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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 third game in a row, Drop out of Playoff spot
Steve Minakakis
OurHometown.ca

Leafs lose third game in a row, Drop out of Playoff spot
The year ended on a rough note for the Leafs as they dropped their third game in a row. A rough month of December where Toronto only won four of the thirteen games they played ends with them on the outside of a playoff spot looking in. A rather familiar place for the team as well as Leafs Nation.
PHOTO CREDIT - MapleLeafs.com

North York - January 1, 2012 - The year ended on a rough note for the Leafs as they dropped their third game in a row. A rough month of December where Toronto only won four of the thirteen games they played ends with them on the outside of a playoff spot looking in. A rather familiar place for the team as well as Leafs Nation. The Washington Capital and Ottawa Senators have now jumped Toronto and the Leafs now sit tenth in the Eastern conference standings.

Not much to report on the game - same problems as always. The Leafs inability to be able to kill off penalties led to all three goals from the Jets. Two of the three goals came on the powerplay and the other was just a few seconds after one of the Leafs penalties had finished. They weren't given much help as the referees made a few questionable calls against the Leafs, including a really late call that was made solely based on the reaction of Winnipeg fans.

Tyler Bozak missed the game and is expected to miss at least seven days. He fell hard into the boards during practice and was placed on the IR. Matthew Lombardi was then activated off the IR and returned to the line-up for the Leafs. Lombardi played on the third line with Nazem Kadri and Clarke MacArthur while Tim Connolly moved up to the first line with Kessel and Lupul.

Keith Aulie really struggled tonight. From bad pinches to not being able to get the puck out of the zone several times during penalty kills, he did not look good. If I were Ron Wilson I would consider starting Korbinian Holzer in place of Aulie, just to see what he can bring to the table. Then again if I were Ron Wilson, I would have found a way for the Leafs to have some sort of functioning penalty kill system. I'm not one to rip on Wilson, but enough is enough. The Leafs have lost more than a handful of games entirely because of their horrid penalty killing. Instead of his job being in jeopardy, he was given a contract extension. He should be out of a job after the loss tonight. I can't imagine that he would be coaching the Leafs next year unless they have a really strong turn around and make the playoffs. Even then, if I were Brian Burke I wouldn't bring him back.

If there's one thing to be thankful for, it's the fact that the Leafs didn't pull the trigger on a big trade that involves their first round pick. If this pattern continues it seems the Leafs are in for another top ten draft pick, hopefully they can use it instead of the Bruins using it.

The Leafs look to rebound in 2012 as they play the Tampa Bay Lightning on Tuesday night. The puck drops at 7pm and is a must win game for the Leafs. That being said, the last three games were must win games against beatable teams and they only managed a single point. They need to shake off 2011 and play with some urgency in the new year.


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