Game Recap: Game #50, Leafs 5 vs. Habs 3

Game Recap: Game #50, Leafs 5 vs. Habs 3

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Nazem Kadri
Photo: Getty Images/NHL.com

The first four game winning streak of the season has quickly erased memories of the lowest point of the Leafs’ season, a four-game losing streak wherein Toronto was outscored 21-7.  A couple of regulation wins over divisional opponents Boston and Montreal needs to be a momentum builder for this team as they attempt to chase down a divisional playoff spot, beginning with a 4-game road swing versus the Coyotes, Avalanche, Stars and Jets.

This was an emotionally-charged rivalry matchup between the Leafs and Habs, with the fires of last season’s line brawl seemingly stoked by the Max Pacrioetty goal celebration in the last meeting between these teams. Not that there needs to be an excuse to get fired up for a Leafs/Habs meeting on a Saturday night.

1st period

– The Leafs seemed to be playing with more of the right kind of “controlled emotion” to start the game. The pace was furious to start. Three good hits from Kadri, JvR and Dion set the tone on the Leafs’ side. It was pretty obvious Nazem Kadri was going to make some magic happen tonight based on the starting note. It didn’t take long, as Kadri skinned Alex Emelin with an outside-inside move and sent a cross crease pass to Franson, who had joined the rush.

– On the Habs’ side, JVR had rattled PK Subban early, and he went on shift long spaz while scrambling around his zone, one that involved a couple of instances of interference, a little rouging on JvR, what appeared to be a dive, and eventually a hold to take away a goal as the Leafs generated a flurry of chances. Somehow nothing was called. That has to be a point on the opposition coach’s whiteboard re: PK Subban, who can be easily pushed to the point where allows emotions to get the better of him while often providing that extra motivation ammunition Don Cherry was talking about in the intermission.

– Tim Gleason looked great to start this game. He broke up a play in the neutral zone and went on a short rush, wiring a hard shot on Price. He sent a good breakout pass springing Kessel a few minutes later. Notice on that Franson tally Gleason broke up the Habs rush just inside the Leaf blueline, enabling the neutral zone transition up ice for Kadri. He played a season-high 21:30 tonight.

– After a JvR/Kessel 2 on 1 that developed in about three seconds end to end after a defensive zone faceoff, Dion missed the net, clearing the zone, and Gunnarsson flubbed a routine pass before extending the free arm after the giveaway. The penalty call appeared to be soft, but those are always the easy ones to pick out for the refs. The Leafs couldn’t recover the puck and eventually a wild double bounce evened the game. Good start negated.

– You can’t dislike the first period overall. The Leafs dictated the pace at five on five and took a skating and physical game to the Habs, but got burnt on the lone powerplay against after a face palm play by Gunnarsson.

2nd period

– Another healthy dosage of McClement/Kulemin at 4 on 4 after Troy Bodie’s brief, pointless skirmish yielded two roughing calls. This coach has some great 4 on 4 combinations available to him and the Leafs are a better team at 4 on 4 than 5 on 5. This conservative approach befuddles me as Carlyle should be looking at this as an opportunity to generate offense.

– The Leafs were outshot 7-1 to start, as they were reactive in the first half of the period and Cody Franson took a penalty. The refs picked his push on Gallagher out of the pile of extracurriculars going on in this game. There was zero consistency on the refereeing front, but there wasn’t much to like about this first 10 minutes.

– Amid a pretty poor 2nd period, a makeshift line of Raymond, Holland and Kessel grabbed a relatively undeserved lead, as far as the second period went. Raymond tied up the stick of the Habs defenceman just enough to cause a turnover, before throwing a pass out front that took a slight bounce; Kessel hopped on the loose puck to bury his 23rd on the season and 300th point as a Leaf.

– The third assist on this goal goes to Peter Holland. The importance of driving the net was on full display there as Holland took two Habs with him, availing Kessel to swoop in and jump on the loose puck in front. On the next shift, Holland made an aggressive drive on the interior of the Habs D. That’s the type of stuff Carlyle is looking for.

– You know that crash and bang, north-south play Carlyle described in the pregame presser about Bodie’s play? And how the CBC broadcast crew saw fit to run a bit laughing at Carlyle’s use of “cliches” (like he was supposed to use a literary analogy to describe Bodie as a player? Seemed like reasonable use of hockey terminology to me). Well, the penalty Bodie drew near the end of the 2nd was what he was talking about. Simpson then proceeded to say some of the same things Carlyle mentioned when describing the play. Can’t make this stuff up, folks.

