Game Review: Game #64, Maple Leafs 3 vs. Rangers 2 (OT)

Game Review: Game #64, Maple Leafs 3 vs. Rangers 2 (OT)

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Tyler Bozak, Morgan Rielly

The Toronto Maple Leafs, eh guys?

Never a dull moment.

This game was firmly in Toronto’s control at 2-0 when they took to the powerplay with fifteen minutes to go, only for the Leafs to blow their 20th third-period lead of the season in spectacular fashion – two shorthanded goals against on the same powerplay for the second time in under a week. That’s not even the result of being unable to defend a lead (though they certainly struggle with that as well), that’s just plain bizarre. It’s utter nonsense.

I’d take my chance to rail against the defence pairings again because the Leafs don’t split Franson and Phaneuf up and pair them off with a puck rusher/mover each in Rielly and Gardiner, but PP2 with Gardiner and Rielly pulled off the same feat last Thursday against the Islanders. I will say Franson and Phaneuf do not have the same ability to recover with their feet after a giveaway as a Rielly or Gardiner do if a turnover happens at the offensive blueline. It’s not like we saw no warning signs about how many shorthanded opportunities that pairing was giving up before the Break.

In any event, the first goal was an outrageously dumb backhand pass attempt as last-man back by Cody Franson inside his own blueline, seemingly trying to go through Brian Boyle’s legs. It should’ve been nothing, but a crazy bounce off of Phaneuf’s leg directed a shot that was sent a good 10 feet wide into the net. Just a minute later, a Kessel turnover high in the zone sent Phaneuf reeling on a 2 on 1 and Dominic Moore (of course) tied it up at 2s. Unbelievable.

Thankfully, Phil Kessel and Tyler Bozak came to the rescue in OT. Kessel had played one of his weaker games I’ve seen him play in months. He had a few sparkling moments, of course, but he turned the puck over about four times in high-danger areas, including the turnover that led to the second shorthanded goal against. In OT, it was his rush and pass out from behind the net that saved the day, with Bozak johnny on the spot with a good finish, his second goal of the game. Can’t hold The Phil down. Not even for a game.

Notes:

- It was an okay first period from the Leafs, with 11 shots generated, but too many were shots for the sake of shots. Lundqvist had a clean view on almost all of them, although Mason Raymond seemed to have him beat short side and hit the crossbar. Traffic is a must on Lundqvist and he didn’t deal with enough of it, with the other consequence of the Leafs failing to generate any second opportunities by not going in the dirty areas. Good saves by Bernier on three separate occasions in the first kept this game tied; the first on a Marty St. Louis one timer, then on a jam play in front after Brian Boyle was left alone, and another on a scramble after Franson threw a pizza into the slot.

. Tyler Bozak’s goal came after a mad scramble in the Leaf end as a penalty kill expired a minute and a half into the 2nd period; JvR’s delicate hands sent a beautiful saucer pass to Bozak for breakaway, where he was hooked and earned a penalty shot. Bozak was patient and waited just long enough for Lundqvist to open up ever so slightly and fit the puck through a barely-open five hole (that was a dirty-sounding sentence). It’s a shame they don’t give out assists for penalty shot goals based on the original play because JVR sure deserved one there.

- The Leafs only generated five shots in the second period according to the shot clock, but generated far better chances than in period 1. Notable among them was a near-goal for Jake Gardiner, who is overdue (no goals or points in the last 12 games). Gardiner hit the handle of Lundqvist’s stick and then both posts off a rocket of a shot. Lupul also got robbed after a nice move in tight.

- Lupul’s chance came after Kulemin put a puck on net low and hard for a rebound. Kulemin’s ability to retrieve pucks, his desire to play on the inside in the offensive zone and his willingness to simply direct pucks on net are much-needed elements that help keep Lupul and Kadri from spending entire games on the perimeter. He should never leave this line again.

- The Leafs’ 2nd goal in the third period came off more Kuli-goodness. Kulemin was dogged on the forecheck and forced a turnover behind the New York net before putting the puck low and hard at the net, where Kadri collected and finished off his 16th goal of the season.

- Kulemin should’ve had the game winner after breaking in alone on Lundqvist with a couple of minutes left in the game. Lundqvist made quite the save. Could’ve been much more than one assist for Kulemin tonight.

- The dangers of the Leafs’ overload defensive zone coverage nearly cost them the game very late on in this one. Given the way the 2-0 lead was forfeited, a regulation loss would’ve sent Leafs Nation into understandable, widespread panic. With all the Leafs collapsed down into the corner, the puck made it out to the far point and it was a free lane down broadway with only Bernier between Ryan McDonaugh and the game-losing goal (play looked similar to how McDonaugh scored the 2-1 goal). Gunnarsson, thankfully, recovered and scooped the trickling puck out from behind Bernier.

Screen Shot 2014-03-05 at 10

Screen Shot 2014-03-05 at 11

- Bodie played only five minutes tonight and just one minute in the first, likely because he nearly caused a goal against in the first period by falling over and fumbling the puck. Call-up Carter Ashton watched from the press box.

