TORONTO – October was a productive month for Phil Kessel. The 26-year-old signed an eight-year extension worth $64 million on the eve of the regular season before posting a bountiful nine goals and 18 points in 14 games. But just as the weather has chilled outside, so too has the Leafs best player. Now tied for 31st in league scoring, Kessel went pointless for the ninth time in the past 11 games in an embarrassing 6-0 loss to the Blue Jackets on Monday night. He has just one even-strength point in November and a scant three points all month (Mason Raymond leads the team with six points, trailed by the now press box-bound Trevor Smith with five). In fact, he has gone 11 straight games without registering even a single assist – he led the team in each of the past two seasons – his last helper coming on Oct. 29. Considering the teams ongoing struggles to produce offence at even-strength – shut out for the second time all year, they have just 10 goals in the past 10 games and sit 20th overall – this lingering dip in production from their top player is no small thing. Kessel may be a streaky goal scorer (most are), but with age and experience in Toronto, has evolved into an incredibly reliable and certainly elite point producer. After stalling at the outset of last season – he failed to score in the first 10 games – he never went more than two games without registering a point. A year before that, he never went consecutive games without a point until January. So what gives? It would be easy to point to the extended absence of Tyler Bozak – who returned Monday after missing 12 games – as the reason for such woes, but that would fail to ignore Kessels history of producing offence without him. In the two games that directly followed Bozak going down with injury in Columbus, Kessel posted three goals and six points alongside Nazem Kadri in wins over Pittsburgh and Edmonton. Of course, the Leafs would lose Dave Bolland to injury four nights later in Vancouver, jumbling their situation at centre further and thereby impacting Kessel. James van Riemsdyk was forced to the uncomfortable middle for four games, replaced on the top line by the incoming and still inexperienced Peter Holland thereafter. Kessel and Bozak certainly have a defined chemistry with one another – the top reason the latter was signed for five years in the summer – and perhaps Kessels slump simply manifested in the absence of a consistent set-up man – though he tends to generate offence himself in many regards, even with Bozak in the lineup. (Though hes played the majority of his games in Toronto with Bozak, Kessel has actually lined up with eight other centres as a Leaf: Kris Versteeg, Matthew Lombardi, Tim Connolly, Mikhail Grabovski, Joe Colborne, Nazem Kadri, James van Riemsdyk and Peter Holland.) "Is he back?" Kessel shouted repeatedly with glee when he saw Bozak being interviewed prior to Mondays game. Save for the absence of Bozak, an injury (or the flu bug, which nearly kept him out of a game last week) would help to explain the recent slowdown and Randy Carlyle didnt exactly refute the suggestion that Kessel may be hurt, noting last week that "all our players have bumps and bruises". It may just be a simple and increasingly rare slump, one that becomes magnified as the team struggles to produce offence. Kessel remains the Leafs leader in goals, points, and even-strength points. Five Points 1. Shelled It was may have been their worst loss all season. The Leafs were spanked 6-0 on home ice by a Blue Jackets squad that was missing two of its best players – Brandon Dubinsky and Marian Gaborik – and had just played on the other side of the country over the weekend (a 6-2 loss in Vancouver on Saturday). "It was a very frustrating game for our hockey club," said a puzzled Randy Carlyle afterward. "It just seemed like we lacked the necessary pace that was required to compete in the game and thats mind-boggling." So boggling for Carlyle was the lack of energy following a complete day-off on Sunday. The Leafs allowed a season-high six goals, were shut out for just the second time all season and mustered a mere 18 shots on Sergei Bobrovsky. They also allowed two power play goals for the third time all season, failing to score on a single earned man-advantage. "Maybe a little bit of a wake-up call for us," said Tyler Bozak. "Were getting a little too comfortable." "We talk about outworking teams and tonight, we got outworked," Dion Phaneuf concluded. 