Game Tape: 11 minutes to build on in Boston

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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.

Some notes:

– 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.

Takeaways:

– 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.”

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Alec Brownscombe is the founder of MapleLeafsHotStove.com, where he has written daily about the Leafs since September of 2008. He was also the editor of the 2009-12 Maple Leafs Annuals. You can contact him at [email protected]
  • LeGoon

    any body…Bueller?

  • rustynail

    nice write up interestng how Dion, Grardiner, Ranger and Franson are all listed as starting plays and making good D during that run.

  • Alec Brownscombe

    Forgot to copy my little takeaway note on Ranger over from the word doc. Added.

  • rustynail

    https://twitter.com/sunhornbyhttps://twitter.com/sunhornby/status/399891038866653184
    Honoured to meet a Cdn. soldier this week who landed on D-Day, parachuted into Holland. Thank them while they’re still with us.

  • LeGoon

    rustynail  The D played well, Dion has been solid.  That JVR penalty was the game changer.  The Leafs were winning battles and had consistent Ozone time.  It was a game they could have won.

  • rustynail

    https://twitter.com/dutchyschttps://twitter.com/dutchysc/status/399906521254862848
    Lest we forget! To those who served and continue to serve, thank you!

  • rustynail

    https://twitter.com/JLupulhttps://twitter.com/JLupul/status/399906084041027584
    Hope everyone takes a minute to think about our troops and what they have sacrificed, so we can live the way do. https://twitter.com/LupesTroops

  • Cameron19

    But Alec, Nonis was upset after the game – so obviously he hates Phaneuf, and obviously he knows better than you!!

  • B_Leaf

    Hey Alec…Really admire the effort to be positive.

  • dlb eh

    B_Leaf 
    what do you mean?  it was two days ago.  how long should we mope?

  • B_Leaf

    Phaneuf, JVR, Reimer and Lupul had a great game….after that?

  • B_Leaf

    dlb eh B_Leaf 
    Well this team needs to get its stuff together.

  • Alec Brownscombe

    Cameron19 guess I’m wrong
    :(
    We all saw his reaction. Phaneuf’s gone.

  • Mind Bomb

    Morning Alec, nice write up,  you made some mistakes though, you complimented Kulie a few times, apparently he is horrible and should not be on the ice, and should be traded and replaced with one of our stellar bottom six marlies that continue to come up and do nothing :))))))))

  • 4evrblue

    Alec Brownscombe Cameron19 Phaneuf goes nowhere!! How could we possibly find another GM dumb enough to take him?

  • Alec Brownscombe

    4evrblue Alec Brownscombe Cameron19 Shit. Good point.
    Is there a way to buy him out for the rest of the year?

  • TheGroobster

    4evrblue Alec Brownscombe Cameron19 I’m loving the sarcasm in this thread.

  • 4evrblue

    Alec Brownscombe   gonna have to bury him. Must be why we have Liles up, he’s Dions replacement :)

  • mcloki

    Morining Gents. Boston game was a good game. Down two centers they came to play. I think the reffing was brutal compared to what went on last Saturday against Vancouver. When you compare the reffing between he two games, What a penalty exactly? All over the place.
    And There’s more upside to Ranger but it may take till after Christmas for us to see it.

  • Alec Brownscombe

    4evrblue Alec Brownscombe I think all of Phaneuf’s minutes are a showcase scenario. Too bad everyone saw the way he ended the game and how Nonis reacted. Any trade value down the shitter.

  • B_Leaf

    Alec Brownscombe Cameron19 
    Phaneuf had an excellent game, but the team couldn’t amount any attack down a goal late in the third…That had to be concerning to Nonis.
    There is no doubt Nonis gambled with some moves this off season and when you do there is always a concern about chemistry. He must be wondering about that.

  • dlb eh

    Mind Bomb 
    Ranger didn’t get a kick in the nuts, so Alec’s obviously just making shit up this morning

  • Not Norm

    Alex…. I’ve watched the PP replays a dozen times, and when you slow it down, the Bruin holds Reimer’s right leg in place, Reimer scissors with the left, and it clips Ranger’s leg so that he falls. Just slow it down, and you’ll see. 
    The guys’ mistakes may be visible, but he’s only had 6 goals against during 5v5 this year, in the most minutes; fewer shots against per 5v5 minute than any of the big names; and solid PK numbers. He’s also got the 2nd most points during 5v5, and  the 2nd best plus/minus. 
    I think right now, people are watching for his mistakes. Jake gives up 2-on1’s like candy… Cody coughs up the luck in his own end… Rielly’s giving up 41 shots per game… I mean, all in all, do we have to give a clipped skate the nod and say it cancels the rest of his game?

  • B_Leaf

    Not Norm 
    Come around more often Not Norm

  • wiski

    B_Leaf Alec Brownscombe Cameron19 Looked like 500k to me 😉

  • Cameron19

    B_Leaf Alec Brownscombe Cameron19 I don’t think there’s any concern there. Any lack of chemistry you’re seeing is probably due to a lack of consistent health.

  • dlb eh

    mcloki 
    if our players are allowed to play the physical game BOS is permitted, we would see a lot better sucess
    refs give some players latitude, and BOS just has more of them than we do right now.  i guess it comes with establishing yourself as a winner.  i hope we can gain that level of freedom to bully one day, without the fear of hurting our own team.

