Game Review: Game #75, Flyers 4 vs. Leafs 2

Game Review: Game #75, Flyers 4 vs. Leafs 2

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Photo: NHLI via Getty Images

Anyone following this team in earnest over the last two seasons is familiar with a number of this young group’s faults. One is their propensity to elevate their game to a different level – at the very last possible moment. The shortened season was better in this respect, as a team that the hockey world thought little of went out every night with the goal of proving themselves. This culminated in a showdown with the Bruins in the playoffs, wherein the team’s speed, determination, and some miraculous goaltending propelled the series to seven games.

Fast forward to this season. A group of young Leafs have forced the aforementioned hockey world to take them seriously. Predictions varied this time – but many saw this club as a playoff threat with upside. Is it possible that the mere act of making the playoffs was enough for this group to rest just a little too easily on their laurels?

Certainly, it’s not a defining trait of the team, as some of their best players in Kessel and Phaneuf are rarely short on effort. But one needs to look no further than Joffrey Lupul’s game as this losing streak has progressed to witness this characteristic in action. Lupul, who is counted on to be one of this club’s very best forwards, has only recently began moving his legs and driving the net with the intensity that we know he can bring. As others have mused this season, this is an area where the Leafs miss players such as MacArthur, Grabovski and Komarov. While not the offensive talent that Lupul is, these three gave 100% each shift (pardon the cliché) and defined the fast, determined game that propelled the Leafs to success last season.

For a lot of 2013-2014, Toronto has made do with elite first line scoring, elite goaltending, and a mishmash of mediocre across the rest of the board. With their backs against the wall tonight, it was time for the Leafs as a whole to put up or shut up. No more hockey platitudes – just win.

1st Period

Entering a notoriously hostile building with an ongoing tendency to cough up early goals? Yeah, to literally nobody’s surprise, the Leafs continued this trend (despite an admittedly energetic start to the game). Firstly, Cody Franson looked as cumbersome as ever in his attempts to hold the offensive line and took a penalty in the process. This was followed by a soft tripping call on Kulemin to put Toronto down two men early. To make matters worse, McClement was inexplicably thrown out of the circle on the ensuing draw. The result – Dion Phaneuf’s first ever NHL faceoff. Salivating at the opportunity, Philadelphia’s potent power play wasted no time in capitalizing. The recently demoted/motivated Lecavalier fired a one timer past Bernier and thus began another night of playing from behind.

Halfway through what turned out to be a respectable first period for the Leafs, Kadri made a nice play to set up a trailing Gunnarson. Gunnarson, who has come on as strong offensively in recent months as we’ve ever seen, put it in the net. Unfortunately, an eager Lupul bumped into Mason as he drove the crease. This was one that usually would not be called goalie interference, but served to nullify Gunnarson’s goal on this occasion. Otherwise, Toronto’s best chance of the period was a frantic scramble at the end of first on the powerplay. The stimulus for this chance: the now rare Dion Phaneuf shot from the right side.

2nd Period

Bozak and JVR epitomized Toronto’s quick strike offense with their goal just four seconds into the second. They embarrassed Couturier and Timonen respectively as they darted up the ice right off the faceoff. They burned the two Flyers with their speed and Bozak fed it to JVR who fired it home to tie it up.

With the fast paced game of these two squads on display tonight, one can only imagine the chaos that might have been had Reimer been in net. Contrarily, Bernier was his usual calming self, with Philadelphia’s only goal of the period being a powerplay deflection. Hartnell got his stick on a Timonen wrister, as the Flyers powerplay cashed in again. In a rare turn of events, Toronto finished the second leading in shots as the importance of this game went directly to the players’ legs and sticks.

3rd Period

With the desperation factor at a season-high, the Leafs came out hungry in the third. After some tenacious puck work, Kulemin found Phaneuf from behind the net. Despite a golden opportunity, the captain was shut down by Mason. As it goes in Leafland, JVR subsequently tried an ill-advised cross-ice pass that wound up on the wrong player’s stick. Claude Giroux raced in unimpeded on the wing and fired a laser in off the bar over Bernier to make it 3-1.

Thankfully, this tally was soon returned in kind. A strong shift from the Bolland line saw Clarkson launch the puck at the net a few times (something noticeably lacking in his game this year). Bolland went to retrieve Clarkson’s rebound from the corner, only to be hauled down, drawing a penalty. However, it would never make it to the man advantage, as the puck found it’s way back to Bolland with an extra attacker on and a yawning cage in front of him. 3-2 for the Flyers.

With the phrase “too little too late” possibly becoming the epitaph for this season, Philadelphia quenched Toronto’s fire with their fourth of the night. A bobbled puck by Phaneuf lead to Simmonds hounding the disc off of an unaware Kadri in the slot. The Ontario native drove it home and that was all she wrote for the night. A late powerplay went for naught and Phaneuf took out some of his frustration on Jake Voracek with a tussle in the corner.

