Game in 10: Game #2, Leafs 3 at Flyers 1

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Dion Phaneuf, Jonathan Bernier
Photo: NHL.com

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.

Leafs-Philly-Boxscore

  • adeel

    good win for the leafs. great game by bernier. but im feeling reimer for saturday

  • Wilbur

    Yahoo! The Game in 10!!!!

  • Black_Hawk

    Awesome we won

  • Black_Hawk

    I had work so I couldn’t watch it

  • Black_Hawk

    Glad bolland is paying dividends for us

  • Optimustic

    Booyah!   I predicted 4 – 1 Leafs, but I sure didn’t expect it to be remotely like the way it ended up.  I thought we were the team that looked rusty and that the Leafs would come out like the Flyers.  All revved up I think are the words I used.    
    A win is a win though, and I’ll take it happily.    Go Leafs Go!

  • Black_Hawk

    Was bollands goal a empty netter?

  • JMAC17

    Black_Hawk Nope…PP

  • Wilbur

    Black_Hawk Nope. Neither of his were empty netters

  • Black_Hawk

    Even better

  • JMAC17

    This was a greasy win.  Bernier looked great!

  • Wilbur

    Truth be told, we had two outstanding goaltending games in a row. I miss Toskaloss and Der Monster…NOT.

  • Black_Hawk

    Glad to hear bernier was great. This is exactly what nonis guys wanted when we got him.two goalies that could steal games on any given night

  • Black_Hawk

    Man now we just need to win 80 more games

  • http://mapleleafshotstove.com/ DeclanK

    Boxscore up

  • TuckerForPunishment

    Hay Alec.  Appreciate your comments about Dion.  Poor Dion.  lol  That guy is gonna sleep well tonight.

  • Black_Hawk

    Glad kessel got a goal early in the season.hopefully gives him confidence to go on a run now

  • Black_Hawk

    Man I just wanna watch hockey now. Screw college

  • MollySweats

    Great to see game in 10’s back….I love reading these after a win…not a great performance from the skaters but Bernier was lights out so we got it done…Reilly in for Ranger Saturday night?

  • Dougie Wraparound

    I can’t stand the analysts on tsn projecting the leafs to be 4th in the Atlantic or a borderline playoff team. I think they’re really wrong. They can be first in the Atlantic.

  • http://mapleleafshotstove.com/ DeclanK

    MollySweats He might be in for Fraser. He went down with a knee injury.

  • wiski

    .969 😉

  • Black_Hawk

    Better then them predicting us higher imo b/c that way we can surprise instead of being a dissapointment. At least to them

  • Komas Taberle

    Dougie Wraparound They know nothing.

  • Black_Hawk

    Really? That’s too bad

  • DJBrianBurke

    Happy birthday Phil! My gift is somewhere in the 8mil you just signed :)

  • http://mapleleafshotstove.com/ DeclanK

    Black_Hawk The Leafs are still underdogs and that suits me fine. 
    Many, many, many people have predicted they won’t make the playoffs. 
    I missed my entry for the predictions, but I have them at 98-100pts and that was on the back of goal tending between Reimer and Bernier being as good as it has been so far.
    I have digital proof before the season started.

  • JMAC17

    Fraser left on crutches….Reilly gets his go Saturday looks like

  • TuckerForPunishment

    DJBrianBurke Mine too. lol

  • loomx

    Funny how Carlyle benches Kadri for playing mediocre at worst(but still helps on a goal) and yet has no problem throwing a downright liability in Ranger consistently.

  • DJBrianBurke

    Dougie Wraparound I love that I keep hearing Ottawa has the best Canadian chance at the cup. I would find that hilarious if they didn’t pick them every year, which I will never understand.

  • TuckerForPunishment

    loomx He just moved Bollands line up.  And was more sheltering than benching.  Still doesn’t feel fully confident playing him against top NHL skill and experience.

  • JMAC17

    loomx Different teaching and motivation approaches.
    Kadri plays best with a chip in his shoulder, we something to prove…..Maybe Ranger needs a softer approach….let him learn on the fly…we was solid before see if he can regain his timing and pace?

  • wiski

    https://twitter.com/markhmastershttps://twitter.com/markhmasters/status/385606773387689984
    Carlyle on Kessel having a pretty good few days: ‘Yeah, he’s going to need a bigger wallet’

  • TuckerForPunishment

    DeclanK Black_Hawk Livefyre has ya covered. ;-P

  • DJBrianBurke

    Nice write up. Lots of stuff to pick through tonight’s gave, but it was a win so it’s not so bad.

    I would add #11 Refs and #12 Congrats to first star Troy Bordie :) Tip to http://www.livefyre.com/profile/15400608/ for posting that.

  • wiski

    Looks like Roy has the Avs going 4 zip

  • GreekGod

    JMAC17 loomx 
    Yea but that was 4 years ago. I didn’t like what Ranger showed me in Pre-season and I definitely don’t like what he is showing us now. I was hoping he would get benched for Saturday’s game but looks like Fraser will be out instead now with an injury

  • Dangle_My_Berries

    Bernie played out of his fucking mind

  • http://mapleleafshotstove.com/ DeclanK

    -Keon-
    https://twitter.com/camcharron/status/385586375224868864

  • GreekGod

    Dangle_My_Berries 
    Get use to it because that’s how this dude plays. Watched him play last year and this is what he did

  • Dangle_My_Berries

    GreekGod Dangle_My_Berries IM SOOOO HAPPY WITH OUR GOALTENDING!!! ITS FILTHY!!!

  • Wilbur

    I gotta say that throwing Bolland out between Kulemin and Lupul (that may be Lupal or Lupol to some of you :)) is alright in my books…

  • GreekGod

    Reimer or Bernier on Saturday guys?

  • TuckerForPunishment

    Bernier or Reimer for Saturday night?  That is the great debate.

  • wiski

    GreekGod Reimer they will flip flop for a bit, but Reimer needs to play, he won;t do well sharing the net.

  • TuckerForPunishment

    -Keon- I’m not surprised to tell you the absolute truth.

  • Wilbur

    -Keon- Not on NHL.com…They are 11th in the conference lol…

  • Wilbur

    -Keon- #1 on the charts and #1 in our hearts :)

  • JMAC17

    wiski GreekGod Reimer for sure