Game in 10: Game #12, Maple Leafs 4 vs. Penguins 1

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Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images

Toronto bounced back from a defeat in Columbus last night in a big way with a win against the Penguins. The Leafs found their physical game and put forth a strong effort across the board on their way to a 4-1 victory.

1. The Leafs came out with one of their best first periods of the season. The reason? It could be playing up to the level of their opponents, or the absence of a certain defensively-capable, offensively-culpable center. But the jump in their game was in large part due to their renewed physicality.

2. Toronto lost a hitting machine in Komarov – a move that was somewhat offset by the inclusion of Clarkson, Bolland and more time for some of the kids (Ashton, Broll, et al.). Yet with injuries to players such as Kulemin, Fraser and McLaren, the Leafs had been noticeably less physical to start the season. The return of Clarkson and a stretch of poor play has apparently got the rest of the team engaged, something that clearly occured both physically and mentally as they took it to the Penguins for large stretches of the night.

3. With respect to Clarkson, he trotted out his trademark game tonight. He finished checks early and often, was strong along the boards, and did what he could to get pucks to net (prettiness be damned). One of his checks resulted in an injury to Pens blueliner Rob Scuderi that in turn prompted a McLaren-Engelland scrap. A simple display of how agitation and physicality can escalate into a situation that prompts team-wide motivation. This type of play is contagious as the Leafs were relentless with their checking all night long.

4. After Pittsburgh put one away with their first powerplay, Dave Bolland scored yet another big goal by answering with a shorthanded goal on Pittsburgh’s next crack with the man advantage. Bolland has been rejuvenated after an off-season last year with added responsibility on this young Toronto team.  Bolland played the role of shutdown center to perfection on Crosby (as Phaneuf did on defence), capping it off with an empty net goal.

5. Surprisingly, with Tyler “but he’s good at faceoffs” Bozak out of the lineup, the Leafs held their own in the faceoff circle against Crosby, Malkin and company. Clearly not much can be said decisively after one game, but perhaps it will show Coach Carlyle that there is potential for life without Bozak cemented onto the first line.

6. If Toronto not imploding defensively without Bozak doesn’t convince Carlyle to give Kadri an extended look on the top line, perhaps #43’s go-ahead goal to open the third will. Kadri finished off a play set up by Kessel with the pizzazz of a player that is actually on the same level skill-wise as his two star wingers. Shortly after, Nazem tried a gutsy bank move that didn’t land but yet again flashed creativity. The potential is there for a lethal first line. Carlyle’s concerns about Kadri’s game against top players on the other team are of course understandable – but for the love of god – throw him out there with JVR and Kessel regularly and let him grow.

7. James Reimer has fought tooth and nail for the crease since landing in Toronto. Nobody should ever write him off because he certainly won’t. Given the tougher of two matchups in this back-to-back set, Reimer came out with the decisively better performance. Per Carlyle, the ball should be firmly back in his court.

8. After Reimer helped the team weather a storm in the second, the Leafs came back out aggressively in the third. Starting with the Kadri goal and continuing with an uptempo forecheck, the team look determined to finish off the conference-leading Pens. The coach and the players have all been vocal about the difference between winning games and playing the type of game they want to. They took a big step in the right direction tonight in returning to the physical, defensively-sound hockey that they displayed for most of last season.

9. Kessel scored again in the dying minutes of the third, giving him five goals and six points in his last three games. With a full year alongside JVR and their developing chemistry, Phil will threaten the 40 goal mark this campaign. A truly special player.

10. Toronto got some good news on the injury front tonight as a CT scan on Lupul came back clear. Lupul, Kulemin and Fraser should all be returning in the near future, finally giving the Leafs a chance to field their full lineup. That they’ve done this well with so many regulars in and out of the nightly roster bodes well for the club going forward.

The Leafs head out on their yearly Western Canadian trip starting Tuesday in Edmonton. In years past, this has been the unraveling point for some of the weaker iterations of this franchise. Considering the current state of all four of the teams involved, that won’t be happening this time around.

 

Toronto Maple Leafs vs Pittsburgh Penguins Boxscore

October 26th, 2013 TOR 4 - PIT 1
Scoring Summary   
1ST PERIOD
6:52PITPPG - K. Letang (1) Snap shot - ASST: E. Malkin (7), P. Martin (3)1 - 0 PIT
16:33TORSHG - D. Bolland (5) Slapshot - ASST: D. Phaneuf (4)1 - 1 Tie
2ND PERIOD
NONE
3RD PERIOD
1:26TORN. Kadri (4) Backhand shot - ASST: P. Kessel (7), J. van Riemsdyk (5)2 - 1 TOR
17:05TORPPG - P. Kessel (7) Wrist shot - ASST: J. van Riemsdyk (6), C. Franson (9)3 - 1 TOR
19:18TOREN - D. Bolland (6) Wrist shot - ASST: NONE4 - 1 TOR

