BOSTON – The scab of their Game 7 defeat here was nearly six months old. And though the sting may have wavered some since mid-May, the Leafs exited TD Garden in Boston on Saturday evening just a little bit short once more. "Youre never going to get an easy game, especially coming in here," said Joffrey Lupul, the lone Leafs goal-scorer in a physically testing 3-1 defeat. "We knew what to expect." Chunks of good, clusters of bad and bits of ugly defined a long-awaited return to Boston, the first since a historic collapse in the first round of the postseason last May. The disjointed but generally inspired effort featured yet another off-kilter, one-sided start; a middle frame that featured arguably the clubs best hockey of the season; and a rare complete defeat in the special teams department. "I think that the game was played in a couple parts for us," said Randy Carlyle afterward, encouraged by some aspects of the performance, unhappy with others. Like a slew of other opening periods this season, the start didnt inspire much confidence for the visitors. Treading water in their own zone for most of the first 20 minutes, the Leafs were caught in retreat by the muscle of the home side attack. Mustering just seven shots – out-attempted 30-14 – they trailed 1-0 on a power-play goal from Zdeno Chara, the first of two opposite a penalty kill that had yet to yield more than one in a game all season. "I didnt think we had a very good start to the game," Carlyle said. "They were all over us." The structure of the evening reversed course considerably in the second. With their line combinations jumbled (more on that below), the Leafs established improbable shift after shift of relentless pressure in the Bruins end. They were fast, physical and completely in line with the template Carlyle has been harping on all year; more slug-it-out hockey and less of the show-time inspired brand thats dominated early season play. "Thats more the type of hockey that were going to ask this hockey club to play," he said of the effort. The Leafs outshot the Bruins 18-10 in the period, mustering a goal when Lupul slung a puck above and beyond the glove of Tuukka Rask, who was otherwise brilliant with 33 saves. "I thought we elevated our game quite a bit, especially in the second period," said Lupul, who fired a season-high eight shots opposite Rask. "We really took control of the game for a while, but unfortunately Rask was pretty solid and we couldnt get that second one by him." It took only 66 seconds for whatever momentum theyd gained in the second to burst in the third, done in by a familiar foe. Patrice Bergeron, left open just outside the blue paint on a power-play, scored what proved to be the game-winner. He would add an empty-netter to stem any late comeback. A rare instance in which their special teams was beaten entirely, the Leaf power-play – which entered the evening as the leagues 5th best – failed in all three opportunities, including a glorious chance with less than five minutes to go. The penalty kill, as mentioned, yielded more than one goal against for the first time all year. "We battled hard and it looked like we ran out of gas in the third period," Carlyle said. Just as they proved in improbable fashion late last spring, the Leafs showed themselves a worthy rival of the revamped Bruins once more on this night. But as has been the case throughout the course of an uneven start (now 11-6-0), they were unable to string together a well-rounded effort in line with the identity they aspire to establish; their woeful start, empty special teams, and late fizzle all to blame. There was certainly good in the loss, as there was in the playoff run, but not enough to overcome a team of Bostons caliber. "Were here to get two points and we didnt," Lupul concluded. "Thats disappointing, but certainly some positives we can take out of it." Five Points 1. Kadri scare Coming through the neutral zone midway through the third frame Nazem Kadri was crunched by Johnny Boychuk, his jaw squarely in the firing line of the 6-foot-2, 225 pound Bruins defender. After skating gingerly to the bench, the 23-year-old had a brief conversation with head athletic therapist Paul Ayotte before departing to the dressing room for concussion tests. “They pretty much forced me to [go],” said Kadri. “As I was going through the test I was getting pretty agitated and just wanted to get back out there.” The test, as