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ongoing funk on penalty kill and an

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    24 de febrero de 2019, 22:19:25 PST

    TORONTO – The difference was as simple as special teams on this night. The ongoing funk on penalty kill and an unusually quiet night on home ice for the power play divided the Leafs from the Bruins at the ACC in a rare Sunday night affair. “Theres a responsibility thats borne out by special teams in tonights hockey game,” said Randy Carlyle after the 5-2 loss to Boston, which snapped a brief two-game win streak. Combative with their top rival for much of the 60 minutes, the Leafs were ultimately undone by both special team units. Their once prideful penalty kill allowed two more power play goals – falling to fifth-worst overall – while a typically potent man advantage stood empty in four chances. “Our PK just let us down again,” said Jay McClement after the loss. “Its a huge momentum builder for us and right now its going the other way. Its killing our momentum.” Up 1-0 on the Bruins after a period – on a goal from Peter Holland – the Leafs veered off the road when penalties to Carter Ashton and Carl Gunnarsson struck early in the middle frame. Boston scored twice in less than two minutes with the consecutive power plays, momentum spiraling downward in rapid order for the Leafs. “It was bang-bang,” said Carlyle. “All of a sudden they score two goals and the life went out of our hockey club.” The Bruins scratched out another marker at even-strength late in the period, a puck from rookie Kevan Miller squeezing through the pads of Jonathan Bernier. And though they would claw back to cut the deficit to 3-2 on McClements first of the year, the Leafs failed to score with consecutive man advantage opportunities in the third. “We made a few mistakes on our penalty kill and thats the difference against top teams,” said a terse Dion Phaneuf. At equal with the Atlantic division-leading Bruins for the most part at even-strength – the shots were 32-25 in Bostons favour – the failure on special teams proved disappointing, especially in light of the daunting schedule that lays ahead. The Leafs clash with the Kings, Blues, Blackhawks and Penguins over the next week, clutching just two regulation victories in their past 17 games. Five Points 1. Penalty Killing Funk Countering the effects of a potent Toronto power play (more below) is an increasingly ineffective penalty kill, one that surrendered two more goals to the Bruins on Sunday night. The unit, now stumbling at just 77 per cent, has allowed an astounding 13 goals over the past eight games – at least one in all eight – and two or more in five of the past 10. “Our penalty kill is something that definitely needs work,” said Jake Gardiner, the 23-year-old leading the Leafs with over 25 minutes against the Bruins. “Youve seen that in the past few games or even weeks I guess so its something we need to work on.” Simple mistakes were punished. The Leafs failed to clear pucks on each of the two Boston power play goals; Dion Phaneuf moments before the first marker from Carl Soderberg, Mason Raymond shortly before the second from Torey Krug, a blast that ricocheted off the shin-pad of Gardiner. “Those two specifically came back to haunt us,” said Carlyle. His team has allowed a league-leading 28 power play goals this season. 2. More Penalty Kill Carlyle slightly altered the composition of the penalty kill in the past couple games, cutting down on the minutes of the increasingly over-worked James van Riemsdyk while inserting rookie Jerry DAmigo, a mainstay for years on the Marlies typically strong unit. Personnel aside, the confidence of a group that finished as the leagues second-best last season has simply vanished in recent weeks. “I think when were going really good with it – last year and then the start of this year – we had almost a swagger when we went out there,” said McClement. “We expected to kill it and we were all working together. And right now were just making tiny little mistakes and it seems like we just cant get away with anything so we have to correct those [mistakes].” Not helping matters much either is the amount of penalties taken. The Leafs have earned more power play opportunities than their opponent in just one of the past nine games. 3. A Little Depth The Leafs entered the night with 83 per cent of their offence emerging from just seven different sources, but against the Bruins they finally managed to find some depth. Energizing the fourth line – and later moved up to the third unit – Peter Holland scored his second goal with the Leafs, setting up McClement with his first this season in the third. “Obviously weve been relying on our big guys pretty much completely all year,” said McClement, who has just three points all season after posting 17 in 48 games last season. “Its huge if we can get contributions from the rest of us and take the weight off our big boys a little bit.” 4. Power Play Right up there with goaltending, the Toronto power play has been a consistent hub of success so far this season. Though it came up empty against the Bruins, the unit still ranks third-best in the NHL through 31 games. “We work on it a lot and we focus on trying to execute cleanly,” said Cody Franson prior to the game, the 26-year-old leading the team with 11 power play points. “When you can do that it enables things to speed up a little bit and its harder to defend as a penalty kill.” “Just movement, lots of traffic, timely goals,” said Nazem Kadri, asked whats made it effective to date. “Theres a few things that have been contributing; the way we bring the puck up the ice to set up the power play. Its definitely been working for us and one of our strengths of the year. But weve got to keep going and weve got to keep putting pucks to the net. Sometimes maybe we get a little too cute and sometimes were just better off just looking for those bang-in rebounds around the crease.” Especially potent on home ice – save Sunday – the Leafs have clicked on 31.9 per cent of their power plays at the ACC, tops in the league this season. Of note is the limited number of penalties drawn, just 97 on the year, seventh-fewest in the NHL. 5. Critical Areas Harping on the need to cut down on goals against from the critical areas, Carlyle was bothered by the various locations of the Bruin markers on Sunday. “The disappointing part for us as a coaching staff is where the goals are scored from,” he said. “We have got to have better coverage in those areas. If they score them from the outside those are going to happen … Its where theyre scoring the goals from is the most important thing for us to attend to right away.” After yielding 50 shots in consecutive wins against Dallas and Ottawa, the Leafs allowed a comparatively scant 39 on Sunday night against Boston. Stats-Pack 13 – Power play goals against the Leafs in the past eight games. 