The sweetness of the result of this game, a dramatic overtime victory over an ever-hated rival in the most intense game of the season, was overshadowed by a black cloud in the form of James Reimer’s injury situation. It had all the makings of a concussion and has sparked a bit of a Steckel-on-Crosby “did he or didn’t he” debate over Brian Gionta’s intent. The initial word is that it’s whiplash for Reimer, the same injury he suffered against Atlanta early in his Leaf career, so let’s hope the recovery is going to be equally as quick.
Reimer concerns aside, this game was a wide open, sloppy, mistake-ridden shitshow of a hockey game to which both teams contributed pretty equally. To their credit, the Leafs seem to thrive on these end-to-end thrillers; it’s a style of game that lends itself well to the Leafs’ strong team speed. Tonight certainly didn’t do anything to ease concerns about the Leafs’ lack of defensive structure, however.
There is something to be said though about the Leafs continuing to come out on the right end of these back and forth contests. It’s not overly convincing but their big players have stepped up when needed most in the Leafs’ five victories so far. Gaining four points, while spotting one, off the Canadiens, a divisional rival and a potential competitor for those lower playoff seeds, is big, no matter the fashion in which they were earned. That’s now 11 out of a possible 14 points in a part of the schedule when the Leafs usually put themselves behind the eight ball, not ahead of the game. Granted, November still awaits us.
Of course, if Reimer is out for any significant amount of time, we could be totally f*cked. Cross every digit on your body and pray to the hockey gods before you lay your head tonight, but the initial news is good.
1) On the hit, I think it’s a stretch to suggest Gionta targeted the head, but it certainly had familiar elements of “I’m going to skate my path and I don’t care who is in the way.”
2) No disrespect to The Sheriff, but Jay Rosehill brought something tonight Colton Orr doesn’t seem to offer – agitation. Orr can hold the opponent accountable as good as anyone, but I can’t recall him having the type of shift Rosehill had early in the second period. First he tossed Subban down, who proceeded to act injured while covering the puck in order to avoid further confrontation with Rosie in the corner. He then took a subtle shot at Carey Price – given the Gionta incident, fair game I say – and drew the ire of just about every Hab on the ice. Weber went to the box, Phaneuf lowered the boom on the subsequent powerplay and it was 3-2 Leafs. Job well done, Rosie.
3) The Kessel line, with Lombardi now filling the void in the centermen carousel, was not up to a whole lot but did chip in the tying goal early in the second. Lombardi used his legs to surprise a Hab defender out front of the net, and forced a giveaway out front which Kessel predictably buried. Haven’t seen Kessel miss a clear chance since the season opener I don’t think. Lupul rang one of about four or five posts the Leafs hit tonight.
4) What’s left to say about Captain Dion? He is playing like an elite NHL defenceman. His canon from the point seems to be back on target and here to stay, and his decision making has greatly improved since his arrival. It’s not often you see Phaneuf caught up ice on a dumb or mistimed pinch anymore, but you do see him sifting down into the goalmouth area to help create Nikolai Kulemin’s all-important tying goal in the third, for instance.
5) The PP went 2 for 7 tonight. It didn’t look pretty for the most part but it came through for us. Breakout and zone entry still needs a ton of work with the man advantage. It seems like the struggles start once Leafs’ speed is muted due to the fact that they aren’t transitioning on the counter (i.e. when the opposing team is set up in penalty killing mode). It doesn’t help that the Leafs totally lack big bodies up front right now to get in on the forecheck. The PP started by quite literally working against us after a bad giveaway from Dave Steckel led to a partial breakaway the other way. Steckel acquitted himself well with a faceoff win followed by a tipped goal off a Gardiner point shot.
6) Gustavsson often looks worse than he performs, and he wasn’t good tonight. The scrambles were in full effect, and the collective drawers of Leafs Nation were successfully shit covered by the midpoint of the third.
There is something about Jonas Gustavsson – it seems to be a mix of bad luck and the team playing differently in front of him – that leads to more goals against even when they aren’t his fault (in addition to the many that are). Keep in mind, he got thrust, cold, into a wild game at the start the second period tonight, and was scored on one shot into his night. Lots of adversity there, but I’d be totally lying to myself if I said I’m confident he could capably step in for Reimer if he’s out for any significant amount of time (thankfully that doesn’t seem to be the case). I say the Leafs were poor defensively, which they were, but it looked like they were playing in front of Vesa ToskaLOL again, scrambling to try to stop every puck for their netminder. That corrosive effect of a lack of confidence in your goaltender was already plain as day.