Kadri explained it, was of the generic sort. “Month, date, who we played last, months of the year,” he said. “They make you say it backwards and then youve got to remember four or five words and say it backwards. I guess its something thats mandatory now and I had to do it.” As for the hit itself, Kadri wouldnt say if he believed it to be dirty. “Its tough for the referee to call; everythings happening pretty fast,” said Kadri, who did receive an explanation from the official as to why no penalty was called. “But my helmet was almost sideways when I looked up. Thats for the league to decide and Im sure they can see it a lot better when its slowed down.” Already down Tyler Bozak and Dave Bolland down the middle, the Leafs could ill afford an injury to their sparkplug centre. But aside from being a little sore, Kadri claimed to be fine. 2. Lines redrawn After yet another lacklustre start, Carlyle redrew his line combinations to much success in the second frame. Though Phil Kessel would bounce from line to line in attempts to shake free of the Chara shadow, the combinations would appear as follows: Mason Raymond James van Riemsdyk Phil Kessel Joffrey Lupul Nazem Kadri Nikolai Kulemin Carter Ashton Jay McClement David Clarkson Frazer McLaren Jerred Smithson Troy Bodie Carlyle trimmed his bench in the final period, employing 10 forwards; Bodie and McLaren did not see the ice in the third. 3. Ranger Progression Paul Ranger is now 17 games into his NHL comeback. He believes hes better adjusted to the speed of the game with each day gone by. "Just playing the game faster," he told the Leaf Report earlier this week. "When youre young you have to almost build up to it. Ive been there [before] so I know what it is; its just a matter of getting my mind and my body trained to be able to do it again." Ranger had 270 games of NHL experience before he joined the Leafs this past summer, all in Tampa. One facet of the game the 29-year-old has now, but didnt then, is a physical dimension. Ranger claims to have added 10-15 pounds since he last played with the Lightning in 2009 and feels able to impact the game physically because of it. "I just became a man I guess," he said with a laugh. "I can go and put guys up in the boards, eliminate them from plays and get the puck and go." Predictably inconsistent throughout the year and again on Saturday, Ranger helped the Leafs to their first goal when he broke up Loui Eriksson rush defensively before stumbling on Reimer as the netminder attempted to block Bergerons attempted game-winner. 4. Cap crunch victim When the cap dropped to $64 million this year more than a few players were bound to be squeezed out. Mason Raymond was among them initially; the 27-year-old inked to a professional tryout in training camp before agreeing to a one-year deal with the Leafs on the eve of the season. A veteran of 588 games following the lockout-shortened 2013 campaign, Jerred Smithson felt the sting too. "I knew it was a possibility," he told the Leaf Report, "but I also thought something would work out – whether it was here or there or whatever." Smithson was without a contract when NHL training camps kicked off in September, a point of much frustration. He finally agreed to join the Marlies on a professional tryout in mid-October. "I had to keep reminding myself ‘Its out of your control," he said. "Give the fiancé a lot of credit there. She kept things in line and in order. It was probably driving her insane a little bit." Lacking the security of a contract, patience was difficult to find. "I [tried] not to lose too much sleep over it even though it was a tough few months there Im not going to lie," he said. "I couldnt control it so I just had to continue working hard and hopefully get a phone call, whether it was in the NHL, Europe or something like that. But I knew I wanted to continue to play in the NHL. Thats been my goal and dream since I was a little guy; very fortunate to have this opportunity." As it often does, opportunity presented itself with injury. Burned by injuries to Bozak and Bolland, the Leafs looked to the 34-year-old for help. Smithson was signed for one year at the veteran minimum of $550,000. 