasted to loose pucks and allowed Ottawa “players” to establish body position at will. Combine that with some very weak, one sided refereeing and a trademark Monster whiff and you are not likely to get your two points.
But nothing that happened truly shut the door on this game. This year’s edition of the Leafs is defensivly sound and opportunistic, ready to strike with efficiency when opportunity arises. Last night they were not in sync. The Leafs “creative” style of passing (where tape-to-tape is strictly forbidden) killed the momentum of nearly every rush. It’s strange how passing the puck 3’ behind a teammate is not as effective as putting it squarely in his feet.
But these passing problems happen all the time and usually the Kids in Blue adapt, fight for the puck and always move it forward. Last night that fight was missing. Kessel and Grabo were two of the worst offenders, waiting for others to do the dirty work as they coasted away. Despite this both managed some chances and played stable if unremarkable games. The biggest dog was Kulemin who, during one of the only chances the Leafs had in the second, not only veered away from a gift which he could have driven towards the net but decided his best option was to get up close and personal with a Senator nowhere near the puck and took a seat in penalty box.
It is games like this where you really miss Riemer. Solid goaltending is essential when your team isn’t at its best. No goal on Monster was all that spectacular and once again a weak shot to the glove that should never go in floats past, barely rippling to twine.
But hey, you can’t have your A game every night and Monster played well enough for a win had the Leafs had a little drive left.
Here we are one month in and the Leafs aren’t in the thick of it, instead they are slightly above it, trying to maintain their hold of the division.