Saturday night in Montreal, Tyler Bozak pulled off an assist for the highlight reel just before Phil Kessel’s go-ahead 3-2 goal.
(The goal, Bob Cole’s call, and Kessel’s celebration were grade-A Leafs porn. It’s a shame
there was horrible officiating the Leafs can’t protect leads, preventing this from being a game winner).
Note Bozak’s first pass into Kessel in the slot on the initial opportunity before the puck left the zone. Granted, the pass just before the goal was as lucky as it was good. There’s two Habs between him and Kessel, it actually went through Deharnais’ skates, and it’s a pass through the middle of the neutral zone that could easily lead to a rush the other way. At the same time, his quick glance over the shoulder at Kessel, awareness of where he’s going to be and ability to put it into that area with a spinorama backhand pass was remarkable.
It marked another primary assist for Bozak, his fourth in his last three games.
Indeed, the Bozak-Kessel connection has been more than an on-ice chemistry myth and an off-ice bromance.
Before the break versus Vancouver, this was a dominant shift by Bozak full of excellent distribution, including a good pass into slot for JvR, a pass between the legs to Franson, and a ring around the boards back to Kessel.
Among forwards with a minimum of 500 minutes played at 5 on 5 this season, Tyler Bozak ranks second in primary assists per 60, behind only Gabriel Landeskog and ahead of Getzlaf, Malkin and Thornton.
|Season||Bozak 1stA/60||Rank Among NHL Fwds||Kessel’s GPG||Kessel’s PPG|
With 12 points in his last 11, 11 of which are at 5v5, he’s been a significant part of the team’s resurgence of even strength offence. 29 of his 35 points in 38 games have come at even strength.
|Rank||Player||5v5 Pts/60||5v5 TOI|
So, hats off to Tyler Bozak for his excellent half season of hockey. No, Bozak isn’t likely to beat Sidney Crosby in first assists per 60 over a full season, let alone for the balance of the contract. But lord knows he’s had enough vitriol directed his way to deserve the applause when applause is due. Certainly he couldn’t have a better finisher or player, period, in the league than Phil Kessel on his line at the moment, but it’s been awfully hard to make the “passenger” argument this season.
That goal versus Montreal, by the way, combined with his assist earlier in the night moved Phil Kessel into the top spot in points scoring since October, 2011.
Monday Morning Links…
Two more days until the Trade Deadline.
- The Maple Leafs had some of their pro scouts at the Phoenix game last night (Yandle? Expensive. Michalek? Maybe).
- Stephane Robidas (hard-nosed veteran, right handed shutdown-style defenceman… interesting, although still recovering from a serious injury) may be moved by the deadline, although Dallas resisted interest last deadline.
- Full rumour round up from around the league.
- Carter Ashton notched a hat trick in yesterday’s Marlies win, taking him up to 13 goals in 16 games in the AHL.
- Fully updated stats table for all Leafs prospects.
- Three keys to the Leafs’ playoff push
- Jonathan Bernier and the bump road to the promised land
@Alec Brownscombe Sell outs! :D
@wiski Cheers buddy. Enjoy
@wiski Lets get er donee
@ingy56 But HOLY MACKINAW
@ingy56 We play tonight? I thought they played Tuesday night for some reason
@Doit4Dougie Nothing yet.
@Optimustic Alot of bickering over who we are interested in Phoenix and what it would take to obtain them.
@wiski We'll find out in 3-4 hours if the Leafs win or lose...what would we do without these MSM guys?
@wiski That's Gold!
@rustynail Hey Rusty, how did our lowly Petes come into town and take a victory over the Knights? Read it was 12 years between wins in London. I guess they were due.
@Belfour20 He's doing what the team is asking of him, which is everything. They need him to shoulder a massive portion of the shutdown minutes given the drop off on D after him while also playing top unit PP and being expected to help chip in offense at 5 on 5. He deserves more credit for that +22, not your meaningless skepticism
@Belfour20 FRANSONS YOU USELESS PILE OF CRAP ........
thats alright morgan...you keep your head up little guy, its alright, your trying hard..
@Belfour20 Three players the Leafs could target to upgrade the right side: Michalek (Phx), Hamonic (Nyi), Weaver (Fla).
All of them play top four and lots of shorthanded.
@Gilbey93 what else there feels like bath water?
@Gilbey93 you bastard ;D
@Gilbey93 well we'd have 8 D presumably, and so either Rielly plays as a 7th D or sits in the pressbox with Ranger until an injury occurs
@Gilbey93 because we don't need an upgrade on the left side, at all. Gunnarsson plays top pair, and Gleason and Gardiner also get big minutes on the left. Rielly also shoots left, but is forced to play the right side, with Franson getting a bulk of the minutes. Franson is clearly the player whose minutes need to be reduced (at least SH, and sheltered at ES).
@Gilbey93 he shoots left, and not sure if he can play the right side.