Welcome back, Tyler Bozak!
1. The Leafs predictably start the game with some lackadaisical play which allows the Hurricanes to jump out to an early shot advantage of 7-0 after the first ten minutes. Having said that, the shot clock wasn’t totally indicative of the flow of the game. Zone time was even, and the Leafs had a few chances at the net. Kessel notably ripped a heavy wrister just wide, and the team made a few attempts to bring the puck to the net from the corner. Most of Carolina’s shots were weak perimeter wristers, save for one opportunity that saw Staal alone with the puck in front of a sprawled out Bernier. Luckily, the team recovered by the time Staal found the puck.
Also, Bozak looked good to start the game, and you can immediately see how he helps his line. He finishes his checks, and just generally helps them hold onto the puck a little better.
2. After a slashing penalty to Gerbe the Leafs start to go to work. The powerplay is a clinic in puck possession. Lupul gets a chance to go top shelf in front of Ward and just misses the crossbar. There are some neat deflection attempts, cross crease attempts, and a try to bring it to the net from the corner, but nothing will go. The top unit stays on the entire two minutes and then some. Good effort.
3. Shortly after the man advantage ends, the 4th line for the Leafs gets to go to work. D’Amigo and Holland do good work to cycle the puck and create a cross crease opportunity for a Morgan Rielly one timer that just misses. Carlyle goes right back to them after a Kessel shift, and they again create something in the offensive zone before the combination of Ranger and Orr manage to stifle the momentum. Still, even Orr looks more productive next to these two. Their play does beg the question – what would they look like with a Carter Ashton next to them instead of Orr?
4. Bozak’s faceoff prowess leads to a Kessel goal. After a battle at the dot, the puck gets free to Kessel along the goal line and he catches Cam Ward totally off guard with a quick back-handed wrist shot. It’s a bad goal, but Ward makes up for it as the Leafs start to surge in the aftermath. Kessel immediately creates an odd man rush on the next shift, and then gets a breakaway opportunity. Ward shuts the door on Kessel’s five hole bid.
5. The Hurricanes come out strong to start the second period. Or the Leafs come out flat; whichever perspective you prefer. Semin beats Gardiner to the puck in the corner and throws it to an undetected Gerbe in the slot, and he buries it short-side on Bernier.
An interesting in-game story is developing here though, with Gerbe at the center of a lot of after the whistle nonsense. Towards the end of the first period, he got away with a blatant slash after the whistle right in front of the official. Even Millen thought it was pretty bad that it went uncalled, and shortly after he scores a goal. It is crazy how it seemingly always manages to work this way. Getting away with something gives your team a lift, and that was certainly the case with Gerbe here – especially having already been called once for slashing.
6. Another missed call leads to the Hurricanes best opportunity of the period. Kulemin is obviously tripped and the normally dormant Air Canada Center crowd springs to life and lets the officials know, but to no avail. Gardiner trips and the play quickly turns back the other way for an odd man rush that sees Bernier make two outstanding saves that are easily his best of the night.
While the shots in the second period are heavily in Carolina’s favor, they haven’t had much in the way of legitimate scoring chances, whereas Kessel has had some really good looks in front of Cam Ward.
7. The momentum starts to shift back and forth a little bit as the top line gets some chemistry flowing, and Carlyle even throws the 4th line a bone by sending Lupul out in Orr’s stead. Some good chances materialize for the Blue and White before Kessel and J.V.R. work their usual 2-on-1 magic, and Kessel pots his second of the evening, and 20th of the season whilst attempting a cross-ice pass back to J.V.R. Hainsey angrily fires the puck down the ice having put the puck in his own net.
Almost immediately after, the Leafs are back in the Canes’ end buzzing as Jerry D’Amigo leads the rush and starts the cycle. Phaneuf makes a nice pinch that keeps the puck in the zone, and it bounces back to Kulemin who wires it past Ward for his 5th of the season.
