Game Review: Game #57, Leafs 6 vs. Sens 3

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Photo: NHLI via Getty Images

Thanks to the Ottawa Senators for being gracious opponents. Some of the highlights amid this six-game winning streak vs. Ottawa: Nazem Kadri’s breaking out party on the national CBC broadcast (Cherry’s kiss on Coaches Corner); the Leafs officially clinching a playoff spot for the first time in nine years; and now, The Phil scoring a hat trick to reach 30 goals for the fifth consecutive (full) season. 

It was indeed the Phil Kessel show at the Air Canada Center tonight, as god’s gift to the hockey universe scored his sixth career hat trick (fourth as a Leaf) and added an assist in a 6-3 come-from-behind victory over the Ottawa Senators. As I’ve been yelling about on Twitter and elsewhere, this four-point effort puts Kessel into a tie with Evgeni Malkin for the most points in the NHL since October of 2011. He’s up to 21 points in his last 12 games and sits 2nd in the league in goals with 30.

The goals and points, the ridiculous shot that only slightly eclipses his great vision and passing ability.. there was even more to appreciate about Kessel on this night, including a roughing minor after mixing it up with Eric Gryba and a late-game defensive effort to hustle down and negate a 2 on 1 opportunity for Kyle Turris.

Carlyle put out the Kessel line with a one-goal lead and under two minutes left, sensing he wasn’t done yet. Sure enough, Kessel set up Bozak for the 5-3 clincher and his fourth point of the night. That great pass followed a determined effort from Kessel; the Senators had possession in the middle of their zone before Kessel outmuscled the man and sent the puck down low. This was a masterclass of a showing from one of the league’s very best.

Here’s the period-by-period breakdown and some additional thoughts on the Leafs’ sixth consecutive victory over their provincial and Atlantic Division rivals:

1st Period

This game started, in the words of Ben Scrivens, inauspiciously. I was thinking back to the Montreal game a week previous and the contrast was stark. Neither team was up to much, but the Leafs were flat and the first period was pretty well devoid of emotion. The Leafs outshot Ottawa 9-7 thanks to three first period powerplays, but cashed in on none of them. There seemed to be more desire on the part of the Ottawa PK units than the Leafs’ PP until the urgency picked up once the Leafs were trailing/tied later in the game. The Leafs were losing  short 50/50 races to pucks, and trying to be far too cute in their puck movement on the PPs; one play too many in a couple of instances.

At the end of the first, Chris Neil, who begrudgingly deserves mention for quite the performance tonight, made it 1-0 in what was probably a deserved deficit. Neil can play, but I’m not sure he was deserving of the level of respect that was given to him by Rielly in terms of backing off and losing gap control.

2nd Period

The second period didn’t start any better, beginning with an ineffectual tail end to the Leafs’ third powerplay.

The Leafs conceded  the 2-0 goal after a Gardiner pinch gone wrong, stranding Franson on a 2 on 1 against Neil and Colin Greening.  Without a doubt, #51 has to learn to sense danger and pick his spots better, because falling back was certainly the right decision there with no forward nearby available to support. We do have to keep in mind he’s 140 games into his learning curve, i.e, not even two full seasons.

For much of the period it felt like a response might not be in the cards, but it’s pretty rare that the Senators keep the Leafs’ top line quiet. 14 minutes into the period, the Leafs recovered the puck after a lost faceoff in the offensive zone. A nice pinch from Gunnarsson kept the puck in before his subtle poke on Karlsson along boards sent the Senators scrambling. JvR and Kessel for another cross crease goal – Kessel’s 28th, with much more to come.

Controversy struck just a minute and a half later. After Kulemin cut off a ring around the end boards and forced the Sens to send the puck back behind the net, Kadri took a healthy run at Cody Ceci from behind. I’m not going to be partial and say that wasn’t a penalty. It was, without a doubt. The snapshot of the contact shows it was more from the side than it first looked, but the turn happened a few steamboats before Kadri trucked into Ceci. Kadri picked up the puck and found Lupul in front to knot the game at 2s.

