Game Review: Game #77, Maple Leafs 3 vs. Flames 2

TORONTO, ON - APRIL 1: David Clarkson #71 of the Toronto Maple Leafs scores a third period goal on Karri Ramo #31 of the Calgary Flames during NHL game action April 1, 2014 at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Graig Abel/NHLI via Getty Images)

The Calgary Flames were just what the doctor ordered for the Leafs, at least as far as ending the losing skid goes. The 10-game skid of 1967 will not be touched, and the “making the playoffs and winning the Cup” theme of the 1967 season also likely won’t be repeated.

Toronto survived a choppy, out-of-synch first period that was clear evidence of a team playing in fear in their home building amid an eight-game collapse. It was a terrible period of hockey by both teams, and really a terrible game in general, too.

The Leafs never really played well at any point, but they eventually broke through and did enough to grab a much-needed two points and maybe, just maybe, can now take a breath before gearing up for the Bruins on Thursday.

The obligatory Matt Stajan goal and Joe Colborne point took place and made things interesting after the Leafs took 1-0 and 3-1 leads on goals from McClement, Bolland and – this is not an April Fools joke – David Clarkson.


– The Leafs won a game on secondary scoring alone. That’s been too rare of a feat. And they only had 11 forwards. The top line was the Leafs’ worst tonight (one good chance all game). A makeshift Bodie, Kulemin and McClement line may have been their best.

– Kessel is definitely hurt, and may also be letting the frustration get to him, because he was way off in this game. Bozak looked like he had checked out of this one early. Let’s hope this line is reinvigorated by the win and this new shred of hope. They’ll have to heat up fast if the Leafs are to make this interesting.

– Morgan Rielly remains the shining light amid the darkness of the final month of the season. He created the Bolland goal by identifying his chance to go and spanning from the crease to offensive blueline in a blink, before sending a great pass across the crease to Bolland. The vision/smarts on this kid in addition to all the physical tools (skating stride perfected, solid as a rock on his skates, strong for his age, great hands) are incredible (just needs to keep refining his defensive zone coverage and shot). It’s so hard not to get unreasonably excited. There was a zone exit by Rielly at around 5:30 to go that was probably the one thing I’d rewatch from this game by choice (that and his rush for the goal). He turned back into the corner with a forechecker on his back, side shifted, curled between the two forecheckers and skated it all the way up past the red line.

– Rielly leads all rookie defencemen in assists with 24. That mark puts him inside the top 40 in assists among NHL defencemen.

– Paul Ranger does a good job pitching in during these intermittent appearances. Couple of good clearances in this game and a number of instances where he broke up a play with his stick or a good show of strength. This team would be better off with him in their 6D, Franson or Gleason out, and D’Amigo in up front, but if Phaneuf is hurt as rumoured, 11f/7d does have the benefit of sharing the minutes around a little more.

– Franson is one contract I wouldn’t worry about this summer, for the simple reason that the Leafs shouldn’t be giving him one. There has been way too many slow, braindead plays from Franson that have hurt this team at points this season. You could probably pin some blame on Gardiner for the Stajan breakaway, but at least I knew what Gardiner was thinking there. I have no idea what Franson was doing. He’s been submerged under elevated responsibility this season, and he hasn’t even been a good PP specialist for months now. He has no powerplay points since February 1st.

– Franson had his chance to be a top 4 guy here, it’s not like he’s still young and developing, and there’s been a couple of ugly contract situations between him and the Leafs with another negotiation ahead this summer if they want to keep him. It’s time to part ways. I’m not sure when Hockey Analysis last updated their numbers (Franson picked up an assist tonight), but Franson is second last ahead of only Gleason in even strength points/60. Who leads the d-core (granted, in only 700 minutes TOI)? Ranger.

– Speaking of Ranger, it’s worth considering bringing the guy back as a depth defenceman with the potential to be a full-time bottom pair guy. He requested an NTC in order to sign his one-year, one-million contract, so it’s safe to assume he wants to stay close to home.

– It sounds weird, and don’t crucify me without hearing me out, but the Leafs could’ve used another Bodie in their bottom six during their losing streak (might require using 4 lines). The guy just puts his head down and goes to work. Doesn’t think so much, just works his bag off to try to gain some momentum and tilt the ice for his team. He is very effective at maintaining his deceptive level of speed through the neutral zone and winning puck races/50-50 puck battles (or just simply pinning the guy and waiting for help) down low after a chip in. Opposing defencemen definitely don’t enjoy the prospect of the gangly 6’5 wild man bearing down on them toward the end boards, which likely makes him the only forechecker on the Leafs the other team fears.

