It’s October and hockey is back. With it comes the unparalleled rush of seeing your team beat the Montreal Canadiens 4-3. Unfortunately, it also comes hand in hand with whistle-happy refs, clueless CBC commentators and a surplus of scraps. With their speed, pugilism and offensive prowess on full display, this looks like it will be another exciting year for the Maple Leafs.
Some notes from this Tuesday night throwdown:
-The Leafs first goal was a result of some interesting movement of both puck and bodies on the powerplay. JVR ended up with the goal on a pass that snuck through Price’s five hole, but the space down low was there for Bozak on the other side of the net as well. With a ridiculous amount of looks on the powerplay for Toronto, it’s pretty clear the team is adjusting to some strategical changes with the man advantage. Luckily, the units are virtually intact from last year and the residual chemistry was evident on a number of occasions.
-Montreal’s first tally capitalized on the disarray of the Gardiner-Ranger pairing, which was maybe the shakiest part of a shaky opening twenty for the Leafs. On a few occasions, Gardiner lost his footing or Ranger misplayed a puck. It’s just one game and both players are in personal situations that probably ratcheted up the nerves of the two talented defenders. For Gardiner, he knows he has to prove himself this season, especially with Randy Carlyle’s critical eye focused directly on him. With Ranger, this is his first NHL game after a lengthy personal leave. No judgement here, as they both settled down noticeably as the game went on despite a shorthanded goal against late in the third.
-This is the
Northeast Atlantic Division, and it has seen teams directly respond to the arms race that the Bruins and the Leafs have fueled in recent years. With enforcers on most teams in the division, tonight went (almost) as expected. Orr fought Parros (and took a rare loss), Fraser tussled with Moen , Ashton dropped them with Tinordi. Then, in a moment nobody wants to see, Orr and the ice took out Parros. With the excitement of the first three bouts fresh in everyone’s mind, this incident was a testament to the fine line between entertainment and endangerment that is the heart of the ongoing “fighting controversy” in this sport.
-Carter Ashton looked great in the preseason, but Troy Bodie trotted out his many years of NHL experience in an impressive showing on the night. He used his (surprising) speed and large frame to take the puck directly to the net a number of times. He also threw some hits and played a hard, simple game that probably has Carlyle wishing Troy was his son-in-law. Due to both age and cap implications, Bodie may be the one that sticks around instead of Ashton when bodies begin returning to the lineup.
-After Phaneuf authoritatively sniped the tying goal courtesy of a Kadri feed, Bozak gave the Leafs the lead with a shorthanded marker as the period was coming to a close. This was the accentuating point in a standout night by the Toronto penalty killers. An elite penalty kill was a boon to this club in last season’s shortened campaign, with some questioning the team’s ability to continue this success. So far, so good.
-Mason Raymond notched the fourth goal of the night after creating offense using his speed (you’ll hear that one often with the former Canuck). One overlooked facet of Raymond’s play this season is his transition to the Eastern Conference. In recent years, a free-flowing tilt like tonight’s match has been a very rare event in the tighter confines of the Western Conference. In part due to this difference, Raymond has been able to open up the ice with his speed and control the play with consistency and to good effect. A late-game checking combination of McClement-Bolland-Raymond was thrown over the boards as well – an indication of Carlyle’s growing trust in the speedster.
Taking the season opener on the road in Montreal is always a good feeling. That being said, it’s just one game, so don’t plan the parade yet (Leiweke’s got that covered). All in all, it’s great that hockey is back with a young Maple Leafs team that looks eager to improve on their strong work from a year ago. Toronto will be right back at it tomorrow night in Philadelphia, with Jonathan Bernier having the chance to best Reimer’s (characteristically solid) performance tonight.
Word up Leafers! Man I got smashed at Real Sports last night. What game!
Ok, so when do you guys think we'll see Reilly and who sits when Clarksons back? I say Ashton. Bodies looked good yesterday.
When i mention Reimer or Bernier name for trade it's not because i think one is better than the other or i even want to trade either one of them. I'm saying teams will be asking us what it would take to get either one, not saying we should do it. We have two awesome goalies and teams with crap in net will be jealous we have two and want one.
@ Alec Thanks for the opportunity to attend the ScotiaBank hockey live event at Maple Leaf Gardens last night. I had a blast and got to talk to Bower, Sittler, Cujo, Krushelnyski. Kurshelnyski was the funniest last night. I joked with him "why are you wearing an Oilers jersey instead of the Leafs? Leafs didn't let you keep yours?" He laughed and said that's what "they" gave me (the organizers). He stuck around for 5 mins telling me stories and showed me his ring and we had a beer and then got taken away for more pictures. Then he says watch my ring! wear it, take pictures...LOL...he came back like 20 minutes later to grab it.
Real curious to see how Bernier performs tonight
Smaller goalies always make me nervous..and he's got quite a challenge ahead to beat out a committed and proven Reimer
As long as they can keep peace it's a good problem to have.
I would rather sit Ranger for Rielly tonight, but I don't see that happening. Rielly seems to better understand (than Gardiner) the fact that it is his defensive play that will allow him to stay, more so than his offensive play. Not that I want to pick on Gardiner. He's an unbelievable talent, with huge upside. He's just trying to do a little too much right now.
