The Leafs won’t take home the Corsi Cup again tonight, but they will return to Toronto a 4-1-0 team thanks to Jonathan Bernier’s first shutout as a Maple Leaf and a good final 30 minutes in Nashville.
1 – The Leafs played a decent road period in the first. Toronto didn’t generate much, but didn’t give up a whole lot in terms of scoring chances, either. The Leafs actually had some of the better looks, and were only outshot 8-6 despite a laughable 17-5 faceoff deficit.
2 – Whether we’ve been able to successfully quantify the importance of faceoff wins or not, they’re important, and the Leafs are seemingly getting worse on the dot this season. Bolland is the average to slightly below average guy we thought he was; Bozak, typically a strong suit of his, went 1 for 8 in the first; and it continues to be one of Kadri’s biggest weaknesses. Bozak and McClement finished up at 43% on the dot, while Bolland and Kadri were at 38 and 36 percent respectively.
3 – The first 10 minutes of the 2nd period was nothing short of painful. Continuing the theme from the Colorado game, the Leafs went huge spells without a shot, this time going eight minutes without a shot on goal to start the 2nd period (after an equally long spell in the 1st). Nothing was connecting for the Leafs’ passes, and there did not appear to be a whole lot of urgency or desperation to their game. For the majority of period, the penalty killing and Bernier is all the Leafs had going.
4 – Kadri was the spark that finally got the Leafs going later in second period. Kadri rushed the puck up ice and floated a beautiful area pass in front of the net for Lupul to skate onto. Lupul missed the empty net, but it was the beginning of a good final 7 or 8 minutes of the second period.
5 – Bozak lost the ensuing offensive zone faceoff so clean it actually benefited the Leafs. Legwand won it straight through his legs to where there was no Predator waiting. JvR made a quick read, was first to the puck to the right of the Nashville net, and found Kessel out front before the Predators could get themselves together defensively. Kessel notched his second of the season, and 6th point, off a great pass from JvR.
6 – The goal seemed to inject some more life in the Leafs’ legs, as they continued to pick it up toward the end of the 2nd. The Leaf top line struck for the second time in minutes (by top line I mean JvR and Kessel). A good hard play by Dion down low to toss a Predator off the puck got the Leafs out of trouble before Gunnarsson threw a great diagonal breakout pass to Kessel, who was taking off on a rush down the right board. Kessel hit the outside of the post, and as Rinne tried to collect the bounce off the end boards, JvR nipped in and took the puck for a wrap around the (now-shallower) net. There are few better than JvR at working the area in tight around the goal. 2-0 Leafs.
7 – Preserving the 2-0 lead, Bernier made a shockingly easy-looking save off a pass to a wide open Predator in the slot in the early third. Reading the pass out of the corner and aware of the incoming Predator, Bernier made a quick shift and dropped into the butterfly to swallow a chance from below the hashmarks. If he doesn’t make that save, which was far more difficult than he made it look, the Leafs are in a much different situation after conceding early in the third. Bernier made another save on Seth Jones a few minutes later, after Jones slipped into the slot unmarked. Bernier aggressively challenged Jones and gave him nothing to shoot at except the chest of the new coolest JB to come out of Canada (sorry, Jake Gardiner).
8 – Morgan Rielly had an amazing shift half way through the third period. Bozak curled up in the Nashville zone and fell over, giving the Predators an odd man chance the other way. Rielly was initially caught up ice by Bozak’s failure to get that puck deep, but he covered the ground to swoop in and break up a pass before turning and leading a rush the other way. The initial rush didn’t work out, but he made another fantastic read in the neutral zone to break up a play and send JvR and Kessel on their way on a 2 on 1. That should’ve produced JvR’s second of the night and a 3-0 Leaf lead, but Rinne made an amazing blocker save to keep it at 2-0.
9 – A scary moment for Cody Franson with 7 minutes to go in the game. Retrieving a puck near the Leaf bench, Mr. Underwood rammed Franson into the stanchion, splitting Franson open and sending him to the dressing room for stitches. Provided Franson’s OK, it worked out for the Leafs as the 5 minute hitting from behind penalty all but sealed the game. Maybe next time he’ll think before he cheats.