After another powerplay went the Leafs way (four in a row), the Leafs wound up on the penalty kill after a predictable (frankly, deserved) makeup call. An important first half to the kill preserved the tie into the third period.

The Leafs were outshooting the Senators 25-15 through two periods. I didn’t know whether to praise them or feel uneasy about this fact.

3rd Period

Jay McClement was solid on the PK in this game, and unlike last season that hasn’t always been the case. He broke up a couple of plays with a good stick, and helped turned this game in the Leafs favour by picking off the point at the start of the third period. He went on a partial breakaway and drew the Leafs’ fifth powerplay of the game, which would finally see the Leafs’ league-best powerplay (at home) cash in.

Dave Farrish mixed up the PP pairs for this powerplay, with Rielly and Franson together on the point. After gaining the entry via the drop-pass to Kessel, Morgan Rielly held at the line briefly, drawing in a penalty killer, and threw a short backhand saucer pass to Kessel.  Bozak’s pick in the slot opened up a pocket, allowing Kessel to step in and rip it home faster than the speed of sound.

The Leafs looked to be taking control of the game before a strong shift by the Greening and Neil line, again, evened the game up. No one knew it at the time, but Neil’s shot in front trickled over the line and was adjudged a goal upon further review. The second line was guilty of some flat footedness there, and Carl Gunnarsson failed to take an opportunity to get the puck out.

The top line was irrepressible, however, and strong anticipation by Bozak saw him pick off a D to D pass from behind the net and feed Kessel in front. Kessel roofed it from in tight, of course. 4-3 Leafs.

There were a number of goals generated through smart and effective forechecking in this game by the top two lines, using their speed to force turnovers.

As mentioned above, Kessel by this point was running roughshod on the Senators and Carlyle kept the first line out with under two minutes to go. Kessel returned the favour to Tyler Bozak on a similar goal to the one previous, with a great pass by Kessel to reach around the defender just before taking a hit.

Nazem Kadri added an empty netter to give him 14 points in his last 9 games.

Notes

– This was the tenth time (in 57 games) the Leafs have outshot their opponents, and they’re 6-4 in those games. Dating back to last season, the Leafs are 11-11 when outshooting and 45-26-11 when outshot.

– Who would have thought the Leafs could win a game with a .885 save percentage from their goaltender?

– Another +2 night for Dion Phaneuf, who is now +17 on the season. Plus/minus is plus/minus, but he plays on a team that has allowed more goals than it has scored, and he plays big minutes in the toughest matchup every night. That has to indicate something now that we’re at game 57 of the season.  This was a clash of the titans in terms of two very strong top lines in the Kessel line and the Turris/Ryan/MacArthur line. The Kessel line sent the Senators out of the rink with their tails between their legs; the Senators top line, while threatening at points, was kept off the scoresheet. Dion Phaneuf was a big part of that as always, playing his cousin  in particular (MacArthur) very physical throughout the night.

– I thought he looked gassed the last couple of weeks, but this was a solid game at both ends: Phaneuf also directed seven shots on goal tonight. Imagine if he could hit the net! (ugh)

– Tyler Bozak has 29 points in 31 games, good for a top 15 spot in the NHL among centers in points per game. Credit where it is due, and while it may not last over a larger sample size, he’s  producing like a number one center (a higher end one) over a good run of games. Bozak’s subtle contributions are also notable: A little stick lift or battle win here or there that helps extend a play and leads to good things. Bozak’s a heady player – see his pick in the high slot that allowed Kessel to step into his powerplay goal. Kessel’s hat-trick goal gave Bozak yet another primary assist, which he has way more of this season than in the recent past.

Keep in mind a number of these players are wingers:

Tyler-Bozak-Feb1-2014

– Greg McKegg played under four minutes tonight, as Randy Carlyle rotated Jay McClement onto the line with Raymond and Bodie for most shifts. Also at play was Colton Orr leaving the game after blocking a shot, leaving McLaren on the bench for the rest of the game while McKegg became an extra who got the occasional shift.

