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 BoxscoreOctober 26th, 2013 TOR 4 - PIT 1
|6:52||PIT||PPG - K. Letang (1) Snap shot - ASST: E. Malkin (7), P. Martin (3)||1 - 0 PIT|
|16:33||TOR||SHG - D. Bolland (5) Slapshot - ASST: D. Phaneuf (4)||1 - 1 Tie|
|1:26||TOR||N. Kadri (4) Backhand shot - ASST: P. Kessel (7), J. van Riemsdyk (5)||2 - 1 TOR|
|17:05||TOR||PPG - P. Kessel (7) Wrist shot - ASST: J. van Riemsdyk (6), C. Franson (9)||3 - 1 TOR|
|19:18||TOR||EN - D. Bolland (6) Wrist shot - ASST: NONE||4 - 1 TOR|
|James Reimer (3-0-0)||W||38||37||0.974||60:00:00|
|James van Riemsdyk||0||2||20:32||1||5||0||0||0||3||0||1||0|
Leafs are 25th in times shorthanded(47 times), but 2nd in times shorthanded in the 3rd period(7 times). 30th in 1st period shorthanded, with 24 times.
Huh - who would have ever foreseen that we might need some depth down the middle when we traded Colborne for basically nothing?
@dlb eh I like that lineup a lot, but i don't think we're going to get to see it. I don't think they'll put Bozak there because of his cap hit.
I thought you've been doing barn chores all morning? What with all that shit you've been shovelling on here...
@Bon Scott was a Leaf fan Good Afternoon, Bon.....Clarkson's a beauty! Had to laugh when I read a comment linked to the Cox article this morning.......A Leafs "fan" doesn't like Clarkson because he hurt Scuderi and feels that, with the kind of physical game that Clarkson plays, he sees him injuring more players this season, which isn't a good thing.....WTF? He's the kind of player I'd much rather have on our team than have to play against.......Too Physical?....Fuck right off!!
@TheCanucksnaphook The Bruins won the Stanley Cup in 2011 and fell in six games in the 2013 Cup Finals, thanks in part to those two first-round picks—Tyler Seguin and Dougie Hamilton.
@TheCanucksnaphook Pat Pickens needs a swift kick in the nuts.
He will fuck up our average age and slow us down from being one of the youngest teams in the league.
@JWaterdrager I need coffee to work this out
Awful idea, they won't bring up an offensive guy to put him on a 4th line playing 5mins a game. 4th liners are usually pluggers hence the reason Smith is there...they want to give Mckeeg time to develop properly and try to give him as many mins with the marlies.
@Pent_House wonder if we can play him at centre ;)
@Knights2Leafs He had a brutal camp and we were out of options with him. Would have sent the wrong message to the team to keep him over more deserving candidates like Ashton.
I was really hoping for a big season from him but he fell flat on his face.
@Knights2Leafs Bad camp or not he was the Leafs only real option down the middle and now Nonis is probably gonna have to go out and get another one at some point.
@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 @Knights2Leafs Brutal is such a gigantic exaggeration It is nothing more than an attempt to justify the decisions that were made. No different than the people who pretend that Grabovski was 'garbage' for years before we moved him. Did he have a good camp? No. But if you were hoping for a big season from him, then hey, crazy idea, maybe we should have seen how the season went
@Cloud09 @Knights2Leafs This is part of the Carlyle effect. For all the good he does, he also does things like this. Even though it made FAR more sense to just send Ashton down and tell him he's the first call-up, we had to give him the spot because he 'earned' it over the stretch of a few pre-season games. This is where Burke would have stepped in said 'body of work counts for something too.'
That's cause that leftover chinky chicken went right through. You've got to add some carbs to that diet.
Yup - then I could see it because of lack of options.
@TheCanucksnaphook me too, loved his game in the last pre season game. But I'm high on a lot of things
RC does have a habit of liking or not liking players and then not giving them a chance to show what they have. I see this more as Nonis bowing to RC's wishes short term rather than look at the long term effects.
Nah, it wasn't the money. It's cause Joe's not an RC kind of guy and Ashton played like a demon in the preseason. Agreed that it was a big mistake especially given our complete lack of C depth in the Marlies. We have Ashton type players coming out our ying yang.
I hate that I missed this debate because I think trading Colborne was an awful mistake. Trying for years to find a big C who might flourish into a #1 and we traded big Joe for nothing. His showing at the training camp was not as bad as many pretend. Watch him now. All for the big savings of $600 000.
Guys, come back here. I'm not finished lecturing you yet
@Cameron19 @Jantz @Cloud09 @Knights2Leafs Agreed. I still have a little hope that good teams who lose a good PMD to long term injury will still take Liles off our hands. How much salary we retain is clearly unknown. Liles can still be a good player in this league but I certainly have less faith now then I did 3 months ago that we can somehow make a decent trade for him.
@Jantz @Cameron19 @Cloud09 @Knights2Leafs Nonis isn't a perfect GM. Just because he didn't have faith in someone doesn't make that the correct evaluation. He also thought he could trade Liles, but now we have 3 million in dead cap there on top of the 2.5 million we'd racked up before that little blunder.
I'm not bashing Nonis - I think overall he knows his stuff But to defend every decision he makes just because he's generally got the hang of things isn't really fair either.
@TheCanucksnaphook @wendelsway1 @Knights2Leafs I agree but I do feel that players have to earn their spots and to me Ashton did just that. Really wish there would have been a way to keep Colborne in the system.....big Cman that is still developing and should not be written off just yet. He is/will be a NHL player