‘Twas the first of four match-ups between these Northeast Division rivals, the season’s first edition of the Battle of Ontario. The organization honored the 50th anniversary of the 1962-63 Cup winning team. With Spezza and Karlsson out, it was supposed to be an easier game against a division rival that’s hurting right now, but it’s not like the Leafs are at full strength.
1 – The Leafs move to 9-6-0 as the team improves their home record.
2 – After a sloppy start from both teams, McLaren has one hit him and go in for the Leafs following a good shift by his line. Another good contribution by the fourth line which is growing increasingly important for this team. Depth scoring is always a nice bonus.
3 – Remember Sundin night and how flat the team was? Tonight, they weren’t, at least no worse than the Sens. That’s something. Maybe staying in the dressing room until after the ceremony had something to do with it. That said, nothing much happened in the first, well, except McLaren’s goal and the teams having trouble creating sustained pressure in the offensive zone.
4 – Entering tonight’s game, the Leafs penalty kill was 22nd in the league, functioning at 78.3% efficiency. However, the PK functioned pretty well on this particular night. Randy Carlyle made it known that he wasn’t really happy with the overall performance, though. I don’t think anyone can blame him, the team sure didn’t play what you could call defense towards the middle of the second period. Credit where its due, the ACC recognized it and picked the team up with some well needed go Leafs go chants. Freewheeling hockey is fun, just not for coaches.
5 – Ben Scrivens was really solid in net. Terrific saves throughout the game. Our goalie was especially awesome in the second period (24 saves through 40) as the Leafs sagged. He finished the game with his first NHL shutout (34 saves) and a deserved first star. His best save of the night was a point blank denial in the slot off a pass from the behind the net in the 2nd period, but there were several beauts by Big Ben. Any one of which, if he didn’t come up big, could’ve change the makeup of a game like this one.
6 – The Leafs got their first powerplay chance late in the second when Condra got caught for high-sticking Holzer, but couldn’t capitalize and the game remained up for grabs in the third period.
7 – Good thing is, the Leafs played better towards the end, the level of play kept rising which created pressure in Ottawa’s defensive zone. This is one of the better signs that Carlyle’s coaching philosophy is rubbing off. Bozak scored to cap off a couple of good consecutive shifts by the Leafs. It was a re-direction (not kicking motion) in front of Anderson.
8 – When Scrivens didn’t make the saves, the defense did. JM Liles prevented a Senator goal 9 minutes from time. In ugly games between two banged up teams like this one, everyone needs to pinch in to get that W. Leafs didn’t play brilliant hockey but they played good enough to win. Winning ugly games like this, if done consistently, gets a team into the playoffs.
9 – Mark Fraser is your typical stay at home, quiet D-man who simply does his job. I think guys like that deserve more credit from the fans, he certainly gets it from the coaches. Glad to see his work rewarded with an assist on the first goal. He’s also a +11 (yes, you read that right) for the season.
10 – The tenth point is reserved for the 1962-63 team. They were a truly special group in the glorious history of our club. Enjoy this photo: