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.
|0:58:00||TOR||Nazem Kadri (8) Wrist shot - ASST: James van Riemsdyk (10), Phil Kessel (11)||1 - 0 TOR|
|1:52:00||DAL||Erik Cole (4) Tip-in - ASST: Shawn Horcoff (6), Valeri Nichushkin (8)||1 - 1 Tie|
|6:58:00||TOR||PPG - Nazem Kadri (9) Tip-in - ASST: Cody Franson (14), Phil Kessel (12)||2 - 1 TOR|
|17:14:00||DAL||PPG - Shawn Horcoff (3) Tip-in - ASST: Kevin Connauton (1), Sergei Gonchar (5)||2 - 2 Tie|
|4:18:00||TOR||Trevor Smith (4) Wrist shot - ASST: Jake Gardiner (7), Dion Phaneuf (9)||3 - 2 TOR|
|21||L||JAMES VAN RIEMSDYK||25||12||8||20||5||24||4||1||0||77||15.6|
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!!!!!!!!!!!
I think we should let Bernier run with the net here. Looked much more comfortable than Reimer has the last few games.
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.
looking at ohl stats, the league leader usually ends up just above 100 points by the end of the season. connor brown looks to be on his way there if he can stay healthy. my favorite list was this one:
check out the top 15 on that list. lots of interesting names. all the way to number 15.
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?
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
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)
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.
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.
Just watched the Smith overtime winner again. Great celebration by the kid. Loved the look on his face. He's a beaut!
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.
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?
All the complaints done - Man I would love to see this team with Kadri, Bozak and Bolland in the lineup.
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.
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
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.
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.
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
@-Keon- Kadri/Rielly+Lupul+1st. Knowing Snow, that would probably work. Any other GM and Gauthier would be included as well.
@-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.
@-Keon- Amazing goal call by the Panthers announcer.
"He skates like maize, he shoots like Hayes"
@-Keon- lol hard to picture that
@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.
@Bring the Cup Home I actually wouldn't mind that too much, but he's never coming here. He loves life in anonymity.
@Wilbur Yeah...and I didn't know he basically picked that puck out of the air. Hell of a play.
Clarkson's looked slow, weak, not physical, no offense, no defensive wiz..... just a complete floater ugh
@Alec Brownscombe Amen. Add Lupul for good measure….
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
@CanuckUKinToronto Hope not. Not much point in spending any more assets on a stop gap, IMO.
@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.
@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?
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.
@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.
Let's just give the guy some time. Especially when we can get Bolland and Lupul back to help him.
@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.
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.
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...
@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.
Gunnar/Franson or ????
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.
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 And shouldn't we be happy with that?
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.