Postgame: Flyers @ Leafs 3/11/2008
You cannot play in your own zone for 13 straight minutes and expect to win.
You cannot pass the puck blindly to the opposition. Repeatedly.
You cannot take penalty after penalty and expect to kill them.
You cannot play dispassionately against a desperate team.
Why? Because you will lose.
Randy Jones has demonstrated time and again that he is capable of third line ice time but will make serious blunders when given extended playing opportunities. We saw that once again this evening. He blindly banked the puck off the boards to the waiting Leaf Jeremy Williams, who scored the tying goal. He failed to clear the puck in overtime. Moreover, the winning goal deflected off of Jones’s stick. Granted, he’s an easy whipping boy. But with over 20 minutes ice time this evening, it’s apparent that his record of poor decision-making when on the ice too long continues.
Jeff Carter stepped up numerous times over the past 7 games. He’s been on fire since Mike Richards left the line up, at times willing his team to a victory. Tonight he wasn’t particularly visible and often missed the net on shots. What’s the difference? Passion. Carter is at his most effective when he’s feisty – winning puck battles, driving to the net, throwing his weight around, shoving other players around, yapping, using speed and strength to create chances. That’s the version of Jeff Carter that appeared when Richards went down. Instead, tonight we saw the Jeff Carter that played every game prior. He was flat, less gritty in the corners, and less dominant overall.
Martin Biron was amazing in net this evening. Some of his stops were simply miraculous. The goals that entered were deflections, usually with large Leaf bodies stationed between Biron and the shooter. The goaltender stood on his head tonight and deserves major credit for keeping his team in this game. His team owed him a better fate.
One side note for tonight. The Flyers lost this game because they didn’t bring their A game. That said, the referees didn’t bring theirs. I counted at least 2 (and potentially 3) missed too many men on the ice for the Leafs. I caught 4 slashes, uncalled. Mats Sundin held Jason Smith by the jersey, proceeded to snag a scoring chance, and did it all with a ref standing not 5 feet away looking directly at the play. On two occasions, I caught Leafs blatantly holding Flyers. Scottie Upshall was tripped from behind during the OT as he was carrying the puck into the zone.
While I’m sure there were a few missed calls on the Flyers tonight (hey, it happens), this is simply unacceptable. I would think, given what happened last week with Buffalo, the refs might be watchful of too many men on the ice, at the very least. As fans we expect the players to come prepared every single night, giving the best that they have to offer.
As fans we expect the same of our refs.