5. McClement PK Time No player assumed more time on the penalty kill last season than Jay McClement. But early this season the 30-year-old is actually garnering even more opportunity killing penalties than he did a year ago – nearly a minute more per game in fact. McClement is averaging 4:26 nightly for the Leafs shorthanded, significantly more than the 3:35 he assumed in 2013. The last time a forward garnered that much shorthanded ice-time (minimum 48 games) was in the 2006-2007 season. Coached by then-Ducks coach Randy Carlyle, Sammy Pahlsson averaged 4:28 per game for Anaheim – a number inflated by a boom in power-plays post-lockout. Stat-Pack 21:24 – Minutes for Joffrey Lupul against the Bruins, a season-high. 8 – Shots for Lupul, also a season-high. 18-10 – Shot advantage for Leafs in the second period. 2 – Power-play goals against; the first time all season the Leafs penalty kill has yielded more than one. 43 – Hits for the Leafs. 2 – Number of times this season the Leafs have not been outshot; both teams were equal with 34 shots on Saturday. Special Teams Capsule PP: 0-3Season: 21.7 per cent PK: 1-3Season: 83.8 per cent Quote of the Night “Its tough for the referee to call; everythings happening pretty fast. But my helmet was almost sideways when I looked up.” -Nazem Kadri on the hit from Johhny Boychuk. Up Next The Leafs visit the Wild in Minnesota on Wednesday evening. Cheap Rays Jerseys Authentic . Chief prosecutor Gerrie Nel also accused Pistorius of tailoring his testimony to fit the evidence at the scene. Pistorius denied the accusations. Nel alleged that the Olympic runner changed his aim with his 9 mm pistol to ensure that he hit Steenkamp as she fell back against a magazine rack in a toilet cubicle. Cheap Tampa Bay Rays Jerseys . Chris Johnson singled with two outs off left-hander Jerry Blevins (1-1), and Schafer pinch ran. With a 2-2 count, Schafer ran on the pitch and Upton dropped a single in front of Bryce Harper. Schafer already was rounding third when Schafer bobbled the ball. http://www.cheapraysjerseys.com/?tag=cheap-wade-boggs-jersey . Ramirez is still hitting behind Puig, only now they are in the third and fourth spots, and the change is starting to generate positive results for manager Don Mattingly. Cheap Rays Jerseys China . The Cubs made the moves before Thursdays game against Arizona. They promoted left-hander Zac Rosscup and right-hander Neil Ramirez from Triple-A Iowa and optioned righty Blake Parker to their top minor league team. Cheap MLB Jerseys Authentic . -- Olympic medallist Jennifer Abel of Laval, Que.OAKLAND – There has been a quiet, building frustration in the Blue Jays clubhouse with Major League Baseballs new replay and challenge system. After Saturday nights 5-1 loss to Oakland, Torontos third-straight defeat at O.co Coliseum, Jose Bautista blew the lid off the simmering pot. First, the situation: With the Jays trailing 3-1 in the eighth, Jose Bautista was at the plate with two outs and Melky Cabrera on first base. Bautista doubled down the leftfield line off As reliever Luke Gregerson. Third base coach Luis Rivera waved Cabrera around third. Shortstop Jed Lowries relay throw to catcher Derek Norris was on the money and Norris swiped a tag at a sliding Cabrera. Home plate umpire Bill Miller, the man involved in Brett Lawries infamous helmet spiking incident two years ago, called Cabrera out. Manager John Gibbons challenged the play. It was close. The call on the field stood after a two-and-a-half minute review. The inning was over; the Jays wouldnt recover. "I dont really know which replay they were looking at but clearly they must have had a different video feed than the one we had," said Bautista. "Its pretty frustrating for you to battle as a team, keep the game close, for our pitchers to be doing what theyre doing, for us to keep grinding through games and facing some touch pitching and somehow be able to tie the game in the eighth inning, it all goes down the drain because somebody first, initially, made a bad call to begin with and then it gets upheld by God knows who in some room in New York supposedly." Bautista, the gathered media were about to find out, was only getting warmed up. "This whole replay thing has become a joke in my eyes," said Bautista. "I think they should just ban it, they should just get rid of it. I dont really understand the purpose of it but getting the right call on the field is not the purpose. Thats pretty obvious and evident. I dont know what kind of agenda the people that are doing the replays are on, what their plan is, what their purpose is, who theyre looking after. But obviously getting the right call on the field