Leafs Notebook (Part 2) – Notes, Quotes & 5 Things I’d Do

Leafs Notebook (Part 2) – Notes, Quotes & 5 Things I’d Do

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If you missed part one of this week’s Notebook on Morgan Rielly, check it out here.

Notes

- Thought the JVR goal against Edmonton was a subtle example of the growth in Kessel’s game. If you watch the reply below, he gets knocked down, but keeps his stick on the puck and holds it against the boards to buy time for help. Then, he gets up and keeps battling. That effort and battle wasn’t always evident in Kessel’s game. Against Nashville, he went into the boards with Seth Jones and as they were on a collision course for the puck he dropped his shoulder and made contact to establish body position. A few times in that game he dumped it in deep and forechecked, too. The first few years we grew accustomed to Kessel stopping before getting to the puck to avoid contact, and hoping to use his stick to retrieve possession.

- Kessel also had 15 shots on net in three games this week.

- On the RNH 5v3 goal, McClement actually pointed to RNH before the puck went over to him in order to try and get Gunnarsson to go over and take it away. When the goal went in, McClement appeared a little perturbed that Gunnarsson wasn’t up there right away. Simply put, you can’t have two guys down low while the puck is up high on a 5v3 kill. Gunnarsson has to know that.

- Another no-no was Kadri failing to get the puck in deep on Smyth’s second goal of the night. Kadri skated up to the blue line and he did try to get the puck deep, but he didn’t execute and it ended up in the back of the Leafs net. He was far from the only guy to blame on that goal, but that play will drive Carlyle nuts.

- Of course, Colton Orr did the same thing against Colorado which resulted in the game winner. Pucks have to get in deep because teams transition up the ice too quickly and the results speak for themselves.

- What a play by Gardiner to feed Lupul a pass for the game tying goal. He could have easily just thrown the puck on net and hoped for a good bounce, but he saw the passing lane and Lupul, and fed it through softly.

- By the way, coaches don’t put players on the ice in the final minute of a one goal game if they are pushing them out.

- JVR looks noticeably faster, which is something I noted in the preseason notebook. The Kessel goal against Nashville was the perfect example, and it turned the game around. JVR wasn’t always making plays like that and beating guys with his first three steps. His skating was always fine once he got going, but his explosiveness has improved leaps and bounds.

- It was really interesting watching Bernier in the Edmonton game because it was clear that he wasn’t on his game; I was anxious to see how he’d battle. In this space I’ve written time and again that Reimer has that Grant Fuhr quality in him, where he might get lit up but he’ll regroup and shut the door despite how bad things are going. Lo and behold, Bernier makes the save of the game on Arcobello to keep the Leafs within reach of the Oilers after a rough outing.

- Ashton played really well against Colorado in his near 10 minutes of ice time, but went right back to playing 5-7 minutes the next two games. It’s a shame he didn’t build off of that effort. He didn’t have a shot on net against Nashville or Edmonton.

- It was nice to hear Franson call himself out after a rough game Saturday night. There are players who play bad games but don’t care because they got two assists, and then there are players who push themselves to be better. That showed us which of those two Franson is.

- Carlyle has put Kulemin, Ashton, and Broll with Kadri-Lupul to help create space for them, so it will be really nice once Clarkson is back and leading the forecheck for the duo. In the meantime, when games have tightened up Raymond has been moved up to that line and they’ve worked well, especially on the power play. Raymond passed to Kadri on his power play goals against Ottawa and Edmonton. The trio were on for Lupul’s power play goals against Nashville and Ottawa, too.

- One thing that didn’t get much attention this summer is that Grabovski won over 50% of his draws last year (50.6%), and was replaced by a guy who is generally speaking a 45% man in the dot in Dave Bolland. So far Bolland has won 44.4% of his faceoffs, and the Leafs have been getting dominated on the dot. Their best regular faceoff man is Jay McClement and he’s won exactly 50% of his draws.

- Ranger has been receiving some flak from Leafs fans but he really started settling in against Nashville and Edmonton. Against the Oilers, he even put a nice hit on Joensuu which will get Carlyle’s attention in a good way. The key for Ranger was that he wasn’t getting caught out of position and he was allowing the game to come to him instead of chasing it.

- The Leafs allowed one power play goal last week and it was on a 5v3, which is really interesting because Nik Kulemin hasn’t been playing. McClement is the top dog on the unit, but Kulemin is the firm second and the Leafs are surviving without him pretty well so far. The question now is whether this is because the Leafs have such a good system, or if it’s really all on Jay McClement.

- It’s amazing how many people write off Reimer after a few good games from Bernier. Reimer is a fighter and he’s battled for everything he’s been given throughout his career, so he won’t go down in this battle without a fight first. This competition is far from over.

