Game Recap: Game #39, Rangers 2 vs. Leafs 1 (SO)

Game Recap: Game #39, Rangers 2 vs. Leafs 1 (SO)

NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 23: Jonathan Bernier #45 and Peter Holland #24 of the Toronto Maple Leafs dive to block a shot by J.T. Miller #10 of the New York Rangers during the second period at Madison Square Garden on December 23, 2013 in New York City. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

The Leafs are doing their best Mighty Ducks impersonation for the HBO cameras, taking three straight games to shootout. Except these shootouts don’t have Goldberg, knucklepucks, Gunnar Stahl, triple dekes, and shouldn’t decide NHL games.

The Leafs had no business getting a point in this game to begin with. This was another game featuring a full period spent snowed under, and  another stolen point by a Leaf goaltender.

We’re nearly at the half way point of the season and we’re still all too often talking about points as though a bonus despite poor play. That’s a bummer, but it at least  has the Leafs in a playoff position if they can find some consistency and get some bodies back at center in the second half.

First Period


The Leafs were outskating the Rangers to start the game and looked intent on opening the scoring. A good  cycle shift by McClement, Clarkson and Kulemin led to a high sticking penalty and early Leafs PP.

The top line was looking sprightly early, with a beautiful three way passing play narrowly missing off the stick of Kadri.

Mason Raymond picked off a Ranger D at his own blueline for a partial breakaway, drawing a second powerplay for the Leafs. There was some good puck movement on both of the powerplays, but not enough was directed toward the net.

The Rangers caught the Leafs on the counter attack with Rick Nash bearing down on Bernier, but Jake Gardiner closed down the threat. Gardiner also bailed out Cody Franson with a good stick in the slot a few minutes later.

Raymond went on his second breakaway of the period after a gorgeous backhand saucer pass from Holland from blueline to blueline. Raymond got a-less-than-challenging shot off and fell under pressure from the defenceman on his back.

Phil Kessel generated a couple of half chances streaking off the rush on the right wing

This game got even more wide open between the 10 and 5 minute mark of the period. Pretty entertaining, structure free stuff with a lot of high-skill plays from the Leafs in particular. It looks good when it works.

Holland looked quite effective on a shift to shift basis in this period. He was providing an open support option on the breakout and moving the puck really well.

Imagine if this team were to ever have all five of Bozak, Bolland, Kadri, Holland and McClement healthy? Shift McClement to the wing and compose a D’Amigo – Holland – McClement 4th line that can play 10-11 minutes a night. Knowing Carlyle, this is mere fantasy.

2nd period


A few minutes into the second frame, Paul Ranger and Morgan Rielly, hilariously, both join the attack at the same time and run into each other behind the net, leaving Nik Kulemin to scramble as the last man back.

I understand Liles struggled on Saturday, but that pairing was showing too much promise for me to give up on it. You lose none of the risk taking element with Ranger, and you do lose the speed and hockey smarts. You maybe gain a little muscle in the battles. Then again, a few minutes later the Rangers hit the post after Ranger got knocked off balance in a 50/50 battle by the half wall.

Kadri found an opening after a wholesale change by the Ranger forwards opened some space through the netural ice; his shot was deflected into the crowd.

The Rangers hit a post on a seeing eye puck from the point which sent the top line scrambling. A rebound a few seconds later was cleared by Kadri with an attacker nearby and an empty net waiting.

From there, the Leafs got completely snowed under from the 14 minute mark onward. After taking just 7 minor penalties in their previous six games, the Leafs took four in the final nine minutes.

The Rangers outshot the Leafs 22-5, with Bernier the only thing keeping this tied. That and JT Miller missing an empty net. This inability to prevent one bad shift from bleeding into the next five to the point where the team eats 15 shots in 10 minutes is difficult to wrap the head around.

Is it fear, mental fragility? A collapsing system that has the Leafs second to pucks? The inability to dig deep and win battles when the momentum builds against them?

This was early on in the process of the Rangers taking over this game, but the Leafs finally getting out of their own end and Raymond making a stupid pass behind everybody for a turnover at the offensive blueline was enraging.

