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What began with a disastrous 4-0 defeat

in Sport 24.07.2019 08:05
von Bellroll33 • 150 Beiträge

BUFFALO – November has proven a gloomy month from start to (near) finish for the Leafs. What began with a disastrous 4-0 defeat in Vancouver continued Friday with another loss to the leagues worst team, a 3-2 overtime edging by the Sabres at First Niagara Center, their fourth in the past five games. It was the eighth loss in 12 games in November for the Leafs (4-5-3) and sixth straight defeat on the road. Buffalo has just three wins outside of regulation all season, two of them coming against Toronto in the past two weeks. "Weve just got to stick with it," said James van Riemsdyk, following the latest loss. "You can never be too high or too low. Its a long season. Were in a decent position right now still." With just two regulation wins all month, the Leafs are now tied for fourth in the Atlantic Division – the Canadiens have an identical 14-9-3 record with the two clubs meeting in Montreal on Saturday – their 6-1-0 start to the season far in the rear-view mirror. Only an elite power play unit and sturdy goaltending have remained intact (though that too is regressing somewhat in recent days) through the opening two months. Mustering fewer than two goals of offence per game in November (1.92 to be precise) while yielding more than three against (3.08), the Leafs are struggling right now on both sides of the puck. A once confident penalty kill too has fallen into turmoil. The unit allowed its 14th power play goal of the month to the Sabres, dipping to 71 per cent in that span. On this night, the Leafs jumped out to a 1-0 lead on the 14th goal of the year from Phil Kessel, grabbing the edge once more on the second this season from Nik Kulemin. Both leads were erased, however, the Sabres coming from behind to win on a goal from Christian Ehrhoff 38 seconds into overtime. The goal came just minutes after van Riemsdyk was hauled down by Matt DAgostini on a shorthanded rush in the closing moments of regulation. No call was made on the play. "The breaks arent going our way," said head coach Randy Carlyle, his frustration obvious. The Leafs will close the month of November with their second road date of the season in Montreal. December looms with a particularly difficult schedule, the Sharks, Bruins, Kings, Blues, Blackhawks and Penguins all on the calendar. "We still have a lot of games left so weve just got to keep trying to find ways to figure out the things that are going wrong and then keep doing some of the things that were doing well," said van Riemsdyk. Five Points 1. Road Woes The defeat marked the sixth straight away from the Air Canada Centre for the Leafs, now 5-5-3 on the road this season. Outscored 19-10 during the six-game stretch, their last win outside of Toronto came on Oct. 30 in Calgary. 2. Late Call in Question Streaking down the right side of the ice with the Leafs killing off a late penalty to Paul Ranger, van Riemdsyk had his legs swept out beneath him by DAgostini, his body crashing into the vacated net. "They said that he played the puck and he made contact with the puck," Carlyle said DAgostini, "thus hes allowed to cross-block and take our player out. In my mind, I didnt think it deemed a penalty shot, but I thought it shouldve been a penalty for taking the players knees out. But they didnt make the call." "I dont want to get into too much," said van Riemsdyk, "but I tried to slide [the puck] over to my forehand and then my legs went out from under me so thats all I remember." The Leafs would eventually kill off the penalty to Ranger, but the Sabres would score in overtime before he could rejoin the play. "You cant take your hand off the stick and grab the player," Carlyle said of Rangers penalty, a holding call which saw him grab Ville Leino. "Thats new rules hockey." 3. Shorthanded Draws Moments before Ehrhoff scored the winner did the Leafs lose a shorthanded draw, a rare loss by Jerred Smithson in this instance. A subtle point in their struggles on the penalty kill this season (now 20th overall) has been diminished effectiveness on the draw shorthanded. Tyler Bozak and Jay McClement, who absorb the majority of faceoffs in such situations, have not been quite as successful this season as they were a year ago. The pair combined to win a healthy 52 per cent in 2013, but have so far dipped to just 42 per cent. Bozak in particular, has struggled considerably. The 27-year-old has won just 35 per cent of his shorthanded draws in 14 games this winter. Added to the roster last month, Smithson has actually been the teams most efficient faceoff man on the penalty kill and at even strength. The 34-year-old is now 18-33 on the penalty kill in 11 games. Player 2013-14 2013 Tyler Bozak 35% 53% Jay McClement 46% 50% Jerred Smithson 55% 54% * * With Edmonton and Florida *With Edmonton and Florida 4. November Leaders Though hes played in just seven games this month, Trevor Smith has vaulted to the top of the Leafs scoring chart in November. Indicative of their offensive troubles this month, Smith, with six points, is now tied with van Riemsdyk and Mason Raymond for the monthly scoring lead. Slightly behind in that race is the teams overall scoring leader. While he did pot his 14th this season, the 26-year-old Kessel has gone 13 straight games without an assist, boasting five goals and five points in 12 games this month. 5. Mix on Defence Paired together for all but five games of the 2013 regular season, Mark Fraser and Cody Franson were reunited this week in Carlyles search for some stability beyond his top pair of Dion Phaneuf and Carl Gunnarsson. "Its great how comfortable we are with one another," said Fraser before Fridays game, "whether its just the talking to each other – the vocabulary – [or] our body language. We played long enough with one another that we can really read off of each other. Were definitely excited to be back." Jake Gardiner returned to the lineup after sitting for the first time all season in Pittsburgh. The 23-year-old replaced Morgan Rielly alongside Paul Ranger against the Sabres, notching an assist in 21 minutes. "I thought we all played a decent game tonight, played hard, competed and they capitalized at the end," said Gardiner. Stat Pack 6-2-2 – Career record for James Reimer versus Buffalo. 