Game Review: Game #60, Leafs 3 vs. Canucks 1

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TORONTO, ON - FEBRUARY 8: Tyler Bozak #42, Nazem Kadri #43 and Phil Kessel #81 of the Toronto Maple Leafs celebrate Kessel's goal against the Vancouver Canucks during NHL action at the Air Canada Centre February 8, 2014 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Abelimages/Getty Images)

Ten games above .500 (32-22-6), 70 points on the year, and the first win over Vancouver since November of 2003. That’s the way to enter the Olympic Break.

1st Period

  • The Leafs started this game well, enjoying two consecutive powerplays. Not sure about Raymond on the left half wall on the PP as a left-handed shot. It’s easy to defend against. By having a right shot there, it opens up a cleaner passing lane to the point and allows for a better shot lane at the net (a la Kessel).
  • We’ve been saying it since last season and still are this season… The Leafs’ very good powerplay could be that much better if they were to correctly deploy their defence pairings. Phaneuf and Franson have difficulty rushing the puck and handling it in traffic inside the offensive zone. The Gardiner / Rielly pair has silky smooth zone entries and are creative with the puck, but ultimately lack a shot threat. Conversely, Dion/Franson play their correct sides (Dion has difficulty on his proper side 5v5, and always plays RD), but they have Dion out of his element on the left side on the PP. When Dion/Franson play catch or try and set up for a shot, it takes two touches to corral the puck; one to catch the pass and one to setup (again) for the shot. Putting them on their proper sides makes for two 100-mph shots from the point, which is incredibly hard to defend against; by adding Gardiner or Rielly to the PP#1, it would add another passing outlet that can drift in off the point and draw coverage away from the point for a clean shot lane.
  • Gardiner has to keep adding strength so he can lean on a forward protecting the puck more effectively. At one point in the first, Booth worked him off the sideboard in the defensive zone. Granted, if anyone saw Booth on the show “NHL Revealed,” the guy is built like a chiseled Greek God and weighs a solid 215 pounds, but Gardiner got manhandled. I know the two get compared far too often, so I hate saying it, but Rielly is already a ways ahead in terms of strength in those one on one battles.
  • Weak attempts from the outside by Canucks on their first PP, after a Leafs high sticking penalty. Kesler surging through the middle was  the best chance, but Bernier was there with a pad save.
  • What a boring first period (and 2nd). The game was paint-drying bland and the crowd was church-mouse quiet. I think the conversations at center ice before the game were less about the game and more about which resorts they were staying at down South during the Break.
  • Nonetheless, the Leafs were mostly carrying the play, but came under siege in final two minutes. The Canucks, badly struggling for offense of late, were clearly  just shooting from everywhere.
  • The Canucks took a 1-0 lead on one such shot, as Kesler fired a weak shot from well above the circle that fooled Bernier. Don Cherry jumped at his chance to rebuke a defenceman (called Gardiner a “dummie”) for reaching in with his stick during a windup. It did take a deflection off Gardiner’s stick, but it was going wide. The reason why Bernier was lost on that shot was because it deflected off Gleason’s midsection right in front. Bernier made contact with the blocker but it deflected down and in.
  • A good start to the period, but a poor finish cost the Leafs. They were down one, but there was nothing to be too discouraged about.

The Leafs flatlined at the end of this period:

 

2nd Period

  • The Leafs had best chance (off the stick of Kadri) in the first five minutes of the 2nd, but that was saying very little.
  • A scary moment for McClement. He lost an edge in the corner and slammed his face off the ice before leaving the ice bleeding. This put the Leafs down to 10 forwards for the rest of the game.
  • I was worried the team might be looking forward to the break, whereas Vancouver, losing and hungry, might want it a bit more. Neither team was up to much, but the Leafs were looking OK in a game where neither team was sharp. One bounce was the difference.
  • Bodie and Raymond worked a good cycle down low, followed by a jam play from Raymond, for the best chance in some time. A low event period to say the least.
  • The first line came on strong on the next shift, with 10 to go. Bozak extended the play with a great effort to stick lift Kassian in the slot as he went to clear the zone. Bozak’s a sneaky player who does that sort of thing well (extends plays). A long spell of possession followed in what was the first line’s best shift of the game to this point.
  • This game was so low-event it felt like the next goal was crucial.
  • Much of the final 10 minutes of the period were played in the neutral zone. No one was sustaining zone time; there were countless dump ins, with neither team able to keep the zone for more than a fleeting few moments.
  • The only exciting moment of the period was Burrows and Kessel tangling for round 2. Burrows threw a slash, a cross check to the neck area, and grabbed Kessel’s hair… Just a brutally dirty player. He was assessed a deserved extra 2. No Kessel for the PP, though, so Bozak briefly assumed his spot on the half wall. Clarkson took a hooking penalty with a few seconds left and negated the PP.