  • Alec Brownscombe

    Not Norm Nice post.
    TBH I didn’t watch the goal back more than once or twice night of. Good catch if so.

  • B_Leaf

    dlb eh mcloki 
    Thats bullcrap

  • Mind Bomb

    dlb eh Mind Bomb  Rielly should have been in bro

  • rustynail

    Not Norm you should post WAY more often

  • Cameron19

    Not Norm Yea, my dislike of Ranger is probably not called for – I can admit that. He was very difficult to watch on the PP for the first 10 games of the season, and I pretty much lost my patience with him then.  Should really be Carlyle I was upset with though.  He does seem to be coming around now.

  • Mind Bomb

    mcloki  Morning MC 11 and 6 same record as the vaunted Penguins lol :) 

    We Rock

  • dlb eh

    Mind Bomb 
    only if they sat a forward
    there was a couple times Ranger and Fraser made life miserable for the Bruins.  we need those players who don’t get picked on.  watching BOS beat our guys down in the third is deflating.
    there was one shift in particular where BOS players took runs at both Fraser and Ranger and both our guys skated away with the win.

  • wiski

    Not Norm well done Norm

  • rustynail

    https://twitter.com/BonsieTweetshttps://twitter.com/BonsieTweets/status/399914947301232642
    “To you from failing hands we throw the torch; be yours to hold it high.” We shall remember them. http://t.co/1sNv9Df5T2

  • dlb eh

    B_Leaf 
    really?
    you haven’t seen Chara hit players all year long late, sitcking arms out and catching them in the head?  high stick on Lupul?  no call?
    a player like Tootoo is watched closely as soon as he hits the ice.  he has to tread lightly.  BOS has a number of players who are able to play on the edge and they do get the benefit of the doubt from the refs.
    choose to ignore that.  it’s real.  it’s human.  it’s earned.

  • B_Leaf

    Cameron19 B_Leaf Alec Brownscombe 
    Cameron, I respectfully beg to differ. Chemistry is a real thing and we have lost something from last year. Of course it would be better to be healthy…but we haven’t put together a really good game yet. We have had about 5-6 good periods this season. We are a good team…thats why we are winning ugly…but there is a chemistry problem. 
    Just for the record, when I say chemistry, I don’t necessarily mean team discontent but rather that the mix is off. Too much this and not enough that, or players who don’t mesh on the ice. That is what I mean. Poulin said it was a concern before the season started and I think we are seeing it.

  • mcloki

    dlb eh B_Leaf I agree an the Chara hits. A hit to the head is a hit to the head. Why should he get the benefit of the doubt?

  • B_Leaf

    dlb eh B_Leaf 
    Sorry…I didn’t mean it wasn’t true…but rather that its not fair.

  • dlb eh

    mcloki
    apparently its bullcrap
    Lucis manhandles people, and if that’s McLaren doing the same thing it’s penalized.
    that hit on Clarkson from Seidenberg…Ranger gets called on that if he’s dishing to Bergeron

  • Mind Bomb

    dlb eh Mind Bomb  We do have Dion and Franson who are hitting machines, plus either Fraser or Ranger, there is room for rielly, our forwards stopped hitting in the 3rd.

  • mcloki

    Mind Bomb mcloki WE;re playing well. I just think people expect perfection. It’s going to be a grind for the Leafs to even get a wildcard. Still on track for their 3 out of five. A double beat down of Buffallo would be great.

  • Alec Brownscombe

    dlb eh Mind Bomb Ranger played a good game overall. I cannot agree that Fraser did.

  • B_Leaf

    dlb eh mcloki 
    It is bullcrap that the Bruins get away with suspendable infractions and don’t get a 2 minute penalty…after the game the paper just says the league will not be reviewing the hit….bullcrap.

  • dlb eh

    B_Leaf
    oh.  er.  well it is what it is.  and until we earn that same respect from the refs we have to fight the uphill battle.
    we do seem to have a number of tough players (JVR, Kulemin amongst them, tough means a lot of things) who are known to be honest players.  so we’re in decent shape.
    its tough when we play DET or BOS type teams who are assumed to be defensive or physical models of perfection.  the refs simply watch the other team more.  can’t watch both teams at once all game.  it’s just too fast.

  • Mind Bomb

    mcloki Mind Bomb 100 percent, that Boston game could have went either way in the 3rd. We are still competing for the division lead. I see no reason to panic yet

  • Not Norm

    B_Leaf Not Norm Thanks man. I read here a lot. Too much hockey writing & arguing gets me grouchy though, so I gotta keep it reeled in. Save some energy so I can scream at people to tear Chara’s head off. 😉

  • dlb eh

    B_Leaf
    on the Seidenberg to Clarkson hit into the boards the TSM guys used it as an example of how BOS plays you hard on every play.  then they showed Chara finishing the hit on Raymond.
    that could have easily been an example of (similar to races for icing) of a dangerous play that shouldn’t be tollerated

  • 4evrblue

    https://twitter.com/cotsonika

    https://twitter.com/cotsonika/status/399916201251729408

    Bettman on journalists’ predictions of doom during lockout: “There was no conventional wisdom. … They were wrong.”