7) The line of Dave Steckel, Nazem Kadri and Matt Frattin, at least in the early stages, showed some promise. Kadri and Frattin showed signs of complementing each other well and Steckel adds a big body that can get to the dirty areas. Kadri made some inroads in the offensive zone (and avoided turnovers) in a good second game back in the lineup.
8 ) The expression “quietly awesome” seems like an oxymoron but it definitely sums up Carl Gunnarsson’s play through seven games. He’s setting an example for a team that has struggled at keeping a clean crease around Reimer. Not viewed as hard nosed or particularly physical by any means, he’s employing smart positioning while boxing out and tying up the sticks of attacking forwards. He saved a goal late in the second period doing exactly that. Cody Franson, three inches taller and 20 pounds heavier, should be taking some notes from the press box.
9) I noticed Gardiner got beat twice tonight, but used his speed and a good stick to recover admirably on both occasions. If he keeps it relatively clean in the defensive zone like that, he’s a must-play for the sake of the Leafs’ breakout.
10) Last but certainly not least, Mikhail Grabovski silences the Bell Centre crowd with a similar move he burned ex-Hab Jaroslav Halak with in a shootout last season. Just plain sweet, and hopefully a confidence booster. The line scored twice but it still can’t be said they’re clicking like we’re used to – that’s a pretty promising prospect for when they start. Grabovski, despite what most would consider an “off” start, now has three goals in his first seven.
|01:51||MTL||SHG -Â Travis Moen (3) Backhand – Assists: L. Eller (1)|
|07:07||TOR||PPG -Â David Steckel (2) Tip-In – Assists:Â J. Gardiner (2) &Â L. Schenn (3)|
|00:29||MTL||Andrei Kostitsyn (2) Wrist Shot – Assists: L. Eller (2) & H. Gill (1)|
|01:05||TOR||Phil Kessel (8) Wrist Shot – Assists: none|
|04:19||TOR||PPG -Â Dion Phaneuf (2) Slap Shot – Assists:Â J. Liles (4) &Â J. Lupul (4)|
|01:27||MTL||Michael Cammalleri (2) Slap Shot – Assists: P. Subban (2) & T. Plekanec (3)|
|09:28||MTL||Travis Moen (4) Tip-In – Assists: J. Gorges (3) & A. Kostitsyn (3)|
|13:07||TOR||Nikolai Kulemin (2) Wrist Shot – Assists:Â D. Phaneuf (7) &Â M. Grabovski (1)|
|01:23||TOR||Mikhail Grabovski (3) Wrist Shot – Assists:Â J. Liles (5) &Â P. Kessel (6)|
|01:15||MTL||Brian Gionta :Â Interference on goalkeeper Â -Â 2 Â min|
|05:13||MTL||Andreas Engqvist :Â Hi-sticking Â -Â 2 Â min|
|08:56||TOR||Mike Brown :Â Charging Â -Â 2 Â min|
|09:56||TOR||Luke Schenn :Â Holding the stick Â -Â 2 Â min|
|11:04||MTL||Andrei Kostitsyn :Â Too many men/ice – bench Â -Â 2 Â min|
|02:46||MTL||Yannick Weber :Â Hi-sticking Â -Â 2 Â min|
|04:51||MTL||Carey Price served by Erik Cole :Â Slashing Â -Â 2 Â min|
|08:14||MTL||Erik Cole :Â Too many men/ice – bench Â -Â 2 Â min|
|12:39||TOR||Joffrey Lupul :Â Tripping Â -Â 2 Â min|
