What a dirty road win that was. In the second half of back-to-back games against opponents playing in their home openers (courtesy of the schedule makers), the Leafs gutted one out in no small part thanks to an amazing performance from Jonathan Bernier in his regular season debut. Goal scorers for the Leafs were Phil Kessel on his 26th birthday and Dave Bolland with his first and second goals as a Leaf.
1 – A wide open start saw the teams trade chances for the opening few minutes. The Leafs were actually outshooting the Flyers 7-6 at one point, but then came a slew of penalties. The Leafs spent 6 of the final 13 minutes of the period shorthanded. The PK held its own well for the first two kills. The second, in particular, involved a spell that was about 1 minute 45 seconds straight in their own zone, and the units held their shape well. For some reason, the broadcast team was acting terribly surprised that the Leafs were outshot by 6 shots (15-9) in the first period, on the road, in the Flyers’ home opener, while dealing with some suspect calls.
2 – The third PK broke the camel’s back with seven seconds left in the first period. It was the weakest call of the three; JvR was assessed a holding or interference call on the sideboards for running the type of minor pick you see several times a game (usually without a call). On the subsequent PP, a shifty Vincent Lecavalier cut around Mark Fraser before going around the back of the net and finding Brayden Schenn in the slot, who slipped in between four Leafs penalty killers and finished the one timer from the hashmarks. Poor coverage there. No chance for Bernier.
3 – The Leafs followed that up with a horrendous first eight minutes to the 2nd period. The Leafs were getting beat to everything. Their legs never really fully woke up, which likely was a product of trying to get up to regular season speed and intensity in the second half of a back-to-back on the road. Bernier kept the game from getting away.
4 – After a sluggish penalty from Dion, the Captain immediately made up for it with a well timed surge up the middle of the ice half way through the second frame. Much like his goal last night, Dion joined the rush with good timing, this time taking a hard low shot at Mason’s pad rather than going bar down. Kessel arrived to dispatch the rebound above a sprawling Mason for his first goal of many this season. 2 points in 2 games and a guaranteed 64 million for his birthday? Not a bad haul.
5 – Late in the 2nd, Paul Ranger was attempting to back up along the offensive blueline with the puck with his head down, not sensing the impending danger that was Simmonds bearing down on him. Simmonds picked him off, and was on a half-breakaway with Ranger a half step behind. Ranger’s dive that felled Simmonds was well timed, but the call is predicated on getting the puck. I don’t think Simmonds was in the middle of the ice enough or clear and away enough for that to be a penalty shot. 2 minute tripping call for me. Doesn’t matter… Bernier shuts the door on the penalty shot to preserve the 1-1 tie going into the 2nd intermission
6 – On that note, Ranger struggled all game to read the play properly and make the right decision. He was a giveaway machine tonight, many of the egregious variety. I found myself praising him and then cursing his existence from one shift to the next. This is obviously understandable after multiple years out of NHL action, but he needs to be eased in slowly.
7 – Nik Kulemin, our silent hero. First in on the forecheck, as per usual, he separated the man from the puck before Lupul collected the disc and found Bolland out front to make it 2-1 Leafs on a bang-bang play in the third period. Franson started the play off with a good breakout pass up the middle. That goal stood up as the winner.
8 – The trend of playing Phaneuf into the ground doesn’t seem like it’s going away any time soon. Phaneuf was doing an admirable job given he was clearly gassed after playing 27 minutes last night. He got caught without his feet moving a few times, but was still bodying players off the puck in the dying minutes of this game. Phaneuf continues to do it all.
9 – Partner Carl Gunnarsson struggled tonight. A bad pinch early on led to an odd-man scoring chance against. Also in the first period, in succession, he took a bad angle on the puck and conceded possession to Giroux (leading to a scoring chance), before making a breakout pass into someone’s feet that led to another good Flyer scoring chance. Struggles with his first pass, and fumbles with the puck, persisted throughout. Franson, on the other hand, was the Leafs best defenceman. He moved the puck well, was strong positionally, and was plenty physical in 22+ minutes of action.
Side note: I thought Gardiner took Carlyle’s pregame talk to heart and tried to play within himself tonight. He didn’t stand out as he usually does, but that, in this case, was maybe a good thing.
10 – Kadri was stapled to the bench by Carlyle in third period, seemingly on account of a bad giveaway and poor percentage in the faceoff circe (31%). Those are as may be, but without Kadri crashing the net with reckless abandon, the 1-1 Kessel goal doesn’t happen. Kadri played only 11:53 tonight, although that’s partially because of all of the time the Leafs spent shorthanded. Carlyle bumped Bolland and McClement ahead of him on the bench, which is understandable in a sense. Bolland had a hell of a game between scoring twice and helping close out the win.
