Game in 10: Game #35, Penguins 3 vs. Leafs 1

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PITTSBURGH, PA - DECEMBER 16: Chris Conner #23 of the Pittsburgh Penguins celebrates his first period goal against the Toronto Maple Leafs during the game at Consol Energy Center on December 16, 2013 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)

After the first period, this was a 50/50 game that the Leafs didn’t end up on the right end of. Toronto will be ruing some missed scoring chances and blown powerplay opportunities on the plane ride home.

1 – Randy Carlyle started the game with the Holland, Lupul and Raymond line and Phaneuf-Gunnarsson on defence. They simply weren’t ready to start the game, while the Penguins came flying out of the gates with a Vitale, Conner and Sutter combination. The Leafs were a scrambling mess; with Holland laying down in the crease and the wingers collapsed, the Penguins scored off a point shot by Brian Dumoulin that took a deflection off of Chris Conner, making it 1-0 Pittsburgh 39 seconds into the game. Amid a scramble around the net before the goal, Lupul ended up way down by the goalline to the right of the net and was late closing on Dumoulin as a result.

The next shift, Kadri got stick lifted at his own blueline with a ton of time to move the puck. The Leafs just didn’t seem ready from the start, which is disappointing given the Penguins’ thrown-together, undermanned defence may have wilted under some early pressure.

2 – There wasn’t much to report on in the rest of the 1st. A couple of point blank saves by Bernier kept the lead at 1. A good hit by Dion gave up a 2 on 1, before Bodie threw a big hit followed by a good bout with Bortuzzo. The Leafs had the lone powerplay opportunity of the period. The Leafs’ first-unit powerplay D pair (Franson-Dion) again struggled to break and hold the zone. Gadiner and Rielly each skated it in themselves in the second half of the powerplay, but the Lupul line was struggling to get itself set up in the zone.

First period shot locations:

Leafs-Penguins-1stperiod

That isn’t good enough. Sportsnet yammered on about point shots, which is how the Penguins scored their goal, but the grade A chances there are the bigger concern. Bernier bailed the Leafs out a couple of times to keep them in this one after 20.

3 – The Leafs could only muster chip outs to no one into the neutral zone for the first few minutes of the 2nd period, and struggled with their organization on the breakout to start the period.

Five minutes into the period, Nazem Kadri drew a hard-earned powerplay after taking a punch and high stick to the face from Matt Niskanen.

4 – The first PP unit at least got set up this time, but nothing was doing on this PP. That’s until Morgan Rielly hopped over the boards, hit the accelerator, and caught Marc-Andre Fleury sleeping with a high shot short side from the top of the circle after weaving right to left through the Penguin zone. Rielly at full sprint is a sight to behold. Congratulations to Morgan Rielly on his first career NHL goal (his second unofficially).

Rielly, Gardiner and Franson are now on the board, which is a welcome sight as the Leafs goal production from the D has been slow in the first half of the season.

5 – Second period shot locations:Leafs-Penguins-2nd-period

The Leafs did a much better job generating chances in this period. The top line was buzzing, but couldn’t convert; Kessel had a couple of good looks. An amazing stretch pass from Gardiner to Raymond for a breakaway was a prime chance that went unconverted as well.

6 – Amid a tight checking third period, a borderline hit by Robert Bortuzzo on Jerry D’Amigo sent Jerry D to the dressing room. The hit looked worse in real time than it was, I think. As much as I feel for D’Amigo there – he’s been great in his role the past few games – it was more of an unfortunate play than a dirty hit. It was one of those borderline bodychecks where D’Amigo is hunched over reaching forwards while Bertuzzo is 6’4 and standing up a player who is 5’10. Difficult one to assess if the League looks at it.

D’Amigo returned a few minutes later, only to get rocked by Bortuzzo for a second time and return to the dressing room. Looked like a rib or shoulder injury.

7 – After Gardiner iced the puck with six minutes left in the third period, the Penguins got the Crosby line out for an offensive zone faceoff against McClement, JvR, Kulemin, Liles and Gardiner. The Leafs won the draw, but Gardiner’s clear along the boards sent the forwards for a loop as they seemed to think the puck was going to clear the zone. McClement lost Crosby in the slot, which is a cardinal sin. That was the game winner.

8 – Before that goal, Nikolai Kulemin had an empty net and the potential game winner on his stick after a bounce off the end boards fell to him in front. After the goal, Dion Phaneuf beat a defender wide, found McClement in front, and the puck deflected off the crossbar. This game was 50/50.

