Primary Bozak

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Photo: NHLI via Getty Images

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.

SeasonBozak 1stA/60Rank Among NHL FwdsKessel’s GPGKessel’s PPG
2011-120.5651530.451.0
2012-130.3541670.421.08
2013-141.41820.531.11

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.

(Note: one of Bozak’s nicest primary assists came on the PP against San Jose.  Very similar to his setup pass to Kessel against Columbus).

RankPlayer5v5 Pts/605v5 TOI
1Getzlaf3.21804:22
2Neal3.04533:19
3Perry2.84866:16
4Kessel2.78991:21
5Benn2.77823:39
6Malkin2.76716:46
7Hall2.73812:10
8Bozak2.63592:28
9Okposo2.60945:54
10Landeskog2.60877:48

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.

kesselsince2011

 

 

Monday Morning Links…

Two more days until the Trade Deadline.

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  • TheCanucksnaphook

    Did I mention we need these two points tonite?

  • MaxwellHowe

    Boazak’s been playing some great hockey, but kudosfor recognizing and acknowledging that the pass that led to the goal was insanely dangerous.  Went thru 2 Habs who, if they had intercepted, were looking at an oddman rush right up the middle of the ice.  Interesting to imagine what RC said, if anything, once the boys were back on the bench.

  • TheCanucksnaphook

    Gilbey93  I can tell you why people shit on him, and it was because he was getting prime tap in opportunities and failing to convert.  Lets not be revisionists here.   He has improved immensely and I for one am very happy that he has.

  • Burtonboy

    I’m pumped Bozak has kicked dirt in the face of the haters, especially the advanced stat crowd who said numbers don’t lie and the guy was useless

  • MaxwellHowe

    Not looking forward to tonite’s game.  Like the Minnesota Wild and Dallas Stars, the CBJs are a team that for some reason gives the Leafs fits.  I would pin it on the hungry young and aggressive forwards and great coaching.

  • TheCanucksnaphook

    Burtonboy  Unsure about you, but many of us ripped on Bozak.   Most guys around here had us trading for a “#1C” after some of his missed opportunities.  Kid has worked hard to get better so thats impressive.

  • Burtonboy

    TheCanucksnaphook Burtonboy  I always like Bozie’s game but even I wanted an upgrade at 1C Phook . Maybe we don’t after all.

  • Burtonboy

    TheCanucksnaphook Burtonboy  I always like Bozie’s game but even I wanted an upgrade at 1C Phook . Maybe we don’t after all.

  • Wilbur

    This is a HUGE game tonight. Will take a total team effort at both ends of the ice. I’m nervous. We lose this one and all bets are off.

  • TheCanucksnaphook

    MaxwellHowe  Hungry and young aggressive forwards are the key.  We keep trying our best to keep that same young talent OUT of our lineup here in toronto.  I am not sure why but its got to do with Luke Schenn and “rushing him”.  Its ok for guys like Broll and Leivo to come up and succeed.

  • TheCanucksnaphook

    Wilbur  Lose this one and the playoffs are fucked,  Just a guess but its a BAD roll to get on.

  • Wilbur

    TheCanucksnaphook Wilbur  Particularly, if we get steam-rolled again by this team.

  • MaxwellHowe

    TheCanucksnaphook MaxwellHowe well how could we get by without the heady contributions on Mason Raymond?? /s

  • Burtonboy

    Wilbur TheCanucksnaphook  We are not getting steam rolled and we are winning this game . SO THERE !!!!!!!

  • TheCanucksnaphook

    MaxwellHowe  Not sure how we will ever survive.  I am preparing food/water rations in case the end of the world comes when he leaves.

  • http://hopeinthebigsmoke.ca/ hope_smoke

    Bozak’s offensive play has been a pleasant surprise. That initial pass was great as was Bozak’s ability to burst through the lane for a chance immediately prior to JVR’s opening goal. As mentioned though, the pass to Kessel for the goal was a bad idea that someone like Kadri would be criticized horribly for. Also can’t forget Bozak being lost on Galchenyuk’s goal. He has been better this season in the offensive zone. His defensive shortcomings are a still a problem. I’d love for his improved offensive play to continue, I’m skeptical it can.

  • Zep2

    A loss tonite and it’s official-TIme to start worrying

  • MaxwellHowe

    Good News! According to Mark Spector, Ryan Kesler WON’T accept a trade to the Maple Leafs.  Whew!

  • MaxwellHowe

    Zep2 sellers, sellers, sellers, sellers

  • Burtonboy

    MaxwellHowe Most annalists are saying its unlikely he would agree to a trade to another Canadian team anyway

  • TheCanucksnaphook

    I would love to find a way to get another winger for Line #2.

    then roll Kulemin-Bolland-Clarkson on 3.

    Cameron will spew all sorts of stats about our current line 2 but it does not impress me at all.

  • Burtonboy

    I’m hoping they call up Ashton along with Holland for tonight’s game.