– Between Holland and Ashton sitting in game time decisions, compounded with Orr getting hurt (not that he would’ve changed much), this was a two line team with the third/fourth line providing occasional rest. Thankfully the top six woke up in the second half of the game. Hopefully we don’t have to go on much longer with a bottom six like tonight’s; there will eventually be a cooling off period for some of the big guns.

WOW at some of Morgan Rielly’s rushes up ice tonight. When he goes, he does it with such purpose thanks to amazing wheels and an ability to see the ice so effectively. There were three or four very threatening rush attacks from Rielly in this game. Pretty soon, much like how the crowd starts to buzz when Kessel’s legs start churning for a rush up ice, the crowd will react the same way to Rielly.

– This angle of the Kadri hit should hopefully save him from suspension.  Definitely not square on the numbers. Ceci sprung right back up, as well.

Kadri Hit

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Enjoy Super Bowl Sunday, Leafs fans, knowing your Toronto Maple Leafs, 9-1-1 in their last 11, are the hottest team in the National Hockey League.

Leafs/Sens Fenwick

Fenwick chart for 2014-02-01 Senators 3 at Maple Leafs 6

Leafs/Sens Shot Location Chart

Maple-Leafs_Sens-Shot-Location

Toronto Maple Leafs vs Ottawa Senators Boxscore

Game Sheet            

TORONTO STATISTICS

GOALIEDEC.SHOTSSAVESSAVE %MIN.
Jonathan Bernier (20-15-5)W26230.88559:47:00
PLAYERGATOI+/-SOGPIMFWFLHITSBSTAKEGIVE
Troy Bodie0012:05-110003000
Tyler Bozak1118:403307101200
Cody Franson0121:09-110002130
Jake Gardiner0021:55010001101
Tim Gleason0018:38110006000
Carl Gunnarsson0116:57212002311
Nazem Kadri1123:050105133122
Phil Kessel3121:06352000113
Nikolai Kulemin0017:51010105110
Joffrey Lupul1021:23030001211
Jay McClement0014:07-1101082001
Greg McKegg00:0010152000
Frazer McLaren000:58005100000
Colton Orr002:27000002100
Dion Phaneuf0022:56272006411
Mason Raymond0018:16-130001001
Morgan Rielly0118:41030000010
James van Riemsdyk0220:16330001021

OTTAWA STATISTICS

GOALIEDEC.SHOTSSAVESSAVE %MIN.
Craig Anderson (18-11-7)L35300.85759:49:00
PLAYERGATOI+/-SOGPIMFWFLHITSBSTAKEGIVE
Cody Ceci0114:49-120001200
Cory Conacher009:56004000101
Erik Condra008:48110000200
Jared Cowen0123:22-100004001
Colin Greening1113:54130115000
Eric Gryba0122:17-112002001
Erik Karlsson0023:42022004115
Matt Kassian001:30005000000
Clarke MacArthur0019:23-220001101
Marc Methot0023:12-110000211
Milan Michalek0017:35-220011001
Chris Neil2111:31330003000
Bobby Ryan0017:54-320002000
Zack Smith0016:262001074010
Jason Spezza0016:43-310980100
Kyle Turris0019:46-2101473222
Patrick Wiercioch0013:03012003102
Mika Zibanejad0014:48-242215100

Game in 6: Leafs vs. Senators

  • http://mapleleafshotstove.com/ DeclanK

    HAHA – are people able to reply?

  • http://mapleleafshotstove.com/ DeclanK

    Stats say tons of people on the page and it’s a ghost town. 
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=slmb4ZZ5pkY

  • http://mapleleafshotstove.com/ DeclanK

    CanuckUKinToronto DeclanK  hmm

  • LeafsForLife

    – Greg McKegg played under four minutes tonight, as Randy Carlyle
    rotated Jay McClement up onto the line with Raymond and Bodie for a
    number of shits. 
    Gotta love typos lol.