Paul Ranger was the victim of some shitty luck with 5 minutes to go as he broke his stick on his first pass. Colton Orr took a worthwhile penalty to prevent the man from walking straight in on Bernier.

The Leafs finally got some relief thanks to a Rick Nash goaltender interference penalty. The Leafs briefly went to the powerplay until Lupul picked up a boarding call.

What else could go wrong this period? The Leafs mixed in a too-many-men call and spent the final few seconds on a 5 on 3.

Toronto somehow escaped the period still tied. By somehow, I mean Jonathan Bernier and luck.

3rd period


More big saves by Jonathan Bernier kept the game even as the Leafs killed off the penalty to start the third.

The Leafs first sign of push back came from the Kulemin, McClement and Clarkson line. Kulemin, delayed in getting a shot off, missed a prime chance in front before jamming at a loose puck, hitting the post before it trickled along the goalline and somehow stayed out.

GOAL - So came the goal the Rangers had long deserved. A hard cycle got the Leafs (Raymond, Ranger especially) puck watching with their backs turned to the incoming threat off the bench as JT Miller bombed through the middle lane and picked up a pass from behind the net to put the Rangers up 1-0.

Gardiner and Franson spent a good chunk of a shift going D to D only for their forward outlet to lose the puck and do it all over again.

The Leafs spent another shift having to scramble and regroup on the breakout before finally moving up the ice and getting a big break, as a flip over the glass went for a delay of game penalty.

GOAL – The Leafs didn’t cash in on the actual powerplay, but a few seconds after it ended Clarkson attempted a desperation jam play from behind the net. The ref thankfully let the play go on a little longer before Kadri’s  poke edged the puck over the goal line . The call on the ice of a goal was huge on this one as the refs could’ve claimed the intention was to blow the whistle otherwise.

You’ve got to feel great for Clarkson getting in on a couple of big goals the past few games. Both were sheer-force-of-will kind of plays late on in games. That’s what he’s paid for.


Chaos aplenty.


Can’t complain when he’s the whole reason they earned a point, but Bernier isn’t so hot at the shootout.

The Leafs are now 5-4 in the shootout.

3D. PhaneufD0000040330-5:11:003:39:0027:24:00
4C. FransonD0000025012-5:11:002:33:0023:40:00
11J. McClementC000002320270%0:00:005:02:0018:37:00
12M. RaymondL0000010020-1:04:000:00:0016:18:00
15P. RangerD000-1011011-0:00:002:43:0016:08:00
19J. LupulL000-121210075%5:03:000:04:0020:24:00
21J. van RiemsdykL00000000000%5:35:001:40:0023:39:00
22J. SmithsonC000000000033%0:00:001:29:004:56:00
24P. HollandC000-121000170%0:00:000:00:0015:42:00
28C. OrrR0000203000-0:10:000:00:003:55:00
29J. D'AmigoR0000010100-0:00:002:14:006:48:00
36C. GunnarssonD0000001100-0:00:004:00:0020:40:00
41N. KuleminL00000210100%0:00:002:59:0015:04:00
43N. KadriC101104201129%2:18:000:00:0019:29:00
44M. RiellyD0110020000-1:54:000:00:0016:35:00
51J. GardinerD0001010221-1:54:000:47:0025:33:00
71D. ClarksonR0111003000-1:11:000:00:0015:24:00
81P. KesselC0000040000-5:54:000:00:0021:51:00
45J. Bernier (L)42 - 430.977064:53:00

Review overview
Forwards - 50 %
Defence - 65 %
Goatending - 90 %
Special Teams - 70 %
Alec Brownscombe is the founder of, 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]

Team Energy Management needs to be executed well to get into and go far into the playoffs.  A team loaded with talent may look good on paper, but are oft-injured or can't achieve full potential if they play tired.

Bad decision making and a worsening shots against count as the game wears on can be a sign of low energy.  While breathing hard means good hard work, it should not be to the detriment of decision making; aim for the sweet spot.  It is not by accident that some veteran teams often cause their out of breath opposition to gift wrap goals to them right after they've made a bad line change.

