The win wasn’t aesthetically pleasing, and that’s par for the course against the New Jersey Devils, but this is an important two points for the banged-up Leafs before they head into Boston. The Leafs move to 11-5-0.
1 – The Leafs played a good first overall, but they needed to come away with a goal considering their double minor powerplay which included 50 seconds of 5 on 3 time. On the upside, the Kadri, Clarkson and Raymond line had several positive shifts, with Clarkson nearly scoring (rejected at the goalline by Zidlicky) and putting in good work down low throughout the period. Clarkson seemed to have an extra step against his former team, as one would expect, and he was getting a few more scoring looks beside Kadri and Raymond. Goal #1 will come soon for Clarkson.
2 – During said powerplay time, the Leafs had plenty of good looks, but they were not putting enough rubber at the net, and couldn’t connect on any cross crease passes on the doorstep. There was a predictable pass-first tendency going on throughout much of the game on the part of the Lupul, JvR and Kessel line.
3 – It’s become an increasingly popular narrative for the MSM to jump on, but man did Ray Ferraro and Gord Miller harp on the shot thing in the 2nd period on the TSN broadcast. It’s often appropriate with this team, but I don’t think it was tonight. Ferraro was conflating shots with the Leafs being badly outplayed, which to me was a misrepresentation. The Leafs were not shooting enough despite some good looks, playing way too cute, and their pass-shot selection was favouring the pass heavily.
That said, Bernier had to make some good saves after Leaf breakdowns in the second period. He was really sharp in the second 20, but the Leafs were not notably out possessed. I don’t think either team had the better of the play in the second, or even in the general sense. It was sloppy, as games against New Jersey are wont to be, and the Leafs were refusing to simplify. It seems the Leafs did not take to heart Carlyle’s insistence that his team simplify their game and get back to a meat-and-potatoes effort. Not enough getting pucks on frame and crashing the net.
4 – The Leafs got themselves another powerplay half way through the third and it was really stuttering at first. The top unit couldn’t break the zone and it had many on the forums calling for the second powerplay unit to come over the boards (it was more effective in the first two periods). Enter Phil Kessel. The Thrill picked up the puck outside the offensive blueline, did a big loop, and attacked the zone with speed. He found a seam, split Henrique and Zidlicky, and beat Schneider between the legs. Phil was a little off for the first two periods, but he was the Leaf gamebreaker again tonight, picking up a floundering PP by the bootstraps. That should’ve been the game winner.
5 – Jonathan Bernier is extremely calm and casual in net, and it’s one of his best qualities, but it’s caught him twice now when it comes to blunders handling the puck. He was going to deflect a puck wide of the net with his stick and didn’t have his blade square to the ice, allowing it to deflect off the top of the blade and up and over his shoulder for the tying 1-1 goal late in the third. Just a mind fart. He was steady as can be otherwise.
6 – It was a grindy, messy affair with a lot of clutching and grabbing from the Devils during the first 60. I expect the Leafs to be a good 4 on 4 team with the speed and skill at their disposal, and usually like their odds once the game opens up in OT. The Leafs had the best scoring opportunity – After they got away with leaving a man alone in front, JvR, Dion and Kessel counterattacked on a 3 on 1. Dion, JvR and Kessel worked a beautiful passing play, but Schneider got across brilliantly and Kessel shot the puck back across the net a little rather than straight in.
7 – Win or lose, the shootout sucks. But the Leafs (yes, the Leafs) are now 2-0 in the shootout (0-5 last season), as Bernier made up for his gaff with three stops (hat tip to the post) and JvR replaced Bozak’s automatic conversion on shootout attempts.
8 – Jerred Smithson did his job tonight. He won 8 of 9 faceoffs, many in the defensive zone and on the penalty kill. He crashed and banged, and made some heady plays on the penalty kill. In two key penalty kills with under 10 minutes to go in the third, Smithson cleared three pucks; once by breaking up a play on the boards for his teammate to clear; the second was a soccer kick over the blueline amid a scramble in front; the third was a smart ring around against the flow of traffic that cleared the zone. Smithson wound up playing over 10 minutes, including 7 at evens. More efforts like this will not give Carlyle any hesitation in bumping up his minutes.
