Sunday Mashup: Tops in the East

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Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images

Leafs Nation woke up this Sunday morning with the Leafs in first place in the Eastern Conference standings after a redeeming effort against the Pittsburgh Penguins last night on Hockey Night in Canada. For a few hours, anyway – Tampa Bay could take over the Conference lead with a win today over Florida.

A certain level of production will be expected of David Clarkson given his pay stubs, but his ability to impact a game without showing up on the scoresheet was on full display last night. The Davids of Mimico led Leaf forwards in ice time with 21-22 minutes, as Carlyle leaned heavily on Clarkson and Bolland’s ability to close out a game and refusal to give up an inch of ice. Clarkson led all skaters with eight hits.

Bolland’s line, along with the Phaneuf and Gunnarsson pairing, kept Crosby off the scoresheet and in customary losing form complaining to the referees, while Franson and Kadri took on the Malkin assignment; Malkin was quiet but did notch a powerplay assist.

A lunchpail third line of Carter Ashton, Jay McClement and Colton Orr received around 11 minutes of ice time as they brought a simplified but effective effort, consistently mucking it up in the right end of the rink and getting the better of the Penguins’ bottom two lines. Not that this combination should be a third line fixture under ideal (i.e. healthier) circumstances, but credit to all three players for last night’s effort. Ashton in particular took advantage of an opportunity to not only play but play in the top 9, impacting the game more than he did at any point in his first stint on the team with some strong work on the boards.

Let’s be sure to mention that the Leafs likely aren’t even in the position to go win the game with a big third period if not for James Reimer’s heroics in a 16-save second period in which the Leafs were quadrupled on the shot count. Two consecutive pad saves with Pascal Dupuis wide open off a 2 on 1 were unquestionably the MLHS Turning Point. And what more needs to be said of the combination of JvR and Kessel in terms of their talent levels and telepathic chemistry.

Sunday morning discussion point: With Lupul sounding probable for Tuesday and Bozak out at least for the next three games, how do you see this lineup shaping up for this week’s Western road trip? Does Lupul obviously join Bolland and Clarkson on line two? Or perhaps Ashton and McClement on line three (assuming Kulemin’s still out)?

Thanks to Tim (@tj_bayer) for putting together this morning’s links…

LINKS:

Last night’s Game in 10 | Full Game Replay | Game in 6 | Randy Carlyle Post Game

Toronto Maple Leafs’ Nazem Kadri makes the most of top-line opportunity in win over Pittsburgh Penguins
I’m pretty OK with Kadri at first line center for the next few games. From Michael Traikos of the National Post.

Shoalts: Leafs get shutdown effort from Bolland and Phaneuf
Crosby gets Phaneuf’d. From David Shoalts of The Globe and Mail.

Maple Leafs’ Bozak out 7-10 days with lower body injury
This news came across the wire after the game.

Maple Leafs getting the best out of Bolland
Carlyle continues to gush about how much of a pro this guy is.

Exploring David Clarkson’s Toronto roots
David Clarkson revisits his Etobicoke roots. Video from CBC Sports.

VIDEO: Minnesota players celebrate goal, get helmets stuck together
This isn’t Leafs-related, but it’s pretty funny nonetheless. From Chris Peters of CBS Eye On Hockey.

  • MaxwellHowe

    Yup, I’ve expressed doubt and even derision regarding Phaneuf for some time, but I will concede that he has played stellar hockey so far this season. I do hope the Leafs can find someone within or outside the organization to help ease his ice time, because he will be sorely needed for the payoff push and beyond. Anyway, I am happy to eat crow if it means the captain is truly leading the team.

  • Lescott

    You can’t put Lupul any further diwn the depth chart than line 2. Seriously?

  • Knights2Leafs

    I protest!!  This article is way too Reimer centric. We need unbiased writers. : )
    According to some on here Paul Ranger should be looking for a new career.  MLHS head writer?

  • WendelGilmour

    I gotta believe Lups goes to Line 2 with Bolland and Clarkson.

  • Alec Brownscombe

    MaxwellHowe Welcome to enlightenment

  • Burtonboy

    WendelGilmour Absolutely .  Then there is Carlyle lol

  • WendelGilmour

    Burtonboy WendelGilmour Haha, yes you never know what RC will come up with.

