A new look line up produced better results, as the Toronto Maple Leafs topped the Boston Bruins 4-3 Tuesday night. The Leafs were led by the offensive dynamism of Tyler Bozak who scored 2 game-tying goals in the first period and added an assist on the eventual game winner. Phil Kessel recorded 3 assists, and now has 7 points in his last three games. It was Bozak’s 7th career 2-goal game… which is actually kind of an impressive stat for him. Equally impressive was the goaltending of Jonathan Bernier, who made 38 saves in his 9th start in the past 10 games.
– Sloppy and rambunctious play highlighted the opening minutes of an incredibly busy first period. The Leafs and Bruins traded scoring chances, notably with Bernier stoning Jarome Iginla on a breakaway. After Bernier kicked out a fat rebound, Brad “and all the space in the world” Marchand scored to give the Bruins a 1 – 0 lead 3:38 in. The Leafs. Lupul lost his race to the puck on the half wall after Phaneuf rang the puck around, starting that play off.
– Two minutes later, the Leafs break even off another rebound. After winning the offensive zone face off, Tyler Bozak snuck through to the crease and pounced on Carl Gunnarsson’s rebound to knot the game 1-1. Gunnarsson and Kessel got the assists on the Bozak goal.
– With 9:12 left in the first, Patrice Bergeron tasks the puck behind Bernier’s left post – pivots – and backhands the puck between the wickets to reclaim the Bruins’ lead 2 – 1. Brad Marchand picked up his second point of the period on the broken play. But similarly to the game’s first goal, the Leafs inability to control rebounds and limit the Bruins’ second chances proved costly.
– Mere moments later, Carl Soderberg takes a bad penalty, to give the Leafs their first PP opportunity. Bozak deflects the Kessel pass over to van Riemsdyk, who turns and passes back to Bozak, who buries it into the wide open net to tie the game 2 – 2. The two goals give Bozak 10 points in his last 8 games since returning from injury. While much maligned for his offseason extension, he’s been great for the Leafs of late, and was instrumental to keeping the boys in the game early. He also has a third chance in the last 30 seconds of the period, nearly recording a hat trick in 20 minutes. The rest of the Leafs combined for 4 shots.
– Heading into the second having scored two goals on seven shots, it would have been terrific for the Leafs to try to take the game to the Bruins. So of course Bernier was brilliant mere seconds into the second frame, having to make a key toe save, and again before the first minute was out on a point blank chance in the paint. As the sloppy play above would suggest, the Leafs took a penalty shortly thereafter, and the Bruins couldn’t convert on a glorious chance.
– Jake Gardiner earned a battlefield promotion to the top power play unit in the second period, and made good on it with 12:51 left in second period. Nearing the end of an otherwise harmless-looking power play, Dion Phaneuf corralled the puck and fed the puck down to Kessel, who threaded a beautiful pass from the left wing half boards to Jake Gardiner at the top of the right circle. Gardiner waited and then wristed one that eluded Rask to give the Leafs their first lead of the game.
– One of the distressing things about the Leafs once they took the lead in the second was how much the game opened up thereafter. There were odd-man chances both ways, and Carl Gunnarsson laid down for a huge pass block on a late 2 on 1. As in the first, the Leafs were hemmed in their own zone and nearly gave up a goal in the last 10 seconds of the period.
– Tyler Bozak, trying to earn 4.2 million dollars in one night, records his 3rd point of the night feeding James van Riemsdyk, who makes it 4 – 2 Maple Leafs. Bozak passed off to van Riemsdyk who was streaking down the right wing in the bruins zone. The Dutchman stopped at the top of the circle and threaded a shot to the top of the net… with a deflection from a helpful Bruins’ stick. The goal was van Riemsdyk’s 18th of the season, matching last year’s totals. Joffrey Lupul found the score sheet, getting a secondary assist on the tally.
– Kind of odd moment. In a quick sequence on the Leafs fourth power play, Dion Phaneuf wired a shot into Patrice Bergeron’s jaw. He got off the ice, got looked at by a trainer, and then was ready to continue his endless quest to eliminate every woman named Sarah Connors penalty. Seriously, do you need Wolfsbane or Hellfire to stop that guy?