|18:12||TOR||Jake Gardiner :Â Tripping Â -Â 2 Â min|
|07:08||MTL||Travis Moen :Â Boarding Â -Â 2 Â min|
|SHOTS ON GOAL|
|TOR â€º||34 -Â J. Reimer||9 – 10||.900||19:49|
|TOR â€º||50 -Â J. Gustavsson||15 – 18||.833||41:23|
|MTL â€º||31 – C. Price||22 – 27||.815||61:23|
|TOR||Pos||G||A||P||+/-||PIM||Shots||EV TOI||PP TOI||SH TOI||TOI|
|2Â Â Â L. Schenn||D||0||1||1||0||2||0||10:54||00:14||01:14||12:22|
|3Â Â Â D. Phaneuf||D||1||1||2||0||0||3||15:08||10:00||03:40||28:48|
|8Â Â Â M. Komisarek||D||0||0||0||0||0||1||15:41||00:00||02:28||18:09|
|11Â Â Â P. Dupuis||C||0||0||0||0||0||2||08:39||00:00||02:24||11:03|
|15Â Â Â M. Lombardi||C||0||0||0||0||0||0||07:53||05:35||02:35||16:03|
|16Â Â Â C. MacArthur||L||0||0||0||-1||0||2||10:27||04:04||00:00||14:31|
|18Â Â Â M. Brown||R||0||0||0||0||2||0||07:25||00:00||01:38||09:03|
|19Â Â Â J. Lupul||R||0||1||1||-1||2||1||10:11||06:58||00:00||17:09|
|20Â Â Â D. Steckel||C||1||0||1||-1||0||3||13:34||02:09||03:03||18:46|
|24Â Â Â J. Liles||D||0||2||2||-1||0||1||14:31||08:39||00:58||24:08|
|36Â Â Â C. Gunnarsson||D||0||0||0||0||0||1||13:46||02:21||03:56||20:03|
|38Â Â Â J. Rosehill||L||0||0||0||0||0||0||06:02||00:00||00:00||06:02|
|39Â Â Â M. Frattin||R||0||0||0||0||0||3||12:22||01:33||00:00||13:55|
|41Â Â Â N. Kulemin||L||1||0||1||-1||0||2||12:24||03:06||00:30||16:00|
|43Â Â Â N. Kadri||C||0||0||0||0||0||2||11:56||02:46||00:00||14:42|
|51Â Â Â J. Gardiner||D||0||1||1||-1||2||0||15:33||04:04||00:00||19:37|
|81Â Â Â P. Kessel||R||1||1||2||0||0||3||11:13||06:43||00:36||18:32|
|84Â Â Â M. Grabovski||C||1||1||2||0||0||3||13:37||04:43||00:30||18:50|
|MTL||Pos||G||A||P||+/-||PIM||Shots||EV TOI||PP TOI||SH TOI||TOI|
|13Â Â M. Cammalleri||L||1||0||1||-1||0||3||13:35||04:17||04:57||22:49|
|14Â Â T. Plekanec||C||0||1||1||0||0||4||13:27||03:56||04:53||22:16|
|21Â Â B. Gionta||R||0||0||0||-2||2||4||13:43||03:52||02:57||20:32|
|26Â Â J. Gorges||D||0||1||1||0||0||0||14:37||00:12||06:31||21:20|
|32Â Â T. Moen||L||2||0||2||3||2||3||12:13||00:12||03:41||16:06|
|46Â Â A. Kostitsyn||L||1||1||2||2||0||3||12:52||02:16||00:08||15:16|
|51Â Â D. Desharnais||C||0||0||0||-1||0||0||11:50||02:00||01:52||15:42|
|52Â Â M. Darche||L||0||0||0||0||0||0||04:27||03:12||01:36||09:15|
|60Â Â A. Palushaj||R||0||0||0||0||0||0||03:38||00:00||00:00||03:38|
|61Â Â R. Diaz||D||0||0||0||0||0||1||13:08||02:03||00:40||15:51|
|63Â Â A. Engqvist||C||0||0||0||0||2||0||04:19||00:00||00:59||05:18|
|67Â Â M. Pacioretty||L||0||0||0||0||0||4||11:35||02:20||00:00||13:55|
|68Â Â Y. Weber||D||0||0||0||1||2||0||15:02||02:05||05:04||22:11|
|72Â Â E. Cole||L||0||0||0||-1||0||1||11:08||00:00||00:00||11:08|
|74Â Â A. Emelin||D||0||0||0||0||0||0||14:59||00:00||00:00||14:59|
|75Â Â H. Gill||D||0||1||1||1||0||1||13:01||00:00||05:48||18:49|
|76Â Â P. Subban||D||0||1||1||0||0||4||14:33||04:03||07:07||25:43|
|81Â Â L. Eller||C||0||2||2||3||0||0||12:58||00:12||04:07||17:17|
Toronto Maple Leafs vs Montreal Canadiens – Game in 6