  • Alec Brownscombe

    LeafsForLife  What typo?

    😉

  • http://mapleleafshotstove.com/ DeclanK

    CanuckUKinToronto  Bon should come out of the woodwork for this tune

  • LeafsForLife

    Alec Brownscombe LeafsForLifelol its shifts with an F haha

  • Alec Brownscombe

    LeafsForLife Alec Brownscombe  Didn’t you see McClement take two separate dumps in the corners

  • LeafsForLife

    Alec Brownscombe LeafsForLifei saw FML take one against kassian

  • LeafsForLife

    I think the 2 reasons that Kadri hit is being discussed at all is because of how ceci’s head went into the ice awkwardly and because the Leafs scored on the play.

  • LeafsForLife

    Good job alec. I agree about Bozak. I think Kessel and JVR continue to get better too and Bozak is improving along with them.
    For some reason when the Leafs beat the smurfs and the turds, it just seems so much more fun and enjoyable!

  • GreekGod

    LeafsForLife  
    There’s actually quite a few reporters now tweeting a pic of when Kadri makes contact with Ceci and it shows he wasn’t from behind. Further more, Ceci says to the media following the game that he turned his back to Kadri once he saw him coming. And thirdly, Ceci wasn’t injured on the play… So I don’t see Shanny suspending Kadri :)

  • GreekGod

    Having a hard time trying to decide which Healy moment was my favourite from tonight. Narrowed it down to two. First, was when Healy said the game would be over with under 10 minutes to play in the second period had Ottawa scored and then Kessel scores as soon as he finished his statement… and secondly, was when Karlsson held the puck in his own end and Ottawa was switching lines… Healy was saying how smart and good Karlsson is for doing that. Mean while, just about every single defencemen does that in each game… 
    In conclusion, Healy is an idiot :)

  • Mark

    Great recap, agree with many of the points.
    11-11 when they outshoot opponents over 103 games? That’s remarkable

  • LeafsForLife

    GreekGod LeafsForLifeDont get me wrong. I know its a good hit. But had 2nd game on and CBC wont stop talking about how bad the hit by Kadri was. They dont mention anything about what youre saying. Its so stupid these guys. Kind of sick of CBC and cant wait till they dont carry HNIC anymore.

  • GreekGod

    LeafsForLife GreekGod  
    I agree with you 100%. It’s pretty clear that CBC hates the Leafs. TSN is pretty bad as well. I think it’s safe to say that most Leaf fans can’t wait for Rogers to clear house with these bums on HNIC and bring in new faces.

  • LeafsForLife

    the best finish for this season…

    -Leafs make the playoffs with home ice advantage.
    -Ottawa, Montreal, and Vancouver all miss the playoffs.
    -Kessel wins scoring title AND the Maurice Richard trophy.

  • LeafsForLife

    GreekGod LeafsForLifeThat will be so awesome when it does happen! I dont want any of these guys on cbc to be a part of the Leafs broadcasts going forward.
    Harry Neale, Joe Bowen are the exceptions.

  • Xxxxxnew

    Ovie could end up this year with one of the lowest points totals for someone who scores 50 goals. Only had 17 assists last time I looked.

  • DJBrianBurke

    LeafsForLife Why not add the Stanley Cup win? Everything else is in there lol

  • LeafsForLife

    DJBrianBurke LeafsForLifewell i was talking about how the season(regular) would end. not the playoffs. lol.

  • DJBrianBurke

    LeafsForLife DJBrianBurkeAhh, I got ya.

  • DJBrianBurke

    Xxxxxnew He doesn’t play with Bozak 😉

  • Bon Scott was a Leaf fan

    CanuckUKinToronto DeclanK  
    Was watching the final episode of American Horror Story (and vaping).

  • Leafbites

    Filthy shootout goals by the Sharks there. 

    Good work on the game summary. Credit to Naz’s line with the toughest assignment.

  • http://mapleleafshotstove.com/ DeclanK

    GreekGod LeafsForLife  Have a look in the article above. It’s in there.