***

Quotes

“Dave Nonis was really the only one who was seriously interested in him. Everyone else was just tire-kicking. I was shocked at the lack of real interest. He had proven himself again last season. The other reason I think people overlook Bernier is because he is small; they overlook his hockey sense, which is his best asset.”
- Kings GM Dean Lombardi discussing the Bernier trade.

Looks more and more like Dave Nonis knows what he’s doing.

“It was a game of mistakes and each team seemed to capitalize on one another’s mistakes.”
- Randy Carlyle on the game against Edmonton.

Say it time and time again: if teams want to swap chances with the Leafs, Toronto is more than likely coming out ahead.

“The two biggest things that I noticed and I think every young guy that breaks in at a young age notices, it’s the speed and strength of the guys. It’s not just that they’re stronger on the puck, but it’s that they’re that much quicker with that extra strength. Junior’s a great pace, there’s lots of pace to junior hockey. But at this level everyone’s consistently big, strong and I’m not talking that every guy’s 6-foot-5 or 6-foot-6, I’m talking every guy is strong on their feet and they know how to protect the puck and they’re strong on the puck. That’s the biggest thing for young guys jumping in.”
- Dion Phaneuf on the adjustment from junior to the NHL.

In other words, in junior, you can really take advantage of the weaker players in the league. In the NHL, it’s always a battle and you have to adjust to that level of constant intensity and ability.

***

5 Things I Think I’d Do

1 – I think I’d go back to Reimer Tuesday against Minnesota. Bernier had a rough game, but Reimer has also shut out the Wild before and needs to get back in there. Plus, it’s in the comforts of the ACC. It is worth noting that the Leafs play Carolina right after and Reimer should start against them on the familiarity factor alone, but if you’re going to have a goalie competition you can’t throw a guy back in after a rough game.

2 – I think I’d consider keeping Broll in over Ashton once Kulemin and Clarkson return. The Leafs won’t take out Orr against teams with heavyweights because Broll can’t fight the Scotts, Kassians, and even Thorntons of the division. That brings things down to Ashton vs. Broll, and Broll is really acquitting himself well as a guy who can move up the line-up. Against teams that don’t play ultra-heavyweight (Detroit, for example), it would be nice to see both Ashton and Broll in.

3 – I think I’d swap Gardiner and Rielly around on the pairings. Franson hasn’t looked great with Rielly, which is my main reasoning, and Ranger is starting to play well. I think those two would be safe in a third pairing role.

4 – I think I’d like the Leafs signing Dion Phaneuf to a longer-term deal if it means a lower annual average. He’s only 28, and if they lose him they would really be forcing someone into his role and hoping for the best. Plus, on a defense full of skill, it’s nice to have a guy who can log big minutes and has some snarl to his game.

5 – I think I’d make it very clear that, although the Leafs have a good record right now, they need to play a lot better, and tighter defensively, if they are going to make the playoffs over the 82 game season. The Oilers game was pond hockey, the Preds dominated the first half, and the Duchene line controlled play all night. The best time to be critical is when you’re winning. Yes, there are definitely a lot of positives to take away so far (mobile defense, ridiculous amount of goal scoring up front, good goaltending, young kids stepping in, etc.), but if everyone is being honest the Leafs can/need to play better. Plus, it’s only six games into the season and the goal has to be continued improvement.

Anthony Petrielli has been writing Leafs Notebooks, also known as short stories, on MLHS since the beginning of the 2011 season. He'd rather let his work do the talking but Alec and Declan have been bugging him about writing a bio, so here it is. You can contact him at [email protected] or find him on Twitter at @APetrielli
406 comments
Xxxxxnew
Xxxxxnew

jonasTSN1050: Dating back to last season, Joffrey Lupul has scored 16 goals in the past 19 regular season games.

Komas Taberle
Komas Taberle

I want to see Leafs win big.

Montreal, Ottawa, Islanders, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Carolina, Tampa Bay and Detroit all lose badly.

Yeah that would make me real happy.

Bobsyouruncle
Bobsyouruncle

"By the way, coaches don’t put players on the ice in the final minute of a one goal game if they are pushing them out."  

This statement is incomplete and misleading. It should say "in the final minute when his team is up one goal".   

There's no reason a coach wouldn't put an offensive player on the ice down a goal in the last minute of a game regardless of whether "they are pushing them out". Makes sense to use an offensive player in that situation. Doesn't make any difference if we lose 5-4 or 6-4.   