10 – Bozak, who had a pretty terrible game, put this one on ice on the major powerplay. Kessel found Bozak to the side of the net, and Bozak’s attempted pass back across to JvR took a deflection off a skate and beat Rinne. To Bozak’s credit, it was a good pass and the right play, and if it didn’t go in off the Predator’s skate JvR was going to have his second of the night anyway. A Joffrey Lupul tipped goal padded the stats further before Carlyle deferred to the 4th line for the remainder of the powerplay.
Overall, the Leafs survived the first 30 minutes of this game before stealing a lead which forced the boring-est team in the league to start opening things up. Once that happens, you’ve got to like the Leafs’ chances. Final shot count was 36-26 Nashville.
Jonathan Bernier appears to have only needed two minutes of bad play from Reimer to take this crease by storm, as he’s been nothing short of brilliant while setting a franchise record for consecutive starts with less than 3 goals allowed by a new Leaf goaltender. The Leafs’ best players on forward and defence, Phil Kessel and Dion Phaneuf, continued their early season brilliance as well. I was glad to see Joffrey Lupul and Nazem Kadri reunited for the most part. David Broll and Josh Leivo acquitted themselves fairly well in their regular season debut. Paul Ranger played his best game of the young season.
Morgan Rielly, who recorded his first National Hockey League point on the Tyler Bozak goal (he made the nice zone entry on the late powerplay), may well have just sealed his status as an NHLer for the full 82 games this season. He put in 19 minutes of strong work on the road, where Carlyle couldn’t fully control his matchups. We all knew about his obvious talents, but the way he’s reading the game and how unafraid he is to get involved in the physical battles bode well for his chances of sticking.
We’ll await word on Cody Franson, who has seen a big climb in his TOI in the early season and clocked 19 minutes before leaving the game. Hopefully it is just a dozen stitches and not a concussion.
Onto the next one.
Game in 6 Minutes:
Toronto Maple Leafs at Nashville Predators Boxscore
|Pekka Rinne (1-3-0)||L||26||22||0.846||60:00:00|
|Jonathan Bernier (3-1-0)||W||36||36||1||60:00:00|
|James van Riemsdyk||1||1||21:36||2||5||2||0||0||1||1||0||0|
Last One Standing Lauren Hart
Awesome Game in 10 Alec. I laughed my ass off at the Mr. Underwood cheating reference.
I also think you saw the game the exact same why I did regarding Bozak's ineptness and Bernier's skill. That one pass out front to the wide open Pred where he was so quick, and anticipated it so well, he was actually waiting for the guy to tip it.
I think Edmonton will attempt to trade lesser pieces and draft picks for someone like Mike Green, and then attempt to break the bank on a guy like Girardi, or a similar free agent. I just don't see them moving for a goalie like Reimer until they've addressed their more glaring roster concerns. Frankly, I don't know if there's any goalie good enough to rectify the fact that Jeff Petry is playing on their top pair.
I think if we do a deal with Edmonton, they'd be more interested in Gunnarsson than Reimer.
I know the Leaf defence don't resemble the Great Wall of China, but they come under a lot of fire, and I am guilty of picking on them , like many others do. However, when you go into Nashville, or as the folks down there call it, Smashville, and get a shutout, you have put up a pretty good defensive game. I know that Bernier was great, but he wasn't under siege . I think this effort was by far the best the Leaf backline six have looked this autumn. Yet....not much mention at all in the papers about the good effort. If the Buds had gone down 4-0 last night, every scribe in Trawna would be saying Phaneuf is a bust, Ranger is in danger, Rielly aint ready ...yadda yadda yadda . Lets give a small tip of the hat to the defence...they played well in a tough road rink, and one of them got his face mashed in doing so . To me, last nights effort was a confidence builder for the D .
