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Follow Me on TwitterSteve Minakakis is a Toronto Maple Leafs correspondent for OurHometown.ca. Steve's passion for hockey, especially the Maple Leafs, brings the hockey world alive with his unique style of writing. He is the creator and editor of TMLhockey.com. If you have any questions or wish to contact Steve, you can email him at sminakakis@ourhometown.ca
Leafs spoil Sundin Night and make playoff race interesting
Steve Minakakis
OurHometown.ca

Leafs spoil Sundin Night and make playoff race interesting
After a good week of hockey where the Leafs won all three of their games from last Wednesday to this past Monday, the Leafs have struggled badly. They most certainly are making the playoff race interesting, but not in a good way if you're a Leaf fan. They have lost their last three games and have played progressively worse in each game.
PHOTO CREDIT - MapleLeafs.com

North York - February 12, 2012 - After a good week of hockey where the Leafs won all three of their games from last Wednesday to this past Monday, the Leafs have struggled badly. They most certainly are making the playoff race interesting, but not in a good way if you're a Leaf fan. They have lost their last three games and have played progressively worse in each game.

It was Mats Sundin's night tonight. His jersey number 13 was honoured and raised into the rafters accompanied by ceremony where Sundin would be cheered for the majority of the 20 minutes of his speech. That was about all the cheering the Leafs would get as the next three segments of 20 minutes would be filled with boos from the stands. The Leafs were flat again tonight.

James Reimer let in two questionable goals, one through the five-hole and another that fluttered between his arm and squeaked into the back of the net. Luke Schenn attempted to stick handle the puck in the defensive zone, which is usually not a good idea, and turned it over to Montreal for another goal.

Dion Phaneuf let Lars Eller walk around him for the fourth goal and Reimers night was done. Gustavsson would come in the third period and would let a goal in on his first shot against, which was a breakaway for Montreal.

Along with their terrible performance was a lack of luck for the Leafs. They hit a couple of goal posts including one where Nikolai Kulemin hit both posts and the puck rolled along the crease. This was definitely a game to forget for the Leafs. On the plus side though, the fourth line played very well. They were extra physical, and even at the end of the game Mike Brown went after PK Subban, who was jousting with Phil Kessel earlier in the period. Mike Brown took a minor penalty, but at that point the game was over and it was good Brown to stick up for his teammate.

As bad as the Leafs played today, they deserve better goaltending. I don't care how bad your defense is playing, your goalie has to not let in bad goals, and most goalies for a playoff team will make some big saves on plays that should've been goals. Reimer was simply not good today. Not good at all. The Leafs thought their goaltending problems were over last week when Reimer came back getting two shutouts and playing solid, but since he has shown a lack of consistency.

But its tough to thrown Reimer under the bus without a few friends. No reason he should be lonely down there because Phaneuf, Schenn, Connolly and many others, if not all, Leaf players looked bad today. Brown and Daryl Boyce may have been the only exceptions as they played hard, finished their checks, and pressured on the forecheck all game long.

The Capitals didn't play tonight, so for now the Leafs still hold the eighth and final playoff spot, but they will need to shape their game up because the Caps have two games at hand on Toronto. With 26 games left in the season there isn't much time left for playing like they did this week. Toronto needs to go hard down the stretch. Toronto gets back at it on Tuesday as they start a western Canadian road trip in Calgary. Then they head into Edmonton on Tuesday and Vancouver next Saturday night.


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