Game in 10: Game #29, Leafs 3 vs. Stars 2

Game in 10: Game #29, Leafs 3 vs. Stars 2

TORONTO, ON - DECEMBER 5: Jonathan Bernier #45 of the Toronto Maple Leafs turns a shot away against the Dallas Stars during an NHL game at the Air Canada Centre on December 5, 2013 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images)

Toronto welcomed the HBO crew with a 3-2 overtime victory at the Air Canada Centre.  They came out with the appropriate amount of desperation and effort for a team that has been stumbling significantly.

1. The Leafs certainly came to play tonight. Maybe it was the HBO presence or an unheralded urgency in response to the squad’s recent stretch of dismal outings. It could also just be the natural progression for a good – but not elite – NHL team in an 82 game season. In that case, tonight’s victory would signify a swing in the right direction for the Leafs. But it would not preclude some mediocre stretches later on in the season – especially if injury woes continue. That’s just the reality for most teams in the NHL. The path may not be pretty, but all that will matter is the destination.

2. One competitive player that clearly wanted to set the tone for the game early? Dion Phaneuf. Phaneuf wasted no time in stepping up to lay a solid hit on Jamie Benn. He followed this up by trailing the rush and getting the Leafs coveted first shot on goal and a decent scoring chance to boot. Then, he was ready to throw down with the Dallas captain before the referees intervened. The concept of “leadership” is sometimes vague and often dramatized in team sports – but this was as close to a definitive embodiment of that idea as you will get.

3. The referees quickly sought out another chance to intervene, gracing Cody Franson with a mysterious penalty just minutes after the Benn-Phaneuf altercation. In recent games, the penalty kill has floundered and this was a prime opportunity for the Stars to snatch back momentum. Thankfully, Jay McClement and Jonathan Bernier the Leafs penalty killers held strong. After another important kill in the third, the crew succumbed to a deflected shot on the Stars’ third powerplay of the night.

4. Cody Franson has been involved offensively, but is still pressing for his first goal. Franson’s shot is accurate with a quick and deceptive release. He’s used it slightly less this year and tonight’s game was a welcome effort in the opposite direction. After ringing his patented wrister off the post in the first, he ripped a slapper following a penalty kill midway through the second. Finally, he sent a targeted wrister for the go-ahead tip goal by Kadri. Franson is one of the league’s best offensive defensemen with a physical dimension. His game has been a bit off (likely confounded by a rotating arsenal of partners), but he will continue to step up his game as the halfway mark of this season approaches.

5. Surprise surprise, the JVR-Kadri-Kessel line was dynamic. Carlyle threw his (remaining) most talented players on to one line because – let’s face it – he didn’t really have a choice. They looked dangerous immediately. Kadri tallied two goals tonight and meshes well with JVR’s work in front of the net and Kessel’s general razzle dazzle. Granted, the first goal was an awkward play with Daley hurt in the corner, but Nazem looks poised to take advantage of yet another look with JVR and Kessel.

6. Early in the third, a disastrous change gave the Stars an odd-man rush which they capitalized on. The victimized blueliners in this case were Fraser and Ranger and this was simply a careless mistake in a crucial portion of the game.

7. Jonathan Bernier bounced back in net with that elite caliber of goaltending that Toronto has been spoiled with thus far this campaign. If you missed this one, watch the tape. Look for: diving larceny on Ray Whitney near the end of the second, a glove save on Peverley to preserve the lead and rejecting Jamie Benn roughly twenty times on the night.

8. Rielly sat out tonight. Coming off the victory, Carlyle may elect to stick with this group of defenders heading into the weekend matches. Knowing him, he may also switch it up due to matchup dynamics or just to keep his fringe blueliners at their best. Regardless, the blueline will be in a state of flux with Fraser, Ranger and Reilly the most likely candidates for rotating as healthy scratches.

9. Speaking of lineups in flux, the injuries to the top portion of this club has undoubtedly been one of the catalysts for their stretch of poor showings. With no set lines or nightly stability, players not named Van Riemsdyk and Kessel have had noticeable consistency issues. This is as a reminder that at their healthiest, the Leafs are a competitive club with tangible upside.

