Game Day Notes: Game #49, Sabres @ Leafs

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TORONTO, ON- SEPTEMBER 22 - Toronto Maple Leafs left wing James van Riemsdyk would get a goal tender interference penalty for running over Buffalo Sabres goalie Ryan Miller as Buffalo Sabres defenseman Chad Ruhwedel looks on in the third period as the Toronto Maple Leafs beat the Buffalo Sabres 5-3 in preseason action at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto, September 22, 2013. Steve Russell/Toronto Star

The Leafs look to hold onto their reclaimed playoff spot by turning a pair of wins into a winning streak against the League’s worst team, but must do so in a back-to-back situation while a chunk of their roster battles the flu bug.

– The Maple Leafs are 4-5-0 in the second game of a back to back. The Sabres also played last night, losing 4-3 to the Flyers.

– The Leafs returned to a playoff spot with their second straight win last night, but the hold is tenuous: They’re at 51 points through 48 games while the Wings have 50 in 46 and the Sens 50 in 47.

– The Sabres are averaging a hilarious 1.64 goals per game. The last team to finish below 2 per game on average was the Lightning in 1997-98 with a 1.84 GF/G. This is historically bad stuff and it’s looking like the Sabres will go down in the record books as we’re now at the 45-game mark in their season and they’ve actually trended downward since the Leafs last met them on December 27 (down from 1.68/game).

– Amazingly, the Sabres are averaging 1.64 goals against per game overall and yet they have 11 in 4 games against the Leafs (2.75/game). The Leafs have taken 5 of 8 points from the Sabres, and same goes of the Sabres from the Leafs. This is the last of five meetings on the season and it will determine who takes the season series. 7/10 points seems like a minimum requirement in five games versus the Sabres, so hopefully the Leafs can make that happen tonight.

– Two regulation-overtime wins in a row (pun intended), could it be? The Leafs haven’t accomplished that feat in nearly two months (November 16-19 vs. the Sabres and Islanders, who have a combined 31-50-8 record).

– Dave Farrish decided to move Jake Gardiner onto powerplay unit 1 in the place of Franson last night because Franson is one of the Leafs feeling the effects of the flu and wasn’t playing at 100%. It added a nice right-side halfwall threat when the opponent double teamed Kessel on the left halfwall, which Phil took advantage of brilliantly with a one-touch rocket-propelled cross-ice pass to Gardiner for Jake’s goal last night. It’s hard to argue with the results when the Leafs have been near the top of the league in powerplay percentage all season, but I’ve also always liked the idea of a puck rusher/mover accompanying a trigger man, which is what the Phaneuf-Gardiner/Rielly-Franson pairs accomplish.

– Tyler Bozak played a whopping 24 minutes last night, and who could argue? Besides the production (2g, 1a), that was a key play by Bozak last night to tie up a stick to the side of the net in the final seconds as the loose puck bounced around the crease.

– Bozak has now put up 79% of last season’s production in half the number of games. Bozie has been johnny on the spot, shooting 28%. Enjoy it while it lasts.

– Only 5 of Bozak’s 22 points have come on the powerplay this season. During his eight game point streak before it was snapped vs. Washington, Bozak had 11 points, 10 of which were at evens. The Leafs are bottom 10 in even strength goals per game, so this is vital stuff Bozak has been providing.

– Peter Holland broke 10 minutes last night in his first game back, which was nice to see. Carlyle has to stay creative in how he manages the minutes so as to ensure Holland’s numbers stay north of 9 or 10 minutes. .

– James Reimer will start for the Leafs in just his third start in three weeks. He is 6-2-2 against the Sabres lifetime with a .903 save percentage.

– Randy Carlyle said after the game that the flu bug has bitten seven Maple Leaf players so far. We’ll have to see if it affects the lineup again tonight. We won’t have much information until right before game time with it being a back to back situation.

  • Airfreshener

    Defoe sends Toronto season ticket sales skyrocketing to 92 per cent after arrival from Spurs
    Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sport/football/article-2539697/Jermain-Defoe-sends-Toronto-season-ticket-sales-skyrocketing.html#ixzz2qTrZKfvV

  • deedrag

    RC needs to make sure he has someone on each line that makes the other players, have to keep their head up. Not a goon but guys that can lay good hits without getting pinched. It’s tough to cover your assignment when you got to worry about getting labelled, with a devastating hit. That’s what makes you tough to play against.

  • deedrag

    Thx for the notes Alec. I tried to do it on the comment above but it’s not working right for some reason?

  • deedrag

    Bruffins-Keon- Looked like they were playing hot potato.

  • deedrag

    Bruffinsdeedrag-Keon- LOL.

  • sniperstar

    -Keon- It was basically a shot. Was impressed how easily Gards controlled it.

  • dlb eh

    you’re right about Bozak, Alec.  he’s hot right now but is likely to cool off.  will that mean he’s a shitty centre again, even if Kessel and JVR are getting their points?  – question not meant to be pointed

  • deedrag

    ROFL. My wife says MLSE needs to make a Leafs fans rehab center, for our Leafs addiction.

  • Rthiffault

    two ROWs in a row! two ROWs in a row!! LETS GOOOO!!!!

  • vinoa

    dlb eh It might just mean he goes back to getting the 2nd assists on that line instead of goals. Franson’s been mostly picking up those kind of points on the PP. Hope the new top PP unit is there to stay.

  • jcg_4

    dlb ehmaybe Bozak learned a thing or 2 about positioning during his time watching while on rehab

  • Airfreshener

    Bruffins I like it.