 

Kessel would get the last laugh…

3rd Period

  • The Leafs got an easy kill to start the third, with a minute to kill off of Clarkson’s penalty.
  • The first line was starting to come on strong. Kessel forced a great save out of Luongo after hopping on a broken pass in the slot. That was an over-pass by Kadri just before, as he had a clean look at the net.
  • A good spell of possession/shots followed a good forecheck by Clarkson, who caused a turnover behind the Vancouver net.
  • Morgan Rielly went a dangerous rush after identifying a chance to go while the Canucks changed. As Anthony noted, when do teams stop changing when he has possession of the puck in his own zone?
  • Kulemin, Raymond and Bodie came on strong with two consecutive shifts. After a Gunnarsson drive to the net, Raymond walked out from behind the goal, pivoted, and put one through Luongo. MayRay got one over on his old team, his 16th goal of the season.
  • That was more of a pinch down off the blueline, but Gunnarsson has been rushing aggressively last three games, as we saw once in the first. He looks a lot more active. It seems to be a part of the coaching’s staff insistence on the defence, who were generating so few points in the first half of the season, getting more active to create offence.
  • Amazing defensive play by Bozak to save Rielly’s behind after he got caught in between rushing the puck and making a pass, turning the puck over at the red line. A great diving play by Bozak took away a clean break for the Canucks. Bozak was dogged in his efforts tonight, with an amazing all-around game. This shift included a diving backcheck, a rush with the puck,  a little dangle, and a pass through a defender’s legs.. all in the build up to:
  • Kessel’s 31st goal of the season, dedicated to Alex Burrows. A rocket-propelled snapper from the top of the circle while Luongo was blinded by a face full of JvR’s pants, Strombone had zero chance on this one. This Phil Kessel guy is something else. Enjoy him in Sochi, Team USA. Just make sure he comes back healthy.
  • A few minutes later, Bozak gained the zone, found Kessel in the slot with a no look pass, and JvR banked the rebound off of Edler’s neck and in. Three goals in under five minutes. That’s the 24th goal for JvR, who is on the hunt for thirty before this season is through.
  • A rare instance of candidness from the HNIC crew: “This is a team that can win a game in 5 minutes.” So they did.
  • You wouldn’t know Kulemin is a winger playing center. A fastidious defensive player, it’s also good to see him receive more touches on the puck. He had a good look from the slot that forced a good blocker save out of Luongo just after the Leafs took the 3-1 lead.
  • Another fast-break 2 on 1 for JvR and Kessel in the final minutes. They nearly added to their account as Kessel made contact with a saucer pass mid air, but it just went wide.
  • No issues closing the game out for the Leafs, again, which is great to see. Man, could the Leafs have used Tim Gleason in front of their net late in Game 7.

The Leafs breezed through the 60s and now find themselves in a comfortable playoff position with 70 points. They’ll also receive a free deadline addition in Dave Bolland after this three-week break to rest up. All is well in Leafs Nation.

Fenwick chart for 2014-02-08 Canucks 1 at Maple Leafs 3 Final

Leafs-Canucks-Shot-Chart

Toronto Maple Leafs vs Vancouver Canucks Boxscore

TORONTO

GOALIEDEC.SHOTSSAVESSAVE %MIN.
Jonathan Bernier (22-16-5)W33320.9759:51
PLAYERGATOI+/-SOGPIMFWFLHITSBSTAKEGIVE
Troy Bodie0114:13100006000
Tyler Bozak0221:522101281022
David Clarkson0015:24-102004120
Cody Franson0013:14110003000
Jake Gardiner0018:28010001001
Tim Gleason0119:31010004101
Carl Gunnarsson0017:33110004410
Nazem Kadri0017:450121292001
Phil Kessel1121:30222000011
Nikolai Kulemin0119:03120792100
Joffrey Lupul0018:23010000001
Jay McClement005:22010423000
Frazer McLaren001:32000000000
Dion Phaneuf0022:54130006211
Paul Ranger009:05010001112
Mason Raymond1020:20142001001
Morgan Rielly0019:15120001103
James van Riemsdyk1018:45120012000