– PP unit two was relentless in this game, with Kadri often stirring the drink. He pulled off a diagonal slap pass through a mess of sticks from the top of the left circle that was square on Raymond’s tape to the right of the net. Raymond buried his 13th of the season and second point of the game.

– Side note: Kulemin, Lupul and Kadri is something that’s always made sense to me, with Lupul back on his preferred left side. It’s a good complement of players. The line wasn’t as good so much as Kadri was great individually, but I’d still like to see this stay in tact while Clarkson’s out. Kulemin made a couple of small detail plays (as he often does) to chip pucks out on the 1st goal (Franson from Kadri) and the empty netter (Lupul).

– The Leafs could not close out this period safely and maintain the two goal lead going into the third. They were in possession of the puck with just a few seconds left and Franson and JvR weren’t on the same page on a pass breaking out from the middle of the Leaf zone. The glaring turnover by Franson was costly after a point shot took a bounce off a skate, fooling Bernier (who fell backwards), and Brian Gionta scored with just 12 seconds on the clock. That one hurts.

3rd period

– It’s just a disease with this team under Carlyle: Sitting on leads, over and over. The Leafs opened up with ten of the first 12 shots and then got doubled up for a good portion of the game. After a lost defensive zone draw by Bozak, so came the tying goal. This was a deflection off a nothing wrister and the third flukey goal the Habs had scored, starkly contrasting the Leafs’ high-octane skilled goals.

– Finally, with the game now tied, came a pushback when no longer in “fail to protect the lead” mode. The top line was buzzing with 8-9 minutes to go, and put the Leafs ahead for good with 5:30 to go. After the puck pinballed around on the right board in the neutral zone, Bozak won a puck race and fed JvR a letter perfect pass for yet another 2 on 1 goal by this line. 23rd point in 26 games for Bozak on JvR’s 19th of the season.

cropped_JVRSubbanCelly

JVR, battling hard all game, dedicated the goal to Subban:

– Note that Kadri did not simply dump the puck in just before that goal, opting for a pass back and retention of possession. Having the lead seems to come with a strict chip out, chip in instruction. Either that or this team needs a sports psychology lecture on the importance of “continuing to do what works.”

– Getting rewarded for a masterclass performance, Kadri was in Nasty Naz mode on the final shift, just hammering the hell out of Plekanec throughout the last minute. Dion Phaneuf made a key pokecheck and Lupul hustled down an empty netter awarded after being felled by a hook.

After the week he just had, with his name batted around the rumour mill and the questions coming his way about potential trades, this game speaks volumes about what Nazem Kadri is all about.

Only modestly outshot and high on the hit count, this was a throwback to some of the games we liked from this team last season. Finally, the Leafs can feel good about themselves again, but the nasty blown leads habit remains a significant concern. Hopefully this is the beginning of a push for a divisional playoff spot.

Leafs-Habs-Shot-Chart

PLAYERGATOI+/-SOGPIMFWFLHITSBSTAKEGIVE
Carter Ashton002:28000000000
Troy Bodie006:46102001000
Tyler Bozak0119:08-1227121120
Cody Franson1019:42012008212
Jake Gardiner0017:46220001311
Tim Gleason0021:30110004202
Carl Gunnarsson0020:40002003012
Peter Holland0011:50110463001
Nazem Kadri0219:5421013105000
Phil Kessel1120:09030002002
Nikolai Kulemin0122:20110002001
Joffrey Lupul1120:55210004210
Jay McClement0012:09-100942100
Colton Orr002:55010000000
Dion Phaneuf0025:55130008300
Mason Raymond1114:35160000000
Morgan Rielly0114:33000003301
James van Riemsdyk1018:56060001012

Toronto Maple Leafs vs Montreal Canadiens: Game in 6

Review overview
Forwards - 85 %
Defence - 75 %
Goaltending - 85 %
Special Teams - 75 %
Alec Brownscombe is the founder of MapleLeafsHotStove.com, 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]
1226 comments
Great Dane
Great Dane

Would a package of  Reimer + Franson land us Okposo  or Bodker

Komas Taberle
Komas Taberle

I love Gleason's play, keep it simple, hit, block shots and make a crisp first pass.

He looked menacing last night when he was chirping Soupcan and the rest of the smurfs.

Nice addition by Nonis!

