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

  • Optimustic

    http://www.nhl.com/gamecenter/en/recap?id=2013020156&navid=DL|NHL|home

  • http://www.marconeinvestigates.com/ Marcone9

    Very solid defensive game. I think this
    was their best all-around effort as a unit tonight, shutting down a very
    talented Penguins team. Bolland, Raymond, and Clarkson were awesome.
    I think Nazem Kadri did a great job filling in for Tyler Bozak and didn’t look
    out of place on the first line. He and Kessel had some nice
    passing plays, with Kessel making a few that I couldn’t believe made it to its intended target. His confidence
    with the puck is on another level, and he really has evolved to become
    one of the best playmakers in the league. What a clutch play breaking up a potential
    breakaway by whacking that saucer pass out of midair.
    I also thought that Carter Ashton had a quietly strong game. He made
    smart, simple plays to dump the puck in and keep possession. He was strong on the puck, finished his checks and looked great on the third line. GLG!!!

  • LeafsForLife

    rustynail LeafsForLife NOT AT ALL!!!

  • FloorHockeyFlopper

    Shift_Disturber1 woudda got 1st star if he scored that “Lemieux off the goalies back” goal too …..  inches away ………

  • ConnorCrisp

    Kadri = 1C
    Kadri > Bozak
    Bam! The power of math bitches!

  • LeafsForLife

    ingy56 LeafsForLife Just need tide. It washes the shit out of everything!

  • Jmessih

    Bad ass moments recap:
    Malkin thinking he socred
    Crosby crying after Bollands goal
    Franson decking Malkin
    Kadri’s personal feud with Malkin he was going after him all night
    Clarkson and Co. roughing up Crosby & Malkin ALL night

  • Burtonboy

    Jmessih Kadri had 4 hits ….all on Malkin lol

  • FloorHockeyFlopper

    ConnorCrisp lol   over stating the obvious  !!    Who can argue that?   lol   ….. matter of time ………

  • B_Leaf

    I was impressed the way the Leafs closed out the game tonight. They did not sit back but they always kept enough guys on the right side of the puck. When they forced the Pens into taking a late penalty, again I was impressed by that power play. While Kessel converted a beautiful effort and pass from JVR yet again the play that I really liked was when Kessel gained the zone on that play. He picked up the puck in his own end on a back check and just blew threw the nuetral zone like time warp speed. He gained the zone with the Pens disorganized and the Leafs didn’t goof around waiting for them to set up.  Even after that they added one more…again showing a killer instinct.  Very impressive.

  • rustynail

    Burtonboy Jmessih Malkin did his part in return with assists on two Leafs goals

  • ConnorCrisp

    Reimer is too damn gracious. Just once id like him to say ‘i made some crazy saves, I AM the man’

  • Jmessih

    ConnorCrisp I don’t get it, I’m totally confused lol

  • rustynail

    ConnorCrisp I am not excited at all about it

  • Jmessih

    ConnorCrisp LOL, sounds just like him.

  • B_Leaf

    ConnorCrisp 
    Kids a player

  • Mcost61

    Gardiner and Reilly looked good, Dion was a beast. Doing the heavy lifting. need a stay home D guy and we are good to go

  • Komas Taberle

    rustynail ConnorCrisp Neither am I< Bozak is a good player.

  • DWCMLHS

    djamon DWCMLHS Grabovski was literally better at everything but faceoffs and breakaways. And so far this season, he’s crushing Bozak in faceoff win percentage, while still being far better in basically every other way. 
    I think Nonis basically just let Carlyle make the call on Grabo. Carlyle tried to use Grabo in a role that he didn’t belong in, and got frustrated with him. He buried him in the D-zone, then complained about his lack of offensive production, despite the fact that he was the 2nd-most productive player in the bottom-30 in O-zone start percentage in the league at the time. 
    Carlyle, (and Wilson before him), both seem(ed) to believe Kessel and Bozak have chemistry, and shouldn’t be split up. But that’s patently false. They’re just buddies off the ice. It’s a one-sided partnership on the ice. Bozak should not be in a top-6 forward group in the NHL, but his use on the Leafs’ top line is what kept Grabo from being tried there.