- The worry now is that the Leafs are going to continue their struggles on the powerplay because of the fear that is creeping into their psyche on the powerplay. They got another opportunity late in the third and played more like they just wanted to avoid a mistake. Mixing up the personnel a little bit might bring a fresh mindset. The Leafs’ top-5 powerplay hasn’t scored a goal since returning from Olympic Break (0 for 15).

- Bozak played a hell of a game again tonight. He’s playing a heads-up game, moving the puck incredibly well, and unlike the Columbus game he buried on his chances tonight. He’s brimming with confidence right now. The two goals give Bozak 14 goals and 37 points in 40 games played. That’s a hell of a half-season.

Photo: ExtraSkater.com

Photo: ExtraSkater.com

Leafs-vs-Rangers-Shot-Chart

Toronto Stats
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
GOALIEDEC.SHOTSSAVESSAVE %MIN.
Jonathan Bernier (23-16-7)W37350.94661:51:00
PLAYERGATOI+/-SOGPIMFWFLHITSBSTAKEGIVE
Troy Bodie005:21:00000000000
Tyler Bozak2024:09:0007018150100
David Clarkson0011:28:00020002200
Cody Franson0016:17:00-210002100
Jake Gardiner0016:00:00010000002
Tim Gleason0016:35:00000003500
Carl Gunnarsson0023:07:00100000200
Peter Holland0011:14:00020341100
Nazem Kadri1019:21:001409100001
Phil Kessel0125:24:00-140000123
Nikolai Kulemin0118:52:00132001110
Joffrey Lupul0021:05:00130004201
Jay McClement007:59:00000842100
Dion Phaneuf0022:32:00-100001200
Paul Ranger0111:15:00100003100
Mason Raymond0012:46:00020101101
Morgan Rielly0018:59:00100000000
James van Riemsdyk0020:59:00-202000000
Review overview
Forwards - 75 %
Defence - 80 %
Goaltending - 90 %
Special Teams - 30 %
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]
615 comments
Xxxxxnew
Xxxxxnew

Lou Corleone: Someday, and that day may never come, I'll call upon you to do a service for me. But until that day, accept this justice as a gift on my daughter's wedding day.

Bonasera Bettman: Grazie, Godfather.

loomx
loomx

The penalty to the Devils was too harsh in the first place and them losing their 1st round pick was over the top when other teams circumvented the cap too. BUT the penalty should've been revised a year later max. Doing it now is bush-league.

Loric76
Loric76

Text from my brother a few minutes ago:


"The Leafs announced they are 'circumventing the Clarkson contract'...wtf does that mean?"


Anybody know what this is about?  And please tell me they found an out to dump Clarkson...

maple1967leafs
maple1967leafs

As far as stupid GM's go,Garth Snow took a whack of pucks to the head but what's Mike Gillis's excuse??

MaxwellHowe
MaxwellHowe

Did I mention that I am utterly offended and disgusted that the Devils are getting their first rounder back?  Not so much because I care about the Devils, but because I know a certain franchise that more or less financially supports the NHL would never ever get a break like that.  The worse part is, Lou Lamarello probably always knew this would happen, or else he would have forfeited the number 29 pick he had a couple years back.

MaxwellHowe
MaxwellHowe

@Jmessih In related news, the NHL plans to order the Toronto Maple Leafs to forfeit its next 10 first round draft pciks because comments on a fan site known as Maple Leafs Hot Stove implied the Leafs would sign John tavares and Steven Stamkos, thereby clearly violating the non-interference rule regarding players under contract

Xxxxxnew
Xxxxxnew

Reference to today's NHL move to let NJ off the hook for the Kovi circumvention.

ShiftyD
ShiftyD

@Loric76 Maybe they got Lou in NJ to do some work with the league on their behalf

Xxxxxnew
Xxxxxnew

It'll be a nostalgia item after he goes to Minnesota this summer.

ShiftyD
ShiftyD

@wiski LOL

"with every purchase a hand-written thank you note will be mailed to Garth Snow"

MaxwellHowe
MaxwellHowe

@wiski

That is absolutely amazing!

I mean, some idiots will pay $180 bucks for that jersey??

Xxxxxnew
Xxxxxnew

I don't like how they make these rules up as they stumble along.

MaxwellHowe
MaxwellHowe

@hoolihan Old Lou flashed Gary the puppy dog eyes.  So Lou escapes the smothering contract sans consequence, and the penalty for signing it in the first place.  We should all have Lou's good fortune.

vinoa
vinoa

@Xxxxxnew  Nostalgic about the Habs? More like on of those rare mint mistakes.

phaneufoundlander
phaneufoundlander

@MaxwellHowe @wiski  of course...Schab fans think he is the next saviour... another jersey to 

be eaten by moth balls in a few months....when you acquire a rental that has more pts than anyone on your current roster, you know you have a shitty team.

 

Xxxxxnew
Xxxxxnew

Moulson's a FA, he probably skydives out of there. Heatley and his $7.5 mil are over as well.

MaxwellHowe
MaxwellHowe

@CanuckUKinToronto The NHL has become all about catering to the crappiest organizations, the money losers, all to the detriment of the solid teams with big fanbases. How long do they think this can go on?

Remember when the league, during the recent CBA negotiations, floated the idea of having the league choose who the #1 pick went to? Yeah, thank god that idea fizzled out. But it gave you the clearest indication that this league is into playing favorites