This was a knockout blow to the Leafs’ playoff hopes. The staggering Leafs will have to win at least six of their last seven games to have a real chance at the postseason this year. Hard to believe.

Fenwick chart for 2014-03-28 Maple Leafs 2 at Flyers 4

EV fenwick chart for 2014-03-28 Maple Leafs 2 at Flyers 4

Toronto Maple Leafs vs Philadelphia Flyers

PHILADELPHIA STATISTICS            
GOALIEDEC.SHOTSSAVESSAVE %MIN.
Steve Mason (31-17-6)W34320.94159:56:00
PLAYERGATOI+/-SOGPIMFWFLHITSBSTAKEGIVE
Braydon Coburn0023:49-110003100
Sean Couturier0019:25-1101091100
Claude Giroux1216:0912012101100
Nicklas Grossmann0021:30110005401
Adam Hall0014:15000320201
Scott Hartnell1115:33124002100
Vincent Lecavalier1013:32030433011
Andrew MacDonald0119:52002001201
Tye McGinn008:13010002000
Michael Raffl0014:54010011001
Matt Read0019:46-110001210
Zac Rinaldo0111:32-100005110
Luke Schenn0015:50000005111
Brayden Schenn0010:52030541000
Wayne Simmonds1012:03020002000
Mark Streit0021:14110001000
Kimmo Timonen0215:59-140001102
Jakub Voracek0015:36162000030

TORONTO

GOALIEDEC.SHOTSSAVESSAVE %MIN.
Jonathan Bernier (25-18-7)L29250.86258:45:00
PLAYERGATOI+/-SOGPIMFWFLHITSBSTAKEGIVE
Troy Bodie004:58020001020
Dave Bolland1011:33122651000
Tyler Bozak0122:2601012151110
David Clarkson0010:21120006000
Cody Franson0022:00102006010
Jake Gardiner0124:31:00240001401
Tim Gleason0014:25-100001300
Carl Gunnarsson0017:08022004101
Nazem Kadri0016:55022652001
Phil Kessel0022:39010000110
Nikolai Kulemin0012:05-112003000
Joffrey Lupul0016:57-120004200
Jay McClement009:32000582200
Colton Orr004:26010002000
Dion Phaneuf0021:17-234015200
Mason Raymond0116:56140001010
Morgan Rielly0020:44010003011
James van Riemsdyk1024:31:00060001303
Toronto Maple Leafs vs Philadelphia Flyers

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Review overview
Forwards - 65 %
Defence - 60 %
Goaltending - 75 %
Special Teams - 25 %
Nikhil has been writing for MLHS since the site launched in 2008. He misses talking about Mats Sundin and is currently entrenched in enemy territory (Boston) pursuing a doctoral degree. Contact Nikhil here: [email protected]
897 comments
Waiting4LSC
Waiting4LSC

My musical serenade for tonight:

Well I don't know why I am watching tonight,

I got a feeling that the game won't go right,

I'm so scared in case they fall behind again,

And I'm wondering how RC can lose the game,

Clowns Line up on the left,

Jokers on the right,

Stuck in the middle with RC.

TheBlueTruth
TheBlueTruth

I believe we win tonight and then you really never know.... I still believe Clarkson will be what we hope her would be...either in the playoffs or next year. he works so hard and the times I have seen him live,including in NJ he was a difference maker. He will never be worth the crazy money he signed for and the the cap realities that come with him piss people off but the boy works and will get it figured out...and just for the record he got his picture taken with every one of these kids that Lupul just walked by...that buys him time with me. Truth is he needs a more structured system....I still predict big things for him and he will figure it out.

TheBlueTruth
TheBlueTruth

You know I can't stop thinking about how poorly Lupul has played this year. When he was on the first line he was a point a game guy, when healthy. But as a secondary guy he just doesn't work hard enough. I can still see him walking past those kids in Tampa wearing his beats with out even a glance in their direction. There was a time that I thought he should be captain and now I think it is time for him to move on. What ever we want to say about Dion's play .... he is clearly asked to be too much for this team but I believe he is a good captain and what I have seen could not treat fans better...including a couple of chats with me where he could not have been nicer. When we have a true # 1 Dman the Leafs and Dion will be better.

Jordan29
Jordan29

does anyone thing we could trade Clarkson to NJ?