Even in the short sample this season there are already examples of Gardiner NOT playing in the last minute when we are ahead 1 goal. Montreal and Philadelphia. The only game Carlyle has taken a risk with Gardiner was in the last minute of a 4-4 tie with Ottawa that we won in a shoot-out.   

Xxxxxnew
Xxxxxnew

Phaneuf has the hammer in determining his future. He could pretty much halt any trade by letting it be known he'd only be a rental until next summer's FA bidding war season. Not many D up for grabs next year, either.

DWCMLHS
DWCMLHS

Also: don't trade any of our top-5 Dmen! (Phaneuf, Gunnarsson, Franson, Gardiner, Rielly).

dlb Mad
dlb Mad

@Bobsyouruncle 

Rielly and Gardiner were out in the final minute to protect the shutout in a game that was already decided.

i assumed AP meant Gardiner was out in the last minute of a game where we were protecting a one goal lead.  are you saying this is not the case?

Gardiner has shown improvement to me in the last couple of games.

dlb Mad
dlb Mad

@Xxxxxnew 

whoever's going to the game tonight, make a sign to let Phaneuf know how much we want to keep him.

in a good way i mean haha, fuckers.

MaxwellHowe
MaxwellHowe

@DWCMLHS 

They should contemplate dumping Gunnar.   He has been shite so far this year.

Greg Fenton
Greg Fenton

@DWCMLHS It would depend on the return wouldn't it? Shouldn't all talk and comments about trades depend on the return? 

Xxxxxnew
Xxxxxnew

I just like saying RNH is -9 in four games. Advanced stats project -180 by the end of the season.

Bobsyouruncle
Bobsyouruncle

@Anthony Petrielli   

And?   

Phaneuf, Franson, Gardiner, Rielly.    

Specific to the Edmonton game, Franson and Rielly were on the ice for 4 even strength goals against up to that point, On the plus side Franson 1 PP goal and 1 EV goal for, Rielly 1 EV goal for. Dion 1 PP and 1 EV goal for and only one 5 on 3 against. Gardiner 2 EV goals for.   

Franson also came off the ice at 19:17. Carlyle and the coaches played a hunch based on the game until that point. Franson unavailable, Rielly having a pretty tough game, Gardiner and Dion better.   

This had nothing to do with a player "being pushed out the door" or trust, as your statement implies. Coach played a reasonable hunch given the circumstances.  

Your statement was misleading as witnessed:   

dlb eh:  "I assumed AP meant Gardiner was out in the last minute of a game where we were protecting a one goal lead."

Bobsyouruncle
Bobsyouruncle

@dlb eh No I don't believe Gardiner has been out to protect a 1 goal lead in the last minute so far.   

You're right about the shut-out but Carlyle is just crusty enough to be sending Bernier a message that individual accomplishments aren't that important to him. Bernier can earn his own shut-out.   lol

Mind Bomb
Mind Bomb

@dlb eh @Bobsyouruncle Still weak in the corners and Front of the net, uses his stick in a poke check thing instead of taking the man. He is making better decisions though the last couple of games, still think he is a pussy though, but an extremley gifted one lol


CanuckUKinToronto
CanuckUKinToronto

@MaxwellHowe @DWCMLHS  I think Gunnar plus a prospect or pick could swing us back a better defensive D man... that is what Gunnar is but he comes without the physical presence, elite skating, and lately calm effectiveness (his giveaways and inability to clear the zone).

dlb Mad
dlb Mad

@MaxwellHowe 

i don't mean this to dump on Gunnar (i know i do...somewhat reluctantly now that i'm not the only critic like i once was, it seemed)

but his main role is defensive.  PK is his biggest contribution.  in order to improve the defense group, i'd simply like to plug in a guy who can do what Gunnar does, but in a way that Fraser does it.

tough to upgrade Phanuef, Franson or Ranger the way they've played (or are trending imo).  also, tough to replace Gards or Rielly due to the potential that's there.

Percy is kinda like Gunnar, except i think he'll a better puck mover and take less of a beating.  MacWilliam might be able to replace Gunnar, but that's obviously not close to being proven.  just saying, Gunnar is the one i see ...

DWCMLHS
DWCMLHS

Gunnarsson hasn't gotten off to a great start, but we're only 6 games into the season. He's the only guy we have that can handle playing on the top D pair with Phaneuf. He's not a true #2 Dman, but he's the closest thing we've got. Franson has been great this season (except Saturday), but Phaneuf plays better on the right side than the left. Plus Franson is an offensive Dman, and isn't exactly suited for a shut-down role.

DWCMLHS
DWCMLHS

In a way, yes. Nobody should really be untouchable, because if a team is willing to wildly overpay for one of the Leafs' players, they'd be crazy not to accept.