8 – Blocked shots for Mark Fraser against the Sabres, a game-high. 1.92 – Goals per game for the Leafs this month. 6 - Points for Trevor Smith in November, tied for the team lead. 13 – Consecutive games without an assist for Phil Kessel. 4-5-3 – Leafs record in November. 34-48 – Toronto penalty kill over the past 12 games. Special Teams Capsule PP: 0-1Season: 24.4% PK: 3-4Season: 79.2% Quote of the Night "I dont think [you] need rocket science to figure out that if you continue to give up five and six goals, youre not going to get many points. We have to buckle down definitely in that area. Weve got to get our defensive game going to a higher level. And maybe part of that is to create a little bit more in the offensive zone as far as time in there." - Randy Carlyle, on his teams struggles defensively. Up Next The Leafs conclude a three-game road trip in Montreal on Saturday evening. Dwight Clark Jersey . With nothing tangible at stake, the Raptors turned in their most impressive outing of the fall in their seventh and second to last exhibition tilt against their stiffest competition yet, but they lost a couple starters in the process. Frank Gore Youth Jersey . Hoefl-Rieschs exit — from the downhill course into safety nets, then airlifted from the slope by helicopter — left Anna Fenninger of Austria favourite to win her first giant crystal trophy one month after becoming an Olympic champion. http://www.49ersrookiestore.com/49ers-Jerry-Rice-Jersey/ . Jones took a beating, the worst one of his record reign, in a bout against Alexander Gustafsson that knocked the light heavyweight champion on the canvas for the first time in his career and put his belt in jeopardy. Roger Craig Womens Jersey . Alexander was released last week by the Edmonton Eskimos, where he spent the past three seasons at safety. He had 121 defensive tackles, five special teams tackles and seven interceptions in 51 regular-season and three playoff games. Colin Kaepernick Jersey . - Bryan Price sat down in the cushy chair.The battle for wild card spots in the Western Conference continues tonight with the Dallas Stars hosting the Nashville Predators and the Phoenix Coyotes visiting the Columbus Blue Jackets. Currently, the Stars hold down the second and final wild card spot with 87 points while the Coyotes are one point back and the Predators are six points behind the Stars. All three teams have four games remaining. The Stars will try to avoid a third loss in four games when they play host to the Predators. The Stars are coming off a 3-2-0 road trip, but saw a victory slip away on Sunday in what ended up being a 3-2 setback to the Florida Panthers. Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin scored in the games first 21 minutes, but the Panthers netted three unanswered goals to deal the Stars a loss. Kari Lehtonen came up with 21 saves in defeat. "Tough points to lose. It wasnt a good game for us," said Seguin, who has scored a goal in four straight and has 36 on the season. Both forward Ray Whitney and defenseman Aaron Rome missed the loss with lower- body injuries and are questionable for tonight. Dallas has 87 points on the season, one more than the Phoenix Coyotes with four games to play for both teams. The Coyotes visit the Columbus Blue Jackets tonight, while the Stars begin a three-game homestand. The Stars and Coyotes end the regular season against each other with a meeting in Phoenix on Sunday. The Predators, meanwhile, are just about eliminated from the playoff race despite picking up a pair of victories over playoff-bound teams this weekend. Nashville is 6-1-1 in its last eight games, but is six points back of Dallas with four games to go. The Preds bested the Anaheim Ducks on Friday, then followed up the following day with a 3-0 win over the San Jose Sharks. Carter Hutton made 35 saves in his first career shutout and was backed by threee second-period goals.dddddddddddd. Patric Hornqvist scored twice and assisted on Roman Josis goal. "Every night is a big night for us," said Hornqvist. "As long as we have a chance, obviously our goal to make the playoffs is tough but as long as we have a chance it is something to work hard for." The Predators and Stars have split four meetings this season, with each club winning twice at home, but Nashville still has won six of the last nine encounters overall. Despite Huttons shutout, Pekka Rinne could still draw the start tonight for the Predators and he is 7-5-0 with a 2.84 goals against average lifetime versus the Stars. Lehtonen is 7-7-0 with a 2.36 GAA versus the Predators, while backup Tim Thomas is 4-0-0 with a 2.40 GAA lifetime against them. Lehtonen got both starts over the weekend and the Stars also are in action on Wednesday as they host the Blue Jackets. Phoenix Coyotes at Columbus Blue Jackets The Coyotes fell to 0-2-2 over their last four outings with Fridays 3-2 shootout loss against visiting Edmonton. Phoenix carried a 2-1 lead into the closing minutes of regulation before allowing Sam Gagner to tie it up with 40.4 seconds left in the third. Phoenix begins a two-game road trip tonight and also will visit Nashville on Thursday before capping the regular season this weekend on a two-game homestand. The Coyotes welcome San Jose on Saturday before hosting Dallas the following night in a potentially crucial game for the Wests second wild card spot. The Coyotes are 21-13-5 at home this season and 15-15-9 as the guest. Columbus notched a 2-0 win at Phoenix on Jan. 2, giving the Blue Jackets two straight wins in this series following a three-game slide versus the Coyotes. Phoenix has lost four in a row in Columbus, where it hasnt won since a 4-3 regulation victory on Jan. 11, 2011. ' ' '

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