Brian Burke and Francois Beauchemin had triumphant returns to Honda Center and the Ducks took some careless penalties as they lost to the Maple Leafs at home. Toronto hadn’t won a single game and only had one point in their first 8 games of the season. Only one team had failed to beat the Maple Leafs in regulation, but the Ducks managed to take enough penalties to make the Leafs’ 6-3 win possible with only one even strength goal.
The Ducks took a total of 17 penalties for 45 penalty minutes tonight. Anaheim’s first goal was definitely suspect and watching it again at home in HD on FSN after the game, it was easier to see why Ron Wilson took the bench minor for “abuse of officials” after they didn’t make the call to wave the Ducks’ goal off due to goaltender interference. I’ve definitely seen goals called off for a lot less, but unfortunately for the Maple Leafs goaltender interference is not something they can review – if it’s not called on the ice, the goal stands. At least the goal didn’t end up making the difference in the game. If it had, I’m sure Ron Wilson would have been irate. In spite of having the first power play of the game and a middle of the league power play against the Maple Leafs’ dead last in the league (before the start of tonight’s game – the Ducks may have helped the Leafs in that area) penalty kill, the Ducks only had three power play chances and went 1 for 3 on the power play tonight. The Leafs also took quite a few penalties (10 penalties for 31 minutes), but most of them were offset by the Ducks’ penalties. The Maple Leafs went 5 for 11 on the power play tonight. The Toronto power play was only 12th in the league (22.2%) at the start of the game, but their 45% power play in tonight’s game is better than the best power play in the league (the Calgary Flames, 32.3%).
While I’m sure there are a couple goals Hiller would like to have back, I’m sure the Ducks fans know that he and his 85% save percentage were not the real problem. Most of the goals were scored on the power play (3 scored with a 2 man advantage). Randy Carlyle stuck with his goalie and didn’t pull him from the game when he knew it wasn’t Hiller’s fault that the Ducks were doing poorly. The real problem tonight was the Ducks’ lack of control. The Ducks’ bad penalty killing can’t even be blamed. What team could be expected to survive the penalties the Ducks took in their game against the Maple Leafs?
Hagman’s hat trick led the way for the Maple Leafs and though most of the fans left in the building as he scored his 3rd goal of the game were Toronto fans, no hats made it to the ice. Kaberle had a goal and 4 assists and Stempniak had 4 points (1-3) in the Maple Leafs’ big win against the Ducks.
I was talking to a friend who has Ducks season tickets before the game. He was planning on going to the game with a friend who’s a Maple Leafs fan and said that his goal was to “see one of the bottom teams in the league win a game.” He knew he couldn’t lose with that goal, since the Ducks were one of the bottom teams in the NHL and the Maple Leafs are still in last place even though they finally got their first win against the Ducks.
It’s early in the season (only 9-12 games of the 82 in the season have been played by teams at this point), but the games at the beginning of the season count as much as the games at the end and teams like the Maple Leafs and Ducks have to be hoping that they find the right combination soon. The Ducks did make major changes to their top lines and their defensive pairings, but after the preseason and 10 games of the season, one would expect them to be getting used to each other and finding chemistry somehow. If they’re not, perhaps the lines aren’t set the way they should be yet. Maybe some more line changes need to be made.