Game in 10: Game #23, Leafs 2 vs. Capitals 1 (SO)

713

Lower scoring than one might have expected, this game was more entertaining than the scoreline suggests. The Leafs won the special teams battle and the shootout thanks to Mr. Saturday Night, James Reimer, to move to 14-8-1 on the season.

1 – A pretty fun first period to watch; it was a five-on-five, penalty-free track meet as both teams were skating well while playing a loose and structure-free game. Good goaltending at both ends kept it even. For the Leafs, the biggest positive was a really good period from Lupul – Kadri – Clarkson line, which looked as good as we imagined it in the off season. After a few iffy shifts to start the game, this line established some traction for the Leafs with a good cycle, and continued driving play in the right direction all period.

2 – Clarkson’s most obvious asset is his forecheck and ability to protect the puck adeptly, which sustains offensive zone time, but it’s worth pointing out a few small plays by Clarkson on a shift with around 5 minutes to go in the first; in the defensive zone, he chipped a puck through his legs to Lupul up the wall with a man on his back, then he picked up a loose puck in the neutral zone and carried the play forward. This is a good possession player.

Here was an example of him in the second period with a good backcheck before turning the puck up ice and hitting the post:

3 – Penalty free hockey no longer in the second. After some defensive zone confusion led to a Raymond hooking penalty, the Leafs were naturally devoting a lot of attention to #8 and got a confidence-building first kill for the recently-struggling units. Another penalty to the Leafs had us holding our breath a few minutes later, this time on Phaneuf for having his leg hugged after dropping Johansson by the Leaf bench. Scott Gordon had Jay McClement sag down off the point to shadow Ovechkin to the side of the net. You’re going to take point shots from John Carlson and Niklas Backstrom before giving Ovechkin room to breathe, I guess. Reimer was eating point shots for breakfast on the second Washington powerplay of the period to preserve the 0-0 scoreline.

4 – The Leafs were pinned in for a spell after killing off the penalty, before Nazem Kadri (of course) drew a penalty to send the Leafs to the man advantage. A high point shot from Jake Gardiner was tipped down by Clarkson to give the Leafs the lead. That’s the 15th time in 24 games the Leafs have opened the scoring, complete with a Clarkson death stare after the goal. Is #71 earning his paystubs lately, or what? Four points in his last five games as well as all of those other consistent efforts he brings in the dirty and small-detail areas of the game.

5 – Scary moment for Mikhail Grabovski at the end of the 2nd period, as he dove to try to retrieve a puck and Clarkson’s skate caught him right in the face. Grabovski returned to the game 20 stitches later in the third period. Tough SOB. In a scary moment for the Leafs, Joel Ward caught David Clarkson with a head clip as Clarkson finished his shot in the offensive zone. Clarkson went to the bench, but came right back on for his next shift.

6 – Another big penalty kill a minute into the third period against the league’s second best powerplay. This time Smithson was draped over Ovechkin as the Leafs let the Capitals hang onto the puck high in the zone and watched the seconds tick by. The PK was intentionally passive, but Scott Gordon’s gameplan worked tonight. Going 3 for 3 against a top notch powerplay like Washington is hopefully the confidence booster the penalty kill needed to get itself back on track going forward.

7 – I wish I could frame Phaneuf’s game and hand it out as a flyer when the Phaneuf signing happens and the outrage floods out from the darkest corners of the fan base. Phaneuf gave little space and no easy minutes to Ovechkin and Backstrom throughout the night. He nearly scored twice, too; he was robbed by Holtby off a cross crease pass in the second period and he hit a post in the third period. For those counting, Crosby, Malkin, Staal, Semin, Kane, Toews, Hossa, Perry, Getzlaf, Tavares, Backstrom, Ovechkin have combined for two goals against the Leafs. Gunnarsson was sturdy, too, and played one of his better games of the season, breaking up a lot of plays. The McClement line cut down on Backstrom and Ovechkin’s time and space pretty effectively for the most part.

8 – One of those two goals, unfortunately, came tonight. After a near-goal off a JvR rush, the Capitals airmailed a puck in Ovechkin’s direction that was going to bounce to Phaneuf but had some vicious backspin spin on it, falling perfectly into Ovechkin’s path for Great 8 to snap home. Much like the Minnesota game, the Leafs played a good defensive game for the most part but spent way too much time in their own end with a one-goal lead.

Bizarre bounce. Gif courtesy welshhockeyfan (tumblr).
Bizarre bounce. Gif courtesy welshhockeyfan (tumblr).

9 – The Leafs’ odds weren’t great going into the shootout against a Capitals team that has won five of them this season. Despite falling 1-0 down after one round, JvR and Lupul scored a couple of beauties and James Reimer turned aside Ovechkin and Backstrom attempts to pull out the win. Reimer is the first of five goalies to stop Backstrom in the shootout this season, and it took a great glove save on a blazing wrister with the game on the line.