is not what theyre doing." There are those in the organization whove expressed quiet frustration at other challenges and reviews that havent gone the Jays way. Another recent example: Last Wednesday against Milwaukee when Munenori Kawasaki was called out at first base on a groundball to Brewers shortstop Jean Segura. Seguras throw pulled first baseman Jonathan Lucroy off the bag. Lucroy spun and attempted a tag on Kawasaki. The call was upheld despite evidence to the contrary. Baseball is cycling umpires through the so-called replay war room in New York City. When a play is challenged, the on-field umpire is getting on the headset and talking to a colleague. Regardless of what is the reality, the perception is increasing that umpires are watching out for umpires. Count Bautista in that camp. "I feel like there was a chance for Adam Lind to tie the game in the eighth inning (that) was taken away from us," said Bautista. "Man on second, two outs, 3-2 ballgame, we were right in it. Unfortunately some people, I dont know what the right word is, lack of integrity, lack of accountability, or some really good camaraderie that are looking after each othher, are not doing what theyre supposed to be doing.dddddddddddd Because getting the right call on the field, which is why instant replay was instituted, is not the purpose of whats happening. The best evidence is what happened today." Bautista surely will be fined for his outburst and his comments reflect a growing frustration with the clubs play. The Jays are 9-18 since hitting their season high-water mark of 38-24 on June 6. A six game lead in the American League East has turned into a deficit. Following Saturdays loss, Toronto is a full game back of the Baltimore Orioles for first place. The team is dealing with injuries, the latest suffered by Edwin Encarnacion (story here: http://www.tsn.ca/mlb/story/?id=456550). Brett Lawrie has a fractured right index finger and likely wont be back until August. Bautista is playing with a sore hamstring and Adam Lind is playing with a bruised right foot. REYES ON TRADE MARKET Shortstop Jose Reyes weighed in to TSN.ca about Oaklands acquisition of pitchers Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel in Fridays blockbuster trade with the Chicago Cubs. "Its good for Oakland," said Reyes. "They got very good two pitchers. Samardzija, hes been one of the best this year. To go along with what they have, I mean thats huge for them. That means theyre pushing and they want to go all the way." Judging by the package the Athletics sent to Chicago (2012 first round pick, SS Addison Russell; 2013 first round pick, OF Billy McKinney; P Dan Straily and a player to be named later) its clear the Blue Jays couldnt match unless they were willing to part with a young pitcher off their major league roster. Starting pitching may not be Torontos priority, anyway. The staff has held up well through more than a half the season. An infielder, a second baseman or a third baseman, and bullpen help are just as important. "I think he knows what we need," said Reyes. "As a player I need to worry about doing my job. Our GM, hes got a job to do so I dont want to get involved in that and get involved in his decisions. Of course, our front office knows what we need. Its no secret to no one." GIBBONS: BUEHRLES AN ALL-STAR Mark Buehrles skipper thinks his left-hander should be in Minneapolis on July 15 for the All-Star Game. "Yeah he should be an All-Star, no question. No doubt," said manager John Gibbons. Buehrle (10-6) often jokes about luck and how its the determining factor in whether hes successful. After a 10-1 start to his season, Buehrles dropped his last five decisions and is winless in six-straight starts. Look closer, though, and youll see hes still pitching well. Four of Buehrles last six starts, the winless span, have been quality starts (six or more innings, three or fewer earned runs against). Buehrles ERA, in 121 1/3 innings this season, is a stellar 2.60. ITS A CRUEL BUSINESS How is Tommy Milone feeling right now? The As left-hander tossed six innings of shutout ball against the Blue Jays on Friday and had a record of 6-0 with a 2.62 ERA over his last 11 starts dating back to May 9. On Saturday, Milone was optioned to Oaklands Triple-A affiliate in Sacramento to make room on the active roster for newly-acquired starting pitchers Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel. ' ' '