Eakins is finding out fast, his high end talent really believes they are high end talent. He is going to have to bench a few of these prima donnas. I hope we beat the shit out of them tomorrow :)
I dont want to make any trades, we are set for the season. Put a little logic to this goalie luck we have. If we trade Reimer, and whats his face gets hurt, who goes in net? I cannot understand why any of you guys would even contemplate trade Reimer...it borders on stupidity.
Now Gardiner is a different question. If a Gardiner can be moved for something very high end then we should have an open mind because Liles is down there and ready to go and Rielly is going to be the central piece of our offence and defence for the next 10 years. It will not be Phaneuf, or Franson or whoever, it will be Rielly. Personally, Id lean to keeping Gardiner and finding out what the hell gives with his psyche. To me Phaneuf, Gunnarson, Liles are all more expendable. But I say keep em all.
Come playoff time we will love the fact, that on any given shift our defence can create offense and our remaining D can punish defensively.
Its too bad we couldnt just hold a gun to Murrays head and take Cowen for free. He would be a perfect fit for us I think.
@rustynail That is clear. Botchford, just shut himself out of every interview he thinks he can get. May and should cost him his job.
@Yaknowwhat Eliminated in 7.
@djamon Thanks djamon. Right on both accounts.
@CanuckUKinToronto woah woah, so that puck magnet thing they were talking about the other night isn't real?
@Yaknowwhat So no CORSI for him eh?
@Burtonboy No shit eh, and pissing him off WOULD be scary
@HeatherRickAkin Nashville is the most anemic offensive team in the NHL.
@-Keon- Compare that to Chicago 4 years ago:
Byfuglien / Toews / Kane vs. Saad / Toews / Kane
Brouwer / Sharp / Hossa vs. Bickell / Sharp / Hossa
Ladd / Bolland / Versteeg vs. Handzus / Kruger / Shaw
Eager / Kopecky / Burrish vs. Bollig / Smith / Hayes
Keith / Seabrook vs. Keith / Seabrook
Hjalmarsson / Campbell vs. Hjalmarsson / Oduya
Sopel / Barker vs. Leddy / Rozsival
Niemi / Huet vs. Crawford / Khabibulin
@peterbleafs should be a high tempo game, we have the edge in net and on D right now.
@Jordan29 And again, why the assumption they even want a goalie? I don't think they do, unless it's a proven superstar.
@Jordan29 No. He's basically just Gunnarsson. Another left side D.
They have a incredible 6-7 man core group.
We have committed long term to a group of 6 forwards and yet to lock in any dman, though Reilly and Phaneuf will likely be added to that list.
Bernier is looking like he can live up the the hype...so that makes 10 guys in our core.
That is a lot of eggs in one basket...hope Nonis is a hockey genius!
@JMAC17 @JR from Halifax @Dangle_My_Berries @CanuckUKinToronto Like many leafs, he will polarize the fanbase. For someone who was never drafted and we picked up for nothing, yes I like him. In a couple years the money we pay him won't seem like much. I just wish (like all of us) we could land a center that can better maximize the talents of two elite wingers and Bozak plays in the 3 hole. Burke himself admited he was forced into a role that did not suit him.
I am a big Bozak fan and hold faith that he will become a 55-60 point guy that does all the little things right.
But he has to play a bigger game than these first 4.
But I dont really think that anyone has played well yet....all very mediocre really. Last night was the first sign of things starting to click again.
@CanuckUKinToronto @Cameron19 @HeatherRickAkin True, my point was only that historically, the Preds have been a terrible offensive team. They win games 1-0. It is the reason why Bernier had started 8 times against them. That would often be his only start in a long stretch of the calendar. The original comment made it sound like shutting out Nashville is a massive achievement. It's not. Not for our team defense, and not for Bernier. It was good to get us on track though - we really needed it.
Understand this is in NO WAY an attack on Bernier.
@Jordan29 @Cameron19 I think this is jsut an assumption a lot of non Oilers fans make. Dubnyk played amazingly last year, and they still lost. Jeff Petry is playing on their top pair. I don't think Reimer is going to fix that. I think they will want to address more obvious needs before they waste assets on a Reimer type goalie.