What the Leafs can take out of this win over Calgary, besides the desperately-needed two points and an opportunity to feel better about themselves – they allowed under 3 goals for the first time since the win over the Kings that preceded this massive collapse 9 games ago. The Flames have been no stiffs offensively lately, either, scoring 26 goals in their last 8 (3.25/game).

The Leafs’ playoff chances increased 4% tonight, up to 8.6%. Next up is Boston on Thursday.

Fenwick chart for 2014-04-01 Flames 2 at Maple Leafs 3

Photo: ExtraSkater  Dashed line indicates non-even strength play.
Photo: ExtraSkater
Dashed line indicates non-even strength play.

Leafs vs Flames

Toronto Maple Leafs vs Calgary Flames

Jonathan Bernier (26-19-7)W24220.91759:56:00
Troy Bodie0013:17130000001
Dave Bolland1011:42010760002
Tyler Bozak0019:3701212140110
David Clarkson1010:40030000000
Cody Franson0114:01010003000
Jake Gardiner0021:04010001000
Tim Gleason0013:06-100002001
Carl Gunnarsson0018:56100002000
Nazem Kadri0012:13020621011
Phil Kessel0017:36020001202
Nikolai Kulemin0019:09110222100
Joffrey Lupul0018:32000003310
Jay McClement1018:181401181110
Dion Phaneuf0022:100024001101
Paul Ranger0015:10100001121
Mason Raymond0116:41110002010
Morgan Rielly0015:33100000212
James van Riemsdyk0020:12-120000001


Karri Ramo (14-13-4)L22190.86459:02:00
Mikael Backlund0020:12-14012142120
Chad Billins0011:34000000100
Lance Bouma0013:27000033200
T.J. Brodie0125:30:00-210001301
Chris Butler0119:59110000302
Paul Byron0018:06-120002030
Michael Cammalleri0021:13120010001
Joe Colborne0117:25010003011
Mark Giordano0127:23:00-220000101
Curtis Glencross0019:13-230002101
Jiri Hudler0017:06000000010
Brian McGrattan007:16010000000
Sean Monahan0017:090201271000
Kris Russell1022:19140001211
Matt Stajan1017:530108132110
Bryce Van Brabant005:36002001000
Kevin Westgarth004:22000002000
Tyler Wotherspoon0013:15000002100
Toronto Maple Leafs vs Calgary Flames
80 %
75 %
85 %
Special Teams
80 %
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Alec Brownscombe is the founder of, 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
  • lukethenuke

    Like and agree with all you said… was Gleason that bad tonight? Thought he was solid, Gardiner and Rielly look like gems.
    Franson will be gone, I wonder if we can even get anything for him at this point by trading his rights away for a pick or something… definitly think one of Percy, Finn, Granberg or another young cheap Marlie could take his 14 mins he played and do a better job… braindead and slow… bad combo

  • Jay31

    Would love the Leafs to add a couple more guys as tenacious as Bodie.. Along with being good on the forecheck, I see him apply actual backside pressure, both are unfortunately a rare sight when it comes to our forwards.

  • Bring the Cup Home

    hindsight is 20/20 but man oh man if we could have traded franson and reimer earlier this season i bet we could have got something real good.  i bet if we had of traded them 20 games into the season (before edm got scrivens) we could have gotten their 1st pick for those two.  just imagine how much better our future would look without those two and with a top 3 pick in this year’s draft.  man that would have been sweet.  
    now we’ll get rid of them both for pretty much nothing.  or nothing.

  • lukethenuke

    Wasnt here for the game, but one thing I noticed, dont know if anyone else did but when Clarkson scored…. a) he didnt look like he gave a shit and b) nor his teammates…. weakest celebration and congratulations … looked like eye contact was at a minimum and that they dont get along with Clarkson or something..x

  • Jay31

    Bring the Cup Home  We probably end up moving Reimer to Calgary for… what, a 2nd+prospect?

  • Bring the Cup Home

    he’s a douche and i want him off this team.  i’m guessing we are stuck with him for years…..and years…..and years…….imagine him at 35 years old.  how bad is that contract going to look by then?????