Game Sheet            
TORONTO STATISTICS
GOALIEDEC.SHOTSSAVESSAVE %MIN.
James Reimer (3-0-0)W38370.97460:00:00
PLAYERGATOI+/-SOGPIMFWFLHITSBSTAKEGIVE
Carter Ashton0011:34010003000
Troy Bodie003:51010001000
Dave Bolland2022:3923217142010
David Clarkson0021:01020007000
Cody Franson0116:36110005012
Jake Gardiner0020:34100005000
Carl Gunnarsson0020:16112000401
Nazem Kadri1019:46140594011
Phil Kessel1117:39212000102
Jay McClement0017:541001273000
Frazer McLaren003:48015001101
Colton Orr0010:04010002000
Dion Phaneuf0125:38:00120001411
Paul Ranger0019:00132004111
Mason Raymond0023:06140001111
Morgan Rielly0016:04100001012
Trevor Smith003:21000332000
James van Riemsdyk0220:32150003010
PITTSBURGH STATISTICS
GOALIEDEC.SHOTSSAVESSAVE %MIN.
Marc-Andre FleuryÊ(7-2-0)L29260.89758:43:00
PLAYERGATOI+/-SOGPIMFWFLHITSBSTAKEGIVE
Craig Adams0010:09040011200
Sidney Crosby0023:33-23212182100
Matt D'Agostini0013:01-140001010
Pascal Dupuis0019:03050000200
Deryk Engelland009:04005000100
Tanner Glass0012:58000004100
Jussi Jokinen0014:38-322010101
Chuck Kobasew0014:26010003210
Chris Kunitz0019:27-140001000
Kris Letang1025:40:00-250002005
Olli Maatta0014:40020004101
Evgeni Malkin0119:46-322130012
Paul Martin0125:33:00-310002311
Matt Niskanen0017:16000001001
Brooks Orpik0019:55-112000300
Rob Scuderi007:26000001102
Brandon Sutter0017:030101174000
Joe Vitale009:48030970100

  • Zep2

    Cameron19 Waiting4LSC I have no issue with giving teams like the Hawks, Pens , Bruins their due.
    The thing is that the Leafs are gradually getting into a position where they can play these teams on even terms. Theres no more, The leafs were lucky to win.
    Last nite, we were the better team over 60 minutes ,case closed

  • Jordan29

    I wonder if Carlyle will keep Clarkson on the line with Bolland or not?

  • Mcost61

    Mind Bomb Hey, I’m on west cast, just woke up  =)

  • Waiting4LSC

    Agreed. I have not questioned effort this season. We have made mistakes, we have had players trying to do too much on their own and we have lost cogs to injury. TBH I did question Bollie’s effort in Chicago, as I was wanting to see a statement game. This a team. It seems to believe. We critique speed, positional play, ( Ranger, Gunnar), but they play hard no matter what.
    What I am excited about is I don’t have to refer to the Boston series anymore. Our new benchmark is 3 rd Period Pitt game.

  • Zep2

    Mind Bomb We’ve become jaded.lol

  • zombie27

    TheCanucksnaphook Jordan29 Jay_Berg twice, the morning after each Cup victory

  • TuckerForPunishment

    The Truth Hurts One of anything is considered a small sample.  Unless you’re talking about one of Bon’s spliffs.

  • Jmessih

    i think in the next 7-10 days we might realize how valuable Bozak is

  • Jay_Berg

    https://twitter.com/mirtle/status/394488461979164672

  • Jordan29

    Jay_Berg oh fuck……

  • Jantz

    Just finished watching the full game.
    Reimer,Bolland, Phaneuf and the 3rd line of Ashton-JMC-Orr were the major standouts for me. What a fantastic team win.
    Ashton played really well and was very strong on the puck. Nice game from Clarkson as well.

  • Jordan29

    TheCanucksnaphook Jay_Berg Im guessing longer

  • Jmessih

    Jay_Berg Well this blows, i don’t like our centre depth without him

  • Jay_Berg

    Ya. Wouldn’t mind acquiring a depth centre at some point

  • Mcost61

    Jay_Berg Damn. Depth is important for us now, cupboards used to be so bare

  • Jmessih

    Jantz I LOVED Ashton running over Letang

  • Jmessih

    TheCanucksnaphook Mcost61 Jay_Berg I only see Smithson but that puts a lot of pressure on McClement movin him up to the 3rd line permentantly.

  • Knights2Leafs

    The Truth Hurts 
    Great attitude – let’s cheer against one of our better players.

  • Jantz

    Out shot 16-4 in the 2nd however, the shots were only 6-3 at the half way point. Not as one sided a period as you think.
    Pittsburgh only had 3 shots in the final 15 minutes. What a shut down job.