  • Denied

    AirfreshenerBruffins Yes Please, get Raymond off that second powerplay he just looks lost a lot of the time

  • mr_hanie

    The 6 d-men that are being used now, seem the strongest all season with Gardiner/Rielly as the second pairing.

  • Jmessih

    Airfreshener That is actually really good to hear. TFC should have a good team this year, if everyone is healthy they should be a playoff team.

  • ConnorCrisp

    Gleason really filled a need

  • mlclearwater

    The playoff race is tighter than Selena Gomez’s vagina. We need to be the lowly sabres tonight and start building some momentum.  GLG

  • Jmessih

    Bruffins I’d like to see this once 

                       JVR – Clarkson a two man net front presence 
    Kessel on the left half boards, with Lups on the right and 
    Dion or Franson the lone dman on the point. 

    That gives you a second unit of, Kadri, Bozak and Raymond with a choice of 3 dman, run who is hot.

  • MaxwellHowe

    Christ , the way he threw the puck across the blue line when the Leafs had that late powerplay gave me fits, I’m sure Carlyle must have been moments from a heart attack

  • mlclearwater

    Here’s hoping we don’t hang big game James out to dry tonight. Starting to feel sorry for the guy

  • Burtonboy

    Loiselle on the fan this morning.

    http://www.sportsnet.ca/590/on-demand/

  • MaxwellHowe

    Its all a matter of peaking at the right time.  Maybe the dark times have passed.  Steady improvement and winning from here on

  • MaxwellHowe

    yup

  • MaxwellHowe

    yup, he did it twice in a row

  • MaxwellHowe

    Raymond has no business being on this team when the games get more intense and meaningful.  There are treams that need offence.  Dump him now before more people around the league realize he is soft as tits

  • mr_hanie

    As long as Leafs don’t get hemmed in their own zone for long periods of time, I think they can score enough on offense to win games. Its just clearing the puck out of their own damn zone.

  • Mind Bomb

    MaxwellHowe Its a Matter of Coaching, RC adjusted last night, playing a more balanced 3 line attack,, and he moved Kes around to avoid Chara, was a nice bit of coaching last night

  • wendelsway1

    Good Game Day Morning Felllas……a great day to be a Leafer!…….Frank you very much Boston….dirty SOB’s   the good guys won in regulation last night……….GO LEAFS GO!!!!

  • Burtonboy

    wendelsway1 Fuck these guy eh fellas

  • wendelsfist

    mr_hanie Hasn’t being stuck in their own zone always been the problem with leafs.

  • Jmessih

    https://twitter.com/MapleLeafs https://twitter.com/MapleLeafs/status/423484970854653952
    The https://twitter.com/search?q=%23TMLtalk&src=hash Game Day Skate is now LIVE right here http://t.co/mpjOiDYtTi & on https://twitter.com/Leafs_TV

  • Airfreshener

    This is going to be a crazy next couple months.

  • mr_hanie

    wendelsfistmr_hanieThe main cause of high shot totals, like we were an expansion team….really bugged the hell out of me.

  • Jmessih

    Think Bernier gets a start tonight? Remier fighting the flue a little so that might come into consideration. I think it will be Reimer, give Bernier the night off.

  • Burtonboy

    Jmessih Without the players lol

  • vinoa

    Jmessih How weak is Reimer? Its been 3 days already.

  • MaxwellHowe

    Bernier needs a night off

  • Jmessih

    vinoa Jmessih Backed up yesterday and was on the ice so should be fine, but we have no idea when he caught it.

  • Great Dane

    I just rewatched the Boston game and it seems to me that when the Leafs a agressive on the forecheck they do much better.

    The moment they give up the blue line and start playing the swam/collapse system they are pinned down in their own zone.

  • wendelsfist

    Great Dane The swarms seems what my pee wee coach told us not to do.

  • vinoa

    If Carlyle manages to change the lineup enough to get us winning again but we miss the playoffs, does Carlyle get fired for waiting too long to make his roster changes?

  • Jmessih

    Bolland and Smith the only guys on the ice, Bolland already off. I didn’t see how he skated. Smith looked tired quickly, but I don’t know how long he was out before I started watching.

    BTW – Where does Smith fit in this line up?? I think he should be sent down. But he was a fav of RC’s (we all know how important that is) and he did have good chemistry with Clarkson so maybe a 3rd line of; 
    Kulemin – Smith – Clarkson 
    and Holland gets sent down.
    I’d prefer to keep Holland, and send down Smith but I believe maybe the other way around will be more likely, the one thing for sure will be whoever gets sent down will be a MASSIVE boost for the Marlies. Remember Smith is their captain and we have had him like all year.

  • wendelsfist

    Burtonboy Always good to listen to these guys.  They seem to have such a better handle on the team compared to what I heard from Dreger

  • Jmessih

    Murph2417 Burtonboy Jmessih I can’t keep my eyes off. I’d listening to it on the background like a radio show. Just hoping for updates, or that one of the guys come back out for some laps.

  • Jmessih

    Murph2417 Jmessih Kuli?

  • vinoa

    Murph2417 vinoa Sad how standards have changed in a decade. I remember Quinn getting fired when they finished 9th. Now we’re grateful to a guy for getting us into the playoffs in a shortened season.

  • MaxwellHowe

    Does Smith need to pass thru waivers?

  • Jmessih

    MaxwellHowe Oh shit, maybe, I think he has climbed over a certain number of games now, so maybe he does.

  • mcloki

    vinoa no.

  • mcloki

    wendelsfist Great Dane It’s because these are NHL players they’re playing against and not pee wees. These guys got skill.