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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 lose in Florida - Where to point the finger?
Steve Minakakis
OurHometown.ca

Leafs lose in Florida - Where to point the finger?
The Toronto Maple Leafs went into Florida looking to capitalize on a struggling Panthers team but were unable to do so. The Leafs would press throughout the game cutting into the lead but would eventually lose the game 5-3. The Leafs next game is on Thursday against the Carolina Hurricanes.
PHOTO CREDIT - MapleLeafs.com

North York - December 28, 2011 - The Toronto Maple Leafs went into Florida looking to capitalize on a struggling Panthers team but were unable to do so. The Panthers scored early in the first as the Maple Leafs first line was on for nearly two minutes and were too tired to get the puck out of the zone. Grabovski would tie the game but the Panthers would soon after score three goals in the second period. One of which was on a 5-on-3 powerplay as the Leafs took a bad too many men penalty to put them down two players. The Leafs would press throughout the game cutting into the lead but would eventually lose the game 5-3.

James Reimer looked slightly out of sorts today as he let in three goals on eight shots. Two of the goals were ones that he needs to save for the Leafs to be successful in their quest for the playoffs. Jonas Gustavson would come into the game in the second period and play considerably well, but he needed to be perfect for the Leafs to get any points in the game. The Monster made 16 saves on 18 shots, both goals against him were also suspect, however he did make some key saves.

Toronto pressed hard as the game continued but couldn't seem to catch a break as Jose Theodore robbed Matt Frattin with the knob of his goal stick, and the Leafs hit a pair of goal posts in the third period. Grabovski would pick up two goals for the Leafs, Dion Phaneuf scored the other.

HE GOOD

- Grabovski was skating very well. He and his linemates, Kulemin and Frattin, played a very strong game .

- Cody Franson also played very well. He seems to be one of the few Leafs D-men who can get the puck through traffic and on net from the point Nazem Kadri is a great puck control player. He showed his skills again today and played a decent game. If he continues like this he will be a player that's tough to take out of the line-up

THE BAD (Where should I start...)

- The Penalty Kill is still a mess. Leafs only killed one of the three Florida powerplays.

- Goaltending was questionable. Reimer struggled while he was in the net, and Gustavson, who made some great saves, let in some questionable goals as well.

- The Leafs were burned because of unnecessary long shifts once again. Far too often it seems that Phil Kessel and his line take shifts approaching two minutes long. It has led to bad goals against and it seems by the time the third period rolls around Kessel, Lupul and Bozak barely have enough energy to jump over the boards and on to the ice.

- Dion Phaneuf looked very tired. Far too often this season have I seen a tired Dion Phaneuf point to his defensive partner to go chasing after the puck because he's too tired. He looked awful tonight. If you are too tired to skate, take a shift off and let someone else go. It shouldn't be that complicated.

John-Michael Liles didn't play due to concussion-like symptoms. Dupuis looks like he's close to being healthy enough to return to action, but I don't see him having a spot due to the strong play of Daryl Boyce. Komisarek and Lombardi are also making strides to return to the line-up. Korbinian Holzer was called up from the Toronto Marlies due to the injury to Liles.

At the end of the day, Toronto played pretty strong throughout most of the game but too many mistakes, below average goaltending, and just simply being unable to catch a break led them to a loss at the hands of Versteeg and the Panthers. The Leafs next game is on Thursday against the Carolina Hurricanes. Puck drop is at 7pm.


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