The Toronto Maple leafs threw everything but the kitchen sink at Senators net-minder Craig Anderson but came up on the wrong end of a 4-2 score at the Canadian Tire Centre Saturday.
The lowly Sens took three of four against their Ontario rival this year and more impressive from the hometown perspective, Toronto has won only four of the last 16 meetings between the two.
You’d think after the embarrassing display a couple weeks ago the boys from Hogtown would certainly step it up to avenge that loss, but to no avail. Additional bulletin board motivation came from controversial Senators owner Eugene Melynk a week ago who made some disparaging comments regarding the Leafs team, particularly the defense.
They didn’t play a bad game but the killer instinct to put teams away has been a bone of contention all season long and certainly must have management perplexed to say the least. While Toronto doubled the Sens up on the shot clock 44-22 they were doubled up were it counts the most, the scoreboard.
Mitch Marner was a constant threat every time he stepped on the ice while line mate John Tavares worked hard but looked to be fighting the puck, having one of those nights. William Nylander along with Auston Matthews generated some chances (34 opened the scoring for the visitors) but was kept to the perimeter most of the evening.
Garrett Sparks with a chance to atone for a weak performance last visit to the Nations Capital once again showed he doesn’t have the ability to ‘make a save’ when the team needs one. He was booed and given the Bronx cheer from a very frustrated pro Leafs Nation crowd that collectively holds it breath on every shot directed at the Toronto goal when he plays.
It wasn’t all on Sparks however because the home team consistently turned the puck over and at times looked dizzy watching the puck cycled around their end but the Leafs couldn’t capitalize. When they did mange to create a scoring chance Craig Anderson who like many others, seems to save his best for the boys in blue and white, was outstanding.
The Leafs certainly have a flare for the dramatic delaying not only clinching a playoff spot but their first round opponent if they do. While improbable it’s not impossible that the season finale against Montreal next weekend could determine the playoff fate of both clubs. Carolina appears destined to qualify for post-season play and Columbus knocking on the door has the softer of games remaining on the schedule.
Toronto faces the Islanders, Canes and Tampa while Montreal line up against Washington and Tampa; should fans be concerned?
Don’t change the dial just yet folks.