VANCOUVER

GOALIEDEC.SHOTSSAVESSAVE %MIN.
Roberto Luongo (19-16-6)L24210.87558:04
PLAYERGATOI+/-SOGPIMFWFLHITSBSTAKEGIVE
David Booth0012:22-110002100
Alexandre Burrows0013:54044001110
Frank Corrado0011:53-110002500
Zac Dalpe00:0000002000
Raphael Diaz0021:03-100005100
Alexander Edler0123:32-132001300
Jason Garrison0022:57-140005402
Dan Hamhuis0024:37-120002300
Jannik Hansen0021:51030002000
Chris Higgins0122:06-130001000
Zack Kassian0010:49-200000010
Ryan Kesler1023:4604015113112
Kellan Lain006:41002160000
Brad Richardson0015:07-230792120
Jordan Schroeder0016:14020693011
Daniel Sedin0018:45010002000
Tom Sestito006:06000001100
Ryan Stanton0016:14120003101

Game in 6: Canucks at Leafs

REVIEW OVERVIEW
Forwards
85 %
Defence
85 %
Goaltending
95 %
Special Teams
70 %
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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]
  • MLHS_Luke

    Gotta love beating Vancouver..

  • traNsplantEdneWfie

    Gonna suck waiting for hockey.

  • OTL

    Great recap, Alec.  Bozak quietly on pace for 50 pts in 58 games played on the season.  That would have been 71 pts over the full season.  That’s damn fine numbers.

  • mikeshave

    makes me happy

  • Komas Taberle

    Patches has gone to movie house, will be fine for Team USA.

  • Reversethecurse13

    Regarding comment about Raymond on left-half wall of the PP…

    …put Lupul there and Clarkson front of the net.

  • MLHS_Luke

    http://i.imgur.com/CqxGhPQ.jpg

  • PEIleafnation

    how can anyone cheer for a team with burrows ..rat and Kessler smug prick

  • MLHS_Luke

    PEIleafnation  The thing that pissed me off was the cross check to the neck.  You know if Kessel did that they’d be discussing how many games he’ll sit out.  Not a peep about Burrow’s though..

  • MLHS_Luke

    CanuckUKinToronto  The only thing I’m looking forward to with the Sportsnet rights is Joe Bowen hopefully taking over for HNIC..

  • daniel marois

    MLHS_Luke CanuckUKinToronto  

    Sportsnet prez Scott Moore knows how much people hated Jim Hughson when he was running things at CBC.  And there is some bad blood when Hughson fled SN for CBC.  Sportsnet will correct this wrong.  I hope they can pry Cuthbert from TSN.  Doubt it though…

  • Jmessih

    Fair to say Troy Bodie turned the game then Phil Kessel’s talent took over?

  • daniel marois

    Jmessih  

    Bodie, despite being Lieweke’s son-in-law, is making Nonis look like a genius…and making a mockery of having both MacLaren and Orr in the lineup.

  • http://mapleleafshotstove.com/ DeclanK

    https://twitter.com/Dudgee/status/432332053364084736

  • Reversethecurse13

    CanuckUKinToronto Reversethecurse13  also has a great shot. Clarkson’s spot on the pp in NJ was front of the net.

  • Optimustic

    ” Boy could the Leafs have used Gleason in front of their net in game 7 ”  How true.   Thanks for the review, it wasn’t one of my favourite wins on the season, but I’m glad it was a W and in regulation too.   Big 2 points for the good guys.

  • daniel marois

    CanuckUKinToronto daniel marois Jmessih  

    Too bad Carlyle thinks of Orr/MacLaren in the same vain as Bodie….

  • PEIleafnation

    MLHS_Luke PEIleafnation yah and with a cage …

  • PEIleafnation

    DeclanK rat rat rat

  • phaneufoundlander

    Leafs are 11-3-1 in the last 15…..impressive….and man am I loving Timmy Gleason on this team….

  • Reversethecurse13

    daniel marois CanuckUKinToronto Jmessih  Bodie played 13 mins tonight…FML played 1 minute

  • Jmessih

    PEIleafnation DeclanK “He Burrows you mess with the bull, you get the horns” – Phil Kessel
    Phil had a dominate 3rd period.