That being said, they shouldn't be shopping any of these guys. Defence is the Leafs area of weakness. They cannot afford to lose anyone that even looks half-decent in a top-4 role.

Greg Fenton
Greg Fenton

@JWasted I dunno, ask Sather. 

Doesn't seem to make a lot of sense fromt he rangers perspective at this point though. Maybe if the Rangers bomb this year, want to restock with some youth or draft picks, in which case the + would be what they want and Gunnerson is there to make a deal work. 

dlb Mad
dlb Mad

@DWCMLHS 

if i thought Gunnarsson was a worthy top 4 defender i'd agree.  but i just see too many things holding him back, to make me not want him on the ice that often.

i like him on the PK, and i do like him patching up against the other teams' 2nd best lines, or the least physical of the top lines, whichever the situation calls for.

i respect that you like Gunnar.  i don't want to shit on him anymore.  he takes a beating on the ice and plays on.  i respect that.

JWaterdrager
JWaterdrager

Could we get Girardi with Gunnarsson + Fenton? 

DWCMLHS
DWCMLHS

MacWilliam is a future 6-7 Dman, like Fraser. Percy has the potential to possibly become a top-4 Dman like Gunnarsson, but that's not a sure thing. We can't really afford to move players based on what prospects could eventually become.

dlb Mad
dlb Mad

@.JVR. 

i agree.  i don't think Gunnar is regressing.  i think he's always been "this" good.

.JVR.
.JVR.

@MaxwellHowe

I wouldn't say Gunnar is regressing at all.

Have yet to see him out of position this season and don't you think 6 games is a bit quick to declare that somebody is regressing? 

.JVR.
.JVR.

@MaxwellHowe

Rielly is a -3, so I guess that means he REALLY sucks!

Oh yea, he's also averaging more giveaways per games played and has 3 less hits than Gunnarsson. 

MaxwellHowe
MaxwellHowe

@.JVR. @MaxwellHowe 

The Corsi point was made is jest.  He leads the league in giveaways.  He barely hits.  He doesn't score.  His plus /minus is -1 on a team with a 5-1 record.  He has sucked.

dlb Mad
dlb Mad

@.JVR. 

only one the odd night...because our goalies are frickin awesome!

.JVR.
.JVR.

@MaxwellHowe

I really couldn't give a fuck what his Corsi looks like.

How many goals against could you say he is directly responsible for?


MaxwellHowe
MaxwellHowe

@.JVR. @MaxwellHowe 

He leads the NHL with 12 giveaways.  No takeaways.  He is a Corsi nightmare (I  don't know about the Corsi thing, I just wanted to sound like I understood that nonsense)

MaxwellHowe
MaxwellHowe

@DWCMLHS 

I gave Gunnar a pass last year bc of the hip, but its obvious now IMO that he is just really not that good.  Put 7 Dmen on the bench and rotate two with Phanuef.  See who can handle it.  Fraser, Gardiner, Rielly, TJ Brennan, Ranger - give them all a shot with the big guy.  Gunnar is frstrating to watch.

dlb Mad
dlb Mad

@DWCMLHS 

Franson has shown the potential to play against better competition and kill penalties and perhaps be a two way shut down guy.  you just don't want him blocking too many shots that will take him off the PP.

Greg Fenton
Greg Fenton

@DWCMLHS The problem with that is cap space, making deals and getting something good without giving up something, and then playing space. 

They need more good defensive players (not just D-men, I think part of the problem is also to many 1-way forwards) but you can' tjust add, you have to swap. 

DWCMLHS
DWCMLHS

The Leafs should just be looking to add a good Dman, preferably without moving out one of their good ones to do so. I'd rather move a couple good picks/prospects for a good Dman than just upgrade one of our current good Dmen. We need more good Dmen.

Greg Fenton
Greg Fenton

@DWCMLHS If the defense is the area of weakness, wouldn't it make sense too/shouldn't be looking to move a couple of those guys out and replace them with better and/or different defensemen? 

If the defense is weak I don't think holding onto all the D-men is the way to make it better. 

dlb Mad
dlb Mad

@.JVR. 

haha, no no ... i don't think DWCMLHS meant to not listen to any offers ever no matter what.  i think he just likes those 5 guys and thinks it's a good core to build around.

"but what if one gets hurt?"

"but what if one has a bad game?"

butwhat.  i think i found a new nickname for my pet

.JVR.
.JVR.

@dlb eh

Must not have been to obvious if DWCMLHS says not to trade them.

dlb Mad
dlb Mad

@Jantz 

sorry.  i know it's not original.  just so damned fitting.

Jantz
Jantz

Captain obvious ......... ha,ha.......good one dlb