10. Jake Gardiner and Trevor Smith connected on the winning goal in overtime tonight to avoid a potentially heartbreaking come-from-behind loss to the Stars. True to form, the Leafs allowed a boat load of shots and came out ahead.

Tonight was a step in the right direction for Toronto. Given their current personnel, they had a significant number of scoring chances. The goalies at both ends of the ice were fantastic tonight, with Bernier edging out Lehtonen for the win on the back of a 48 save performance.

SCORING SUMMARY   
1ST PERIOD
NONE
2ND PERIOD
0:58:00TORNazem Kadri (8) Wrist shot - ASST: James van Riemsdyk (10), Phil Kessel (11)1 - 0 TOR
3RD PERIOD
1:52:00DALErik Cole (4) Tip-in - ASST: Shawn Horcoff (6), Valeri Nichushkin (8)1 - 1 Tie
6:58:00TOR PPG - Nazem Kadri (9) Tip-in - ASST: Cody Franson (14), Phil Kessel (12)2 - 1 TOR
17:14:00DAL PPG - Shawn Horcoff (3) Tip-in - ASST: Kevin Connauton (1), Sergei Gonchar (5)2 - 2 Tie
OT PERIOD
4:18:00TORTrevor Smith (4) Wrist shot - ASST: Jake Gardiner (7), Dion Phaneuf (9)3 - 2 TOR
#POSPLAYERGPGAP+/-PIMPPSHGWSS%  
81RPHIL KESSEL2714102451540310713.1
21LJAMES VAN RIEMSDYK25128205244107715.6
12LMASON RAYMOND279918683036613.6
43CNAZEM KADRI2471017-3372013917.9
19LJOFFREY LUPUL228715-6182006811.8
4DCODY FRANSON2601313-410000370
3DDION PHANEUF2728101228000395.1
63CDAVE BOLLAND1564104181122722.2
42CTYLER BOZAK154610622101723.5
44DMORGAN RIELLY21088-86000310
15DPAUL RANGER25167224010283.6
23CTREVOR SMITH16347000011520
51DJAKE GARDINER2606628000330
71RDAVID CLARKSON17235-330100365.6
41LNIKOLAI KULEMIN15235040011216.7
11CJAY MCCLEMENT26022012000190
40RTROY BODIE90220500070
32LJOSH LEIVO711200000425
2DMARK FRASER12011-12700020
36DCARL GUNNARSSON27011414000140
37RCARTER ASHTON15011212000110
24CPETER HOLLAND510114000714.3
46LDAVID BROLL50111500030
22CJERRED SMITHSON12000-3400010
28RCOLTON ORR25000-27300060
38LFRAZER MCLAREN12000-14000030
59LJAMIE DEVANE2000-1000010
56LSPENCER ABBOTT1000-2000020.0GOALIES
#GOALIEGPIGSMINGAAWLOTSOSAGASV%GAPIM
45JONATHAN BERNIER181510092.448721575410.929000
34JAMES REIMER12126272.586311392270.931000

 

347 comments
Great Dane
Great Dane

This is just summary for the comments/own observation on Carlyle coaching lately:



Clarkson cannot get going and doesn't seem to fit into the Carlyle system.

Gardiner is used like a revolving door by Carlyle.

Stubbornly sticks with some formation that is obviously not working.

Will not use new players like Holland or players recalled from the Marlies as D'Amigo. 


Defense is getting worse and solely depended on 2 or 3 players (phaneuf, gunnar and from time to time Gardiner).


Will only roll 3 lines.


Continue to dress McLaren


Quality shot or not - 50 shots against game after game is not OK when only taking 25.


Plays Bozak when healthy an insane amount of time with very little return.

A number of Marlies would probably be better on the defense but they don't get a chance.


Makes very questionable game decision on which lines to ice (like against the Sharks).


Has made a number of strange line decisions during games.



My conclusion: It doesn't look like Carlyle fit this team - or am I completely off!!!!!!!!!!!


ProfessorRance
ProfessorRance

I think we should let Bernier run with the net here. Looked much more comfortable than Reimer has the last few games.

gjdevlin
gjdevlin

A win is a win but giving up a whopping 50 shots? How long can this trend continue? Bernier admitted to being tired. The system may have worked for the Ducks but the Ducks also led in fighting majors the year they won the cup - this team - the Leafs - are not really assembled for fighting so demoralizing the opposing team with intimidation and fighting isn't going to work.


