The Leafs are the first team in the East to hit the 10-win mark thanks to a 4-2 win in Calgary. It was far from pretty, but in second leg of a back to back on the road, these are two points the Leafs will happily pocket before hitting the road further West to Vancouver for what will be their stiffest test of the road trip. The Leafs will remain top of the East thanks to two shorthanded goals (JvR, Ranger), David Clarkson’s first point as a Leaf (on Raymond’s goal), and a powerplay (basically) goal from Joffrey Lupul.
1 – Greg Cronin spoke about the coaching staff’s confusion surrounding the Leafs’ poor first periods before the game. He didn’t think the Leafs played well despite holding lead after 20 minutes in Edmonton. Different Albertan rink, same result: The Leafs were up 2-0 after one and it wasn’t representative of the run of play.
Leafs were under siege at five on five for much of the first, but Kadri-Kessel-JvR did have a few good shifts. They weren’t on the ice for the goal ultimately, but drew the penalty that helped open the scoring for the Leafs. It wasn’t the prettiest breakout leading up to the powerplay, but it worked. Phaneuf played it into an empty corner as both teams changed; Kadri came back to retrieve in the corner and got some good fortune as his soft ring on the boards made it up to Kessel. If the D is in control of the puck, sometimes one of JvR or Kessel will go straight to the other team’s blueline for the stretch option. These gaps in the breakout can get the Leafs in trouble some times, but they do have their time and place. It led to a powerplay as JvR took a slash from Dennis Wideman.
Some patient movement by the second PP unit, with Raymond, Gardiner and Kadri playing catch, eventually led to a point shot from Gardiner that bounded out front. After a couple whacks at it, Lupul deposited his seventh of the season to make it 1-0. Ramo was just kind of chilling to the side of the net waiting to see what was going to happen. Not technically a powerplay goal as the two minutes had expired, but may as well have been.
2 – JvR’s growing role on the penalty kill (up to 2:35 per game) has the added benefit of adding a shorthanded goal threat to the Leafs’ stingy PK units. With seconds to go in the first, JvR and McClement worked their up the ice before JvR fired a shot from the left circle that somehow went through Kari Ramo. A really soft goal, but everything van Riemsdyk touches turns to gold lately. I also don’t know JvR had so much time and space to skate the puck up ice starting from his own zone on a Flames powerplay. Anyway, this man is an all-situations beast.
The Leafs were outshot 13-6 in the first period, and 8-1 to start the game. They were largely outplayed at 5 on 5, and yet their dominant special teams and goaltending edge had them in control after 20 minutes.
3 – The first eight minutes of the 2nd period was the Jonathan Bernier show. The Leaf slot was open season for the Flames, be it blown clearances, giveaways, not moving their feet, or bad reads getting the Leafs caught up ice. For several consecutive shifts, Bernier turned away shot after shot from good scoring positions. After seeing the performance out of Ramo at the other end, the Flames players must have been just shaking their heads in disbelief. The Leafs spent the first eight minutes of the period passively reacting to whatever the Flames were doing, but thankfully Bernier was awake – and not just awake, but mustering superhuman feats.
4 – What’s so essential about the night-in, night-out excellence of the Leaf goaltending is that it’s bailing the Leafs out of the ugly spells where they have basically nothing going for them – this stretch of play would have been crippling if the goalies switched nets.
5 – The Leafs got what was coming to them after the Leafs were fortunate that a dirty hit resulted in only a fight between Carter Ashton and Shane O’Brien and off setting minors. The Leafs lost a defensive zone draw, Kadri got beat, and Carl Gunnarsson left his man in front. That man was Matt Stajan himself, who made it 2-1 through 40.
6 – The Leafs were holding onto the puck a little better for a sequence in the early third, twice sending back passes to the defence to try to maintain some semblance of extended possession. They got the insurance marker they very much needed at the six minute mark of the period. David Clarkson cut out a play in the neutral zone, walked in, toe dragged and fired on Ramo before Raymond neatly tucked in the rebound. There was no great mystery as to how the Flames were to be beat tonight – it was through getting pucks to the net and waiting for Ramo to spit out rebounds and/or take himself horribly out of position.
7 – The sheer volume of shots paid off for Calgary with 5 minutes to go in the third. The Leafs were in good shape after Gunnarsson recovered the puck to the left of the net, only for him to either fall or – as it seemed to me – get tripped. The Flames’ Stajan was first to the loose puck, the Flames worked it D to D, and got a bounce off of David Jones’ leg to set up an uncomfortable final five minutes.
8 – After a second missed call on Ramo for a trip on Kessel in front of the net, the refs picked Clarkson’s boarding out of the pile and gave the Flames a late powerplay in a one-goal game. This could have made for a dicey ending, if not for the much-maligned Paul Ranger. In a play similar to when he outmuscled Ryan Getzlaf and Kessel scored on the resultant rush, Ranger leaned his weight on Hudler, forced a turnover high in the zone, and with Hudler water skiing behind him, scored on the empty net to seal the win.
9 – Morgan Rielly was really good tonight. Good reads and smart defensive plays for the most part. This kid is sharply wired in addition to being immensely skilled.
10 – One of the concerns about the way the Leafs win some times is the habits it could instill. The more the Leafs get away with their slow starts and long spells of uninspired play by scoring opportunistically and having amazing goaltending as an available resource to lean on, it has to creep into the team’s psyche.
It’s hard to criticize wins period, let alone wins in a back to back scenario on the road with about 20 hours rest in between. There were long periods were the Leafs simply weren’t moving their feet and leaning heavily on Bernier. That could easily be a product of tired legs. Goaltending and special teams were the story for the Leafs in this one; Ramo was awful and Bernier was brilliant, stopping 41 of 43; a number made all the more awe inspiring when you consider he was not spitting out many second opportunities. You take wins like this one any way you can get them.