  • Bring the Cup Home

    Jay31 Bring the Cup Home 
    wishful thinking if you ask me.  they are both restricted free agents.  we’d be lucky to get a 2nd for either of them.  definitely won’t get  two 2nds and a prospect for them.  at this point, i’d be happy with a 2nd a 3rd for them.  especially if we get calgary’s 2nd.

  • Jay31

    lukethenuke  Couple people in the game thread noted that too… It’s funny when you think about how he was partly signed for intangibles/character

  • lukethenuke

    Bring the Cup Home lukethenuke  Not even that, and I agree completely, didnt mind the signing back when but I was told he was good and brought elements and shit… nope, I liked Horton, but everyone knew he wouldnt come here, he hates Phaneuf for one and wanted a quiet place (i saw a documentary on why he chose CLBS).

  • lukethenuke

    Jay31 lukethenuke  yeah really,… we know he aint providing anything else

  • Bring the Cup Home

    Jay31 lukethenuke 
    i just can’t believe how little value he’s shown this season.  i have seen MAYBE one or two games where he actually looked like he had any sort of impact at all.

  • loomx

    The last time this team won prior to tonight, we had a 3 point lead over the Bolts and the Habs. Tonight, both those teams have clinched a playoff spot.

  • Alec Brownscombe

    loomx  Thanks bud, killing my buzz over a big win over the Flames here. Sheesh.

  • lukethenuke

    loomx  and 11 (!!!!!!!!!!) points back. wow

  • loomx

    Alec Brownscombe loomx  LOL the depression is real.

  • lukethenuke

    Bring the Cup Home Jay31 lukethenuke  haha yeah and minimal at best

  • Jay31

    Bring the Cup Home Jay31 lukethenuke  A lot of hockey people have commented on the Leafs’ lack of structure making it hard for him to have an impact. Guess we’ll see if things are different under the new coach next year

  • lukethenuke

    Bring the Cup Home Jay31 lukethenuke  Here I thought expecting 15 goals, 20 assists and a lot of speed, crash and bang and cycle was a low expectation for him….

  • Leafs2 Isles1

    This whole personality problem with Clarkson gets me thinking. His old team and his old coach say very positive things about him. Then, he comes here, and becomes a misfit or even worse. 
    It could very well be Clarkson’s fault. 
    But he’s the new guy. Isn’t it part of the responsibility of the team’s leadership group to make the new guy feel at home?

    I really don’t know one way or the other. I’m as disappointed with the guy as any Leaf fan is. But if there’s that much of a problem, than I just think that the door swings both ways.

  • Jay31

    Oilers fans bitching about Mark Fraser

  • Cloud09

    Nice to finally get a win. Still not out of it so lets hope for the best on Thursday.

  • Rick_Vaives_slapshot

    Cloud09 I admire your loyalty, but I hate this team right now.

  • Cloud09

    Rick_Vaives_slapshot Cloud09  It sucks a ton but you just got to go with the flow right now. I still don’t think they will make it but there is still a shot… a long, long shot.

  • Cloud09

    To NJD: Clarkson

    To TOR: Brodeur 

    Summertime deal. Lou gets Clarkson back at team friendly $ amount and could even be a little less if Leafs ate some salary. Leafs get the veteran netminder to backup Bernier, albeit at $4.5M but a small price to pay for getting rid of the Clarkson contract. Leafs might have to add something else to make it work though.

  • Bon Scott was a Leaf fan

    Never happen.  Brodeur will retire a Devil (and will not be a backup somewhere else).

  • gjdevlin

    Well I’ll break my rule about posting here. Yeah nice to get a win but we are playing Boston on Thursday. I hope they are too tired after beating Detroit but we are going to get murdered. It’s going to be a massacre. A blood bath. A wipe out. A cake walk. If the Leafs want to beat Boston on Thursday they are going to have to play lean and mean hockey – take no prisoners – not “omg, I’m standing next to Chara. Fuck off. Mow him down.” That’s the game you want to play.

    I wonder if Ashton will be in the Thursday line up. Need someone to go up against Chara and with Phil “hurting” he’s dog food as far as I’m concerned.

    Didn’t watch the game. Didn’t feel like cheering them tonight. It’s a wait and see.

  • gjdevlin

    Alec Brownscombe Leafs2 Isles1Why does everyone think that Clarkson is a problem in the locker room? He’s a problem ON the ice.

