Game Review: Game #65, Leafs 4 vs. Flyers 3 (OT)

Game Review: Game #65, Leafs 4 vs. Flyers 3 (OT)

Photo: NHLI via Getty Images

I’d love to say it doesn’t matter how you get the points at this time of season, but forget the constant chatter about the team’s shot totals; the biggest issue — and something that, should it continue, will almost assuredly prevent this team from going anywhere in the playoffs — is its inability to hold onto a lead when the game conditions change in the third period.

It was predictable, really. The Flyers are one of the best third period teams and the Leafs one of the leakiest. Toronto entered the final 20 with a 2-1 lead and wound up winning 4-3 in OT. Their record of 24-1-2 when leading after 40 despite 22 third-period leads forfeited has been saved entirely by their skill as a 4 on 4 team in OT and in the skills competitions. It’s 5 on 5 in OT in the playoffs and there are no shootouts.

There’s two main issues at play here. The first is that the Leafs cannot chew clock when they need to. The Leafs continued to get their one-and-done rush opportunities throughout the third in this game (JvR rush, Bozak-Kessel 2 on 1, etc), but unless they outscore their problems, it’s going to be in trouble. They cannot get pucks in deep, establish the forecheck effectively, and cycle with consistency.

The other issue is how the team reacts to the ramping up of pressure by the other team once the pinching starts. Among other problems, the immediate response by this team is to flick a puck into the neutral zone to nobody but the other team and wait for the play to come right back down their throat. This team is afraid to make skilled plays under pressure late in games. Either it’s a panicky emergency response, or it’s instruction… either way it’s not friggin’ good enough. Have to be able to make better plays under pressure.

Rant over with. What a game, by the way!

Notes:

– It was a secondary scoring explosion by the Maple Leafs; who would’ve thought they could put up 4 goals with none of Bozak, Kessel or JvR on the scoresheet?

– I thought the Kadri line and the Gardiner-Franson pairing was the Leafs’ best at forward and defence respectively. The Kadri line feasted on transition opportunities.

– A nod to Troy Bodie, too. I wanted Ashton in his place in the lineup, but he was dog-on-a-bone determined tonight and it played a role in the first and third Leaf goals. Guy skates like a maniac.

– Jake Gardiner had an excellent game, and made an excellent couple of plays leading to the opening tally. He kept the puck alive for Bodie with a swooping pinch and shortly thereafter calmly deposited the puck into the net, with a tonne of time at the top of the zone as the collapsed Flyers stumbled over each other.

– I thought the Leafs were running away with this when I saw Steve Mason let in those first two. A lazy backcheck by the Flyers allowed Lupul and Kadri a tonne of space through the middle before Kadri ripped one home, his second goal in the last two. it looked to be going the way of a blowout. To his credit, Mason battled his way back into this one or this was never even a game come the second.

– Something about a Saturday night on home ice gets that little extra out of Nazem Kadri. Determined effort to support and battle down low in the defensive zone and a 65% night on the faceoff dot.

– Jay McClement burned Luke Schenn wide in the second period, initiating a fourth line flurry of chances in which Frazer McLaren nearly scored. JAY MCCLEMENT BURNED LUKE SCHENN. FRAZER MCLAREN NEARLY SCORED. Wild to think back to the days of the “Human Eraser,” eh?

– James van Riemsdyk is like a racer in the skills competition going around cones against that Flyer D. At least 3 times he skinned a Flyer D wide.

– Speaking of McClement, beautiful pass to set up the 3-2 goal for the Leafs after Bodie created the space.

– Mason Raymond is going to hit 20+ goals. The Leafs picked up a 20-goal scorer at training camp for 1 million dollars. Does that nearly make up for financial sinkhole known as the Clarkson contract?

– Glen Healy highlighted the minor Kessel giveaway in the corner, but the first Flyer goal was really more of a credit to a really good five-man attack by Philly. Sometimes the other team just does a good thing.

– With five minutes to go, there was a great example of why puck-moving defencemen are King in this league, or as Ken Holland once put it, the most valuable commodity. The Leafs were under siege and Rielly skated it out of danger expertly before making a nice little backhand pass up the boards at the blueline. The concept that there is no space for both Gardiner or Rielly on this defence is asinine. It’s just that they’re both young, do young things and make mistakes. There’s so much value in these two; let them mature. A refreshingly-low panic threshold on this Rielly kid.

– The powerplay went from the team’s lifeblood to a serious problem rather quick, didn’t it (0 for 20 since the Break)? Four shorthanded goals on two powerplays will do that, I suppose. You can see how it has affected the confidence on the units. They’re checking back on those tight zone entries and seam passes a confident powerplay will orchestrate. It’s really a matter of sticking with it and waiting for a good thing to happen.