  • FloorHockeyFlopper

    B_Leaf Well  this is the result we will get more times then not if the refs aren’t from Columbus,   or taking an architecture class at U of Colorado

  • Burtonboy

    Mcost61 Jake has been covering Ranger’s ass for a while now

  • LeafsForLife

    On a unrelated update, St. Louis beating Boston 4-2 in game 1 of World Series

  • ConnorCrisp

    Except for the 2 non icing calls

  • FloorHockeyFlopper

    Mcost61 It made me so proud to see Jake and Morgan play together with confidence !!  It’s the next step!!

  • Cameron19

    Bozak, Liles (1/2 salary), prospect and a pick to COL for Stastny?

    vanRiemsdyk – Kadri – Kessel
    Lupul – Stastny – Kulemin
    Raymond – Bolland – Clarkson

    Possible?

  • Mcost61

    Cameron19 Rather a D man, stay home guy

  • rustynail

    LeafsForLife dislike

  • Burtonboy

    Cameron19 I highly doubt Col. will tamper with tat squad right now

  • Cameron19

    Mcost61 Cameron19 Yea, we got Gunnar to package to get that though.  And more likely to get that in free agency.

  • FloorHockeyFlopper

    touche   lil

  • Cameron19

    Burtonboy Cameron19 No, but when they start losing…

  • rustynail

    Burtonboy Cameron19 ya think?

  • Burtonboy

    Cameron19 Burtonboy Maybe

  • DWCMLHS

    Cameron19 They wouldn’t want Bozak, I bet. I think it’s more likely that they move Stastny without taking back a center. Then they can move ROR back there. Unless they trade him somewhere, too.

  • Jay31

    B_Leaf ” like time warp speed”. Yeah I noticed that particular burst of speed too. He’s on another level in that regard

  • LeafsForLife

    Cameron19 Mcost61 Cant see too many people we can sign with all our RFA’s and UFA’s to be signed this year

  • FloorHockeyFlopper

    Ya the 4.2 salary might make him harder to move

  • LeafsForLife

    rustynail LeafsForLife Its for those that cant play hockey

  • djamon

    DWCMLHS I will never defend Bozak’s position on this team…his signing was an abomination, IMO. But you can’t discuss Grabovski’s abilities without mentioning what he was being paid. He was not earning his salary…and never had. If Nonis felt this was his last chance to wipe the slate clean of him I don’t blame him at all, frankly. 
    I actually don’t think it was an either/or situation for Nonis either. I’m not convinced Nonis had much interest in signing Bozak when he bought out Grabs. Otherwise I think it would have happened much quicker.

  • Reversethecurse67

    Grabovski playing with Jason Chimera and Joel Ward. The conspiracy against Grabo continues!

  • http://mapleleafshotstove.com/ DeclanK

    Reversethecurse67 
    Dumb coach is dumb!

  • Biltmore

    Bruins cough up two goals in 23 seconds at the end of the third to lose to Jersey.

  • DWCMLHS

    Reversethecurse67 He got bumped down after a short pointless streak. He’s been playing very well tonight, though. Has 9 points in 10.5 games now. He will move up the lineup eventually.

  • Bon Scott was a Leaf fan

    Cameron19 
    I’m thinking we might make a run at Big Joe come July.

  • ConnorCrisp

    It’s the meltdown!!

  • Jay_Berg

    Healthy lineup:
    JVR – Kadri – Kessel
    Lupul – Bolland – Clarkson
    Raymond – Bozak – Kulemin
    Ashton – McCl – Orr
    Extra: McLaren
    Gunner – Phaneuf
    Rielly – Franson
    Fraser – Gardiner
    Extra: Ranger

  • http://mapleleafshotstove.com/ DeclanK

    Burtonboy Cameron19
    http://www2.dailyfaceoff.com/teams/lines/20/colorado-avalanche
    They have Stastny as the 1st line C on that site (known to be wrong a bit). Duchene is the clear cut 1C right now, right?

  • LeafsForLife

    Oh i think i got it wrong. Its game 3. Series tied 1-1

  • FloorHockeyFlopper

    LOL Clarkson’s interview face and game in the moment face is like Jeckel and hide.  Now there’s 2 faces to entertain us.  Phil still takes th ecake tho – I crack up every time I see his expressions – so real, so devoid of pretence …. gotta love the Phil
    Sorry I’m rambling, I just find this team to be so entertaining on many levels  !!

  • Reversethecurse67

    How about Dennis Wideman from Calgary? Probably later in the season