  • Hmmm

    lukethenuke  Other than leaving his post going up high to join in on the 3 man gang bang that lead to Calgary’s 2nd goal, he was fine.

  • Pent_House

    Cloud09  I rather keep Clarkson. He’ll be better next year.

  • Pent_House

    Would be nice to send Bodie down for the Marlies run

  • Savo43

    Cloud09 Rick_Vaives_slapshot  Only on cloud 9 is there a shot. That said though, impossible shit happens sometimes lol.

  • Yan28

    Please no Brodeur here, he is dillusional and thinks he is still a number 1 starter, bring him in and he will become ancancer in the locker room, aren’t we trying to go young?

  • FrankFerrant

    I didn’t watch the game. I refuse to watch any games. But a few things:
    – It should be a no brainer to move Franson and Reimer in the off-season. Try to recoup some draft picks.
    – I would re-sign Ranger to a cheap deal, he has been pretty solid as a depth defenceman
    – Re-sign Bolland if his demands are reasonable, otherwise we lost draft picks for NOTHING
    – Let other UFA’s walk. Replace with deserving young guys, whoever they may be come training camp.
    – Clarkson’s lack of emotion may just be him not wanting to get too high, he knows how bad he has been.
    – Kinda sad to think Phil may not crack the 40 mark… again… 
    – Whatever happens this off-season the coach and GM MUST be on the same page. Whether that is Randy or someone new.

  • Chris Jay

    Pent_House Cloud09  I hope so

  • FrankFerrant

    Pent_House Cloud09  He does deserve at least one more year to prove something. It’s not like we could just replace him with Jagr or something cool like that. OR could we?

  • FrankFerrant

    Yan28  but he is a frenchie just like bernier!

  • Yan28

    I think they are rolling without him, Marlies are a team full of Bodies.

  • Yan28

    He provides a good forecheck, on a Leafs team that’s an asset, on the Marlies it’s really nothing, they all do that.

  • Great Dane

    Bodie is a good signing – pair him up with Komorov and/or Hartikainen next season supported by the young Marlies and I am sure that this team will be a lot harder to play against.

    Regarding Bodie: After all he is Leiweke’s son in law. Not saying he is a spy, but I pretty sure that Leiweke will get a good sense for the dressing room just from general talk.
    I expect the hammer to fall as soon as the season has finished.

  • Zep2

    Top line is clearly gassed

    Nice game by Bolland

    4th line playing minutes in the other teams zone- What a concept

    Ranger in , Franson out for next year

    Rielly just continues to impress. Improve shot / release over the summer

  • JeffNB

    FrankFerrant Pent_House Cloud09  With the way he has played this, if you get a chance to unload that contract you have to do it. That being said, nobody will be interested in him.

  • TuckerForPunishment

    Bon Scott was a Leaf fan Cloud09  Brodeur is already considering options with another team next season.  Has even called Clarkson and asked about the Leafs.

  • MaxwellHowe

    Probably the most uninspiring win of the season.  Clarkson chooses now to contribute, but in my opinion was cherrypicking all night.

  • drummond

    If they beat Boston, they actually may manage to get into post season as the remaining opponents are rather easy ones.

  • MaxwellHowe

    drummond quite an “if” though

  • Bennett2Gareth

    Zep2  Yeah no one under 10 mins, how about that.

  • MaxwellHowe

    Bennett2Gareth Zep2 Not only is the usual failure to play a 4th line beating out the top 6 – the shifts IMo are simply too long.  Need to take the Team Canada approach and bring the shifts down to 30-40 seconds.

  • TheCanucksnaphook

    so the march to the playoffs continue.

    A few observations.  Ranger has proven me correct in saying he will be a serviceable contributor.  Rielly has proven me correct that he should be with the big club and not back in junior (you guys killed me with that one).  Joe Colborne also showed he is NHL capable.   And Franson showed me to be correct in my assessment of him.
    Bottom line: Listen to me more often.

    (how is that for a douche bag first post of the day?)

  • TheCanucksnaphook

    also a phone hearing for Douglas murray is absolute crock of shit.  IF you are serious about trying to get head shots out of the game that one is a perfect example of a 5 gamer.

  • MaxwellHowe

    TheCanucksnaphook I will congratulate the moment you name one thing you were wrong about.