Goaltending controversy? The best type of goaltending controversy, perhaps. After playing much of the first 40 on their back foot and having Bernier hold them in it, the Leafs came on stronger in the third and actually killed the game out fairly comfortably in the end. Most importantly, the Leafs are 2-0.
Post Game Note: Mark Fraser reportedly left the arena on crutches tonight. Morgan Rielly, get ready for your NHL debut on Saturday.
"For some reason, the broadcast team was acting terribly surprised that the Leafs were outshot by 6 shots (15-9) in the first period, on the road, in the Flyers’ home opener, while dealing with some suspect calls."
This is one of the biggest sources of frustration for me while watching games. Color guys who seemingly forget the context of these situations. Yes, the Leafs haven't registered a shot in 9 minutes. But they have also BEEN ON THE FREAKING PENALTY KILL FOR 8 OF THOSE 9 MINUTES - You freaking morons!
I see we play the Black Hawks in Chicago on a Saturday night...I don't remember that Ever happening before
How is a Lupul a + 2 and Bolland only a + 1 when Phily had a PP goal and those two should both be + 2 ?
Monring all. Just twatched the game in six. Are the Leafs sharing fighting techniques? Anyone else notice the over the shoudler smackdown move Lupul made on Schenn was almost exactly the same move Orr pulled on Parros? Everybody was kung fu fighting ...
Loved hearing the booing in Phily. Their fans are idiots, who boos at a home opener ? That team is stacked up front but I get the feeling that their chemistry or some other intangible is missing so I really don't see them as being a threat in the East. Suspect D and Goaltending will see them lose a fair share of 4-3 and 5-4 games.
Once we add Clarkson and Maclaren to our line up, we will beat them up in the ally and on the score sheet.
Its almost like the Leafs say come into our zone, we will contain you and hit you hard again and again. You will take perimeter shots and our goalie will save them, sooner or later we are going to bust your point men when our speedy wingers break out for a two on one and we will make you pay. At some point enough forwards come back to the bench in pain and they decide maybe spending time in the Leafs zone isn't all it's cracked up to be. The Leafs take over the game even more. Sound about right? No?
The only thing that scares me about Leafs home-opener is the "ceremony". Hope they keep the team in the dressing room. Other than that ...fuck the senaturds.
Something really good about last nights game was the way he Leafs were so physical with the Flyer's smaller forwards. Giroux and B Schenn saw there share of glass and shoulders. Giroux was getting around on the PP but 5 on 5 he had his space taken away. All night long the Leafs D was very physical, they are making teams pay hard for their time in offensive zone.
It was also good to see Orr give Rosehill a little reminder. Going back to last year and the Lupul concussion Rosehill was taking some liberties on Leaf players...same in preseason...well I think Orr delivered a message to him last night in the corner.
Even Symmonds was physically neutered last night when Ranger decided to make him his project around the mid point. Symmonds usually gets feisty back but didn't seem interested in coming back at Ranger. Ranger pounded him hard a few times on one shift alone.
1) Until he is either signed or traded the speculation, rumours and trade scenarios will continue
2) We're a far better team with him on D than without him. He is an excellent Dman
3) I don't think (although I could be surprised) that this negotiation will be as simple/easy as the Kessel one. I'm guessing Nonis will not want to give him more than a 5 year deal/extension (he'll be 29 next summer) and I'm guessing Nonis won't want his cap hit any higher than it currently is and may even want it to be lower. I think we're just going to have to wait and watch this unfold.
I thought Ranger played ok for a guy that probably hasn't even faced 3/4 of the players in the league now. As he faces them for a second time he will know the moves and team tendancies.
What I like the most is how the team responds to good goaltending, be a good test next game.
I saw Fraser skate to bench, can't imagine that injury being a long term thing. He is so noticeable out there...good player.
Err, Kadri needs to get his ass in gear.
Bernier was absolutely outstanding last night. However I think Reimer will play against Ottawa at home. Opening night at home might be better suited for Reimer. Let Bernier enjoy this one first on the bench. Reimer also had a good game and he always plays Ottawa very strong. But Bernier comes back to play the next one.
A great road win! A goalie stealing a game! Ruining the home season opener of two rivals! Its all good.
Kadri was moved down the lineup, so to speak, because he could not handle LeCavalier who looked really sharp all nite. Kadri has to work on his defensive coverage and faceoffs.