– How many times has it been written in this space that the powerplay pairs are bad news despite the good PP results? Franson and Phaneuf were nearly caught again after Phaneuf couldn’t hold the blueline. A very similar thing happened to Gardiner and Rielly except it was hardly noticeable because there’s enough foot speed between the two to recover. Just put one of Rielly or Gardiner with Phaneuf and the other with Franson, already. Doesn’t this seem reasonable in light of recent events?

– Paul Ranger continues to play quietly solid hockey. It was interesting hearing him talk about how this role is a new ask for him. He wasn’t always a bottom-pair guy, of course. He used to play much bigger minutes and consider offensive contributions a big pat of his game; we saw some of that instinct in him earlier in the season, sometimes costing the team. He’s starting to figure out a role wherein he he’s asked mostly to outmuscle opponents down low, block shots, and make a solid first pass. I noticed, in the second period, Ranger blocked a shot and advanced the puck, began to follow the play up ice like he was joining the rush, thought better of it, and retreated. Not that there isn’t a time and place for that, but the Leafs don’t really need that element out of him so much as they do the other things.

– Happy to see Dion Phaneuf make up for a really poor third period in overtime by setting up the winner. (Great pass by Gunnarsson on that play, by the way). He really blew it on that 2-2 goal, falling over and then putting himself on the wrong side of the puck. He did that same thing once more down low in the third. In his defence, prior to the 2-2 goal, Lupul iced the puck and he was gassed while stuck on the ice.

– Joffrey Lupul turning to the glass and celebrating a game winner with the home crowd, arms wide open, late in the season… remind you of anything?

As much as my opening treatise was harsh on the team, this was a big two points before the Leafs head out on a five-game road trip starting with a brutal back to back against Anaheim and San Jose.

15-16 points are needed over the final 17. This road trip will be make or break.

Fenwick

Fenwick chart for 2014-03-08 Flyers 3 at Maple Leafs 4 (OT)

Fenwick at even strength

EV fenwick chart for 2014-03-08 Flyers 3 at Maple Leafs 4 (OT)

Leafs-FLyers

Toronto Maple Leafs vs Philidelphia Flyers

TORONTO STATISTICS

GOALIEDEC.SHOTSSAVESSAVE %MIN.
Jonathan Bernier (24-16-7)W31280.90362:21:00
PLAYERGATOI+/-SOGPIMFWFLHITSBSTAKEGIVE
Troy Bodie0215:26250000001
Tyler Bozak0022:04-31010130222
Cody Franson0018:34000003311
Jake Gardiner1019:27110001311
Tim Gleason0015:20000002100
Carl Gunnarsson0117:49000003510
Peter Holland0011:13002961120
Nazem Kadri1020:272401162030
Phil Kessel0022:35-140001103
Nikolai Kulemin0018:37030006100
Joffrey Lupul1120:04130002111
Jay McClement019:07120362110
Frazer McLaren00:0015000000
Dion Phaneuf0122:52-120003200
Paul Ranger0012:49110003300
Mason Raymond1017:00022001102
Morgan Rielly0117:51110001310
James van Riemsdyk0022:02-160101220

PHILADELPHIA STATISTICS

GOALIEDEC.SHOTSSAVESSAVE %MIN.
Steve Mason (26-15-6)OTL36320.88962:21:00
PLAYERGATOI+/-SOGPIMFWFLHITSBSTAKEGIVE
Braydon Coburn1025:33:00340003201
Sean Couturier0020:470108112012
Claude Giroux0021:541201392011
Nicklas Grossmann0017:15-320003101
Adam Hall004:12-100320100
Scott Hartnell0119:23210002003
Vincent Lecavalier0013:44-142132000
Andrew MacDonald0021:51-120006201
Michael Raffl01:0000112000
Matt Read0022:49-100113001
Zac Rinaldo003:09-100002000
Jay Rosehill002:19-105000000
Luke Schenn0013:39-110002100
Brayden Schenn0115:27010475100
Wayne Simmonds0019:34-212001000
Mark Streit0021:28-350000202
Kimmo Timonen2022:55342003210
Jakub Voracek0220:22130000010
Toronto Maple Leafs vs Philidelphia Flyers
744 comments
loomx
loomx

So Stromboulopoulos will become the host of HNIC? Ron MacLean stays on but in a "reduced role". I like Strombo but at first I didn't like the switch. The more I think about it though, there really isn't anybody better to try and fill Ron MacLean's shoes than Strombo. The guy knows his stuff, he knows Canada, he knows music, he knows hockey, just like Ron. It remains to be seen if he can capture the audience like Ron does and if he can build a personality like Ron has. All in all, there are worse decisions that Rogers could make.