  • OTL

    Have to keep this going into next week with Florida and then Tampa….could gain some ground on TBay….have a great chance to pick up another 4-6 points (hopefully six!).  I think Cameron mentioned it in the last thread but it would give the team 70-72 points before the break.  Pretty awesome!

  • Xxxxxnew

    DJBrianBurke Xxxxxnew  Other weird stat, Ovie and Thornton have the same number of points, but Ovie has 30 more goals than Thornton and Thornton has 30 more assists than Ovie.

  • OTL

    thanks for another great write up Alec!

  • DJBrianBurke

    GreekGod LeafsForLife
    Someone mentioned that they’re keeping the HNIC team. Should be Bowen, he’s the voice of the Leafs. The guys at HNIC can’t even hold the mics to the past greats of HNIC. Really sad they let it get to this.

  • Bon Scott was a Leaf fan

    You guys and your charts, and your graphs, and your pics, and your videos, and your stats…..really getting to the nitty gritty of it all. 
    Awesome write up, Alec.  Man, I love this place.

  • DJBrianBurke

    Xxxxxnew DJBrianBurkeWeird, but that makes total sense lol

  • DJBrianBurke

    @OTL I hope they win the next three in a row, cause baby it’s time to start plannin’ a parade! Let the good times roll I say! *insert Rick Flair pic from last thread* lol

  • Xxxxxnew

    Leafs 56-38-11 since the beginning of last year.

  • Bon Scott was a Leaf fan

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iccMG7drduQ

  • DJ_Llewellyn

    MapleLeafsHS Melnyk would send his forensic team after Kadri but he ran out of cash.

  • Belfour20

    Bon Scott was a Leaf fan CanuckUKinToronto DeclanK  

    Good freaking show there bud. just finished season 2 and moving on to season 3 now.

  • Great Dane

    How you guys noticed +/- stats Phaneuf and Gunnar have compared to the rest of the defense.

    Overall the team is +/-   -10  and Phaneuf is +17 and Gunnar is +13.

    Gleason has helped a lot but Leafs need another overall d-man instead of Franson

  • HeatherRickAkin

    Great summary, AB . Have a peaceful Sunday.

  • Ratzshite

    I’m so glad Nonis didn’t listen to the fans and signed Bozak, suck it Bozie haters

  • Ratzshite

    GreekGod I hope it didn’t take you this long to figure out Healy is a dumbass, thats what happens when you blow the bag pipe

  • Great Dane

    From Chris Johnston:

    “What is noteworthy about this particularly turnaround is the fact
    that Nonis felt the need to step in as well. That is not an everyday
    occurrence around NHL teams. The GM declined to discuss the meeting when
    approached by Sportsnet earlier this week and none of the Leaf players
    was willing to speak about it on the record.
    However, one point that came across in multiple private conversations
    is that Nonis’s message was received loud and clear. It was clearly an
    eye-opener for those in the room.”
    This is now Nonis team and he calls the shots – Carlyle is working as long as Nonis want him to and execute according to the plan of Nonis and Loiselle.

  • Zep2

    test

  • Great Dane

    CanuckUKinToronto here you are
    http://www.sportsnet.ca/hockey/nhl/leafs-on-a-roll-after-noniss-stern-warning/

  • Zep2

    Kadri hit was borderline boarding call. Contact was on the shoulder at first

    CBC overates Karlson to a ridiculous point . DispaRages everyone in B&W.

    Kessel is playing at and MVP level right now.

  • Zep2

    Flying to Florida this morning . My wife and I will be attending both Fl and TB games

    Keep the streak going GLG

  • Loric76

    Zep2  that’s awesome Z2, have a blast

  • Zep2

    Loric76 Zep2  Thanks,
    Cheers everyone

  • Loric76

    Zep2 Loric76  if they lose out there we’re coming after you lol

  • Loric76

    Great Dane CanuckUKinToronto  good article.  I was searching for your third quote, and then realised that was your own commentary lol