The Leafs are 10-4-0, and somehow the shooting and save percentages continue to rise.
Maple Leafs vs. Flames Box Score - October 30, 2013Leafs 4 vs Flames 2.
|7:56 AM||TOR||Joffrey Lupul (7) Wrist shot - ASST: Jake Gardiner (3), Nazem Kadri (8)||1 - 0 TOR|
|7:56 PM||TOR||SHG - James van Riemsdyk (7) Snap shot - ASST: Jay McClement (1)||2 - 0 TOR|
|5:03 PM||CGY||Matt Stajan (1) Snap shot - ASST: Curtis Glencross (3), TJ Brodie (3)||2 - 1 TOR|
|5:59 AM||TOR||Mason Raymond (5) Backhand shot - ASST: David Clarkson (1)||3 - 1 TOR|
|2:39 PM||CGY||David Jones (3) Deflected shot - ASST: Kris Russell (5), Dennis Wideman (7)||3 - 2 TOR|
|6:38 PM||TOR||SHG - EN - Paul Ranger (1) Wrist shot - ASST: NONE||4 - 2 TOR|
Maple Leafs vs. Flames Game Sheet - October 30th, 2013Leafs 4 vs. Flames 2.
|James van Riemsdyk||1||0||23:33||1||4||0||0||1||1||0||0||2|
|Karri Ramo (2-3-1)||L||21||18||0.857||58:16:00|
|Jonathan Bernier (6-4-0)||W||43||41||0.953||60:00:00|
Caryle should inform the team, beat the Canucks (Reimer is in) and they will have 5 days off. A well deserved vacation, to do as they wish. Also state now Bernier is in against the Devils next Friday, hopefully against his idol Brodeur, and Reimer against the Bruins Saturday, like last spring. The team will be pumped for some time off and then pumped to win those two games for their goalies when they get back from vacation.
It doesn't help when on the second game of a B2B that the 4th line plays an average of 3 minutes each. That puts extra pressure on the other 3 lines.
When Kulie and Bozak come back we need to reconfigure the 4th line minutes so it plays a more important part of the game. Maybe with Ashton - McClement - Orr that might happen.
Only saw the first period. I will re watch the beginning as Cuthbert said the Flames had 6 shots after about 1:45 into the game. I know we didn't play great but I'm pretty sure the shot clock guy had an itchy finger.
Also JvR had 7 more minutes of ice time then Kessel.......... that seems odd. Other than some extra PK for JvR, I can't figure that one out after not seeing the last 2 periods.
Been impressed with the Leafs ability to hang onto leads. Though much of the credit goes to the two supergoalies, who must have a combined sve percentage near .940.
I hope we play better on Saturday, but glad we got 4 points in the first two games out west. Vancouver - Toronto matches are probably more crucial to Nuck fans than they are for me.
I'm looking ahead to next weekend when we play another B2B, this time with the Bruins on the 2nd night. It feels like the schedule makers are doing stuff like that on purpose sometimes. These games against the Bruins, Penguins and Habs are going to be important in the final standings. Go Leafs Go. Have a good day all, I'm off to work.
I knew Raymond was gonna be sick in our mix of forwards. His shifty playmaking, style of play was a common trait of the Canucks players, but he didn't have fire power in terms of snipers, or the net crashers to play with, which he has here! He was a dime a dozen on that team stylistically, but amongst our snipers, he is a head on the swivle, playmaking, and cycling scorer that we've lacked in our depth wingers for years. I hope him and Bolland both get 3 year extensions at 2.5-3 mill each and (if needed for the cap) trade Bozak next year.
HockeyBroph: Credit to Leafs GM Dave Nonis for rolling the dice on winger Mason Raymond. #keysigning #hockeynight #cbcsports
So it sounds like Kulemin is a definite for Saturday, but Fraser's knee is still a question mark...with 5 days off after Vancouver it seems likely he might wait. McLaren injured his eye tonight...hope he is OK.
Just finished watching on PVR...some thoughts on the game.
I thought Gunnarson had a good game, same for Ranger. Rielly is starting to show flashes of becoming a very good player.
Bernier was outstanding.
The forwards really could have been better in all three zones, but once again Bolland came up big. JVR is huge for us right now, cannot believe the Flyers traded this guy.
I can't believe how much this team is missing Fraser and Kulemin...I wonder if they will be back for Saturday?
remember few years ago when we out shot and out chance teams and lose now we win get out shot but win
@Xxxxxnew Big time dice roll for 1 yr, 1 mill.
Brophy can't even get his positive stuff right.
@-Keon- just win baby, just win
@Xxxxxnew me too i think he is good and physical
It's funny the media is making it seem like the Leafs are the only one... Guess since the team has been winning it doesn't really give them much to talk about.
Reimer I think
@B_Leaf we only saw how they could play in one period vs pitt on Saturday on that third period how good this team can be but we are wining so I am happy
@CanuckUKinToronto @Jantz Holy shit....... how'd he get that much PK time. I thought i saw that Calgary was 0-5 on the PP. Our top 6 is so dangerous and once Bozak and Kulemin come back, our top 9 will be as good as almost any team in the league and we still have come nowhere close to playing our best yet.
@CanuckUKinToronto @Optimustic That's the beauty of having two solid starters. If the players are tired in a b2b, the other goalie can play and be fresh as a daisy. All we need is about six or seven solid scoring chances to pot three, and we here get nice boring threads where we pat each other on the back with another win.