  • Roenick72

    One of the big reason the leafs prospect system looks good now compared to days back, is because the team has improved overall drastically, so they no longer have to come in and be the savior. Way less pressure on a 19-22 year old kid that is going to go through ups and downs no matter what. Remember when Kadri started he needed to be the 1st line center and he was pencilled in to make the line up as a 19 year old. Now look at the difference with Morgan, he is still getting a lot of attention(because its Toronto) but no one was going to call him a failure if he was returned to the WHL and no one is all up in arms because he hasn’t been lighting up the lamp yet. That’s how you develop prospects!

  • wendelsway1

    Thanks so much to the posters who posted Dion’s combined 1 goal against the better players in the league…..between that post and Dion’s stellar play against Sid last night…….my Hubby was left speechless and we actually watched a game together without me having to hear him go on and on and on about trading Dion….didn’t have to throw a thing last night…lol  :)

  • Alec Brownscombe

    wendelsway1 Ah, the trade Phaneuf guy.. every Leafs fan has at least one of those friends.
    “He’s slow! He screws up!”

  • Cameron19

    wendelsway1 The thing is, it’s basically been that way for a long time and now everyone who was on the senseless Phaneuf-hating wagon is trying to sell this as him having a “good start” to the season, or seeking a contract. Both are patently false  This guy was playing this way even under Wilson’s system.

  • Alec Brownscombe

    wendelsway1 “I saw him give the puck away once!”

  • Jantz

    I found this to be a surprising stat this morning…………
    Reimer now has a 933 SV % to Bernier’s 930 %
    We have a pair of slump busting goalies that will serve us very nicely for at least the remainder of this season.

  • Alec Brownscombe

    Jantz You know what, that’s worth noting.

  • Knights2Leafs

    Cameron19 wendelsway1 
    True, but as the team plays better as a whole he has been able to able to elevate his game somewhat because he doesn’t have to do it all himself.  He also looks better because the team looks better – except when we’re being out-Corsied to death.

  • wendelsway1

    Alec Brownscombe wendelsway1 Ya…I live with one…lol…..at least he has the sense to watch in the Man Cave, for the most part, rather than irritate me……I’d hate to have to go on a cooking, cleaning and laundry strike…hee hee  :)

  • dlb eh

    Cameron19
    part of the problem is the commentators themselves.  last night Hughson claimed Gunnarsson has been steady all year.
    Gunnar has certainly been better lately but he was shaky early to be fair and accurate, but that assumption by the “expert” is taken for gospel by many viewers who have no reason to think it’s not true.
    so when they say Phanuef is this or that, people simply parrot that at the water cooler the next day thinking they’re well informed.

  • Burtonboy

    Cameron19 wendelsway1 According to Carlyle there was a concerted effort on the part of management and the coaching staff to take some of the pressure off Dion being the Capt.of the Leafs. He has help in that regard now and its not hard to see with Clarkson and Bolland being so visible in the media and community . Dion has always played well  for us but I see a calmness and focus this yr even more so then other yrs. Its going to be a big yr for Dion

  • Jantz

    Alec Brownscombe Jantz   I couldn’t be happier for Reimer and I really don’t care who is in net. That said clearly Reimer starts in Edmonton.

  • wendelsway1

    Cameron19 wendelsway1 I’ve never been on the Phaneuf hating wagon…..I love him.

  • dlb eh

    WendelGilmour
    and so far whatever he decides that we don’t predict has worked.  so who’s smarter than RC so far?

  • Knights2Leafs

    dlb eh Cameron19 
    I agree with this big time.  Hughson, Simpson et al talk as if they faithfully watch each game and for those of us that do, we know they are talking out of their asses.  
    Plus they are inherently stupid.

  • MaxwellHowe

    Part of the reason my opinion has changed concerns the evolution of phaneuf’s role. He has settled into a shutdown defence man who flashes offensive skills. With gardiner and Reilly using their puck moving abilities, the defence is shaping into a nice mix. I do think Gardiner or Reilly should be paired with Phaneuf.

  • Alec Brownscombe

    Burtonboy Cameron19 wendelsway1 Yeah, you could tell when Clarkson got here that he was here to help in that regard, too. It’s nice that some of what Leafs fans used to demand of Phaneuf while he tried to shut down the best players in the world, is now being directed Clarkson’s way (in terms of the physical play especially)

  • wendelsway1

    MaxwellHowe I agree and think by the end of the season, we’ll see that happen.

