Perhaps it was naive to expect a sweep of Western Canada, but it certainly didn’t help that the Toronto Maple Leafs only dressed one player against the Vancouver Canucks: James Reimer cannot win on his own.
After two stellar victories in Alberta earlier this week, the deep-rooted inconsistency that has became the Leafs’ hallmark once again reared its ugly head.
If Toronto has hoping to avenge the beatdown Vancouver levelled against it two years ago at Rogers Arena, then team will have to wait another year (or until the playoffs?) for a second crack.
The Canucks dominated the Leafs in every aspect of the game. Their offence put them on the scoreboard early; their defence kept the Leafs (dis)honest all night; and their goaltending carried the team to its second shutout win of the season.
On the same day that Roberto Luongo told the hockey world that he was ”pretty sure” Toronto would become his new home following the Luongo-Schneider debate/debacle, it was clear Vancouver made the right decision in sticking with “Luooooooooooo”.
I cannot say Luongo outplayed Reimer on the night, but he once again provided the type of calm, stable goaltending that carries good teams far into the playoffs. Toronto’s crease is seldom the scene of calmness and stability (cue the painful memories of Game 7 in the playoff against the Boston Bruins last season).
Adding to the Leafs woes, Dave Bolland left the game with a lacerated foot, which will require surgery. Few detail on the injury are known other than that, but head coach Randy Carlyle compared it to the Eric Karlsson injury last season.
That’s surely not good news. The Leafs are already playing without “first-line” centerman Tyler Bozak and this will only add to the team’s vacuum up the middle. It’ll be interesting to see who fills the hole.
Toronto now heads home to sit on their problems. They don’t play again until Friday so thankfully there is some time to manage the injury bug and work on the fundamentals. At some point, however, practice has to translate into result or you’ll simply keep repeating the same basic mistakes.
Tellingly, it could have been Ron Wilson or Carlyle coaching the team in Vancouver last night: it really didn’t matter. The Leafs were determined to lose this game and they definitely won in this respect.
Follow me on Twitter for regular posts about sports (especially the Toronto Maple Leafs), politics and other news topics: @williamefwilson