– Moments after, Carl Gunnarsson heard Milan Lucic’s footsteps and flipped the puck over the glass in the Leafs zone. In a play so unintentional and marginal that even the Bruins play-by-play guys thought it was undeserved, Gunnarsson of course receives the delay of game penalty.
– After the penalty expired, Gardiner made an ill-advised reverse pass behind the net instead of turning the puck up ice. Dan Paille drew Gunnarsson down to him and passed off to Greg Campbell, who backhanded one up and over Bernier’s glove to cut the Leafs lead to 4-3 with 10:25 to go. We’ve seen this episode before, haven’t we?
– Smelling blood in the water, the Bruins leapt to the attack and started exerting its will over the Maple Leafs, even when shorthanded. The rest of the period was a tense game of inches that would have left Carlyle bald if nature hadn’t already taken care of that for him. But history didn’t repeat itself, and the Leafs got a much needed 4 – 3 victory. Two huge shot blocks by Tim Gleason in the waning moments.
– Minutes for the centermen with the new lines: 23:56 for Bozak, 13:00 for Kadri, 11:51 for McClement, 10:26 for Holland. Better.
The Special Teams Revue
– The power play was dominant tonight. Bozak’s second and Gardiner’s were both scored with the man advantage, that seemed to be finding wide open cross-ice seams in the Bruins shorthanded unit. The Leafs had a third power play chance in the second period, and while unsuccessful, the Bruins were lucky to have killed it off. The unit looked much more confident, and chased down pucks with a rarely-seen tenacity.
– On the PK side, the club was both good and lucky. Good in that Bernier made the saves he needed to (including this ten beller), McClement and Raymond intercepted passes and just got them out of the zone. Lucky in that the Leafs benefited from a beleaguered Bruins power play that had gone 0-15 in their last six games. The Bruins didn’t score on an open cage on the first PK, and couldn’t capitalize on a couple good chances on the second.
Tonight’s game was good medicine for Leafs fan, despite the cardiac finish. The collapse of May 2013; and the years of incompetence prior, has made the Leafs and Bruins matchups quite the tragicomic story.
But thankfully narratives only permeate the sport and are not deterministic. In lower stakes, the Leafs walked out of Boston with a win after coming back from behind and seeing a multiple goal lead evaporate. More importantly, it was one critically important win against a conference elite in regulation. I mentioned a few days ago the basic math ahead of the Leafs in the chase for a playoff spot:
Leafs have 35 games remaining. They have 49 pts. 8th place cut off in the east often ~90 Pts.
— Michael Stephens (@MLHS_Mike) January 13, 2014
Means the leafs need to get about 41 of the remaining 70 points left. That's a .585 points percentage. Tall order to say the least.
— Michael Stephens (@MLHS_Mike) January 13, 2014
Well, now it’s 39 points in 34 games. That’s still daunting. One thing remains clear: the Leafs can play with the Bruins any given night. There seems to be a great little rivalry getting renewed in Beantown. A demain, Leafs fans.
Franson goes nowhere. The only way Franson is gone is if his contract demands are super unrealistic and in a cap going up era. That would have to be pretty unrealistic.
The reason Franny was off the PP was that he said he wanted off to Carlyle. Maybe he was sick.
This speculation is worse than Shannon rumours.
Realistically, the only defense I feel positive about returning next year are Phaneuf, Reilly and Gleason....I can't say who is going but of Franson, Gardiner, Ranger, Gunnerson, Fraser and whoever, I would think only one of the bunch will be back.
http://mapleleafshotstove.com/2014/01/15/game-day-notes-sabres-leafs/ New thread up boys.
Clarkson picked it up a notch too, i thought his line with Holland and Kulemin established our cycle game for us that helped set the tone for the game. Very nice line.
