The Leafs ended their 2013-2014 in a way no one really expected: a meaningless game against long-time division rivals, the Ottawa Senators. Although match-ups against the Senators are usually highly anticipated with valuable points on the line for both teams, Saturday’s game saw two teams with disappointing seasons face off in a game neither could fake an interest in playing.
The Leafs came out hard to a strong start in the first period with momentum and held the pressure in Ottawa’s zone. Their efforts seemed to pay off with the games first goal, something the Leafs have struggled with in their winless stretch of games, but the goal was immediately waived off when the referees determined Tyler Bozak knocked the puck in the net with a high stick.
Shortly after the Leafs’ disallowed goal, the Senators also had a goal waived off after Reimer was interfered with and the puck was gloved into the net. The game would remain scoreless heading into the second.
As the middle frame got underway, the Leafs couldn’t quite maintain the energy they came out with in the first and it would soon cost them as Jason Spezza scored the game’s first goal just seven minutes into the period. The Leafs couldn’t generate many scoring chances to tie the game and were still down by one heading into the third.
The final period didn’t show much of an improvement for the Leafs and although they got two powerplays early in the game, they were unable to capitalize on either of them for the equalizer. The Leafs seemed to be chasing the puck and were behind the play through much of the third. James Reimer stood tall in his net and kept the Leafs in the game through the rest of the period. After leaving the ice for the extra attacker in the final minutes of the game, the Leafs came close to tying the game on a few occasions, but they couldn’t beat Anderson and were defeated 1-0.
Although many Leafs have struggled with their play during their late-season collapse that cost them a berth in the post-season, James Reimer’s issues have been well-documented and there is much speculation as to whether he has in fact played his last game as a Maple Leaf. An emotional yet defensive Reimer spoke to the media after the game and while he wouldn’t get into whether or not he wanted to return to his team, he did allude to the fact that his time in Toronto may have come to an end. “I was just trying to come in here and have a good last memorable game and think about all the memories. It’s just been an interesting time.”
After missing the playoffs which seemed unlikely through the first half of the season, Leaf fans are likely relieved that the Leafs have played their last game until October. In a somewhat positive note for Leaf fans who are looking towards next season, 21 year old Petter Granberg made his NHL debut for the Leafs tonight. Granberg was part of Sweden’s 2013 team that won the World Hockey Championships.
Guest writer Pamela Yap is a Sheridan College post-grad in Journalism New Media and wrote for CBC during the 2012 London Olympics.