  • Burtonboy

    MaxwellHowe Only a matter of time Max. My guess is Gardiner will be paired with Dion by mid season

  • Knights2Leafs

    MaxwellHowe 
    And when he doesn’t try to do too much offensively, when he does get the chance he looks pretty good lugging he puck over the blue line.

  • MaxwellHowe

    Ok, you see it’s the gloating that discourages people from admitting their errors. Now excuse me while I shame those that wanted colborne traded

  • Alec Brownscombe

    MaxwellHowe It’s not gloating. I’ve thought Phaneuf has been great for years. It’s not a case of being proven right because you’ve thought Phaneuf has played a good 12 games to start the year.

  • Jantz

    dlb eh Cameron19 Those are the worst type of fans. They no shit ………but they hear someone complain about Phaneuf and to make themselves appear knowledgeable they just repeat the same shite.
    I have one in section 324. From Sundin to Mccabe to Komisarek to Graboski and now this year he is on Dion’s case.

  • dlb eh

    MaxwellHowe 
    funny, i said for two years how i wanted to see Liles get an opportunity to play with Phanuef and almost no one liked that idea.  i figured Liles would make it easier for Phaneuf to be more naturally offensive due to having a partner who could move the puck better himself, for one.
    the idea was also to free Gunnar up to play a defensive role with whoever was around then.

  • Knights2Leafs

    MaxwellHowe 
    Imagine how I’ll feel when Ranger scores the SC winning goal!!! :)

  • MaxwellHowe

    You and I have very different concepts of the meaning of gloating

  • dlb eh

    Burtonboy
    that’s best case scenario for us if that works. Gardiner has been playing better and better…

  • Burtonboy

    Need wiski and yak around for this thread lol

  • ProfessorRance

    wendelsway1 I also noticed Gardiner was out alot against Malkin and he did a great job defensively. He has had a great year so far.

  • Alec Brownscombe

    MaxwellHowe You still probably think he’s been below expectations before this season, right? You liking his last 12 games doesn’t make me right and you wrong. We’ve just fundamentally disagreed about the quality of his play over the past few years.

  • Burtonboy

    dlb eh Burtonboy If Dion is committed to playing more of a shutdown role it makes more sense to have a skilled puck mover with like a Gardiner or a Rielly

  • dlb eh

    Jantz 
    Reimer + Gunnarsson to EDM for Gagner + Smid + 1st rounder
    what?  it’s not a game day, and we could use another crafty two-way centre who no one but me likes.

  • MaxwellHowe

    I think he was trying to do too much, or being called upon to do too much over last season. That’s the opinion I hold now.

  • Alec Brownscombe

    TheCanucksnaphookDavids of Mimico ® ™

  • dlb eh

    Burtonboy
    that’s how i saw it years ago.  and Gardiner is playing like a guy who could be a good fit.
    not sure how to make the rest of the pairs unless Rielly-Franson finds chemistry.
    Gunnar/Fraser/Ranger is a good 3rd pair, Pk, etc option imo

  • 17Forever

    TheCanucksnaphook 
    It did have a Jason and the Argonauts ring to it. Did it not ?

  • Knights2Leafs

    Burtonboy
    The way Jake’s defensive consciousness has improved over 12 games is truly amazing.  I could see Gardiner moving up some time this year.  Rielly needs more time.  More sheltered minutes like Kadri got but giving him the odd opportunity here and there.

  • Burtonboy

    dlb eh Burtonboy Big step forward for the Rielly / Franson tandem last night . They are starting to gel

  • wendelsway1

    ProfessorRance wendelsway1 I agree…..have been saying all along that Gardiner is a keeper and will be a part of our core going forward.

  • Conis

    It may have been discussed already, but what was “Sid” complaining to the ref about after the empty netter?
    Looks like the linesman gave him an ear full as well.  Would love to see the few seconds of footage again

  • Alec Brownscombe

    @Conis The refs around the league must get tired of Sid’s shit. That ref was really giving it back to him.
    Did I hear he asked the CBC crew to show him the replay of Clarkson’s hit on Scuderi at intermission? Presumably so he could bitch about that, as well?

  • Knights2Leafs

    dlb eh Jantz 
    Hey, I love Sammy.
    Our centers:  Kadri, Gagner, Bolland.  Courtesy of Dale Hunter.

  • dlb eh

    TheCanucksnaphook 
    these are the Daves i know i know, these are the Daves i know
    Dave Bolland, Clarkson, Nonis, Poulin, Farrish, Morrison…who’m i forgetting?