2. Reimers evening Two nights after he stopped 49 of 50 shots in a 2-1 shootout victory over Washington did James Reimer yield six goals on 21 shots, hooked late in the third frame against the Blue Jackets. "What can he do?" said a frustrated Carl Gunnarsson of Reimer. "We had a really [expletive] game and hung him out to dry." Defensive breakdowns and odd-man rushes marked the evening, the Leafs netminder often left with little to no chance of success opposite a club that scored four goals combined in the previous three games. "I think that was on par with the rest of our group," Carlyle said of the goaltending from Reimer. "It was a team effort and it was nowhere near what we needed and obviously goaltendings part of that." The league leader in save percentage entering the night, Reimer dipped to a .934 mark, now 6-3-0 on the year. "I dont really have much to say," said Reimer, following his first loss at home this season. "It just wasnt my night tonight. Youll have nights like that where the puck just eludes you. As hard as you work and as much you try and bear down, it just doesnt work out sometimes. Its obviously disappointing when it happens and frustrating, but its just the way she goes." 3. Lacking offence Never a team that shot the puck often – they average 26 per game, third fewest in the league – the Leafs are finding their early luck drying up in recent weeks. Monday marked the eighth time in the past 10 games that they scored two or fewer, their shooting percentage in that span just seven per cent. "I thought we had a lot of zone time tonight," said Bozak. "We were just trying to be too cute and make the extra pass when we did have a chance to shoot." A frequent complaint of the head coach, Carlyle has harped often on the need for his team to shoot the puck with more frequency. The 18 shots on goal against Columbus were the second fewest his team has managed all season (14 vs. Minnesota on Oct. 15). "Were very selective on when we want to shoot the puck," he said after the shootout victory over the Capitals on Saturday. "I would say we have some thick heads." The Leafs have scored just 10 even-strength goals in the past 10 games and sit 20th overall in that regard this season. Of the 63 goals theyve scored thus far, 18 have come with the man-advantage. 4. Lupul hurt Save for the injured Dave Bolland, the Leafs lineup on Monday was about as full as it has been all season. But just as one returned (Tyler Bozak) did another go down. Joffrey Lupul left late in the middle period with a pulled groin. "I dont know what that means," said Carlyle of the injury. "He just said he pulled his groin." 5. Bozaks Return Bozak said the most frustrating aspect of a hamstring injury that kept him out of the lineup for 12 games was the uncertain healing time for it. "Theres no real timetable for it, I guess," he said. "You kind of heal when you do." Bozak was injured on Oct. 25 in Columbus, returning to the lineup against those very same Blue Jackets on Monday night. There was an expectation – even voiced by Randy Carlyle – that the 27-year-old would play against the Capitals two nights earlier, but he remained out, finally activated off long-term injured reserve on Monday. "I wanted to play last game," he said, "[but] the doctors said I shouldnt play and I couldnt play." "Its been tough sitting out," Bozak continued. The hard part is bagging at practice every day pretty much. Youd rather be playing the games then bag-skating after practice, but [the extra couple days] does help. It should be in good shape when I get out there now." Stat-Pack 1 – Even-strength points for Phil Kessel in November. 9 – Number of games without a point for Kessel in the past 11 games. 2 – Number of times the Leafs have been shut out this season. 10 – Even-strength goals for the Leafs in the past 10 games. .934 – Save percentage for James Reimer this season. 74% – Success rate for the Leaf penalty kill in the past 10 games. 6 – Points for Mason Raymond in November, first on the team. Special Teams Capsule PP: 0-1Season: 24.3% PK: 2-4Season: 81.5% Quote of the Night "What can he do? Cant blame him for anything. We had a really [expletive] game and hung him out to dry." - Carl Gunnarsson, questioned on James Reimers performance following the 6-0 loss. Up Next The Leafs travel to Pittsburgh for a Wednesday night affair with Sidney Crosby and the Penguins. Howie Kendrick Jersey
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.Y. - Matt Harvey wants to make sure hes on the mound in late October — if the New York Mets get there for the first time since 2006.TORONTO - Maple Leafs forward Nazem Kadri hates losing just as much as Torontos disgruntled fans but says theres no excuse for throwing jerseys on the ice.Other people are trying to enjoy the game as well . . . youve got to pay some sort of consequences especially when youre interrupting a game, he said Tuesday, a day after the Leafs were humiliated in a 4-1 home loss to the lowly Carolina Hurricanes.Three spectators who tossed their sweaters in disgust Monday night are paying the consequences. Police said Tuesday they had been charged under the provinces Trespass to Property Act and are facing fines as well as one-year bans from the Air Canada Centre for their actions.I guess thats a bit of a consolation, Kadri said following Torontos practice. You shouldnt be able to walk away scott-free from interrupting a venue.Jerseys have been tossed on the ice on occasion