Game Reviews

Game Reviews

Everything you need to know about last night's Leaf game is broken down into 10 cogent points of analysis by an MLHS writer within minutes of the final buzzer.

439

In the first half of this game, the Leafs were impressive, limiting Arizona's chances and actually getting an even strength goal, from Phil Kessel. The last ten minutes of the second period saw Arizona generate some chances, threatening the one-goal lead, but Jonathan Bernier was able to hold them off. Bernier had a terrible third period, as a goal from the Coyotes' blue line -- arguably worse than the infamous 200 footer on Vesa Toskala, which at least took an awful bounce, unlike tonight's -- tied the game up, and another from a sharp angle that got through Bernier's near...

848

In their first game back since the All Star break, the Maple Leafs showed the type of defensive effort that new coach Peter Horachek has been looking for. While their offensive struggles continued in New Jersey, they had one of their best defensive games of the season. They held the Devils to only three ES chances in the first two periods and the game was up for grabs heading into the final twenty minutes. James van Riemsdyk put them ahead in the third, and they seemed well placed to hold the lead, until a bad icing was followed by a...

806

The Leafs had another disaster of a first period in Ottawa, as after getting the first two chances, they were out-chanced 10-2 the rest of the way, and fell behind 3-0. While the Carolina game saw them give up the third goal early in the second, this time Toronto got it out of the way earlier, with Zibanejad scoring in the last minute of the first. The Leafs were much better in the second, and cut the deficit to one early in the final period. For the first six minutes of the third, it looked like Toronto might be able...

1981

In their return home, the Leafs had a bad first period, giving up two goals in forty seconds to fall behind again. They then compounded those struggles by surrendering a third in the first minute of the second period. After that, they really took charge of the game, with a couple of excellent shifts helping them to dominate the scoring chances, taking the period 11-2 at ES. None of those chances managed to turn into goals, as Toronto's scoring drought continued. Toronto weren't as good in the third, but did manage some power-play chances, and eventually got a goal with...

2

Toronto again had an unfortunate start in California, falling behind 2-0 against San Jose after a pair of goals in an eleven second stretch. The Leafs were even with the Sharks in chances for the period, and managed to finish down by only one, after Roman Polak broke their goose egg for the California trip. San Jose were excellent in the second period, out-chancing the Leafs 8-2 after the first couple of minutes, but Reimer was able to keep his team within a single goal. The Leafs were able to do a decent job in the third period, generating six...

0

The Maple Leafs were a little unfortunate in the opening period, as they out-chanced the Ducks 6-3 at ES but found themselves behind after Anaheim scored on a prolonged 5-on-3. The second period was much worse, as the Ducks got a pair from Corey Perry, and took over the chances by a margin of 9-4. Toronto were then totally shut down in the third, generating only a single ES chance, which came in the final minute after the Leafs were down 4-0. Anaheim's final period was one of the best defensive showings I've seen this season. The Leafs ended up even...

745

Four straight games with under 30 shots against – something the Leafs never achieved under Randy Carlyle. Two games in a row getting shutout – something they haven't achieved since March of 2012, a few games after Carlyle was first hired. The Leafs are undergoing a rewiring process amid the toughest part of their schedule hands down. The game isn’t coming as natural to them, and they’re struggling to find a way to generate offensive opportunity while playing a more responsible game. It’s going to be a process. When breaking up their best offensive line in hopes of changing the dynamic and...

2

The Maple Leafs' West Coast trip got off to a poor start, as they had a bad first period, falling behind in the opening minute and getting out-chanced 9-4 in the opening 20. LA continued to play well in the first half of the second, and come the halfway point of the game they were up 15-4 in ES Chances. Toronto managed to pull things back in the second half of the game, as they pushed for an equalizing goal. They out-chanced the Kings 10-4 at ES in the last thirty minutes, but could never find the breakthrough that would...

584

The Maple Leafs made one crucial misstep by being asleep to start the game, and ultimately paid for it in a hard-fought and tightly-contested game against the Cup champs on the road. While the Leafs’ first shift was inexcusable and they were largely pushed around in the opening period, they have certainly won games where they’ve played much worse. The Leafs stuck to the gameplan after the early goal against and slowly found their footing in the game, dictating possession in the second half. There were a couple of doorstep chances for JvR and Panik in the third period, but...

740

This was more like the game fans were picturing following a coaching change. Despite Franson and Phaneuf (falling over) teaming up for an early blunder leading to a Ryan Johansen breakaway goal out of nothing, the Leafs shook it off; an early bit of bad news going against a fragile team can sometimes end ugly, but the Leafs didn't respond like a team mired in turmoil. A bounce going the right way can be a great relief for a team tightly gripping the sticks, and the Leafs got one off a centering pass from Tyler Bozak that went in off a skate. From...