  • MaxwellHowe

    TheCanucksnaphook Maybe Kulimen – Bolland  – Clarkson should be line 2.  Put Kadri back in protected minutes on line 3.  Put Ashton and Bodie on either die of him.  A bit of a beliigerent line.  This is why I think Lupul may be the odd man out.

  • Knights2Leafs

    Burtonboy
    Exactly.  Never thought he was a 1C but thought his game was good enough to be a 2C or 3C. Now, if a Tavares fell into our laps you’d take him in a heart beat but we no longer have to go out and force a trade for a 1C.

  • TheCanucksnaphook

    Burtonboy  Ashton, Leivo, D’amigo are all starting to deserve shots.

  • Burtonboy

    Knights2Leafs Burtonboy  Of course but I won’t hold my breathe waiting for that to happen.

  • Burtonboy

    TheCanucksnaphook Burtonboy  Would you waive Orr and McLaren to get them in the line up ?

  • Zep2

    Sell,no. Trade, probably and a few starts for Reimer

  • MaxwellHowe

    Burtonboy TheCanucksnaphook certainly one of them.

  • Burtonboy

    MaxwellHowe Burtonboy TheCanucksnaphook  For sure but to get all 3 in the lineup Smith, Orr, and McLaren have to go

  • TheCanucksnaphook

    There is nobody on this board that loves Orr more than I do.  Guy is a warrior that gave it his all (probably his brain included) but its time to free up that roster spot.  Sad as it makes me to say, the game has passed him by and for his own health time to enjoy the fruits of his labor.

  • MaxwellHowe

    Burtonboy MaxwellHowe TheCanucksnaphook don’t have to give all 3 a shot in the same game tho.  Not like RC would ever go for putting three kids in the lineup at once

  • TheCanucksnaphook

    Burtonboy MaxwellHowe TheCanucksnaphook  I am saying they deserve ice.  They wont all get it now.

  • Knights2Leafs

    TheCanucksnaphook
    Exacty. If Carlyle would open his eyes he would see we have all the tools necessary for a great bottom 6.  Plus your favourite player coming back next year – Leo!!!  : )

  • TheCanucksnaphook

    Knights2Leafs Let me have Broll or Devane and Leo can play on the fuckin first line for all i care.

  • MaxwellHowe

    TheCanucksnaphook Get him out of the game before some guy like monster on the Oilers, Gadzic, ends it

  • TheCanucksnaphook

    MaxwellHowe Gadzic is a fuckin thug.  THere are a few of them out there…..absolute beasts.

  • Burtonboy

    TheCanucksnaphook Burtonboy MaxwellHowe  I don’t know but I would make the move myself . Realistically I don’t see Leivo getting a sot unless there is injury but I’d really like to see Ashton and D,Amigo called up for sure

  • Knights2Leafs

    TheCanucksnaphook  
    I took your advice Phook.  After my one ranting post yesterday, it was off to Jaco Beach where I’m sitting at the Sunrise Breakfast Place. ATV tour later this morning, deep sea fishing tomorrow.

  • TheCanucksnaphook

    Knights2Leafs Good for you man….that is the shit I am talking about !!

    -18 (without windchill) here today. You are in the right spot.

  • Burtonboy

    TheCanucksnaphook MaxwellHowe  Westgarth might retire after that shot he took on Saturday

  • TheCanucksnaphook

    Burtonboy TheCanucksnaphook MaxwellHowe  Actually ?

  • Burtonboy

    TheCanucksnaphook Burtonboy MaxwellHowe  Obviously concussed and that not the 1st one . Get out man before your brains are scrambled

  • TheCanucksnaphook

    I must be getting soft because watching these kids throw bombs at each other is actually making me cringe.  I love fighting but man I hate seeing guys get hurt long term.

  • Knights2Leafs

    TheCanucksnaphook  
    Kadri hasn’t been as good as anticipated but no where near as bad as some are saying.  Lupul has been the disappointment on that line.
    For the record, 2 years down the road a Rielly/Kadri led PP will be the 2nd best PP in the league right behind the The Phil PP.

  • Knights2Leafs

    TheCanucksnaphook
    Yeah, 27 and humid yesterday afternoon. Life’s great when we’re bitching to find some air conditioning.

  • Burtonboy

    TheCanucksnaphook  I like the fights too phook but I don’t want to see someone dead on the ice.

  • wendelsway1

    Good Game Day Morning, Guys……a great day to be a Leafer!….and Bozak’s da bomb!!!  GO LEAFS GO!!!

  • Burtonboy

    https://twitter.com/Hope_Smoke https://twitter.com/Hope_Smoke/status/440471058286911488
    Dreger “it’s fun to talk & speculate about these trade rumours, but when you factor in the cap situations most scenarios become a longshot”

  • TheCanucksnaphook

    Burtonboy Christ you are getting soft too !! I keep thinking the same thing, but I do know if you take it out then the elbows and stick swinging etc will get way out of control.

    Not sure what the answer is.