9 – JvR was okay at center for his first game. You could tell he wasn’t totally comfortable working from the middle of the ice, and he was 40% on the draw, but there’s no reason not to continue to let JvR try to get his bearings. Commendable effort for his first game at center in the NHL.
10 – Carlyle was rotating Rielly onto the Franson pairing at 5 on 5. Rielly played only 9 minutes (to be expected for the 7D) at evens. I would’ve considered giving him some more of Gardiner’s minutes as the night progressed. The Franson/Gardiner pairing did not have a sterling first reunion. Gardiner was back on his left side and seemed to take it as his greenlight to make something happen. That’s great and he should, but he has to be more mindful of when and when not to pinch. As for Mark Fraser in his return – he had his good and bad moments, but you have to love his crease-clearing presence and sheer fury when an opponent buzzes his goalie.
Maple Leafs vs. Devils - November 8th, 2013.Maple Leafs 2 vs. Devils 1 (SO)
|NO.||PLAYER||POS||G||A||P||+/-||PIM||S||HITS||BKS||GVA||TKA||FO%||PP TOI||SH TOI||TOI|
|21||J. van Riemsdyk||L||0||0||0||0||0||0||5||0||1||0||40%||5:50:00||1:37:00||22:10:00|
|45||J. Bernier (W)||34/35||0.971||0||65:00|
Has anyone noticed that Kadri doesn't play with the same "snarl" as he did in London? This is one part of his game I thought he would bring with him. While he has the hands, finance and creativity, he's missing a lot of bite.
from Jonas Siegel on TSN .."Carlyle was visibly peeved with his team's effort six days earlier in a 4-0 loss to Vancouver, calling it the worst game of the season. With three practices and a slew of video and instruction in the days that followed he harped on the turnovers his team had committed in critical areas; he stressed the need for a feistier forecheck; he wanted more "doggedness" on the puck and much more of the chip-and-chase game that finally arose against the Devils."
This is exactly what I saw last night compared to last Saturday - yep a start in the right direction. If we play like that against the Bastar-I mean Bruins then we can wear them down and get some chances. Tonight's game is important - it can set the tone for the season if the Leafs can compete against the elite teams and grind past the first round.
A much better effort from what I saw from last week. There were some turn overs when they attempted to clear the zone by carrying it out up the middle. Shouldn't they be bouncing it off the boards? On to the Bruins. Hope the fans shut up with Thank you chants because as par the course, Boston dumped their 1st rounder - again - but THANK YOU, Boston!
Alright, MLHS. I love your articles, but you've gotta do something about the ads with sound on the side of your page. Especially those for the "Water Babies" doll and "Wag-along Dog" toys.
Pierre Lebrun write up for tonights match
Is the ACC ever going to get good ice? With a team as fast as ours it would kinda be an advantage. I thought the ice contributed to the sloppy play last night as much as the Devils did if not more.
Gotta Luv Kessel's filling of the net....
How many Devils ended up in the net, when Phil scored his goal ?.............I counted 3 ,
@rhobear I thought I was high watching Kessels goal and that water babies song comes on as he's streaking up ice lol
@rhobear Adblock Plus if you're using Firefox.
Atta boy Phook!
Now send that to all your media buddies :)
@Shift_Disturber1 Leg bruise
Don't know how his skating would improve with a groiner.
Wondered about upper body as his fighting seemed off ..and very limited.
...and drew a penalty!
@docyqx including schneider?
Yeah Clarkson rounding into form now, I think he will cause lots of trouble to the Bruins tonight.
Start off by pounding the snot out of Marchand.
He reminds me of Motor City Smitty with his totally reckless crash and bang..often ending up on the wrong end but bounces back up like a Weeble.
Maybe a touch more skill around the net though ;)
@Loric76 he wouldn't be so lucky these days :)
lol let's hope so haha. Just posting stuff ppl might find interesting across a wide range of twitter accounts that are not close to home.
@Loric76 LMAO! That one was good. Phill "the Cookie Thrill" Kessel!!
Leg bone bruise?...hmmm
It's brewing inside him...you can feel it.
I prefer his method of "power rushing" to Gardiner's wide loops if I have to choose
Now if they can both improve on the defensive awareness,we have two beauts.
They were the best PP point pair last night by a landslide.