I thought Phaneuf, rather quietly (despite sniping a very nice goal) had a really solid game last night. Nobody mentioned him, but he was sound positionally all night, physical, and made good smart plays on the PP.
Troy Bodie really impressed me last night. What a great pickup he was. RC loves guys like that. And I'm sure Nonis won't mind either with the Leafs cap situation.
I would have a hard time benching a defenseman at this point, maybe go with 7 D and 11 Forwards tonite (or Saturday)? be less pressure on Reilly
I would have thought it would be more cheerful in here this morning, Leafs beat the Habs, our best players played like our best players (including Riemer), and tonight we get to see Bernier and maybe Rielly.
I wish people would stop shitting on Gardiner. He's a young kid and still has much to learn. He's skating and puck handling are second to none - the mistakes will become less and less frequent as he becomes a complete player. He was outstanding in the playoffs last year so we know what he can do. I would not write him off for a few gafs when he has not had the chance yet to mature.
On Ranger - it was his first game back after 4 years and he settled down a bit as the game progressed. I think it will take him 10-20 games to readjust to NHL speed and play. Not ready to write him off either.
I know it's only one game but if Oiler's goalie Dubnyk doesn't get any better in net it will only be a matter of time before Nonis gets a phone call about Riemer availability.
@colino17 I've said that for awhile, and just said it to my sister last night.
@.Kong. pimple head PJ shot him down for taking the penalty on Prust - I liked the hit! it was Prust's fault the way he turned, he knew it was coming. Prust crumpled like a cheap suit.
PJ is Mclean's bobblehead...shut the guy up....
Totally agree Phaneuf was great.
Great string of comments DLB
@dlb eh Agreed. Perhaps the fight he got in has made him realize he will not wilt and die if he gets hit.
@darthNihilus At least he cracked his stick into the boards after the Habs' third goal. Showing some passion.
@darthNihilus I know. It's pissing me off too.
@darthNihilus Nobodys writing anyone off - hell, I have a Gardiner jersey. It's just that the kid needs to repeatedly have a phone book taken upside his head by Carlyle until it sinks in that he's got to start being more responsible and better positionally in his own end. he'll get it eventually, and he's going to be great.
@darthNihilus Agreed. He has a lot of work to do defensively, but he is young and has the tools. He will be fine.
@Gilbey93 I'm pretty sure on that first goal it was actually Ranger out of position covering Gards man. Was tough to tell because it was a bit of a scrambled play.
@Gilbey93 Ranger looked a bit nervous in his first game but being anywhere near Gardiner would do that to a defenseman I imagine.
@Gilbey93 Ranger will get better and better, no doubt in my mind
@Ratzshite trade 'em McIntyre
@Ratzshite lol, And then what will we do for a starting goalie?
Yeah, I sort of agree with that, although they have scored goals out of that weird formation.
@LeafsGuru yea 2nd pairing looked far better than 1st pairing
@Dink @LeafsGuru It did all last year too.
@Cameron19 @LeafsGuru I'm not replacing Reimer mate my statement was we have two awesome goalies and other teams don't even have one awesome goalie. It makes sense other teams with crap in net will be asking about are goalies for trade. I never said we should trade any just we have two good goalies and teams will be jealous of that and want one.
@Cameron19 @wendelsway1 @LeafsGuru Read my comment again.....I wasn't disagreeing with you....nor did I assume you were anti-Bernier. In fact, I think we agree on our goalie situation for the most part.....two talented young goalies that will push each other all season long and will probably take a season to figure out who our #1 is. For now, based on last years results and his preseason play, Reims is still our #1 in my eyes.
@Cameron19 @LeafsGuru It's probably more that fact that if someone is going to be moved it won't be the guy we just traded for and signed to a 3 year deal. It's more likely to be the guy that is a free agent as season's end.
That said, way way to early to even discuss moving either guy. But eventually that is a bridge we are probably going to have to burn.
On the third goal I guess you're thinking he should have been out of the net more?? It was a break away. Anyway he stopped countless shots and deflections from the point. He dealt with traffic and slashes to the neck from Prust and got the win.
The Bernier evaluation begins tonight. I will be fair.
@Cameron19 @LeafsGuru Reims is looking good and isn't going to slink off into the night because of a little competition....why can't some just enjoy watching two young up and coming goalies?.....both Leafs and both will have their moments....good and bad.....I'm cheering for both of them and hope we end up with a very good tandem, that compliment each other with different styles. Neither has to look pretty as long as they're keeping pucks out of the net and putting up points.....I'm good :)
@dlb eh @Cameron19 I think he's proven himself to be an excellent back-up. Maybe the best back-up in the NHL. I think he has the potential to be a starter - perhaps even a great starter; a star. But no, I don't just award him starter status because Reimer makes a mistake. Sorry, that logic doesn't fly for me.
@LeafsGuru Just boggles my mind that people are replacing Reimer with a guy who doesn't have single W to his name yet. It's not that I don't think it could happen eventually - but I think it's a lot further off than people expect. I also think there's a good chance that Reimer just solidifies the net as his own.