8 – Consecutive games in which the Leafs have allowed at least one power play goal. 25:21 – Ice-time for Jake Gardiner, leading the Leafs against the Bruins. 28 – Power play goals against the Leafs this season, most in the NHL. 14-19 – Jay McClement in the faceoff circle against the Bruins. 32-25 – Shots advantage for Boston at even-strength. 3 – Points for Peter Holland in nine games with the Leafs. Special Teams Capsule PP: 0-4 Season: 26.7% PK: 1-3 Season: 77% Quote of the Night “Our PK just let us down again.” - Jay McClement, following the 5-2 loss to the Bruins. Up Next The Leafs host the Kings at the ACC on Wednesday night. China Jerseys . With the union re-formed, negotiations with owners will resume Friday on the remaining issues that would be in the collective bargaining agreement, according to a person familiar with the plans. Cheap NFL Jerseys China . This is the final meeting of the season between these teams.? The Capitals were 5-4 winners in a shootout Oct.KANSAS CITY, Kan. - Considering where Jeff Gordon was after Richmond, left out of the Chase for the Sprint Cup championship in part due to some late-race shenanigans, he couldnt have been happier on Sunday. Not only is Gordon in the Chase, hes making a charge. Gordon finished third at Kansas Speedway behind winner Kevin Harvick and runner-up Kurt Busch, his third top-10 finish in four races in NASCARs playoffs. Thats allowed him to climb to fourth in points, 32 behind leader Matt Kenseth with six races left in the season. "Earlier this year, I was probably as frustrated as Ive ever been in a racecar. We were just missing something," Gordon said. "Right now, my team has been bringing great cars to the track, not just in the Chase, but I think three, four races prior to that we started to make gains." Still, those gains wouldnt have been enough for Gordon to squeeze into the Chase when at least three organizations appeared to manipulate the ending to the race at Richmond. NASCAR chairman Brian France used his power the following weekend to make an unprecedented expansion to the field after two separate investigations revealed that Gordon did not have a fair chance to race his way into the 12-driver Chase because of the late-race controversy. Now, the four-time champion is making a move toward the top of the table. He finished sixth in the Chase opener at Chicago, struggled to a 15th-place finish at New Hampshire, and then bounced back with a fourth-place run at Dover. His performance on a slippery surface at Kansas Speedway on Sunday sends him to Charlotte brimming with confidence. "Its a team effort," Gordon said. "Im just proud of how weve fought through everything weve fought through this year, and were making the most of it." Gordon isnt the only one making a Chase charge. Harvicks third victory of the season shot him to third in points behind Kenseth and five-time champion Jimmie Johnson. He was 39 points back heading into the weekend and trimmed off 14 points from his deficit, putting him within striking distance of his first championship. "Everybody wrote us off at the beginning of the year," said Harvick, who recalled that nobody wanted to talk to him at the series annual media day. "Were just going to keeep going our thing, and hopefully keep doing it quietly and have fun at it.dddddddddddd" Even though hes won 22 times in the Sprint Cup series, and has long been considered one of its best drivers, Harvick hasnt been able to break through for a championship. He had back-to-back third-place finishes in 2010 and 11, and was fourth in the Chase last year. It would also tie a nice bow on his lengthy career with Richard Childress Racing. Harvick is heading to Stewart-Haas next year after more than a dozen years with the same team. "Were committed to try to win the championship," Childress said. "We owe it to our sponsors and our fans to give them 100 per cent, and thats what we agreed to do, and thats what were going to do until Homestead. No matter what happens between now and then, thats our goal is to go after the championship. What a great way to go out." Harvick also indicated that it would be the proper way to go out. "Its business, but its also you have a sense of pride," he said. "You want to go out with a sense of success and everything has gone well." Harvick and Gordon both have plenty of work to do if they want to catch Kenseth and Johnson, two drivers who are certainly familiar with the pressure of winning a championship. Kenseth, who won Saturdays Nationwide race, struggled to tame repaved Kansas Speedway on Sunday. He made a late charge just to finish 11th, allowing him to maintain a three-point lead over Johnson, who finished sixth for his 10th straight top-10 finish at the track. "It was just a struggle all day, even when we were in front. It was as struggle," Kenseth said. "It was so incredibly treacherous." Johnson also called the racing treacherous. There were 15 cautions, a record for a Sprint Cup race at the track, and one of the wrecks claimed Chase contender Kyle Busch. Johnson managed to navigate through the carnage to another solid finish, one that he hopes will put him in position to win his sixth Sprint Cup championship. "We had so many things happen to us and still salvaged a very strong finish," he said. "We got a little points on the No. 20 and put a bunch on the No. 18, so in the big scheme of things, it was a very good day for the team." ' ' '