  • whalz

    DeclanK kessel losing his hair fast, that’s why he pushes his hair fwd….lol…..shave it off PK just like me

  • Burtonboy

    https://twitter.com/mriles4 https://twitter.com/mriles4/status/432346895562723328
    Thanks for the tweets, if you guys are wondering, front teeth dont go down as smooth as you’d think. https://twitter.com/search?q=%23ouch&src=hash

  • Kessel81

    DeclanK  We should thank Burrows for getting Kessel to the next gear. A slashy angry Kessel is a scoring Kessel!

  • whalz

    Burtonboy lol.he looks tougher now

  • Burtonboy

    https://twitter.com/mirtle https://twitter.com/mirtle/status/432346796179095552
    Bernier thought Luongo played great tonight. Wished him luck in Sochi. “It’s not my [wish] to see the other goalie going not [succeed].”

  • Burtonboy

    Kessel81 DeclanK  Bozie said he secretly likes mixing it up, also said don’t poke the bear lol

  • whalz

    Jmessih bodie deserves  a place on the 4th line,,,,exactly what a 4th liner should be able to do…FML and Orr need to be waived, or atleast one of them…when healthy lineup is ready

    jvr-bozak-kess
    lups-kadri-Clarkson
    Raymond-bolland-kuly
    bodie-mcclement-holland

  • phaneufoundlander

    Optimustic Greasy Gleasy is a gem, a warrior…I loved what he did in Tampa…heart and soul guy…fearless…love how you could read his lips too after the scrum lol.
    I was at the game in TB and the support was insane, I thought I was at the ACC…had my boy Clark shirt on and felt like a kid, it was a good game to be attending….I was in shock as to how fast Kessel is….his lower torso must be part stallion….such an amazing player

  • Jmessih

    Burtonboy Was just about to post that, huge props to Bernier.

  • Jmessih

    Good think Kessel scored a goal today for Borrows. Alex has not been able to do it himself all seasonhttps://twitter.com/mirtle https://twitter.com/mirtle/status/432347576390922240
    Kessel on Burrows: “I wasn’t too happy but you know it’s part of the game and there’s little battles out there. It happens.”

  • phaneufoundlander

    DeclanK you’re a gutless puke Burrows…thanks for waking our boy up though

  • MLHS_Luke

    Damn, how is Pittsburg so far ahead of the rest of the conference?  They never dominate us..

  • Kessel81

    whalz Jmessih  Switch jay with holland and move bolland to centre jay to wing and holland on the third.

    Ray – Holly – Russian GoldFish
    Bodie – Boland-McC

    Ashton  

    Boland said he wont be the same coming back so easy him in

  • Jmessih

    whalz Jmessih Ashton 13th forward. I’d waive both Orr and McLaren. D’Amigo could be the next call up.

  • TuckerForPunishment

    MLHS_Luke  Dion has Sids #.

  • traNsplantEdneWfie

    MLHS_Luke  They play wide open and get teams to fall for it.  They tried it with Philli in the playoffs a couple years ago and it didn’t work.

  • phaneufoundlander

    whalz DeclanKif I had his coin, I’d have hair so thick you’d need a garden rake to get through it

  • whalz

    Jmessih whalz yup true…forgot about Ashton

  • Jmessih

    Highlight of the night?
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hh9Aj6zhZg4

  • whalz

    phaneufoundlander whalzDeclanK lol

  • traNsplantEdneWfie

    Jmessih  The Shack must have been a hoot to be around in those days.  Sure would have kept everyone loose.

  • phaneufoundlander

    CanuckUKinToronto its pathetic man, makes me sick…they ruin every Saturday night for me…bunch of leaf hatin pricks and its killing them inside to see the leafs successful..fuckin douche bags, all of em

  • Jmessih

    Title says it all, Borrows does all that before pulling Phil’s hair. 
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HjYhDMlo4Mw

  • Shift_Disturber1

    “This is a team that can win a game in 5 minutes.”- It’s both a blessing and a curse.

  • Hmmm

    Burtonboy  No mouth guard?

  • Leafbites

    Shift_Disturber1  Yes sir. Great ‘quote-comment’

  • phaneufoundlander

    PEIleafnation dam right man…Kesler is a douche, fuckin arrogant yank asshole…I was hoping leafs would blow em out and then somebody could catch Burrows in the jaw and break it again..nobody, and I mean nobody should take liberties on Phil “fucking” Kessel and get away with it… I think I’d have to jump the boards if I was there…

  • phaneufoundlander

    Komas Taberle fuckin Maxy Pad is a Pussy..I hope he has a broken rib