1) One way is to roll four lines.  Stay ahead of the energy curve.  Get the opposition back on their heels where they can make mistakes, not the other way around.  Bad decision making often occurs towards the middle or end of periods and in the latter stages of  the game.  The idea is to have more energy than the opposition for 60+ minutes.  Build the favorable conditions and then time your tactics for best results.

2) Build a relatively higher bank of energy by signaling your mates to initiate an offensive zone line change.  Use two players to cycle the puck deep in their end while the other changes.  The aim is puck possession;  don't always try to score if the shot isn't there and the risk of turning over puck is high.  Have plays where the defense shoots the puck into a corner or behind net where the forward can retrieve it.  Use the location of the player bench versus offensive zone in the periods where this is most advantageous.  Even one or two fresh legs can make the job of pinning them even easier.

3) Go where the puck will be, not where it was.  Otherwise, if the opposition has the jump, make them ineffective.  Try to get them off balance and then take the puck.  An aggressive forecheck in the offensive zone pays dividends.  Teams like the Sharks know this.

4) Hem in the opposition.  Lactic acid build up in their legs will mean they recover much slower than our team and they are more likely to rush their decisions, eventually leading to good things for us.

5) When you manage to make an energy advantage in the offensive zone, don't turn the puck over too early; let nature take effect.  Keep the puck in play to deny the opposition from being saved by the bell for a much needed breather.  In the reverse situation, use TV timeouts to our advantage when possible.

6) The higher the energy imbalance we create, the higher the chance by any of our lines to score against  a tired opposition.  They'll want to scramble off the ice which can open up an odd man rush.  Applying pressure late in the game to a team low on energy can cause their catastrophic breakdown, let's not be victim.  Timed right, full offense mode is more effective after a puck possession offense mode.

7) A good offense is also a good defense.  Keep the opposition 200 feet away from our net.  This team's strength is our offense, use it.  To win, we need more goals than we let in.

8) When our defense is high on energy to support stretch passes, judicious use of scoring off the rush can be very effective as was seen in the series against Boston; however, when low on energy, just remember to use a safer tighter Roman legion like unit breakout of defensive zone.  Avoid being predictable.

9) Monitor energy levels of both our offensive and defensive units against the opposition to avoid weak links that the opposition will look to exploit.  Surreptitiously look over their bench to see when they are ripe to be plundered by a tactic.  Against some teams, the Leafs have good energy at the start of periods to get ahead then using the methods described to stay ahead.  Signal a puck possession play when a change is needed; our offensive units should maintain awareness of our on ice defense unit energy levels and vice versa.

10) If a talented Leafs defense has better wheels and no opposition player is even near, don't force a pass up ice; create a man advantage.  An Orr like rush can pull the defense off our wingers and as they enter no man's land, this opens up the pass.  Play to your strengths.  If they have an aversion to covering you, smile and take advantage by going right in for a shootout opportunity.  Or, hold on to it in their zone for a forward line change and a quick team energy boost.  Time just holding the puck is not necessarily wasted especially if other side couldn't get fresh legs on.  It works better if you notice their defense got caught out too long.  Remember, managing team energy reserves is just as important as scoring goals.


What a shit show here in NB . Hit with 2 blasts of freezing rain and roughly 50,000 people without power. Looking like the 26 th before I get power back at my place so HO HO FUCKIN HO 


Merry Christmas from northern Ontario !!!!!!


Merry Christmas all. Must say, taking a break from watching a few games can be refreshing! I do enjoy reading the aftermath posts as always though! I hope all my southern ontario friends are doing ok after the nasty ice storm. Crazy! Having lived through the Calgary flood last summer and still rebuilding my basement and part of main floor, i can relate to brutal storms and the trail they leave. I hope you guys are doing ok and will get into the holiday spirit. Have some eggnog, loaded with rum and enjoy the holidays!


Id like to see the Leafs go with:

JVR      Kadri     ???

Lupul    Holland   Kessel


Merry Xmas everyone. 

As a Leafs fan I hope Santa brings us a playoff team

As a Canadian - get the lights and power back on for everyone


If anyone's interested in Winter Classic tickets, a friend is selling 4, can't make the game. Just let me know and I can get you in touch. Hotel accommodations may be available too. 