10 – Just when the starts seemed to be favouring Jonathan Bernier, James Reimer battles back, as he always does, with a sterling performance. 50 effing shots. Let’s face it, if there’s ever a team that needed an amazing 1A/1B tandem…

Braden Holtby didn’t go untested, either. The Leafs had a number of good looks, especially off the rush. The Leafs weathered loads of shots from the perimeter in this game, but winning with one-goal while facing 50-shots is not exactly an exercise in playing the odds. Thanks go to Reimer.

Leafs-Caps-total

SCORING SUMMARY   
1ST PERIOD
NONE
2ND PERIOD
10:08:00TOR PPG - David Clarkson (2) Tip-in - ASST: Jake Gardiner (5), Nazem Kadri (10)1 - 0 TOR
3RD PERIOD
15:50:00WSHAlex Ovechkin (20) Snap shot - ASST: Mike Green (12)1 - 1 Tie
SHOOTOUT
David ClarksonStopped
Eric FehrScored
James van RiemsdykScored
Alex OvechkinStopped
Mason RaymondMissed
Nicklas BackstromStopped
Joffrey LupulScored
Troy BrouwerMissed
NO.PLAYERPOSGAP+/-PIMSHITSBKSGVATKAFO%PPTOISHTOITOI
2M. FraserD0000006410-0:00:002:45:0019:15:00
3D. PhaneufD000-1221101-1:02:002:32:0023:31:00
4C. FransonD0000014410-1:02:002:06:0022:18:00
11J. McClementC000-100300173%0:00:004:36:0020:13:00
12M. RaymondL0000210000-0:26:000:00:0014:32:00
19J. LupulR000001011250%0:53:000:00:0020:58:00
21J. van RiemsdykL000-102300150%0:53:001:28:0018:54:00
22J. SmithsonC000000001075%0:00:003:09:008:34:00
24P. HollandC000001120056%0:00:000:00:0018:01:00
28C. OrrR0000003000-0:00:000:00:003:49:00
36C. GunnarssonD000-1014201-0:00:003:56:0022:39:00
38F. McLarenL0000002110-0:00:000:00:004:00:00
41N. KuleminL000-10130000%0:00:002:47:0018:13:00
43N. KadriC011005231153%0:26:000:00:0019:35:00
44M. RiellyD0000021331-0:17:000:01:0019:25:00
51J. GardinerD0110011411-0:17:000:40:0023:02:00
71D. ClarksonR1010243301-0:26:000:00:0018:38:00
81P. KesselC0000061000-0:53:000:00:0018:23:00
NO.PLAYERSAVESSV%PIMTOI
34J. Reimer (W)49 - 500.98065:00:00
45J. Bernier0 - 0000:00:00
REVIEW OVERVIEW
Even Strength
40 %
Special Teams
90 %
Goaltending
90 %
SHARE
Previous articleHighlights: Leafs/Caps
Next articleMonday Mashup: Bozak set to return?
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]
  • wendelsfist

    https://twitter.com/MikeInBuffalo
    Toronto police have been alerted to watch high rises for Corsi/Fenwick fanatics leaping to their demise after the https://twitter.com/search?q=%23leafs&src=hash win
    .

  • Loric76

    Thanks Alec, another good GIT.  I especially like point #7

  • DJBrianBurke

    wendelsfist They jumped after they lead Corsi and lost.

  • Optimustic

    TheCanucksnaphook Yup, Clarkson was the most noticeable player besides Reimer though.  I thought he played hard the whole night and was one of the few I noticed the whole night.

  • LeafsForLife

    Thanks Alec. Great job as always.
    I like the stats on Phaneuf for who he has faved and having only 2 goals against in all that time. Very impressive.

  • Xxxxxnew

    Lotsa red Corsi shots from miles away in the graphic above.

  • LeafsForLife

    The one thing i would like to see changed is please RC stop putting Raymond on the shootouts. Put Kadri out there instead. He wont shoot it into the corner.

  • juliesucks

    Ranger’s best game as a Leaf.

  • Optimustic

    TheCanucksnaphook Optimustic Yeah, I’ll go with that, guess I was thinking more of the offensive players.  Mc Clemment could also be added.  I thought he was good in a shutdown role.

  • LeafsForLife

    TheCanucksnaphook LeafsForLife didnt watch the presser but i agree. Really great games hes been playing for us lately.

  • Wilbur

    Reimer, Dion, Rielly, Clarkson and McClemment stood out tonight but really I thought tonight was an excellent team effort. Smelled like the playoffs other than the lame ACC crowd.

  • Zep2

    Optimustic TheCanucksnaphook Rielly was pretty impressive too.

  • DJBrianBurke

    Xxxxxnew A lot of them he could see all the way.