Link for those who haven't heard:

http://sports.nationalpost.com/2014/03/09/george-stroumboulopoulos-to-host-hockey-night-in-canada-when-rogers-takes-control-of-iconic-show-report/

Cameron19
Cameron19

True Detective with a pretty damn good conclusion. Very emotional. 

Yan28
Yan28

Was at the Leafs - Flyers game yesterday, 2nd game at the ACC this year after the Home Opener. I was really impressed with Bodie, although I didn't see the big deal about him before, he was the most effective player last night. The 2 goals the 1st and the 3rd were his work, he was on fire. It's also amazing to see Kessel live, his speed is incredible.

Waiting4LSC
Waiting4LSC

Fellow MLHSers would appreciate you educating me! Watched the Leaf presented by Blackberry series (Utube). Some good content, but way too "pretty". Target audience could not be old grumps. One episode brief appearance by Tiger and Lanny. No pretty pretty, and 2 minutes exposure. I was glued wanting to hear more from them. Nothing in depth, nothing revealing, no heroes talking about current day. Loved Sea of Blue, great passion from the fans and a nice behind the scenes at the Big House. Getting to know Mason, our Eerie captain, doesn't cut it for me. Give me interviews with current players and with the same position older Gods. Journalistic content is minimal, but something for the fans.

My question: what am I missing? Is it ok for me to feel this way?

Bruffins
Bruffins

Was anybody else really impressed with our fourth line last night? They have been stringing some solid games together lately 

Xxxxxnew
Xxxxxnew

@markhmasters: Leafs no longer have a teenager on the roster: Morgan Rielly turns 20 today

mikeyboy
mikeyboy

you gotta ciabatta, going 3-0 on the coastline of death!

Yan28
Yan28

Gonna try this again.

Been checking this board daily, but only posted once before.


Next year I think it's pretty clear that Josh Leivo is going to take Mayson Raymond's spot on the 3rd line. Spott is modelling Leivo's game after Lupul. Says they are similar players, and he's really impressed me with his play this year from what i seen from him in the Marlies. Plus he can play both wings, that's an advantage. First guy up next year is Leivo, guaranteed.

So next year's 3rd line will probably be Leivo - Holand - Clarkson (they might try to move Clarkson to the 2nd line again but I feel that he will play well with Leivo.

The 4th line would be something like this. Bodie - Komarov - Broll / Devane. I feel Devane is a better fighter and Broll is a better player, but both will be monsters, Devane is older has more experience and will probably get the call up before Broll. Fighting is less important now, but to have no one to protect Komarov would be plain stupid.

The next defenceman up is in my opinion Andrew Macwilliam, a bruiser we been looking for a while. I think we will see him with the Leafs next year, as this was his ahl year, he did 4 years of college before, he got accustomed to this level and adapted his game, to the point of learning how to fight to back up his hits witch are monstrous. He's a shut down defenseman, one that can help out Phaneuf. We still need a top 4 defenseman, if we get one, Macdonald can move down and still help out the team, I am confident that he will make the Leafs,hopefully next year.

I think our team will be even better next year. What do you guys think? Who from the Marlies do we see with the Leafs next year?


rustynail
rustynail

Yan I think we can only reply to people who log in now. I blame HH :)

Optimustic
Optimustic

@Belfour20  The Habs and Tampa are especially important because of the standings.  (IF) we do well during this 7 game stretch, we'll be in great shape.   If we do poorly, ---- not so much.

Cameron19
Cameron19

@Jay31  Except that the Blackhawk's score most of their goals off the rush, and they are the defending Champs, and have won twice in the last 4 years. They're not a possession team. 

Xxxxxnew
Xxxxxnew

I like seeing the game live because you see a lot more. The camera just follows the puck around when you're watching at home.

sniperstar
sniperstar

@Waiting4LSC  I agree with you to some extent. I did want a bit more depth with it but I guess it was probably geared more towards younger fans (although I'd probably fit into that demographic, talking to you ol' folks everyday probably changed my tastes a bit).

Cameron19
Cameron19

@rustynail  Worthy? Thank you for determining their worth for us, Eric. Douchebag. 

darthNihilus
darthNihilus

@Yan28  no one. perhaps Ashton or D'amigo in a checker role. Unless Clarkson is traded or Bolland and Raymond walk. 

sniperstar
sniperstar

@Yan28  I like Granberg's chances as our 6th DMan from what I've seen of him on the Marlies. Especially if one of Jake or Cody leave/get traded.