The one thing I like about Bozaks injuries is I dont have to listen to him sniffle every sentence when he speaks. 


@Burtonboy same in pei 3 storms 10 days last 2 days non stop rain freezing rain...santa can skate the bridge from nb pei


Toronto still has 250k people without power ... 72 hours and counting

Leafs rule
Leafs rule

@Jmessihwho wants some ice for this most famous of games lol

A frigid evening in Oakville, ON provided a fitting backdrop for the official launch of the 2014 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic Ice Truck sponsored by York. Toronto Maple Leafs legend Darryl Sittler, a crowd of hockey fans and a scrum of media huddled outside Canlan Oakville Ice Sports on December 10 to get a firsthand look at the one of a kind truck. 

The Ice Truck – which contains a 53-foot, 300-ton capacity Cimco refrigeration unit and rink system – will build and maintain an outdoor NHL-calibre rink at Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor, MI for the Winter Classic game on January 1, 2014 between original six rivals Toronto Maple Leafs and Detroit Red Wings.

The primary function of the world’s largest mobile refrigeration unit inside the Ice Truck is to remove heat from the ice surface and stabilize the temperature. That process involves pumping up to 3000 gallons of glycol coolant through hoses from the truck into custom-made aluminum trays configured on the field in order to keep the ice surface at its ideal temperature of -5.5C (22F).

Once the ice trays and rink boards are put in place, the next step is making the actual ice surface. Using a spray wand with a fine mist, workers spread water as slowly as possibly to ensure an even freeze. (Normal NHL rinks are about 1-1.25 inches thick, but the outdoor rink needs to be up to two inches because of the harsher conditions. Each inch of thickness requires about 10 000 gallons of tap water.)

The ice surface is then whitened using 350 gallons of water-soluble paint, and the lines and logos are painted and placed on the surface, with more ice built on top.

The last step is monitoring the rink: a 24-hour job using the Eye on the Ice system embedded in the ice surface. The high-tech system monitors the ice’s temperature at various points and send alerts to pump more glycol or engage the in-line heating system if the weather drops too much.

The Ice Truck arrived at Michigan Stadium (The Big House) on December 12 and will begin making the ice for the Winter Classic next week.

We know  how to do it all by ourselves


@Jmessih I hope Tucker scores a hat trick for the win so leafs can get their moneys worth! Can't believe he is still getting paid a million bucks a year...


Dec 29th vs hurricanes is what I heard


@ingy56 I wanted Bettman to go out on a limb and say the suspension wasn't nearly enough and double it. 


@Belfour20 Leo will fix half our problems. Clarkson may have to go though. He just falls.


@ConnorCrisp Yeah  it's been a shitshow in the GTA. Luckily our power (Mississauga) was restored the other day. Worst way to spend the holidays. Hope they get it fixed in time for Christmas.


@vinoa @Belfour20 I have never been a Clarkson booster, but he's starting to produce. 

Kulemin/ Clarkson/ McL have been the least of our worries lately.

We have a top line thats not producing. Fix that, we may win a few games.


@DJBrianBurke @TheCanucksnaphook You think if they changed their music that guys like Raymond n Kessel will get tough? Not the music. Gangsta rap and heavy metal couldn't help them lol


@vinoa@Zep2@Belfour20Because Kessel does not want to gel with Kadri, he only wants his lil sleeping buddy Blowzak.  It just appears they do not like each other for whatever reason.  Kadri has been working very hard lately but Kessel has been weakening on both offensive and defensive grit, commitment.


@vinoa @Zep2 @Belfour20 

I just think Phil and JVR need to actually show up and play. Blaming Kadri alone isn't right. As I recall the first line has had similar issues with Bozak on it's line in the past. I think it's just about coming out and performing consistently... and that's where most of our lines fail. 


@Zep2 @vinoa @Belfour20 It's Bozak. Kadri's too similar in terms of playing style. Bozak's the perfect 3rd wheel while Kadri jumps in with JVR and Kessel...often without any results.