  • Jay_Berg

    Nobody realistically

  • Jantz

    TheCanucksnaphook Jmessih Jantz I was a little worried because the Sherrif missed a good portion of the period after falling a little awkwardly into the boards on the Letang hit……. then Ashton laid out Letang.

  • Ze_theLeafsFan

    Tampa has quietly been winning games…

  • Mcost61

    Jay_Berg Not sure on centres, may need to rent one if it’s serious with Bozak

  • Jmessih

    Ze_theLeafsFan Ya I saw that last night too, wtf 7-3??

  • Sundin_13

    I like the fact that Colton Orr hasn`t been a liability on ice so far :-)

  • Mcost61

    Jantz I look at at as wearing them down. They were thin at D

  • Ze_theLeafsFan

    Jmessih Ze_theLeafsFan yeah I saw it and I was like since when!?

  • Knights2Leafs

    Cameron19 Waiting4LSC 
    Don’t forget that another factor is that RC is really only rolling 3 lines right now and Pittsburgh was rolling 4.  When you can roll 4 lines the players can play at a higher pace because they can go all out on each shift.

  • Ze_theLeafsFan

    Wouldn’t it be nice to have Steen now…. especially with Bozak done.

  • Jmessih

    We have played more games then most teams I think and we have a couple coming up soon here in Western Canada, I have not looked at the sched but hopefully soon we get a little bit of a break and can let out walking wounded (or those who are just wounded) heal for a few days or so without missing some games.

  • dlb eh

    Nikhil, you’re a real good writer.  but you really think Bozak had to get hurt for Kadri to TRY???????????  Kadri showed some spunk last two games now, and it’s about time.
    lots of cheap shots, and not real good ones imo.  Bozak good on faceoffs?  not this year.  the entire team has sucked wind.  so, wen Bozak gets hurt the team is suddenly better off?  or proof Bozak isn’t the be all end all in the dot?  no guff.
    how about this: with Bozak in the lineup how about everyone else works as hard as they did last night?  eh?  eh?
    you know what i saw last night?  i saw a bunch of guys play as hard as Bozak does night in night out.  the regular passengers decided to show the fuck up because Kulemin, Lupul and Bozak weren’t there to cover their asses like usual.
    learn.  so when these guys return you remember what brought you success you bunch of little sons of bitches..

  • Jantz

    Not sure if this was posted earlier.
    “Flawed, yes, these Leafs may be. But it’s a team also clearly becoming
    more than the sum of its parts, a resilient group showing it can win
    games in different ways with whatever players happen to be available
    that night.”
    That comment was written by Cox……. Quite a complimentary piece by him today for those who are interested.
    http://www.thestar.com/sports/leafs/2013/10/26/maple_leafs_depth_on_full_display_at_team_climbs_into_first_cox.html

  • dlb eh

    Sundin_13 
    Orr has never been a liabilty, glad some people are beginning to see it now

  • Jmessih

    Good news is Bozak is on IR not LTIR (which I’m sure as we all know by now is a min of 10 games or 24 days)

  • Jay_Berg

    LOL

  • Cloud09

    dlb eh Let us know how Blowzak’s balls taste when you finally come up for air. Nikhil’s game in 10 was gold.

  • Mind Bomb

    TheCanucksnaphook Mind Bomb Morning Phook ) First PLace !

  • Mind Bomb

    Mcost61 Mind Bomb Morning :)

  • Jantz

    Ze_theLeafsFan No shit…… he is on fire. Not one of Cliff’s finest moments.

  • dlb eh

    Jay_Berg 
    you disagree?

  • dlb eh

    Cloud09 
    yeah, because pointing out Kadri has played uninspired hockey is akin to sucking Bozak’s dick.  well thought out.

  • Cloud09

    dlb eh Cloud09 I thought it was quite witty

  • Jay_Berg

    I like Orr. He’s a decent player for a fighter but he’s still just a fighter.
    To say he’s never a liability on the ice is a little silly

  • peterbleafs

    Ze_theLeafsFan Not quietly, I just do not care about them whatsoever.

  • Knights2Leafs

    Huh – who would have ever foreseen that we might need some depth down the middle when we traded Colborne for basically nothing?

  • Great Dane

    vinoa Great Dane Jordan29 Robbies  Absolutely – splendid idea

  • Cameron19

    Mcost61 Jantz Were they?  I think they still had 6D.  They just moved Engelland back to defense.

  • Pent_House

    Ashton was a beast last night

  • Cameron19

    Knights2Leafs Hey, he showed nothing in a few pre-season games, so obviously the only logical thing to do was to assume his career was over

  • Jantz

    Mcost61 Couple of nice giveaways by Gino lead to 2 of our goals. Loved that 3rd period. Our most complete period of the year.