Phil Kessel

40

The Toronto Maple Leafs had their first victory in the post-Carlyle era, as a great opening period powered them past the Columbus Blue Jackets. In that twenty minutes, they went out to a 4-1 lead that they never seriously looked like relinquishing. Toronto were even with the Blue Jackets in ES chances in the period, but got a pair of power-play goals and another off a Columbus leg to earn that lead. Despite trailing, the Blue Jackets were only even with the Leafs in chances the rest of the way, and couldn't get closer than a two goal deficit. It's way...

815

In their first game post-Randy Carlyle, the Maple Leafs ended up with another big defeat, beaten 6-2 by the Capitals. For the first two periods, the Leafs were having a strong game, despite trailing on the scoreboard, as they were superior in possession and in chances. However, they struggled in the third, getting clearly out-chanced as Washington pulled away for a comfortable victory. This was one of the Leafs' best chance games in quite some time, and while the result didn't go Toronto's way, it wasn't a terrible start to Horachek's tenure. The ES close numbers do show that Toronto struggled...

451

The Leafs' long road trip came to an end with a bad loss, as Winnipeg thoroughly outplayed them. The first five minutes were a good start for Toronto, but after that things went south, with Winnipeg out-chancing the Leafs 8-1 at ES over the remainder of the period. Toronto managed to take the lead after a good start to the second, but four minutes later they were behind. They never managed to get back into it, as in the second half of the game they generated only a single ES chance, and Winnipeg blew the game open. This was one of...

672

The Leafs had a great start to the first game of 2015, as they had the bulk of the chances until a Wild powerplay late in the first. The Wild were better in the second, and took the lead at the midway point, but Toronto were still right into the game, and the two sides went into the third even in chances at ES. Franson scored a goal early in the third, and it looked like Toronto would have a good shot of at least earning a point. However, Minnesota went back ahead through Spurgeon, and a powerplay goal widened...

886

Toronto closed out 2014 against the Bruins, one of the closest chasers for the wild cards spot the Leafs are fighting for. Toronto had a great start, dominating the first period in chances and getting an early lead. That continued at the start of the second, and at the halfway point of the game the Leafs were in command, up 3-1 and holding Boston to 2 ES chances. That didn't last, as the second half of the game was almost a mirror image of the first half. Toronto managed only one chance on the Boston net in the last twenty-eight...

1157

This game might come as a shock to fans who decided to pick up Leaf fandom for the first time during the recent 10-1-1 hot streak; a stretch of five losses in six games might even seem like the type of blip that most teams have to play through at some point in the 82-game grind. For Leafs fans with a memory, it was as predictable as it was depressing to watch. Over the past three seasons, fans and pundits have often wondered who the real Leafs are -- the group that collapses catastrophically or the one that goes on the tantalizing,...

3

The second half of Toronto's trip to Florida saw the Leafs have a solid start, given they were playing a back-to-back. They were narrowly out-chanced in the first ten minutes, but in a familiar story, led 2-0. Tampa rallied from that deficit, getting a resounding thirteen of the next fourteen chances and getting level on the scoreboard. With the game tied, Toronto found their game again, and finished near even in chances for the period. Things fell apart in the final frame, as Tampa Bay out-chanced the Leafs 7-2 in the lead-up to Stamkos' go-ahead goal. Toronto managed only three...

3

Toronto's return to action after the holidays was wild, with a back-and-forth game in Florida. There actually weren't a lot of scoring chances (from the home plate area) in the game, but the goals came fast and furious. The two teams were fairly even in the first, neither doing much at even strength; the chances came on the powerplay. Florida then came out strong in the second, out-chancing the Leafs 9-2, despite a goal from Richard Panik that put Toronto ahead. The Leafs found their game in the second half of the period, getting seven of the last eight chances....

6

With their long road trip in full swing, the Leafs got an important victory in their last pre-Christmas game, shutting out the Stars in Dallas. Toronto did well in the first half of the game, finishing the opening period even in chances and ahead 1-0, and then dominating the first 15 minutes of the second, carrying the play and earning two more goals. After that, Dallas controlled the game, getting the bulk of the chances and putting Toronto under pressure. This mostly came at the end of each period; Dallas out-chanced the Leafs by a 6-1 margin in the last...

351

In the game day thread before the Carolina game, we talked about how, in March of 2014, the Leafs were on a red-hot streak that included wins over the Kings and Ducks right before they played a weaker Eastern Conference opponent (Washington), lost, and began a long losing streak. They had won a few games they shouldn’t have, and sure enough it caught up to them and then some; they went from the hottest team in the League to ice cold, and we all know how the season ended. The slump is only at three games at this point, the panic button...