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

  • T K O

    Good interview by Bozie re Naz….sums it up well

  • Loric76

    This needs to be part of the article above:

    http://t.co/ixn1e9mp71

  • mcloki

    LET’S NEVER SPEAK OF TRADING KADRI AGAIN.

  • Loric76

    mcloki if this is the way he responds, we need Dreger to fake trade him weekly

  • Dangle_My_Berries

    Colborne a winger now…..the C experiment is over

  • Dangle_My_Berries

    mcloki you don’t give up on skill like that wow

  • TuckerForPunishment

    Loric76 I missed that goal.  WOW!  What a move and pass.

  • Loric76

    Flames game is up to 176 PIM’s already

  • Jay_Berg

    Awesome game but if he really wants the rumours to go away he needs to play like this more consistently. Let’s not forget he was invisible most of the season. That being said hopefully tonight is a turning point. Very impressive

  • Loric76

    Murph2417 mcloki Stamkos, Tavares, or Duchene.  Otherwise fuck off

  • Jordan29

    Holy shit………we played 50 games already this year. That was fast

  • wiski

    mcloki Or should they keep it up? 😉

  • Jay_Berg

    He sucks. Plain and simple

  • Reversethecurse13

    If Bodie deserves the 6 mins on 3rd line and Ashton deserves the 2 minutes on 4th line, why the fuck is Bodie not up all the time over Ashton?! Clue me in here boys…

  • Loric76

    Reversethecurse13 one of them is management family, the other hasn’t learnt how to suck cock yet

  • Jordan29

    Reversethecurse13 Carlyle is a retard

  • Loric76

    Jordan29 Reversethecurse13 that too

  • Burtonboy

    And along with everything else he did in this game Kadri was 57% on the dot as well.

  • Loric76

    https://twitter.com/MapleLeafshttps://twitter.com/MapleLeafs/status/424751183039692800
    You may want to watch this a few times. The Scotiabank Game In Six Minutes http://t.co/oKnTyOwNoD https://twitter.com/search?q=%23Leafs&src=hash https://twitter.com/search?q=%23TMLtalk&src=hash

  • Reversethecurse13

    Burtonboy He earned that 4th star!

  • Shift_Disturber1

    Loric76dirrrrrrrrrrrrty 😉

  • Loric76

    https://twitter.com/PKessel_Egohttps://twitter.com/PKessel_Ego/status/424751760213696512
    Great game by the boys (by that I mean me). That’s what “Peewee Subban” gets for going down on one knee for an assist https://twitter.com/search?q=%23plug&src=hash https://twitter.com/search?q=%23IScoreGoals&src=hash

  • Loric76

    lol pussy

    https://twitter.com/mirtlehttps://twitter.com/mirtle/status/424752297243979776
    Subban didn’t speak to the media tonight by the way. So we only have Leafs side of whatever went on.

  • Loric76

    Burtonboy nice

  • Shift_Disturber1

    Holy shit do you guys see this

  • Reversethecurse13

    TheCanucksnaphook Reversethecurse13 especially because whenever called up Bodie typically plays on the 4th, while Ashton has shown to be higher on the depth chart by playing some regular time on the 3rd and 4th line.

  • mcloki

    Shift_Disturber1 i love it

  • theacs1966

    Shift_Disturber1 NO, what happened now?

  • Reversethecurse13

    Shift_Disturber1 turned it off. what happened this time?

  • Loric76

    https://twitter.com/JoshRimerHockeyhttps://twitter.com/JoshRimerHockey/status/424752712258162688
    Oh no torts is now outside Calgary flames dressing room.

  • Burtonboy

    Shift_Disturber1 This nuts . Haven’t seen something like this in a long long time

  • Shift_Disturber1

    Loric76   “Peewee Subban” LOL

  • TuckerForPunishment

    Loric76 I gotta turn this shit on.

  • wiski

    Reversethecurse13 Shift_Disturber1 Hallway sex guy saying fuck you at each other in the hall

  • mcloki

    Reversethecurse13 Shift_Disturber1 Torts went all HULK MAD and went to the Calgary dressing room after the first.

  • Shift_Disturber1

    BurtonboyShift_Disturber1   Old time hockey

  • Reversethecurse13

    TheCanucksnaphook it’s the live stream..

  • Loric76

    TuckerForPunishment Loric76 I just put it back on, just in time for a subway commercial

  • wiski

    Burtonboy Shift_Disturber1 Buffalo was the last I remember

  • Dangle_My_Berries

    wow, what a shit show, scuffle in the hallway of the dressing room

  • mcloki

    they should tossTorts. that would be awesome

  • Shift_Disturber1

    This game is hilarious. Kick ’em all out

  • mcloki

    Last coach I remember in the hallway was “Have another Donut”

  • djamon

    Murph2417 Wasn’t this when the period ended?

  • Dangle_My_Berries

    wiski Burtonboy Shift_Disturber1 but that game had the kessel lightsaber moment…

  • Shift_Disturber1

    mcloki     Yeah, Jimmy Schoenfeld

  • Mind Bomb

    VICTORY

    I, am drunnk ! :)

  • Shift_Disturber1

    djamonMurph2417  Yes

  • Loric76

    https://twitter.com/DonCherryParodyhttps://twitter.com/DonCherryParody/status/424754015352528896
    YKNOW I WOULD BE TWEETIN ABOUT CALGARY VS VANCOOVR BUT THIS GAME MADE ME NEED, YKNOW, SOME ALONE TIME (THUMBS UP)

  • Mind Bomb

    Burtonboy Shift_Disturber1  What a Great Night of Hockey BB :)