And McLaren actually danced with someone last night, nice to see. Played a whopping 2 mins
What a beaut of a morning. Leafs win, haters with dirt in their mouths, and Bruins get neutered at home. All is right in the leafs universe. Thx for the recap Mike and look forward to hearing your next Hangout. I really liked Gleason last night, i noticed the Bruins didn't try the usual shit they do with him on. It's like they were surprised. Now if we can get 1 more guy like Gleason or have him rub off on other D, then we can become a contender again. We need more Gleason, Bolland types as back ups for injuries. We got our scoring lines but they only work when they don't feel threaten physically. I agree with you all that we need to upgrade still on centre and defence. I think 2 more players would do it. They have what it takes to get to the playoffs but to do well, they need backups. We don't have the depth yet to sustain a long playoff run. We also need to improve our toughness. They need a better balance on the lines, somewhere between toughness and quickness. Keep the line suggestion coming guys, I think someone at MLSE is reading your comments.
Reilly makes some ridiculous plays at top speed. He is going to be lighting this league up in a couple years.
K so I worked some numbers in regards to what Michael Stephens said about the Leafs needing a .585 winning percentage. As of today the Leafs need to have a .574 winning percentage to hit the 90pts needed for 8th spot. I broke down the 5 teams below them to put it all into perspective.
That being said, the teams under the Leafs are just as shitty as us. So if it is slim for us it is just as slim for them.
I think the defence is made to look weak due to a general lack of support from the forwards. No doubt, there are some boneheaded mistakes, but they rarely get much help.
@Dink Why wouldn't Gards be back? He has been great this season. Sure he has his lapses as most DMan do but he has been awesome so far.
@Dink Thats a heavy reload if only one will be back from that group. I can see Franson and Frazer gone. Hopefully they let Ranger go as a UFA.
@Bruffins Andreas Johnson. He looked good for Sweden in the WJC this year
When you list it like that, and nothing against either of those guys, they will be in the NHL - but it only underlines the lack of depth in the prospect field
@Bruffins I'm really really curious to see what Connor Brown does when he turns pro next fall
@Bruffins Stu captain smart play Percy :)
@Bruffins Granberg, I think he will be a Leaf before season ends (and trades made)
@Murph2417 We were all drunk :)
@mlclearwater If he played with Kessel he would be a totally different player.
would free up Kessel more too is my thought.
@mlclearwater Holland came close to scoring too. that line might be our sleeper cell.
@deedrag nice to see him(someone) stand up to Lucic
@deedrag It is bizarre how many people have different opinions of the leafs. My friend who usually hates Boston wants the team to lose. And he wants the team to tank by trading away Phaneuf, Kessel and firing Carlyle. And then play and all facepuncher line. I was like forget it, I'm going to drink another beer.
@deedrag let's not get carried away....lol
they looked better, but they couldn't look any worse
@mlclearwater I love how fast he can pinch down in the offensive zone boards to keep a cycle alive
@mlclearwater I was wondering why he seemed to have eased off the last couple of games . Didn't quite seem himself . Seems he was the one who bought the flu into the room so he may have been playing on fumes if he was sick.
@ShotgunCharlie please, no math
@Dink @mlclearwater He was a gritty asshole last night which is what we need him to be. Got a great hard shot too when he gets it off. When he fanned on the one in the 3rd it wasnt too impressive though
@Dink@deedrag They've won 2 of 21 that I'm predicting. They don't have to be pretty just win them period.
@Dink @ShotgunCharlie Yes maybe you need a coffee first. My point is that all the teams in striking distance have to basically do the same thing as the Leafs. It isn't all that bad a situation
@dlb eh I agree but also gotta say, bozak needs to continue to throw pucks at the net. He becomes too predictable when he doesnt believe in his ability to score. Pass 70% and shoot 30% for that young man, he does too much 95% pass and 5% shoot and it makes it to easy for Defenses to shut us down
@mlclearwater lol true
I try not to overhype our players or team but i really think he is Norris material within 5 years as the Norris is an offensive dman award anyways
@ShotgunCharlie hahaha good one
@Dink @ShotgunCharlie Games in hand is irrelevant when looking at winning percentage to hit 90 points. Anything else Mr. Sunshine?
@ShotgunCharlie games in hand
@Dink @ShotgunCharlie oh well. Makes no difference right now. If the teams below us were any better they wouldnt be below us
@ShotgunCharlie we have 2nd worse goals against in the East....and not by accident.