Bernier for the home operner against Ottawa saturday nite?
If Fraser is injured that is a problem for this team. While I expect to see Reilly, and want to see him, the best guy to fill Fraser's role is MacWilliam.
@Jantz Lupul must have been on the ice for Kessel's goal in the first. Bolland's second goal was PP.
You listen to those guys between periods?
Funny,but this is the exact opposite of the way things used to go for the Leafs
Leaf teams in previous(losing ) seasons would outshoot the opposition but get destroyed on the counterpunch odd man breaks (and shoddy tending didn't help)
Special teams were suspect too.
Now we play more like the Devils of yore...albeit more offensive...a hybrid
This team looks poised to go deep into the playoffs playing Carlyle's system and riding hot tenders.
Good point. Reimer's mastery over the Sens probably gets him the start.
What choice do the Leafs have? RC is already working Dion into the ground. If he survives he will get that shiny new contract.
@Wilbur I agree Wilbur. He has had a good start to the season. He was very efficient and effective last night. Good read on the turnover that led to Kessel's goal.
Ranger is very strong as he handled Simmons in a few different situations. I will cut him some slack on some of the giveaways etc . Have to give him 20 games to make a proper overall assessment but I think he should be an upgrade to our third pairing when it is all said and done.
@Wilbur 5/ 27.5 MM , he is receiving amount presently annually
@Dink Hard for Naz to get going with all the penalties. He wasn't any worse than anyone else the first half of the game, and he looked great in Montreal. He'll be fine.
He really couldn't have played any better
Just hope he can curb the outbursts when if he doesn't get the plum starts as he seems to believe he deserves.
Platooning makes most sense for the team and raises each one's value should a trade be required.
@MaxwellHowe Expect that to happen a lot when the Leafs come up against teams with 2 top quality centers . Its more about strategy then a knock on Kadri. He'll learn a lot just being on the same team with someone like Bolland
Was thinking the same thing last night.
MacWilliam will be a Carlyle favourite I predict and could shake things up long term.
@B_Leaf Salary cap issues may be pushing the decision here.
@-Keon- I'm goin to the game, so they have to break this ceremonial jinx immediately!....and we have 2 awesome goalies to keep us in there til we can tilt it our way....was going to get the boy a Riems jersey, but now...Bernier maybe....
Our D is definitely improved over last year and will get better
Refs seems intent on helping the Flyers win their opener,which sure didn't help last night and seemed to go unnoticed by the talking heads
@MaxwellHowe @Wilbur Nonis sticks to his guns. I have no clue really what Nonis wants but if he sets a cap of 5 years at 6 million per or 6 years at 5.5 million per then Dion won't get more than that from him. He'll take the same route he did with Kessel:
1) Do you really want to be a Leaf? For effectively the rest of your career?
2) No? Then we're trading you. Yes? Now let's work on the numbers. If what Dion wants is beyond what Nonis wants to offer (in light of needing to sign other players etc...) then Dion will be traded.
@-Keon- Take of Eh !
@Burtonboy @MaxwellHowe Exactly. Against teams with two strong offensive centres and 2 scoring lines he'll go head to head on one line with his top scoring line (read Kessel's line) and throw his checking line out against the other. This will automatically drop Kadri's minutes. This won't happen every night. Randy likes to change it up depending on the opponent.
It's all about winning the dirty ice for Carlyle, and I agree with him on that, so yes you could be right. I even see a scenario where both Fraser and MacWilliam play on this team, not necessarily together though. Sort of depends how each develop. IMO Fraser has been edging into he top four. I mean when he and Franson are on the ice together good things happen.
I wasn't expecting a win with it being a back to back to start the season. I'm pretty sure very few players were exposed to that in the preseason......... which explains the lack of skating for a good chunk of the game up front.
Ryerson certainly got Franson ready to go as he has been excellent so far. Love having Fraser in the line up so hopefully he will only miss a week or two.
@-Keon- Dude I am stuck at work lol, That sound fantastic bro. Dam. Thats it I am calling in Fed-up to work tommorrow
Overall his game was solid,but watch him on the PK...not as effective due to being too stationary..and the one handed pokes in the corner are not aggressive enough
I think Randy should start Fraser/Franson on the #1 PK to help spell Dion
Fraser just might be our best PK man
Unlike many here,I saw Dion as weak on the PK last night...too much standing around,one hand on the stick and not clearing the crease
Could have been exhaustion/energy conservation,but Fraser is strong on the boards and in front of the net..and will be missed.