8. Penalties make the closing minutes of the second frame very interesting. Ranger tosses Semin to the ice and is going to be going to the box alone, but after the whistle, Semin gets up and gives an unsuspecting Ranger a good shot, which knocks him over. Four on four hockey sees the Hurricanes get the upper hand. Phaneuf has a rough shift that sees him hit from behind, and then fail to clear the zone. Given the climate of the game, an extremely weak hooking call sends the captain to the box. A mistake by Phaneuf no doubt, but these are the calls that are hard to stomach when you’re letting far more dangerous and blatant infractions go. Regardless, the Canes almost immediately capitalize and make it 3-2 with a one-timer in the slot.
Perhaps realizing how bad the Phaneuf call was, Jordan Staal is called for slashing. Phaneuf, out of the box, goes straight to the net and appears determined to get it back. This is an exciting set-up for the PP, and the freshness of it clearly catches Carolina unprepared. It is the hungriest the unit has looked all year, and they create numerous grade A scoring chances to close out the period, but are not rewarded.
NOTE: During this segment of the game, Kadri was really struggling, and had maybe one of his worst shifts as a Leaf.
9. The powerplay isn’t as potent to start the final period, but still looking pretty dangerous and moving the puck well. Shortly after, Kessel is able to break free for yet another breakaway, and is again turned away by Cam Ward. However, the two goal lead is restored by Paul Ranger with a cannon from the point after Clarkson and Kulemin do a great job working the puck down low and in front of the net. They can be a real hand full. Somehow Bozak gets his 3rd assist on this play also – now on pace for 68 points over an 82 game season.
10. A terrible call on Clarkson for goaltender interference sends the Canes back to the powerplay, but the Leafs are looking a lot more confident in this regard now. D’Amigo and Kulemin do a nice job with clearing attempts, and Bozak’s return is surely helping. This effort really gives the impression that perhaps things can get back on track here a little bit.
The game ends with the Leafs just hanging back and trying to defend the lead. There are a couple dangerous shifts, but for the most part they hold back the Canes from gaining any serious momentum. The Clarkson line does a good job getting some offensive zone time shifts, too. Finally, Phaneuf seals the deal with a long rolling shot that ends up in the back of an empty net.
It’s hard not to recognize the impact that Bozak made in this game. Hopefully this will be the start of an upward swing for the Leafs. Onward to the 2014 Winter Classic!
Shot Location Data by Period
|21||J. van Riemsdyk||L||0||1||1||2||0||2||2||0||0||1||-||4:00:00||1:01:00||21:42:00|
|45||J. Bernier||41 - 43||0.953||0||60:00:00|
Ideally this would be my forward line-up:
JVR - Bozak - Kessel
Lupul - Kadri - ?
Clarkson - Bolland - Kulemin
D'Amigo - Holland - Komarov
One of the subtle differences between this years Leafs and last years Leafs has been the physical play of their defenceman when playing in their own end. Last year it was actually kind of fun sometimes watching us in our end because our D men like Dion, Franson, Fraser, and others would just destroy forwards on the wall. There were some games when I saw other teams just give up the puck to avoid the contact after the first period.
This year a lot of players are turning their backs to the play and then if you hit them they face plant to the glass to get calls and it has worked for now.
Down the stretch those calls should dissipate. In the playoffs even more so. Last night I thought we saw a more physical Leaf D. Ranger was a beast...I wonder if he can keep that up? Franson was making guys pay too. And Phaneuf was targeting some of their smallish players like he should while marking Staal very effectively. Last night the Leafs were much better in their own end...it was victory that resembled a team playing the game right IMO. Very encouraging if it can be backed up with more efforts like it.
The Leafs better make the most of the schedule between now and the break because after the break the sched gets very tough through March.
Good Morning Gents.....a great day to be a Leafer!......big two points in regulation.....no complaints here. :)
Of all our players to sign I sure hope we find a way to keep Kulimen. The guy is an animal on the boards as is Clarkson .
@wendelsway1 Morning WW, we WON !
