To watch the whole second period, start at 1:09:29. The Leafs do their best work between the 13 minute mark (1:25:00ish) and the 2 minute mark of the period.
- The period starts off with Clarkson and Iginla dropping the mitts. PJ Stock’s point about this bout waking up the Leafs seems like a former fighter making stuff up about a momentum change that didn’t happen. In the few minutes after the fight, there was only one decent hit (from JvR, trying to get Marchand back), a couple of poor breakouts by the Leafs, and two consecutive icings with Bodie, McLaren and Smithson out on the ice.
- Definitely worth noting Phaneuf’s hits, one at 16:40 on Reilly Smith and the other at 16:12 on Paille. He had a great period in just about every respect. Also take note of his play at 13:15. Phaneuf rubbed Lucic off the puck behind the net, skated the puck into some space, and led a streaking Kessel with a good pass on the right side for a good transition breakout.
- Phaneuf was really working at this point in the game to try to make something happen. After Kessel took that shot off that rush, Phaneuf was roving across high slot area and almost got caught along with the three forwards when the rebound off of Kessel’s shot took a crazy bounce. Phaneuf fell next to the boards, springing a 2 on 1 briefly, but Phaneuf showed great hustle in getting back and laying out to take away the pass option. Lucic pulled up for a half slap shot and clipped the cross bar.
- The following shift, with around 13 minutes left, the Leafs started to make their inroads. Gardiner and Franson did a good job holding their own blueline while the forwards (Kadri, Kulemin and Lupul) were struggling to get the puck moving through the neutral zone. Eventually, Franson jumped on a broken play in the neutral zone and sprung Lupul through the middle. Lupul pulled an outside inside move around Chara and tried a fancy pass rather than taking a shot there (Note: maybe Rask was thinking of this player later on when Lupul was streaking down the boards and caught him short side). Kadri-Kulemin-Lupul had a good shift of cycling following that chance.
- Around the 12 minute mark, Ashton, Clarkson and McClement came over the boards fed off of this shift, as they managed to keep the pressure on the Bruins. Eventually, Boston got the puck out to center ice and got a chance to switch up their forwrads, but the exhausted Chara and Hamilton were still stuck out there as the Leafs cycled around against tired legs. Eventually the Leafs‘ unit had to peel and change, at which point Chara and Hamilton finally got off around 10:30. The shots were 7-4 Leafs at the 10-minute mark.
- Phaneuf led another nice breakout at 7:50. At end of a long shift, he picked up the puck behind the Leaf net, saw Boston was changing, generated some speed, and found Kulemin down the right side before peeling for a change.
- Pretty dumb play by Clarkson following that breakout. Around 7:40, Clarkson flew in as the third forward and fell into some Bruins rather than stopping on the puck in front. That led to a good chance for Bergeron as the Bruins came down on Gardiner and Franson with a late-arriving backecheck.
- McClement won the defensive zone draw after that, Gardiner pushed the puck up the wall to McClement, who won the battle on the wall against Campbell to advance to Ashton. After a bit of a hiccup, Ashton got the puck in deep. Clarkson, Ashton and McClement worked some good cycling. Gardiner made a smart pinch down the wall to continue the cycle in this sequence.
- Good wheels and pressure by Raymond forced an icing at 5:50. Following an offensive zone faceoff win by Kadri – always good when you can get a draw win, but the Bruins had Kelly kicked out and Kadri beat Soderberg – the Leafs worked a short cycle before a giveaway from Kessel backed them up. Phaneuf went D to D with Gunnarsson, who sent the puck to Kadri up the left wall. Kadri took a big hit to get the puck back down deep for more cycle time for him, Lupul and Kessel around the five minute mark.
- On that next spell of offensive zone time, Kessel got a good look in the slot after coming out from behind the net, and Franson hit the post on a point shot. There were three good plays to hold the blueline by Phaneuf in order to keep this cycle alive. Eventually Kadri got tired and peeled for a change, leaving Lupul stranded, and Boston recovered the puck.
- The Bruins moved up ice at this point ?and Iginla broke into the zone. Franson took a good angle, bodied Iginla, then made a great poke check on Lucic to send Kulemin on his way. The Leafs got puck deep, and Kulemin, McClement and Clarkson established another decent forecheck and cycle.
- Kulemin made two good puck retrieval plays on this shift by keeping his legs moving and playing smart. He intercepted a clearance opportunity for Iginla on the left board. Then, over on the right board at the blueline, while supporting for a pinching Ranger, Kulemin landed a hit on Krejci and kept the puck in. Clarkson dished to McClement for a good chance to the side of the net seconds later.
- The TV timeout gave Carlyle the chance to go back to McClement and Clarkson, but with Ashton this time. McClement won the draw and more good cycle time followed. A good stick by Ranger held the blueline at 3:44, and the Leafs finished four or five hits in succession on this shift.
- Ranger’s second good stick poke of the shift at 3:15 prevented Loui Eriksson from driving around him right in on net. Eriksson probably shouldn’t have been afforded as much space as he was, but it was a good play nonetheless to prevent Eriksson from taking it backhand to forehand for a point blank scoring chance on Reimer. Ranger then intercepted a pass and flipped the puck to the board for Lupul to pick up, at which point Lupul went on his rush and scored.
- Kadri, Raymond and Kulemin maintained the momentum the very next shift. Kadri won the draw, Phaneuf found Kulemin down the right, and the Leafs enjoyed an extended cycle and put a good amount of rubber at the net.
- The Leafs looked on the verge of taking this game over right until JvR’s double minor penalty sunk them. There’s just no reason for him to have his stick up in Boychuk’s face there.
- There were a ton of different variations of forward lines in this spell (Lupul-Kadri-Kessel, Raymond-JvR-Kessel, Lupul-Kadri-Kulemin; Ashton-McClement – Clarkson, more I’m not remembering), but the common thread was simplification of their game, moving their feet, and more hard-played north-south hockey. Only workmanlike efforts are going to get the Leafs through this next stretch.
- One thing that might be worth revisiting for the start of Wednesday’s game is Ashton – McClement – Clarkson as line three. I think I’d go Raymond – JvR – Kessel/Lupul – Kadri – Kulemin as well, but those top two lines are going to be a constant source of blending I would imagine. Probably not worth talking about.
- Phaneuf was awesome: moving the puck well, finishing big hits, and holding the blueline. Anybody calling for his head for the play late in the game when he didn’t recover the puck with a few seconds left is completely insane. Correct me if I’m wrong, but seems like it’s been a long time since Phaneuf has conceded a goal in his matchup at even strength.
- Gardiner and Franson drove play really well in this game.
- Ranger actually had a pretty good game if you ignore the calamity of him falling all over Reimer, pretty much solely creating the game winning goal. There’s just something about this guy… there’s a lot to like about him, but when he screws up he makes it count.
One link this morning: A good read from James Mirtle on “The Leafs still searching for a complete game.”