Cameron19
Cameron19

J.V.R. (4.25) - Bozak (4.20) - Kessel (8.00)

Lupu (5.25) - Kadri (2.90) - ____________

_________ - Bolland (4.00) - Clarkson (5.25)

D'Amigo (0.65) - McClement (1.50) - Ashton (0.65)

-

Holland (1.25), Orr (0.925)

-

Gunnar (3.15) - Phaneuf (7.00)

Gardiner (3.00) - Rielly (0.925)

Gleason (4.00) - ___________

Brennan (0.65)

-

Bernier (2.9) - _____________

-

CAP CEILING: 71.1M

CAP HIT: 60.45M

CAP SPACE: 10.65M

-

10+ Million to fill 3 or 4 roster spots. 

Bruffins
Bruffins

I still can't believe that call on Bozak last night.  If we lost that game words would not explain how mad Id be haha

.JVR.
.JVR.

How about the following lineup when Bolland initially returns:


van Riemsdyk   -   Bozak   -    Kessel

Lupul   -   Kadri   -   Kulemin

Raymond   -   Holland   -   Clarkson

Ashton/D'Amigo   -   McClement   -   Bolland

whalz
whalz

so looking at the capspace for next yr we have roughly 21 mil with the following players to resign or let go:

reimer-traded? (sign a vet backup for 1mil-giggy?)

franson-3mil?

gards-2.5-3mil?

ranger-gone

fraser-gone

bolland-4.5?

kuly-3mil? or traded at deadline?

mcclement-2mil?

Raymond-traded at deadline?

Holland-1mil

ashton-750k?

bodie-550k?

smith-550k?

doesn't leave a lot of room to make a trade or sign a ufa dman or centre unless we move some bodies or let players walk.

loomx
loomx

@Komas Taberle Here's hoping he can stay healthy. Just goes to show that skating is everything. Defensive Dman need to be able to skate otherwise an offensive Dman is better suited. See: Mark Fraser, Mike Komisarek.

Great Dane
Great Dane

@Cameron19I would upgrade Gunnar to Edler; then promote Granberg to play on the 3rd pairing. Get a goalie from Hurricanes or Ducks  (khudobin or andersen). Remove Orr, we would it a lot easier with the REFs without Orr or McLaren in the lineup.


Resign Kulemin to 2.5 million


Gunnar + 3rd for Edler - Canucks save some cap space.

Reimer + Franson + Raymond for a RW on a less than 4 million contract someone like Mikkel Boedker

loomx
loomx

@Cameron19 Kulemin should be cheap. 2-2.5 mil. Play him on the 3rd line unless there's someone better. Give Komarov $2mil. Try to dangle Bozak+Reimer to acquire a Dman. If a deal like that does take place, bump Bolland or Kadri up to the top line and play Holland. Sign Khudobin, Scrivens, Elliott, or Dubnyk as a backup.

.JVR.
.JVR.

@Cameron19 

Bring back Franson for $3-4 million and that leaves $6-7 million to fill 3 spots.

Bruffins
Bruffins

@.JVR. 

I don't like Clarkson with Raymond, I'd put Clarkson on line 2 and hope he gets chemistry 

Bring the Cup Home
Bring the Cup Home

@.JVR. 

not bad for a game or two to ease bolland back into the lineup.  i would like to see him get back to the 3C spot pretty quick though.   will be interesting to see what they do with holland when bolland is back.....


Cameron19
Cameron19

@whalz Said this last summer: without pretty significant changes to the roster, we won't be able to afford to upgrade very much until the 2016 season. 

Cameron19
Cameron19

@loomx @Cameron19 Did you not see what happened when we lost Bozak? We cannot afford to lose center depth. Bolland is most likely going to suck balls when he returns. 

loomx
loomx

@Cameron19 I wouldn't be opposed to acquiring Dennis Wideman if Calgary retains 1mil of salary. Steady, right-handed Dman who is much better than Franson.

Cameron19
Cameron19

@Loric76 @Cameron19 You can probably bring Reimer back if you give him a 1 or 2 year deal that brings him to UFA.  Franson at 3.25 or less would be fine, but would rather spend 4.5 on Girardi.  We can afford to just ice the same roster minus Raymond though, pretty easily. 

PepTalk
PepTalk

@.JVR. @Cameron19 I don't think I'd want to bring Franson back at that price. I would rather use Brennan or get a tough guy to play back there

.JVR.
.JVR.