No matter who we trade for or bring in - they have to play Randy's system - keep the shooters outside and collaspe the offense thus opening up space at the back of our blue line for the opposing team to kick in their cycling of the puck leaving us running around and gasping.


Just not a fan of how Carlye is implementing this system...and he doesn't want to change it. Problem is that maybe Gardiner doesn't want his system so we have to trade Gardiner and get a player that Randy wants for HIS system? I know Gardiner has some growing pains but what if the trend continues after we trade Gardiner and we continue to tank..then Carlye is fired. We're back to square one in the prospect development.


Carlye is a stubborn old coot.

MO
MO

No Game in 6?

dave
dave

notice TJ Brennan and Spencer Abbott putting up points like crazy for marlies, and they're not good enough to contribute to leafs?   feedback?  are they not first line players at nhl level yet i am guessing?

DARF24
DARF24

was that edm-col game a shit show? look at the penalties

GreekGod
GreekGod

How you guy feel about 3 scoring lines and using our fourth line as our shut down line? 


JVR - Bozak - Kessel

Lupul - Bolland - Clarkson

Raymond - Kadri - Leivo

? - McClement - ?   <--------- Shut down line

Wilbur
Wilbur

Good night all. Nicer sleep tonight with a win :)

Luke_R
Luke_R

I also question why Hollad has played so few minutes... looked solid everytime Ive seen him plays (the few times he actually is deployed lol)

Wilbur
Wilbur

If this team gets healthy then…


Bozak

Bolland

Kadri

McClement

Smith

Holland


…is some nice depth at centre.

deedrag
deedrag

I hope Bollands' injury doesn't affect him much in the future. It'd be a real bummer if he can only play at less than 85% of what he was capable of before it. I wonder how much Stamkos' injury will affect him also in the future.

Bring the Cup Home
Bring the Cup Home

okay, so in theory....how do we get a number one center?


if you believe in magic, the cap goes up way more than expected and we sign joe thornton this summer to 3 years at $7 mill per year. 

Wilbur
Wilbur

Just watched the Smith overtime winner again. Great celebration by the kid. Loved the look on his face. He's a beaut!

Bring the Cup Home
Bring the Cup Home

i hope they get through december with a .500 record for the month.  if they could somehow pull that off then start to get healthy and stay relatively healthy they'd be looking okay.

Luke_R
Luke_R

Gotta say, didnt think the game was that bad like some do... definitly not perfect but I thought it was an honest hockey game with two teams competing hard... sort of the same level these two teams are no?

And my god, how bad were Ranger, Fraser and Clarkson...

The two defense I understand but what in the hell is going on with Clarkson.... surely he isnt this bad... other teams offered him over 5 M too right?

Alec Brownscombe
Alec Brownscombe moderator

All the complaints done - Man I would love to see this team with Kadri, Bozak and Bolland in the lineup. 

peterbleafs
peterbleafs

Didnt watch a second of the game in my own effort to change the teams fortunes.  My lady however kept messaging me updates which caused the tying goal...but we won.  Now I can watch the game in six.

GreekGod
GreekGod

loved watching the Dallas goalie look at the ref after the second Kadri goal... hoping he would call JVR for interference for not even touching him. Fuck you dallas

jcg_4
jcg_4

I must be in the minority, I really enjoyed the game. They were attacking more in 5 man units spent alot more time cycling in the O zone, there was passion and compete. Dallas played well and pressed hard to tie up the game but in the end we persevered. I was surprised when they started talking about the shots on goal...the play didn't seem that lop sided.

Wilbur
Wilbur

I wonder if too many of us, myself included, are expecting too much of Jake Gardiner both now and long-term. I think Rielly is going to be a horse, a real thoroughbred like Dion or Sundin as a centre. I think Jake will be a really good player. What if ultimately he tops out at what Kaberle was in his prime years, would that be so bad? Jake still has some development to do in both his defensive and offensive game. I just wonder if too many of us are expecting or hoping for him to be a stud when maybe he'll top out somewhere south of that.

Great Dane
Great Dane

Agree way too stubborn to make it work. He gets one of the PKs from the Marlies and doesn't even try on the PK.