  • Tim Horton

    I think this is the first game I didnt catch any of. 50 shots on Reimer was he good? should we stick with him for a bit?

  • Leafbites

    ‘Frame and flyer’, nice. Ha.
    Beauty effort #34. Thought the D did an admirable job allowing James to see pucks, as well. Props to Gunnar, for perhaps his best game of the season. And got to say, Clarkson is my type of winger, love his game!
    And in a losing effort, thought Holtby was also outstanding.

  • Wilbur

    Tim Horton Reimer was fantastic but at this point I’m pretty much happy with either goalie between the pipes.

  • LeafsForLife

    Tough schedule in December but the good thing about it is from the way we are playing at home, Leafs have 10 of 14 games at home in December. Hopefully that will push us through a bit.

  • PEIleafnation

    Tim Horton yes give bernier habs game

  • TuckerForPunishment

    Tim Horton He was awesome.  Didn’t have to make many HUGE saves though.

  • loomx

    LeafsForLife Only 1 goal in his last 8 attempts. Lupul 3 goals in his last 7. JVR 3 in his last 6. It’ll be those two and Bozak when he comes back. Kadri’s gone cold in SO attempts.

  • Xxxxxnew

    Empty seats around the bottom of the rink after every intermission, waiting for the business wankers to get back from their business wanking. Embarrassing.

  • Zep2

    Wilbur Ive heard more enthusiasm in a morgue.

  • DJBrianBurke

    Leafbites Agreed, Holtby made some nice save of some dangerous shots from dangerous players. A lot of them while he was moving.

  • Leafbites

    Wilbur Yes, McClemment was a tower, tonight.

  • http://mapleleafshotstove.com/ DeclanK

    Shift_Disturber1 TheCanucksnaphook They’re inverted. It seems counter intuitive, but it works.

  • shwhalen

    Our first pass out of the zone was not good tonight. Am I wrong?

  • Komas Taberle

    Shift_Disturber1 
    If Holland had have scored that empty net goal it would have been over in the 1st.

  • http://mapleleafshotstove.com/ DeclanK

    DJBrianBurke Xxxxxnew 
    Agreed, but 50 shots is outlandish. That shit has to stop.

  • PepTalk

    Did RC say anything of note after the game?

  • Zep2

    Change of subject I know, but i posted earlier this year thats its good that Pens won a Cup with Crosby because they won’t win another.
    Great top 3 or 4 players but talent levels of after that

  • DJBrianBurke

    DeclanK DJBrianBurke Xxxxxnew Yes, this won’t work against the “top” teams, but I’ll take 50 of those shots, a lot of them not rebounds, to a hard 25-30 in the blue paint shots. Leafs kept them to the outside.

  • DJBrianBurke

    Zep2 Talent drops off a cliff after that lol

  • Alec Brownscombe

    LeafsForLife Thanks, L4L.

  • wendelsfist

    The leafs move ahead of Tampa Bay and the wild card race is tight!

  • Optimustic

    Zep2 They have a lot of their cap tied up in the Crosby, Malkin, MAF, and a couple of other players if I remember correctly.  They may not be able to aquire other players of note.

  • Alec Brownscombe

    Loric76 Thanks Loric.

  • wendelsfist

    shwhalen Yes but the leafs still got outshot.  I need to watch the game over to see what was going on

  • DJBrianBurke

    Optimustic Zep2 Money well spent in MAF lol

  • Xxxxxnew

    Look at the graphic above. Lots tossed on net from wayyy out.

  • PEIleafnation

    Xxxxxnew thought leweike was gonna address that lol

  • Optimustic

    DJBrianBurke Optimustic Zep2 yup, and for a long time too.

  • Xxxxxnew

    Or Dion’s post.

  • wendelsfist

    Shift_Disturber1 Brilliant strategy by Carlyle and great execution by the leafs

  • DJBrianBurke

    wendelsfist Shift_Disturber1 Only makes sense, he’s the only guy that scores for them.

  • Optimustic

    Shift_Disturber1 Optimustic Zep2 Yup, Neil is the other one I couldn’t remember.

  • Jmessih

    Holy hell the crowd was crazy loud during the shootout!! 
    http://video.mapleleafs.nhl.com/videocenter/

  • djamon

    wendelsfist I’m not so sure. It was sure helped by the fact that no one would stand in front of Reimer. Or that Carlson shot like a Granny.

  • http://mapleleafshotstove.com/ DeclanK

    Shift_Disturber1 DeclanK TheCanucksnaphook 
    Ya, some dumb long-range shots that don’t matter in there, but 50 shots is 50 shots. That’s unacceptable.

  • djamon

    wendelsfist WC race isn’t tight really at all. The 2 WC’s have a 5 point cushion on 9th.

  • Xxxxxnew

    Some of those shots were from so far away Reimer was grabbing them like fielding practice.