@Bruffins

I like the defensive presence Kulemin brings to the second line with Lupul and Kadri. 

whalz
whalz

@Cameron19 @whalz yeah I think a lot depends on who they are looking to resign, we have all heard about Bolland, cant see us not resigning gards or Franny,,,,those will be our top pd ufa/rfas to resign.....

unless NONIS has a plan, I don't see a maor addition happening next summer. I guess by letting guys like KULY and RANGER. FRASER walk we have some savings there and hopefully a few Marlies fill those rosters spots at a cheap cap hit......

loomx
loomx

@Cameron19 @loomx meh, another year for Kadri and Holland to get better. I do agree though that Bolland might not be that good. Otherwise, just put Holland on Kadri's wing. He has to play.

Cameron19
Cameron19

@Loric76 @Cameron19 Can any team really avoid slumps?  That's only going to happens as the overall quality and experience of the roster improves. Once we have three complete scoring lines, and a couple of upgrades in our D group. 

Cameron19
Cameron19

@loomx @Cameron19 @Loric76 Eh, he's not worth that much. Pass on him if he does. Plenty of better D-men than him have signed lesser deals than that upon hitting UFA.  Hamhuis, Edler, Bieksa (Vancouver is good at this, lol), Beauchemin, Vlasic (although there are a couple RFA years in his new contract), Seidenberg, etc....

Bruffins
Bruffins

@.JVR. @Bruffins 

that would be my ideal lineup with D'amigo taking some games from Orr when necessary . Also don't know what is going to happen with Holland. We could send him down but if he plays amazing who knows

.JVR.
.JVR.

@Bruffins

So:

JVR   -   Bozak   -   Kessel

Lupul   -   Kadri   -   Clarkson

Raymond    -    Bolland   -   Kulemin

Ashton   -   McClement   -   Orr

Bruffins
Bruffins

@.JVR. @Bruffins 

Bolland actually had amazing chemistry with Kulemin in their short time together and I think he looked good with Raymond too. I think that'd be a decent third line. 

.JVR.
.JVR.

@Bruffins

I guess Kulemin/Bolland/Clarkson would be pretty damn good at cycling, while Raymond/Kadri/Lupul would attack off the rush.


The only think I don't like about that is, Lupul prefers the LW and Kulemin prefers the RW.

Bruffins
Bruffins

@.JVR. @Bruffins 

me too but Clarkson and Raymond can not play together at all. Raymond can't ever maintain a cycle out there which takes away Clarkson's best strength. Id like Raymond on the third line though so he can catch teams off guard with his speed and not be out there for 18 minutes turning the puck over

sniperstar
sniperstar

@Pent_House @Bruffins I think Percy is a #3 on a contender. Not quite a top pairing guy but a good solid 2nd pairing guy. Personal opinion. I see Granberg as that meat and potatoes 3rd pairing guy that gets a lot of PK time. Biggs should be a 3rd liner and Leivo hopefully a 2nd line winger. 

Bruffins
Bruffins

@Pent_House @Bruffins 

thanks, don't know the next game I will be able to get to but I really want to see Granberg and Leivo

Bruffins
Bruffins

@Pent_House

From what you have seen this year how would you rank these guys for who will have the best NHL career:

Granberg, percy, Leivo, Biggs

Cameron19
Cameron19

@PepTalk @Cameron19 @whalz There is like a 0.01% chance of that happening. I don't think we want to trade him yet anyways. Still going to be a useful addition for us at some point. 

Cameron19
Cameron19

@PepTalk @Cameron19 @whalz @.JVR. Not with any significant term though. I would imagine pretty much everyone is going to want to see how he recovers from that injury. The team that gives him 4 or 5 years at that price is insane. 

Cameron19
Cameron19

@whalz @.JVR. @PepTalk Really curious to see Bolland's cap hit, if he stays. Really hard to predict, in my opinion. His injury makes it pretty hard to predict. Could be much lower than we expect, and yet, I also wouldn't be surprised with something shockingly bad (i.e. 5M). 

whalz
whalz

@.JVR. @PepTalk that's an expensive 3rd line though as kuly and komorov will prob combine for 5.5mil, and Bolland at 4.5-5? essssh

whalz
whalz

@PepTalk @whalz @Cameron19 I hope not, hopefully 2.5-2.75 on a 2-3 yr deal.....love kuly, perfect 3rd line fwd who can fill in on the 2nd

.JVR.
.JVR.

@PepTalk

Wouldn't mind seeing a Komarov/Bolland/Kulemin third line next season.