Third period shot locations:

Leafs-Penguins-3rd-period

9 – Nazem Kadri drew his third penalty of the night with 1:05 remaining; a tripping call on Kunitz. Phaneuf and Franson came over the boards. Not that it was their fault the Leafs didn’t tie it up, but at least one of Gardiner and Rielly needs to be out there. The Leafs had a few half-looks, before Lupul threw a puck at the back of the net and lost a battle behind the goal, with no support down low despite a 6 on 4 advantage. Phaneuf knocked down the clearance attempt with a nice desperation play, but couldn’t get the puck around Brent Sutter, who skated the puck into neutral ice and scored on the empty net.

10 – No time to dwell, as the Leafs are back at it  tomorrow night against the Florida Panthers. The Panthers are no easier of a challenge than the injury and suspension-riddled Penguins; they’ve won five of six and are rested.

Given the Leafs took just one penalty and had five powerplay opportunities – plus the Penguins’ heavily depleted lineup – we were hoping for better.

Leafs-Penguins-Shot-Data

NO.PLAYERPOSGAPTS+/-PIMSHITSBSGVATVAFO%PPTOISHTOITOI
3D. PhaneufD000-2202000-5:23:001:31:0025:42:00
4C. FransonD011-1015100-5:02:000:29:0019:26:00
11J. McClementC000-102110056%0:04:000:56:0017:41:00
12M. RaymondL000-1020000-2:58:000:42:0017:46:00
19J. LupulL000-2011010-3:59:000:00:0016:41:00
21J. van RiemsdykL000-20520110%5:28:000:22:0022:27:00
23T. SmithC000000110050%0:04:000:42:005:56:00
24P. HollandC000-100120038%2:58:000:00:0016:18:00
26J. LilesD000-1012000-0:04:000:00:0014:17:00
29J. D'AmigoR0000021102-0:00:000:29:0013:30:00
36C. GunnarssonD000-1011200-0:03:001:31:0020:33:00
38F. McLarenL0000000000-0:00:000:00:003:12:00
40T. BodieR00001001000-0:00:000:00:003:10:00
41N. KuleminL000-10010000%0:04:000:49:0017:01:00
43N. KadriC000-100500035%5:28:000:00:0020:47:00
44M. RiellyD1010030100-3:07:000:29:0019:04:00
51J. GardinerD000-1231000-3:21:000:00:0021:20:00
81P. KesselC000-1050000-5:28:000:00:0022:13:00
Goalie
NO.PLAYERSAVES - SHOTSSV%PIMTOI
45J. Bernier (L)28 - 300.933058:56:00

Carlyle Post Game:

Game in 6 Highlights:

  • Bon Scott was a Leaf fan

    Meh!!

  • Dangle_My_Berries

    back at it tomorrow

  • Burtonboy

    https://twitter.com/reporterchrishttps://twitter.com/reporterchris/status/412782747883560960
    Carlyle on Rielly/world jrs: “We’re going to have a tough decision here.”

  • Bon Scott was a Leaf fan

    Burtonboy 
    Can he play for the juniors and then come back to play for us afterwards??  I mean, he’d only miss a few games…and I think it would a very good experience for him.

  • wiski

    TheCanucksnaphook Burtonboy Do you want him to keep losing, might be the thinking there.

  • DJBrianBurke

    Agreed, let him try to win the Gold that eluded him last year.

  • Burtonboy

    Bon Scott was a Leaf fan Burtonboy You prefer we play that 2 weeks with Mark Fraser or Paul Ranger ?

  • Bon Scott was a Leaf fan

    TheCanucksnaphook Bon Scott was a Leaf fan Burtonboy 
    I just wanna make sure we give this kid every opportunity to succeed….at every level.

  • PEIleafnation

    open net, post and breakaway, good chances that all needed to be finished

  • DJBrianBurke

    Why not give a shot to a Marlies, there are some candidates.

  • Bon Scott was a Leaf fan

    Burtonboy Bon Scott was a Leaf fan 
    Not that I would prefer to play them….but I would sacrifice it to give Rielly 2 weeks on the world stage, yes.

  • zakimak

    that sucked

  • DJBrianBurke

    1-1 and Kulie misses the a wide open net, you knew that’s all she wrote. Seen it too many times.

  • wiski

    Look at the -2’s in the graph above, those have to be your best players. Off nights for all of them

  • Burtonboy

    The world stage means fuck all to me . I’m more interested in the Leafs winning and taking Rielly off this team to be replaced by Fraser or Ranger is a step backwards

  • Shafty

    Hope D’amigo is okay. One of the only guys playing all out every shift. Just has to learn not to put himself in vulnerable positions…

  • Burtonboy

    https://twitter.com/jonasTSN1050https://twitter.com/jonasTSN1050/status/412785204965945344
    D’Amigo exits Consol Energy Center in a lot of discomfort. Looked to be limping somewhat. Carlyle didn’t offer much of an update.

