This was a pretty awful game after the first period. The Leafs stopped skating, started playing on the perimeter, and between 17:15 of the second period to 8:13 of the third period, did not place a single shot on net until Franson unleashed one from the point. The fact is, not putting a puck on the net for ten minutes is inexcusable. That they stopped playing in the dirty areas after Lupul’s goal in front of the net is also damning of their unmotivated play.
Overall, the Leafs were badly outplayed – they were outshot, outhit, beaten badly in the circle, and struggled to maintain zone play for the greater part of the game. Credit to the Avalanche, as it seems Patrick Roy has his team whipped into shape in the early season. They really closed down the Leafs’ space and disrupted their flow with heaps of backside pressure throughout the night.
The Leafs could have used Nik Kulemin and David Clarkson tonight; somebody who could maybe grind out a goal in a tight game where the Leafs’ most skilled forwards were struggling to create. They also missed them in the sense that Colton Orr played over 9 minutes on the right wing tonight, skating a number of shifts alongside Nazem Kadri. Kadri only received 13 minutes of ice, and while Carlyle was probably tired of seeing the Leafs lose draws, that seems awfully low in a game where the Leafs were struggling for offence.
Individually, the bright spots were Jonathan Bernier’s excellent outing in stopping 31 of 33 shots. The second was Morgan Rielly, who played a fantastic two-way game with flashes of offensive dominance and some great defensive reads.
Team-wise, another ‘bright’ spot was the Leafs defense. Aside from the usual mistakes you see just about every NHL team make, the defense was very calm, facilitated their breakouts, and generally made excellent defensive reads.
Another bright spot is that the Leafs have 78 games left to bring together their potential to do special things.
1st Period Summary
- Broadly speaking, the Leafs breakout play was good in the first period. I’m not watching the individuals, but the team move out of their own end together. Their breakout is something that is going to have to improve if the Leafs want to gain a high seeding and go deep into the playoffs this season.
- This was a period of goaltenders showing off. Varlamov wasn’t flashy, but calm, poised, and gave up no rebounds. Across the ice, Bernier was superb, showing off an elite glove hand and excellent technical play.
Colorado shot attempts: 18
Toronto shot attempts: 27
2nd Period Summary
- Two periods in and it’s hard not to notice how quickly Rielly is adapting to the NHL. In the first period, he was pretty quiet, but quick to make a strong pass, cut off lanes, and jump into the rush when he could. Second period, he’s basically dominating – dominating is a bit of a strong word, but he’s noticeably better than every defenseman on the ice right now. Great passing, quick to his spots on the ice, defensively sound.
- Really ugly goal from the Leafs about 13 minutes into the second period. The Leafs throw the puck onto the net as the Avalanche defense tries to hurry back on a botched breakout. Lupul grabs the rebound, throws it on the net, and then starts digging into the scrum to push the puck over the line. It’s a goal, and it’s 1-0 for our Toronto Maple Leafs. Assisting on the play was Carter Ashton – his first NHL point.
- Tough goal to give up. The Leafs were struggling a bit to clear the puck, and Sarich swooped down on the left side of the boards and shot a laser beam over the shoulder of Bernier, who was cheating a bit to the right.
Colorado shot attempts: 22 (40)
Shots: 15 (25)
Missed: 4 (9)
Blocked: 3 (6)
Toronto shot attempts: 14 (41)
Shots: 7 (19)
Missed: 5 (10)
Blocked: 2 (12)
3rd Period Summary
- Yuck. Looks like Ranger got caught a little too far up the neutral zone. McGinn took the neutral zone turnover, transitioned quickly, and blew by Ranger. Took it to the net, passed it off to Parenteau, and the puck went off the skate – no kicking motion. After a brief review, the goal stands.
- Rielly can really skate, control the puck at top speed, and create scoring chances. This is now a recording. He looks really good. He does not look like a 19 year old defenseman playing his second NHL game. At one point, he was defending a three on two and forced the Avalanche winger into an offside.
- This has been a tough game to watch starting around the mid-way part of the second period. The Leafs are getting brutally outshot, beaten in the circle, and outhit. At some point, this kind of unwillingness to shoot is going to catch up to the team. Going almost ten minutes without a shot is inexcusable. Both on a chance and possession level – argue all you want about systems and having shooters, but what good is having shooters if your shooters don’t shoot? Being overly fine about the spots you pick isn’t always appropriate – especially when you’re trailing by one and you need a goal.
Colorado shot attempts: 15 (55)
Shots: 8 (33)
Missed: 4 (13)
Blocked: 3 (9)
Toronto shot attempts: 22 (63)
Shots: 9 (28)
Missed: 7 (17)
Blocked: 6 (18)
Toronto Maple Leafs vs Colorado AvalancheToronto Maple Leafs vs Colorado Avalanche - Game sheet, Oct. 8th, 2013
|Jonathan Bernier (2-1-0)||L||33||31||0.939||59:24:00|
|James van Riemsdyk||0||0||23:13||0||2||0||0||0||5||1||0||2|
|Semyon Varlamov (3-0-0)||W||28||27||0.964||59:57:00|