Your Toronto Maple Leafs are now the hottest team in the League over the last ten games (8-1-1), and they’re doing it the Leaf way – with hot sticks and a hot goalie while getting repeatedly outshot (in all ten games). The Leafs have scored 35 goals over 9 games since beating Boston 4-3 on January 14. JvR (1g, 1a), Kessel (2a), Lupul (1g, 1a) and Kadri (3a) all mustered multi point nights in tonight’s 6-3 win over the Florida Panthers.
The blow by blow:
– This game started eerily similar to how the Leafs started in their loss to the Panthers in December, with an early opening goal against involving Kadri and a costly pinch. The puck squeaked by a pinching Gardiner on the boards, and it’s true the whole thing would’ve been avoided if he managed to cut that puck off successfully, as he was in a position to do. But one bad pinch was far from the whole story, with two men in a position to support. Kadri identified his man, Bjugstad, on the backcheck, but he got outskated and outmuscled. Morgan Rielly stepped up on the puck carrier on the blueline, relying on Kadri picking up his man. Bjugstad got fed the pass for a breakaway and made it 1-0.
Perhaps it ended up working in their favour in the end, spurring #43 on as he was flying for the rest of this game. Great at both ends.
– Also similar to the first meeting with the Panthers, the Leafs went down 2-0 in the first. Franson had control of the puck inside the blueline and jammed it into a Panther stick for a turnover. Bozak fell as the puck was turned over, while Kessel had left the zone in search of the pass. Brad Boyes walked in on a 2 on 1 with only Gleason back, Bernier guessed on the pass and stumbled, and Boyes buried his obligatory goal vs. the Leafs.
– This period was a microcosm of Franson’s season, as he made it 2-1 with a great point shot shortly thereafter. The Leafs were in between on a change; Kadri ended up out there with JvR and Kulemin. Kadri gained the zone, fired a shot on net, and eventually worked the puck back to the point to Franson. Franson’s lethal short-windup wrister went off the post and in, with Van Riemsdyk garnering the 2nd and 3rd assist for providing the screen.
Big goal there to get the Leafs within reach before the end of the 1st.
– Randy Carlyle started each period in this game with the third line of Raymond, Holland and Bodie. They probably had the best shift (an extended cycle) of the first period, and they made their coach look smart to start the 2nd. Gleason got the play started with a breakout pass up the wall to Bodie, who hit Raymond in stride through neutral ice. Raymond backed off the Panthers D, with Kulikov affording a generous gap, and ripped one from inside the top of the left circle, his 14th of the season.
– Not even a minute later the Leafs made it 3-2 on the PP. Kessel off the half wall, tipped home by JvR in front. Rinse and repeat. Hat tip to Scott Gomez for that powerplay… keep being excellent.
– The Leafs sagged after taking the lead. In bizarro Leafs fashion, they won the period 2-0 and didn’t play a particularly good 18 minutes out of 20. The Leafs were outshot 7-2 to start period but scored on both of their shots. The top pairing and top line had three shifts worth of defensive zone adventures, but Bernier stood tall. Dion Phaneuf in particular just seemed a step behind tonight, and overall has been looking gassed earlier and earlier in games. I’m as big of a Phaneuf proponent as there is out there, but he looks like he needs that Olympic Break.
– Kulemin added the game winner four minutes into the third. After Kulemin gained the zone, Kadri was tenacious on the forecheck to cause a turnover for Lupul to collect. Lupul found Kulemin in the slot for a rocket of a one timer. Often it’s Kulemin in deep having to do the down-low work for his linemates, so it’s nice to see him benefit from some hard work by Kadri down low, burying his eighth of the season.
Sometimes it seems like Kulemin will never score again, but that goal showed off his release and goal scoring instincts, as Kulemin sniffed out the shooting lane and timed it well. He plays around a .5 PPG pace when he’s with these two, dating back to last season. 5 points in his last eight games for Kulemin.
– This Kadri, Kulemin and Lupul trio makes you look back at Lupul being on the right side with Raymond and Kadri and think, “why was that ever a thing?”
– The second powerplay goal of the game sealed it: Mr. One Man Zone Entry, Morgan Rielly, flew up ice and gained the zone, laid it off off to Kadri, who laid it off to Lupul for a vicious one timer into the top bunk. Stop that, Clemmensen. That was for 2007.
Speaking of Rielly, he was moved onto a pairing with Gleason and it looked pretty good. Conceptually I like the idea of Gleason providing the stay at home veteran presence while Rielly goes and takes some chances, but this is just part of one game vs. the Panthers.
– The Leafs stayed pretty aggressive at 4-2 and 5-2. A lack of fear of the opponent, perhaps, and the scent of easy points in the air seemed to have the Leafs pushing for more.
– Among those with late chances was Carter Ashton, who got some PK time and nearly scored on a shorthanded breakaway. This kid can’t seem to buy his first NHL goal.
– The Panthers pulled within two to make it mildly interesting, after a lost draw by McClement led to a goal off a fluttering point shot from Kulikov. McClement overall was excellent on the dot, however, winning 77% of 13 draws, and was 7 for 10 in the defensive zone, many of which were on the PK. This enabled quick clearances on PK, which went a perfect five for five. There isn’t a more anemic PP in the league than the Panthers’, especially with Barkov out, but it’s something.