How stupid is that

Great Dane
Great Dane

Kessel, JVR, Phaneuf and Reilly - then just about any player else plus 1st round pick

loomx
loomx

@-Keon- Kadri/Rielly+Lupul+1st. Knowing Snow, that would probably work. Any other GM and Gauthier would be included as well.

Black_Hawk
Black_Hawk

@-Keon- last year was there only good year so im sure he is use to it. Also Moulson was a FA so im sure he knew there was a chance he would leave. 

Alec Brownscombe
Alec Brownscombe moderator

@-Keon- Amazing goal call by the Panthers announcer.


"He skates like maize, he shoots like Hayes"

Cameron19
Cameron19

@Bring the Cup Home San Jose can afford to resign him at that price though. They aren't going to be cap strapped at all. 

djamon
djamon

@Bring the Cup Home I actually wouldn't mind that too much, but he's never coming here. He loves life in anonymity.

djamon
djamon

@Wilbur Yeah...and I didn't know he basically picked that puck out of the air. Hell of a play.

Luke_R
Luke_R

Clarkson's looked slow, weak, not physical, no offense, no defensive wiz..... just a complete floater ugh

GreekGod
GreekGod

@Bon Scott was a Leaf fan

Think the refs were getting as much calls in as they could prior to the deal Rogers signed with the NHL. Perhaps we get more lovin from the refs now... like Boston

djamon
djamon

@Wilbur I agree. If he were to reach Kaberle's level we should be ecstatic. He's not going to be a Scott Niedermayer I don't think.

Bring the Cup Home
Bring the Cup Home

agree it's farfetched.  but it's the most realistic scenario i could think of.

wendelsfist
wendelsfist

@lukethenuke Not sure this is accurate.  What player was on the ice during the OT winning goal and covered by two Dallas players leaving Smith wide open?

GreekGod
GreekGod

@lukethenuke

Even Sid had bad games... think we all need to relax. It's not a secret this team has been plagued with injuries and suspensions so far this season. 

Wilbur
Wilbur

@djamon @Wilbur I think that's what I'm getting at. Would it be nice if he was a true #2 Dman, sure. Would I be happy if he was an honest to goodness #3, you bet. This new NHL requires players with the skills he has. At the same time, in a cap world, if you had 4 #1s or #2s you couldn't keep them all anyway. Dion, Gardiner and Rielly as 3 of your top 4 a year+ from now would be alright in my books.

Wilbur
Wilbur

@jcg_4 He's so fucking slow. Unable to skate the puck out of trouble when need be. He also gets that "duh, which way did he go" look on his face at some point every game. Wait until he finishes the year and has an average year at best and wants 4 years and 16 million.

jcg_4
jcg_4

Franson missed the entire training camp and last year he had Frasor watching his back. This year he is spending more time babysitting the young guys; I don't think he's ready for that. He's got to get back to taking care of his own game. I didn't like him under Wilson but I see progress under Carlyle...in my opinion he will be a good one.

Bring the Cup Home
Bring the Cup Home

Franson could come back.  Where he was at the end of last year was pretty nice.

GreekGod
GreekGod

@Bring the Cup Home

Franson needs more then a little to develop as of right now. Dude looks like he took 2 steps back. Fucking love Gardiner though. Kid is slowly finding his jam again...

Wilbur
Wilbur

@Bring the Cup Home I honestly don't believe Franson will be with us when we are contending. I would not be surprised if he were traded within the next 12 months or so. If he's with us I see him on the 3rd pairing.


Gardiner/Phaneuf

Rielly/????

Gunnar/Franson or ????

Bring the Cup Home
Bring the Cup Home

4 years down the road they could be two $7 million guys and then two $5.0 million guys.
 

Bring the Cup Home
Bring the Cup Home

Rielly - Phaneuf

Gardiner - Franson


If Gardiner and Franson each developed a little more and Rielly becomes the allstar he could, that top 4 is pretty nuts. 

Bring the Cup Home
Bring the Cup Home

totally happy with that.  might even be for the best.  if gardiner got too good we couldn't afford to keep him so having him as a #3/4 guy could be perfect. 

Bring the Cup Home
Bring the Cup Home

I do think Jake has the chance to top out less than we may expect.  and i agree that rielly is going to top out at a crazy nice height.