We shouldn’t have to spill ink on the head-scratching decision that was the Morgan Rielly scratch, but it ended up clearly affecting the game in a negative way, so here we are. In Arizona, Rielly did get caught on a bad pinch and coughed up the puck at his own blueline, one partially leading to a goal against (assist to JvR’s giveaway behind the net), but he also directed six shots on goal in that game and had recently been playing well.
Alas, Carlyle’s decision was quickly exposed as a poor one in this game. Stuart Percy struggled jumping into the lineup cold against one of the league’s faster group of forwards, getting stuck on the ice for a few long own-zone spells and turning the puck over a few times – one especially costly for the 3-2 goal. And of course, the loss of Jake Gardiner exacerbated the situation two fold and it was suddenly apparent the Leafs were lacking mobility on the backend with a group of Phaneuf, Franson, Polak, Percy and Robidas left standing. In the OT period, especially in the 3 on 3 situations, the Leafs were without Gardiner and Rielly, leaving Franson and Phaneuf as less than ideal options with all the open ice.
As for the game in general, the Leafs looked unprepared to start the game for the second time in a row on this road trip. A fast start by the Avalanche was met by a deer in headlights response from the Leafs as they were a second late on a couple of plays in the first shift and went down 1-0 before fans had cracked their first beer.
The Leafs were outshot attempted 36-25 in the first and it was easy to see why. The Avs love to carry the zone with speed and have a couple of players highly proficient at it; the Leafs were putting up little resistance through the middle of the ice and it was forcing their D to back off. The Avs were coming through them far too easily in the first.
The beauty of having difference-makers like Phil Kessel on your team is that it takes mere seconds for him to turn a bad opening road period into a wash through 20 minutes. After a good play by Kadri to get a takeaway and turn the play up ice, it was a vintage rocket of a Kessel pass that Panik whiffed on with an empty net waiting, before Kessel batted in a bounce off the endboards out of midair in an impressive split-second reaction.
Considering the bad first shift and early injuries to Winnik and Gardiner and the dumb scratch, a point isn’t too bad of a result. The Leafs fought back to even the possession battle by game’s end in what was an entertaining game of two skating teams not playing especially sound defensive hockey.
The best news of the night is that Daniel Winnik feels “fine” after a scary incident in the first minute and Jake Gardiner’s knee injury is being described as a bone bruise.
Tyler Bozak – Playing some great hockey on this road trip. Could tell he was playing with a little extra jump on account of returning to Denver. Had some tireless shifts where he recovered a few pucks and made some nice plays. Would like to see more of those moments from Bozak where he’s making sure to always be moving his feet / has the bit between his teeth to go make the puck his. Must be said he’s looking just fine away from Kessel so far, although it is worth noting 4 of 5 goals and 6 of 12 points have come on the powerplay. Bore down on his chance in front and continues to say “what regression?” with his 16% shooting percentage. 67% on the dot and 6SOG tonight, topped off with the always-reliable shootout goal.
Stuart Percy – Obviously a game to forget. Ray Ferraro seemed to speak too soon, complimenting him for an early breakout pass because his night quickly unfurled after that. Made a total mess of a basic pass reception and was stripped on the boards, leading to Duchene’s goal in the third. Pawed a puck down for Tanguay to walk in on Bernier alone in the second period. Struggled with the speed of the Avs forwards at times; he’s not slow but not fast either – maybe best described as efficient – and his game relies on smooth puck handling and smart decision making, both of which let him down tonight. Important to note he hadn’t played in a while and he ended up playing more minutes than Carlyle would’ve liked given the way his game was going due to the injury to Gardiner.
Roman Polak – Strong play at the blueline to keep the puck in with two strong whacks before Kadri drew the penalty in front; that led to the Tyler Bozak goal. Didn’t identify Tanguay sneaking off the bench for the 2-2 goal, but it was a crafty veteran play. The pairing with Percy was a struggle overall; scary moments when Polak and Percy were stuck out against the likes of MacKinnon and Landeskog. Partially due to the Gardiner injury, he played a whopping 28 minutes against all forms of competition, which is much more than should be asked of him, so we’ll commend the effort overall.
Nazem Kadri - Ray Ferraro highlighted a couple of good defensive plays by Kadri in the first, which was deserved. Nearly had a self-made goal after stripping an Avalanche player of the puck and walking in on Berra. Made the flip play for a Kessel breakaway half way through the 2nd… unfortunate to come out without a point on the night. Surely the dam breaks and the points start pouring in at some point as he’s playing too well to be at 5 points, including just one assist, through 13 games.