@Yaknowwhat Morning Yak, I look at it more like this, is his line producing, there is always one who has to do the leg work. Like Bozak on the First line, his numbers are not Elite first line numbers, but his line as a whole does well, same with Kulie I think
@Burtonboy When the Leafs don't resign him on July 1st Kulemin will accept an offer from Pittsburgh to go play with his buddy Geno.
If you asked me that a month ago, I would have disagreed. The last little while though, he is playing like a beast.
This team needs a strong bottom six. Kulemin is a great place to start. Depending how cap issues work out, I would love to see a bottom six something like: Kulemin, Clarkson, Bolland, McClement, Komarov, DAmigo, Orr.
Our top six would be something like JvR, Kessel, Lupul, Kadri, Bozak, Holland, Leivo.
I would love to add a legit power forward in there but cant see where that is coming from.
Will be a tough decision. Will he take a pay cut? Because around 3 million for a third liner is not salary cap smart. And the KHL may be interested.
@Burtonboy And when he decides to shoot.. my god what a shot.
@Burtonboy Aye we can find room for Kulie, come playoffs I bet both Kulie and Clarkson are Huge for us
@Airfreshener Morning Bro
@Airfreshener Hello to you too.
@CanuckUKinToronto Think that might have something to do with playing with Ranger ,Fraser and Franson when he was struggling.
@Yaknowwhat He was until he was forced into the NHL at 18 :)
@MaxwellHowe If he continues to play on that shutdown line I'm not sure we could even call it a 3rd line.
@MaxwellHowe Under what Cap Structure Max. A 50 mil cap or an 80 mil cap ? Kulie makes 3 mil now, well 2.8 why do we need to get rid of him again ?
Well we haven't seen either at the NHL level yet. Fraser has been off this year, but he is playing through some things. Based on last years performance I think he has some very strong skills. He didn't take a lot of penalties to put us short. He killed penalties. He had a very under rated first pass.
He just needs to get his knee healthy and his skating back and he will be fine. In my opinion he is the perfect 16-20 minute number six D man. Hard to replace. I think MacWilliam needs more time. Granberg replaces Gunnar IMO when ready, not Fraser.
I think you look at a guy like that who redefined his game last year with a lot of off ice work prior to it. He will bounce back IMO before this year is over. It may not show till Feb or March but I think down the stretch he will be a factor unless Ranger plays every game like last night. Ranger was bombing guys last night...ouch!.
For sure, especially on back to backs. D'Amigo and Holland have shown quality this year and are soft cap hits. Getting Komarov back would really add a dimension of sand paper we need. But all those guys can score a little too. Komarov will be a better scorer second time around.
We would still need some thunder in the line-up, but that could be accomplished with a healthy Fraser in the number 6 spot on D...he clearly has not been in form so far this year due to injuries.
@MaxwellHowe Kulimen seem pretty entrenched living in Toronto . He even spends most of his summers here nowadays. I'm far from certain he wants to return to the KHL
Without getting into the merits of the Clarkson contract, which is certainly debatable, Clarkson did seem to be tabbed as thte second line right winger.
And again, if aKHL team offer Kulimen 4-5 million, it might not matter. Surely the Leafs are thinking about that possibility
@MaxwellHowe 5 mil for Clarkson ,god knows what for Bolland .If your calling that your 3rd line they are gonna be very expensive anyway
@MaxwellHowe You get what you pay for bro. And we have the cap :)
In many ways it may depend on what the Leafs do about Raymond. If Raymond goes elsewhere, as expected, Kulimen probably moves up to 2nd line left wing and gets a $3 million contract
Doubt that will happen. They have brought Morgan along the right way - getting easier bottom pairing minutes and sitting him out the odd game. Not as much sink or swim. Beyond that Schenn was supposed to be a defensive beast with the potential of some offence. Rielly is already skating better than 85 - 90% of the rest of the league, already producing at a reasonable offensive rate and has become quite responsible defensively. 2 very different animals.