  • Bon Scott was a Leaf fan

    Burtonboy 
    That’s cool.  Everyone is entitled to their opinions.  I think it would be a fantastic experience (and opportunity) for the kid.  Not that I don’t see your point in that we need Rielly….but I think the long term benefit of him succeeding in the jrs could payoff in spades for us down the line (builds his confidence and gets him into more of a winning environment that he current is).  I mean, it’s 2 weeks.

  • Burtonboy

    Bon Scott was a Leaf fan Burtonboy What if he goes and they lose.? I’m not sure that would be beneficial.  He’s already played one WJC . He’s needed here more IMO

  • Dangle_My_Berries

    Burtonboy Bon Scott was a Leaf fan not to mention that it could throw off the kids timing playing against inferior opposition, when he gets back it would take an adjustment period for him to get back in the flow of the game

  • Bon Scott was a Leaf fan

    Burtonboy Bon Scott was a Leaf fan 
    What does Rielly want (and would it matter?)?
    For me, it mostly boils down to whatever is best for his development.  Glad I’m not the one making the decision.

  • Alec Brownscombe

    5 powerplay opps to their 1. Should’ve won this one.

  • Dangle_My_Berries

    Burtonboy im gonna say separated shoulder

  • wiski

    Bon Scott was a Leaf fan Burtonboy He would probably want to keep getting paid 😉

  • Bon Scott was a Leaf fan

    Dangle_My_Berries Burtonboy Bon Scott was a Leaf fan 
    Ok, you have a point there.  Still though…whatever is best for his development.  If it’s best for him to stay put…stay put.  If it’s best for him to go play…go play.  For me it’s not what’s best for the Leafs overall in this situation…it’s what’s best for Morgan (which could ultimately benefit us in the long run).  You do have a point on the adjustment thing though.

  • Dangle_My_Berries

    isn’t bozak back soon?

  • wiski

    Alec Brownscombe Like PH said they kept rimming it in to MAF for easy clears all night

  • Burtonboy

    Alec Brownscombe Seemed to me they never did recover from that slow start. Like they were trying to find their skating legs all night

  • Burtonboy

    Dangle_My_Berries Earliest is the 21 th

  • Dangle_My_Berries

    Burtonboy Dangle_My_Berries ah true

  • PepTalk

    Burtonboy Dangle_My_Berries Whats his injury?

  • wiski

    Dangle_My_Berries Good to see him skating anyway

  • Burtonboy

    PepTalk Burtonboy Dangle_My_Berries Oblique strain

  • PepTalk

    Burtonboy PepTalk Dangle_My_Berries right! Might be longer than the 21st!

  • Dangle_My_Berries

    wiski Dangle_My_Berries Boland walking around the MCC now too

  • Burtonboy

    Dangle_My_Berries wiski Likely won’t see him till after the Olympics

  • wiski

    https://twitter.com/MapleLeafshttps://twitter.com/MapleLeafs/status/412787666304790528
    GIF Alert: Bernier’s hip check http://t.co/1jpxYDs1Bm https://twitter.com/search?q=%23SEAofBLUE&src=hash https://twitter.com/search?q=%23TMLtalk&src=hash

  • AlbertaMapleLeaf

    Time to start a winning streak against Fla

  • Burtonboy

    PepTalk Burtonboy Dangle_My_Berries He’s skating so thats a good sign . There was some fear of surgery at first

  • Dangle_My_Berries

    anyone else notice that Reims was wearing new pads in that first episode of 24/7, must be the winter classic ones he had put together, only showed for a quick second, the blocker had a distinct old school leafs logo on it

  • Alec Brownscombe

    Dangle_My_Berries Yeah he’s breaking in his winter classic pads.

  • Bon Scott was a Leaf fan

    Dangle_My_Berries 
    Has Carlyle announced who’s starting the winter classic??

  • rustynail

    https://twitter.com/mriles4https://twitter.com/mriles4/status/412789508288286720
    Thanks for all the tweets, means a lot, back at it tomorrow. https://twitter.com/search?q=%23greatfriends&src=hash https://twitter.com/search?q=%23greatfans&src=hash

  • AlbertaMapleLeaf

    Rielly should go to WJ’s bc he would gain great development and gain great confidence. If he is too important to the Leafs, shame on us. If 2 weeks is that critical to our season that is rediculous.

  • Dangle_My_Berries

    Bon Scott was a Leaf fan Dangle_My_Berries ahhh….nope….he barely likes to tell us who’s playing the night of lol

  • rustynail

    I guess Clarkson takes D’Amigo’s spot tomorrow

  • wiski

    Ah fuck and the turds beat St Louis…

  • Bon Scott was a Leaf fan

    rustynail 
    LOL

  • Burtonboy

    rustynail Yeah . Be intersting to see how he plays with Kulie and Jay

  • rustynail

    Burtonboy rustynail he has some big skates to fill