Leafs rule
Leafs rule

@rustynail HH = bastard ? lol

that worked ,holy crap , Free the Leivo an broll thanx

Cameron19
Cameron19

@Loric76  Also can't reply to Yan, but here it is: 

-

I wouldn't count on guys like Broll and Devane getting any more than the cup of coffee they got this year. Raymond should be out, but I think Leivo will be a call-up and not an actual roster player. Komarov, if back, would be a winger. He can play center, but he is better used on the wing, and that's where he prefers to play as it allows him to hit more. As for Holland, well, it depends what happens with Bolland. Generally speaking, I think it's too hard to predict what will happen to the forwards, because some pretty major changes could happen between now and then.

-

The first defender up will be Percy, in my opinion. 

Yan
Yan

Thanks Man. @Loric76 Maybe cause I posted as a guest? Not sure What do you think of the line up next year? Which Marlies do we see.

darthNihilus
darthNihilus

@Cameron19 @Jay31  yeah ok. Second best possession team in the league behind the Sharks. Best last year, 11th in 2012 and 2nd in 2011. 

Yan28
Yan28

@Xxxxxnew true there's no comaprison. Only thing that bugs me is how hard it is to get a GO Leafs, Go chant going, that's just ridiculous, people are way to passive in the ACC.

Waiting4LSC
Waiting4LSC

Sniperstar, you young whipper snappers actually listening to the older generation, solid. :) seriously, respect to you. There is so much history and personality to the leafs, that lies buried. I have been fascinated by some of the posters, detailing games they went to in the 60s 70s and 80s. Bon wrote to Ballard. Mattmark described an experience, and I believe even Honest Hockey posted some real incite full stuff. I'm all for knowing more about the current squad, but context and perspective can turn something into a great piece.

Waiting4LSC
Waiting4LSC

Loric, None taken good sir! If the pitch is to the younger generation, and a "butterfly" approach in terms of journalistic content, that's fine. I just wanted some depth, some interviews with our heroes meshing over our current players, and hence the question. Appreciate you responding, as always.

Yan28
Yan28

@sniperstar @Yan28 Agree, I feel that we need a Top 4 Dman that can be brought in with a trade, and another more defensive minded dman to replace Franson or Gardiner. It's his first year in North America, so they might want to give him another year with the Marlies, so I like MacWilliam's chances better cause he got years of college to go along with this year in the AHL, but I would be happy with both. Percy's first year, they'll give him another year to develop imo even though he is the highest drafted. 

Yan28
Yan28

@Loric76 Ashton and D'Amigo are fighting for the same spot on the 4th, Leivo has the edge for the 3rd line, none of those guys bring enough scoring ability to challenge him there.

Yan28
Yan28

@Cameron19 @Loric76Agree with you, Komarov even said he like the wing more, so he can hit more, they'll have to bring a 4th line center via trade if Bolland and Mclement aren't signed, good chance they won't be.

rustynail
rustynail

@Cameron19 @Loric76  gonna be some major changes before next year I suspect but I also doubt Leivo makes the team out of camp and God I hope Leo is back

Xxxxxnew
Xxxxxnew

I went to about a dozen games at the old Gardens and it was the same. We were 25 rows up behind the benches and I remember being able to hear a guy that was coughing on the opposite side of the rink. In one game Rick Vaive was vherry picking outside the Leafs behind the bruins defence and some guy in the crowd yelled "hey, Bourque, Vaive's behind you" and Bourque turned around and covered him. Used to take earplugs to Sabres games.

Waiting4LSC
Waiting4LSC

No sir. Not quite there yet. My kids (early 20s) work my arse off. My wife sits back and laughs, and then gives me the Honey Due list, so I work my pucks off. No time to pull my pants up before logging on!

Xxxxxnew
Xxxxxnew

I'm a geezer and I didn't find interviews any more in depth from players in the old days. In fact, Bobby Orr was 10 times more media dodgy than Phil. Sittler never said much more than Phil does. I think what happens is players become more media friendly after they retire, they're less guarded and more relaxed. And many of them work in areas promoting the game or other interests.

Waiting4LSC
Waiting4LSC

You make a lot of sense. I'd really like incite into Phil's rise from High school to elite, but that won't likely happen. I'd really like to here Leo K's story, Finland, Russia, Leafs. Maybe my problem is I'm a history lover, get fascinated in historical connections. Want to penetrate. Great post sir!

Yan28
Yan28

It will be crazy if we don't resign Komarov, he wants to be here, he's a pain to play against and will be an event bigger pain if we have to play against him, one of the best pests out there, and I feel that he will be a lot better offensively as he had a whole year to practice on the 1st line with Dynamo.

Cameron19
Cameron19

@Yan28 @Cameron19 @Loric76  I think you may see McClement test the market and then end up signing here super cheap (like 1M) - unless we really don't want him back.