throughout the season. But fans frustration is mounting as Toronto has lost five straight and 13 of its last 16. One of the jersey-throwing incidents Monday night came during play, which was especially insulting to the players.Its frustrating, as players were not happy about it either we hate to lose just as much as the fans, Kadri said. One time throughout a season I think is probably enough but when it happens multiple times it gets a little disrespectful but theres not really much we can do about it now.Other fans took a more conventional — and legal — approach to showing their displeasure, wearing a paper bag over their heads. Toronto is a dismal 1-6 since firing head coach Randy Carlyle and promoting assistant Peter Horachek for the remainder of the season and has scored just twice over its last five losses.Theres the select few people who do that, I dont think it speaks for all of our fans, said defenceman Cody Franson. This is a process we want to get through with our fans, we dont want an us against them mentality by any stretch.Its unfortunate that stuff happens but at the end of the day were focused on what were doing in here and trying to get back into the win column.Horachek is offering his players simple advice regarding the latest jersey incident.I tell them all the time, Control what you can control, dont let other things distract or bother you, he said. They may see it and say Thats unfortunate, or something but Im not going to let it seep into the room.If I hear it Im going to say, Listen, thats not something to worry about. Our fans are very supportive, theyre very good. Theres a few people who do that and thats just the way it is.Spectators are warned about interrupting play or entering the field or playing surface while at pro sports venues. Fans will often throw hats on the ice when a player scores a hat trick but the tossing of jerseys — which can cost as much as $300 depending on the quality — or other items is verboteen.dddddddddddd.In the events that occurred last night, the investigators believed that the people should be given the fine and thats what occurred, said police spokesman David Hopkinson. But in the future, this can easily result in a criminal charge.Toronto (22-22-3) entered action Tuesday standing 10th in the Eastern Conference seven points behind the eighth-place Boston Bruins, who have a game in hand. The Leafs will get one last shot at snapping their losing streak prior to the all-star break Wednesday night when they visit the Ottawa Senators.The contest is important to Ottawa, which is 11th in the Eastern Conference, three points behind Toronto with three games in hand.Toronto finished last season losing eight straight in regulation and 13 of its final 16 games to miss the playoffs.It does feel a little similar, Kadri said. But that being said, weve got a little more grace time here to pick selves up and get going in the right direction.Under Carlyle the Leafs were more of an offensive team, at one point this season leading the NHL in scoring. But on many nights, Toronto goalies Jonathan Bernier and James Reimer were left to face 40-plus shots.Toronto has concentrated more on defensive play with Horachek calling the shots, three times allowing opponents 21 or fewer shots on goal. However, the Leafs have slipped to 10th overall in scoring and been outscored 24-9 in their last seven games.Horachek said Toronto often gets into trouble when its outscored in the first period. On Monday night, Carolina scored twice in the first and again just 48 seconds into the second to chase Bernier, who had faced just 13 shots.We started to press, Horachek said. Theres a lot of talk about goals and so you start to cheat and we did that in the first period.These last five games theyve scored in the first period . . . weve got to pay attention to either winning or tying first periods and putting ourselves in that position. The guys know theres a certain degree of urgency and we have to stick to the process of working hard defensively and offensively. Were not giving up offence, were just paying more attention to the defensive side of the game.Bernier isnt feeling extra pressure to perform because his club is struggling offensively.If you start worrying about other guys problems . . . obviously you get frustrated and get off your game, he said. As a goalie you just focus on your own game.Its funny because were playing better defensively than we used to and were just not getting points. We just have to stick to the program, stick to the process.NOTES — Forward Tyler Bozak didnt practise Tuesday for personal reasons but Horachek said hell play Wednesday in Ottawa . . . Toronto has called up forward Josh Leivo and defenceman Stuart Percy from the AHL Marlies.— With files from Gregory Strong in Toronto Cheap NFL Jerseys Wholesale Jerseys Wholesale NFL Jerseys Jerseys From China Wholesale NFL Jerseys Cheap NFL Jerseys Cheap Jerseys
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