Richard Panik – Mixed night, clearly a little out of his depth out of necessity, moving up due to the Winnik injury. A big goal to earn the team a point, but he was noticeably fighting it for periods, too, and obviously can’t play the game at Kessel’s pace or skill level (not a knock on him, we didn’t need to see it to know). He’s faster than was advertised but seems to be lacking balance and coordination at points. Not yet sold he’s an everyday NHLer, but scoring big goals when moved up the lineup never hurts.
Matt Frattin – Did get a shift or two with good linemates due to the line shuffling, but not much was doing. Zero shots in 9 minutes of action. I don’t think Carlyle is ever going to have much time of day for Frattin if he doesn’t see him go out and get on the body from the get go.
Phil Kessel – This was his kind of game and he had his electrifying moments. Good job sticking with the play rather than exiting the ice in disgust after he served up a goal to Panik that went to waste. Up to 7 goals and 18 points in 13 games. The Phil.
Dion Phaneuf – Bad note to start the game with the half-hearted battle behind the net in the build up to the opening Avalanche goal, but a solid and committed physical game overall. Over 31 minutes of action and came out in the plus column along with 7 hits. Can’t complain tonight, but that won’t stop some from doing it, of course.
Stephane Robidas – Seems to always be good for a few unnerving giveaways and a few crafty veteran plays a game. Still a little behind the pace at times, and Randy didn’t have the luxury of controlling his minutes, but he got by. Going to wait until the 25 game mark to start making judgments with Robidas especially. Admitted he didn’t fight Iginla because Iginla can fight much better than he can. Points for honesty?
Leo Komarov – We’ve talked ad nauseam about the good things this guy brings every night; unless otherwise stated, assume they happened. Also, the first goal has to be coming. Seems to be getting lots of chances around the net lately. I liked the brief look at Kessel, Komarov and Kadri late in the game; they nearly won it with seconds to go.
JvR - Not his most noticeable game, but great pass out front to Bozak on his goal and I did notice him take a nice lunge at someone as the first period was ending. The mean stuff doesn’t come natural to JvR, but it’s nice to see now and again given his size.
Cody Franson – Great D-splitting stretch pass for a breakaway, and good puck movement throughout. Has been playing closer to mistake-free hockey lately. Moving the puck decisively, firmly and accurately, and taking his man out of the play with regularity. Lots to like about his game of late. Saved a goal on a first period penalty kill and added two assists tonight.
Peter Holland - Lots of minutes tonight (19+). Looked good again on the penalty kill, is a quality passer of the puck and was extending plays in the offensive zone. 3 for 16 on the faceoff dot is a sore thumb.
Sam Carrick - Not much to note other than him getting some more PK time after Winnik left the game, and looking in place doing it. He was great at it in the AHL and it will be a big part of his toolbox as he continues down the path of becoming a regular NHLer.
Mike Santorelli - Instrumental in getting the point by gaining the zone and setting up the tying goal with a look off to the point before sliding it to Panik in the slot. Best used as a C on this team, but this was a better game on the wing than in Arizona. Played 19 minutes, which I like seeing as his seasonal average has been a tad low for my tastes at 12:45 TOI/G.
Jonathan Bernier - He seemed to get caught on the fresh ice and slid too far, leading to the first goal (not much help from any of his teammates), and when he’s really on his game he maybe gets back in time to make the save on the third Colorado goal by Matt Duchene. It was a poor shootout showing to put it lightly, getting beat five hole twice, partially kicking in the third goal by Tanguay. He battled well to keep the Leafs from a multi-goal deficit in the first, but it was a mixed bag from Bernier.
Shot Location Chart
Maple Leafs Boxscore Stats
|PLAYER||POS||G||A||P||+/-||PIM||S||HITS||BKS||GVA||TKA||FO%||PP TOI||SH TOI||TOI|
|J. van Riemsdyk||L||0||1||1||-1||2||7||0||2||0||2||-||0:34||0:13||20:35|
|PLAYER||EV||PP||SH||SAVES - SHOTS||SV%||PIM||TOI|
|J. Bernier 3-3-2||28 - 31||3-3||0 - 0||31 - 34||0.912||0||64:49:00|
Maple Leafs Possession Stats
|Player||All Situations||Even Strength|
|#||Name||Position||Corsi For||Corsi Against||Corsi||Corsi For%||Zone Start%||Corsi For||Corsi Against||Corsi||Corsi For%||Zone Start%|
|21||JAMES VAN RIEMSDYK||L||26||26||0||50||67||24||26||-2||48||69|