Jordan29
Jordan29

I wonder how many defencmen are available this summer, like Giordano and Weber like players we could make a huge package deal for. Gardiner, Holland, Reimer, our 1st rounder, prospects all available to be packaged. Or Kadri in a package for the right forward. I still see ROR in a leaf uniform this summer, I can just feel it

Jay31
Jay31

Ashton just hit the post

Waiting4LSC
Waiting4LSC

Dear Mr. Carlyle, is our top line going to play tonight, as you noted they have been overused? Our second line has been MIA for so long I thought they were as relevant as the fourth line. I checked in the line ups to find there is a third. Clarkson is a railway station, and is producing like one. Kulie is like the drink, reaches the spot occasionally. There is no fourth line to speak of, so why field one? Your PP pairings are as good as your defensive system, terribly lacking. How about, nothing works' so lets try anything for the final few games! Put Franson on the wing in place of Clarkson. Put Bolland in Kadri's place, and Kadri in Clarkson's place. Who knows, something might work, but the way you are going we can add train wreck, to burnt boats and tractor trailer units going over cliffs!!

TheBlueTruth
TheBlueTruth

Final spot between us and the wings and while the situation is clearly desperate I will not stop hoping until our next loss. If we win tonight we are ahead of the one team we are truly competing with. They may have a couple of games in hand but they need to win them...the points won't simply be award to them. 7 loses is rough but win tonight and it could be what is needed to open the flood gates and go on a little role. Even if that isn't likely it is how I choose to see things for one more night.

GO LEAFS GO !

Reversethecurse13
Reversethecurse13

I think there needs to be some big changes to the top 6.

Can't keep running 

JVR-Bozak-Kessel
Lupul-Kadri-Kulemin

And expect to be contenders.

Bruffins
Bruffins

i love watching Ross play

drummond
drummond

if the Leafs do not make the play-offs who can be sent down to help the Marlies in their Calder Cup quest?

Waiting4LSC
Waiting4LSC

Please believe like you have never believed before. This is our final chance!!!

Waiting4LSC
Waiting4LSC

She's across the road at the Golden Arches having a snack before the performance. :)

bcheema
bcheema

@Jordan29  i was thinking this but i dont think jersey would take on his contract 

Reversethecurse13
Reversethecurse13

@Jmessih  Okay, well i think you're delusional if you don't think Lupul is, compared to the whole league, a bad two-way player.

How he stacks up against the rest of our squad is almost immaterial.

vinoa
vinoa

@Jordan29  I want to see Reims, Franson, Lups, Gunnar, and a 1st for Weber.

Xxxxxnew
Xxxxxnew

We need a second line that's a threat so the opposition can't concentrate its blanket coverage on our first line.

Jordan29
Jordan29

@Reversethecurse13  Kulemin will likely walk and we will replace him with Komarov on the 3rd line, slide Bozak down and Kadri to the wing. Thats what we might see. Insert Jesus as a #1 centre somehow. Stastny, ROR, anyone

-

JVR-Jesus-Kessel

Lupul-Bozak-Kadri

Komarov-Bolland-Clarkson

Thats my guess

Xxxxxnew
Xxxxxnew

Sounds like last year's leafs.

Leafs rule
Leafs rule

@Bruffins The junk yard dog that belongs to us lol,me to just remembering the earlier posts here

Waiting4LSC
Waiting4LSC

Good Sir, when you refer to the D, do you mean the D unit or the team D?. I agre the D is a problem, but feel it is our forwards playing D that is the bigger part.

Leafs rule
Leafs rule

@TheCanucksnaphook @Leafs rule Uhhh nope ,no drinkin or smokin here ,fin boring but its better bein here to bug as bad as getting bugged by losing ,and to all the rat refs that I blame for this "F  and U "

vinoa
vinoa

@Jmessih @vinoa @Jordan29  Yeah I know. They're not giving us Weber for our castoffs. I'm sure JVR or Kadri will be the Preds' target over Lups....but one can hope.

Reversethecurse13
Reversethecurse13

@Jordan29 @Reversethecurse13  I'm just saying what direction i think they need to go. In other words, time to shop Lupul and Kadri.


Lupul, to me, is just a horrible two-way player. No room for passengers.

Jordan29
Jordan29

@Reversethecurse13 @Jordan29  Kadri and Lupul will be there too unless traded, which is possible I guess. I dont ever see Lupul going though, hes a good price at 5.25. Wont replace him at that price

vinoa
vinoa

@Reversethecurse13 @NotInsane  Boston's style doesn't allow for flashy offensive talent. They're all about the 2way game. We can't run Kessel on the 1st line and then have Lups and Raymond types in the other lines.

Reversethecurse13
Reversethecurse13

@NotInsane @Reversethecurse13  I'm a fan of Kessel, and think he's world class. But Boston determined he wasn't a fit for their style of hockey.

Now, all that means, is that with Kessel on the squad, means that it's even more imperative that the rest of your lines pick up the slack in terms of possession.

Burn_the_Loov_Boats
Burn_the_Loov_Boats

@Reversethecurse13

If we had two or three other lines that could sustain a cycle it wouldn't be so bad. 

When Kessel skates over the blue line and I see those opposing team's D backing up... its a thing of beauty.