The Leafs refused to let another pair of Canadian brothers come into their barn and come out on top, taking it to the Flyers with a 5-2 win Monday night. A dominant performance that saw five different Toronto players score, it is a game that will bring the team’s record at home slightly closer to the realm of respectability. However, it may have came at the cost of James Reimer, who left the game with an apparent lower body injury partway through the night.
1. Toronto came out with the type of lethargy one would expect for hockey players coming home to a “sitting ovation”, as Joe Bowen said. Right on track with the irony we’re used to seeing in the ACC, Luke Schenn got an assist on an early Philadelphia goal. Nothing is certain in hockey, but Toronto won this trade easily when it happened and that likely will not change. Both Schenn and JVR were prone to the inconsistencies of young players with high expectations early in their careers. Both players also teased their respective fanbases with tantalizing potential. However, Luke Schenn tops out as a top four, extremely physical defenseman. The type of player most fans would love and appreciate, but not one that will win you games. On the other hand, JVR tops out as a big-bodied, talented forward that can make life miserable for opposition goalies. At his worst, he’s a second line winger and powerplay presence. At his best? Time will tell, but it is undeniably an exciting thought that our second American star is locked up for years to come.
2. Early on in the first, Mark Fraser antagonized a Flyers player, drew a penalty, and did not engage in the type of extracurriculars that would see the refs assign coincident minors. Instead, Toronto got a powerplay that allowed them to swing the momentum back in their favour. It would be a great boon for this club if more of their players took a page out of Leo Komarov’s Guide to Trolling. Sure, it may not be the most “honourable” method of interacting in a traditional hockey (read: medieval, Cherry-esque) sense, but if it irritates the other team and gets you on the powerplay? Troll away.
3. While he’s still struggling to put points on the board, Grabovski rang a shot off the post early and had another strong possession night with wingers Kulemin and Komarov. On the Phaneuf goal, Komarov had a Kovalchuk moment as he carried the puck over the line smoothly before a quick turnback and dish to Phaneuf. The captain let it rip, benefiting from Kulemin’s net drive to produce a well-executed team goal that put the Leafs firmly into the driver’s seat of the game.
4. This was Dion’s second consecutive game with a goal. Yes, he is counted upon for his offense and had been dry to start the season off, but he brings so much to Toronto’s blueline regardless. A constant presence defensively, Phaneuf knocked down a breakaway pass for Giroux at the end of the first out of mid-air. Then, he went straight to net and provided a screen for another good chance by the Kadri line. A true top end, minute-eating, all around defenseman.
5. Despite letting in an early goal, Reimer was providing his usual calming presence in net for the first half of the game. He robbed Matt Read on what would have been an extremely deflating shorthanded goal, but later left the game with an apparent lower body injury. Clearly the loss of any team’s starting goalie would be a big blow, but Optimus has been one of the league’s best thus far and his absence for an extended period of time could truly change the dynamic of this team.
6. That being said, Ben Scrivens was solid in relief. Most importantly, he withstood the siege of a Holzer five minute major penalty with aplomb, making quite a few fantastic saves and getting the crowd behind him. Scrivens has played well at every level of hockey he’s seen thus far, and may only need some adjustment time to solidify his presence at the NHL level. However, it remains to be seen whether Toronto can/will afford him this opportunity in a shortened season.
7. Courtesy of Bowen, our fourth line is now known as the Winnipeg Blue Bombers. A suitable name for the two Winnipeg bruisers that surround Jay McClement, and have done increasingly well in recent games. Orr scored a goal tonight, and also contributed with a strong forecheck and dish to Holzer in Montreal. The soldiers of the Leafs lineup received some criticism early on, but if they can provide an earnest forecheck and some simple puck possession every game, they will have done their job. Oh, the intimidation factor is nice too.
8. The aforementioned Orr goal came at the end of a picturesque energy shift, as Matt Frattin struck immediately after. With yet another tip in front, Frattin was the beneficiary of a trademark Franson wrister: on target, low, and begging to be deflected.
9. The fourth goal served as a testament to the continuing creativity of the Kadri line. Finally, they involved lost soul Clarke MacArthur on their scoring tirade. Having been displaced from his usual line by Leo Komarov, it would be nice to see MacArthur more involved offensively. Clarke has always been a player whose confidence soars and wanes, as he has once again attested to this season. Hopefully this will be the beginning of an upswing for the back-to-back twenty goal scorer.
10. A satisfying, emphatic bookend to the night, James van Riemsdyk’s goal tonight was very reminiscent of his monstrous playoff run just a few years ago. Along with unloading an absurd amount of shots for the Flyers, JVR was seen driving to the net and finishing in tight with a silky smooth touch. Good feels all around as you could see he enjoyed sticking it to the club that gave up on him, flying right past the player he was traded for.
Courtesy of @Chemmy.
Toronto will get a rematch with that other set of Canadian brothers in Carolina on Thursday night. They’ll be going head-to-head with a team that loves to shoot, and score, serving as a difficult test for Ben Scrivens if he is to assume the mantle of Toronto’s goalie for the foreseeable future.