– The icing on the cake was Kessel burning a tired Nick Bjugstad and threading the needle to Bozak to make it 6-3. It’s telling that Kessel was clearly never going to shoot the puck there, which is something we’ve seen from Kessel time and again. He always plays set up man when a game is secure.
The Phil is now sixth in league scoring.
These Leafs are red hot:
- Phil Kessel: 19 points in his last 11 games.
- James van Riemsdyk: 12 points in 11 games.
- Tyler Bozak: 21 points in 20 games.
- Nazem Kadri: 12 points in his last 8 games.
- Joffrey Lupul: 8 points in 9 games.
- Tim Gleason: 10 blocked shots to the face.
|Jonathan Bernier (19-15-5)||W||38||35||0.921||60:00|
|James van Riemsdyk||1||1||21:46||0||3||2||1||0||0||1||1||0|
|Scott Clemmensen (6-5-1)||L||32||26||0.812||59:55|
Phil Kessel: Absolutely Killing It: http://mapleleafshotstove.com/2014/01/31/phil-kessel-absolutely-killing-it/ …
Does anyone on here no the record with and without Clrarkson in the line up. I am not insinuating that I dont like Clarky, but seem to think that we win a lot more this year when he is out. That must be hard for him. It has been a tuff year. 2 suspensions and couple injurys have held him back form getting going big time
So the Leafs win AND Raymond and Kulimen increase their trade value with offensive contributions. I hope Kuli tears it up with Malkin at the Olympics (not to our detriment of course) so the Pens make Nonis an offer he can't refuse
Would Shawn Thornton be good for the Leafs to pick up this off season? He played for RC before in their cup win. I know he's 36 now but at 1.1 mil would it be worth it, instaed of having orr and McLaren?
@ingy56 think people are on the other thread
@ingy56 lol, burke was a damn thief I say I say
@Doit4Dougie Alec posted it a few days back, noticeably better without him in the lineup. I don't think the stat has any substance though, he was playing just like they want him to just before he went out with the elbow injury. This is just a lost season for him unfortunately. I look for him to have a big input after the break and into the playoffs. He looked very good playing with Bolland.
@Gilbey93 Most of the time when our players come back from injury they are the only one with legs.
@Gilbey93 Is he comes back he will be ready, and wont take long to get his legs back or he wouldn't be in lineup. I put him right back on thrid line.
@MaxwellHowe What does PItt have that they'd move that could actually help the Leafs anytime soon? Probably nothing.
@MaxwellHowe Beware of Ray Shero dangling young players...think Luca Caputi and Eric Tangradi.
@The Truth Hurts Yep i like Franson. He makes awful plays but so does the whole d. He hits now, blocks shots and puts of points while being 25 and making 2 million going into RFA. Jesus fans, leave him be
@The Truth Hurts on this point I agree with you. We've all seen him play much better defensively, so he can improve on that part of his game. But the offensive part of his game is something rare among D men. Cannot easily be learned.
His problem last night seems to be a lack of focus - I'm not being wishy washy, but many of his passes are so soft and passive, I can only think he's just not in the right frame of mind out there
@The Truth Hurts McCabe all over again.
@Bruffins Our snipers snipped and our defence was very messy defensivley at times and brilliant offensivley. Our third line set the cycle tone and got a shit on of minutes.
Typical leaf game, with 6 beautiful goals
@Gilbey93 Think he's been playing a little forward for them on L4.
@Gilbey93 Tampa announcers were blasting us last night for the trade comparing the two players and saying we "ruined" a prospect, where they "saved" a prospect who was already ruined and made the best of it. Good stuff right here.
@Burtonboy now, that mike grabowski guy from jersey that used to play for the leafs was pretty good ........
@Burtonboy Thanks for the update Mike...go shovel your snow.
@Burtonboy grabbo blows
@hoolihan Looked like he maybe panicked a bit. His problem is he plays with Colton Orr, and for like 4 minutes a night. So when he does get into the offensive zone he can't believe it and gets too excited to make a good play.
JVR - BOZO - KKESS
LUPUL - KADRI - KULI
RayMOND - BOLLAND - CLARKY
ASHTON - JAY MC - BODI/HOlland/ORR / SMITH
@CanuckUKinToronto @hoolihan I agree. We may not be in an ideal situation moving forward with a GAA of 3.67 but oddly enough thats how this team seems to rolls. If any team wants to get in a run and gun shoot out style game we win 9/10 times. We do have our off nights of course and get blown out which doesn't help the GAA, but with that being said, Im not as concerned as I usually would be about all the shots against and goals against as long as we keep scoring. at the end of the day the only stat that matters is the one in the W column
@hoolihan Ya I agree that would be ideal. Sometimes i think we underestimate Gunners value. Hes pretty damn reliable. IT would be nice to grab up one more stud but i dont know if it is realistic at this point.
@MaxwellHowe @Anthony Petrielli Don't want to wait on another young d-man. Leafs already have Gardiner+Rielly and we see the potential, but also growing pains, all the time. Percy will be ready soon, maybe Granberg and MacWilliams will one day be able to play in the NHL. Finn. If they are adding to the back-end I want legitimately established NHL D-men at this point.
@The Truth Hurts Is there nothing you won't blame on Jake? shot differentials, goals against, losses, national debt, strife in the middle east
@hoolihan At the same time the expectation that Bernier and Reimer would maintain 950+% as they did in the first month isn't reasonable either.