By Melissa Hashemian
Bad luck seems to be following the Maple Leafs everywhere these days.
The Leafs, who are now 7-9-5 in the season so far, are having tremendous difficulty getting the puck in the net. That's not to say they haven't been creating chances, they just don't know what to do after the puck is on the heel of their stick.
Last night's game against Atlanta was a beautiful representation of that.
I was fortunate enough to attend the game, and own a seat in the Toronto end, where most of the goals were being scored. Coincidence? When I found out that Joseph was in net, I had a sudden chill go up my spine, and knew it was going to be a long night.
Now I don't mean to pry, but what was Wilson thinking? This is a time where your No. 1 netminder needs all the games he can get.
Unfortunately for him, Vesa Toskala continues to be scrutinized by the Toronto media for being one of the worst goaltenders in the league.
If the sports media payed half as much attention on the constant amount of gruesome hits in the NHL, then they'd be a winner.
Personally, I would just leave Toskala alone. He happens to be one of Toronto's best players, and it's unfortunate to see that a lot of people just don't realize that.
Enough about that, though, let me get to the actual game.
Atlanta drew first blood by making it a 1-0 game, with a weak wristshot from Colby Armstrong. There was no traffic blocking Joseph's view either, so this was a pretty easy goal for the Atlanta centreman.
I don't want to start bashing Joseph though, because he was able to redeem himself with a couple of big saves halfway through the first; he kept it a one-goal game.
There wasn't too much action going on in this game, sadly enough. I was waiting for the momentum to kick in for way too long, but failed to witness anything remotely close to it.
This was Stempniak's debut as a Maple Leaf as well. Even though he got his first assist as a Maple Leaf, I think he's on the wrong line. There's absolutely no chemistry between him, Blake, and Moore. They're all in the same place at the same time, and are completely disorganized.
Todd White scored his fifth of the season, from a lovely pass by Vyacheslav Kozlov, to make it a 2-0 Thrashers game. Later in the game, White would score his second of the night, to extend Atlanta's lead to six.
The game was all over the place. I didn't know whether to pay attention to the rowdy fans in the stadium, or the boring players. The fans were a lot more entertaining, i'll give you that.
In addition to an earlier goal scored in the third by Jeff Finger, the Leafs managed to cut the lead in half with a wristshot by Nik Hagman, 2:43 left in the third. This, however wasn't enough, as the Leafs went to lose it 6-3, against possibly one of, if not, the worst NHL teams in the Eastern Conference (hypothetically speaking of course).
The Maple Leafs were sleeping for most of the game anyway, and just couldn't get a good handle on the puck to score. They were given opportunity after opportunity, too.
With this being said, I can't forget to mention the incredible effort given by the Thrasher netminder. If it weren't for Johan Hedberg, Atlanta would have lost this game miserably. Shots on goal were 25-23 in favour of Toronto by the end of the second, as Toronto came banging hard at Hedberg's front door throughout the game.
Hedberg though, came out strong every time, by putting his oven mitts down and denying every chance the Leafs were given to climb up the scoreboard.
After the game, Leafs' head coach Ron Wilson commented on his team's performance.
"It's your effort and compete level, and it wasn't there," Wilson said. "It was a flat bench and just dead. That's what disappoints me more than anything."
Hopefully, the Leafs can restore the faith of their anxious fans, as they head to Ottawa to battle the struggling Senators, who have lost six of their last seven games.
Maybe we'll be able to finally watch some hockey with action, instead of Disney on Ice with really big and gruesome looking men.
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