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.

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The scoreline and result from Tuesday night's game was very similar to the Leafs trip to New York earlier in the season, as they exploded with four goals in the second period, and held on for the win. However, in this game, Toronto were much more convincing in terms of even strength chances, as they dominated that second period to earn their comfortable lead. The third period was a little concerning; you'd expect the Islanders to dominate the chances, given the score, but you'd hope the Leafs would be able to do better on the defensive end. Still, this was...

Phil-Kessel

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Sometimes all it takes is the right bounce. The Leafs were off to a drowsy start and fell behind 1-0 before the first line got a fortuitous bounce off the boards that fell perfectly to Kessel, who dropped to JvR for his 3rd of the season. The Leafs would fall behind again after a series of penalties -- two by Lupul, one costly after a bad bounce landed on the wrong stick for Tavares’ 2-1 goal -- but it was quickly apparent that the first goal was a lift that went straight to the first line’s legs. Toronto was also a little hard...

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This was a bit of an odd game, scoring chance wise. The Maple Leafs had a superior possession performance to what they managed Friday night, but -- particularly in the third period -- they weren't able to turn that possession into scoring chances, as they generated few shots from the 'home plate' area. Jonas Gustavsson had to make saves down the stretch, but wasn't tested nearly as stringently as Jonathan  Bernier was. This shows in the chances, as the Leafs were beaten by a similar margin to Friday night's game, despite the fact it was a better game from Toronto. It was...

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The Maple Leafs will have to settle for just one point out of four as the weekend back to back versus Detroit ended with a last-second OT loss at the Joe. And a Jonas Gustavsson shutout (smh). This was a fairly even game for most of it, with the Leafs actually edging the Wings in shot attempts, 54-48 in all situations and 45-39 at even strength (they were outchanced to my eye, however). High referee involvement made the game disjointed in the first 40 especially, but it gave way to a moderately entertaining third period and overtime session. The atmosphere was more...

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After getting a little momentum, winning two straight games and winning the chance count against Colorado, the Maple Leafs had a disappointing return to form on the first night of a back to back versus Detroit. After an uneventful first half of the opening period, Detroit took over. Toronto responded well in the second, and despite allowing another goal, were the better team in terms of scoring chances for the first two-thirds of the period. However, in the next 20 minutes, stretching over the period break, Detroit outchanced them 10-2 at ES, opening up a bigger lead and crushing the Leafs' hopes...

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Not a good first half of a back to back for the Maple Leafs, to put it lightly. Credit where it's due, this was a well played/coached game by the Red Wings. Mike Babcock's team effectively clamped down on the neutral zone, causing turnovers and giving the Leafs’ top guns nothing off the rush (line #1 for its part packed up its bags nice and early). The start was okay from the Leafs. They were about even with the Wings in shots and in the possession battle over the first 10 minutes, were exiting their own zone fairly well and showing a decent amount...

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For the first time this year, the Leafs were clearly the superior team in Tuesday's game against Colorado. They dominated the ES chances, especially in an effective third period, when they chased down an Avalanche lead and threatened to win in regulation before Kessel settled the game with a piece of overtime magic. There's a lot of positives to take from this game. Edit: Since this is my first post here at MLHS, I should add a little background. I'm tracking scoring chances using the relatively common 'home plate' approach, as described at In Lou We Trust, among other places. Scoring...

Phil Kessel, Dion Phaneuf

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In the clash of the Corsi outlaws, it was the Maple Leafs on the right side of a 40-24 shot count and a 3-2 final scoreline. A physical, high-paced affair with loads of offensive talent on display, this was the best (at least, most entertaining) game of the Leafs’ 2014-15 calendar so far. The Maple Leafs took this game over from the second period onward, outshooting the Avalanche 31-12. As the game wore on, the Leafs managed to attack in waves with their speed and establish something resembling a consistent forecheck. Worth noting is that the Avalanche were a tired team playing...

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Just what the doctor ordered. Coming off an embarrassing defeat to the Pittsburgh Penguins, the Maple Leafs needed goals from their top offensive players and a better performance in net – they got both in chasing Henrik Lundqvist and skating to an eventual 6-3 victory. After their all-too-familiar possession issues reared their ugly head while getting doubled up in shots, conceding over 40 to Pittsburgh, the Leafs also needed to control play against a Rangers team that’s missing a few key contributors -- they did pretty much that, leading the possession battle for the most part until score effects took over...

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The Maple Leafs were completely dominated by the Penguins, and the team looked as dysfunctional as it did at the end of the 2013-2014 season. Despite a fast paced start the game, and outshooting the Penguins for the first 6:30, the Leafs spiralled badly after that, looking slow and terrified to make a mistake. Apparently, I'm not the only one that saw that. The team didn't appear to win a puck battle all night and backed away from contact, turned the puck over regularly, and played an overall brutal game, one was also worsened by taking a number of undisciplined penalties to sink the team even...

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A good first period featuring first-ever NHL points for Stuart Percy and Brandon Kozun – on Tyler Bozak and Nazem Kadri goals, respectively – gave way to a disappointing 30 minutes of hockey as the Maple Leafs dropped their opening game of the 2014-15 season. After Tomas Plekanec and P.K. Subban put the Habs in front 3-2, the two teams traded bad-bounce goals in the final two minutes of the game -- both were passes from the sideboards that bounced in off defencemen in front -- in a bizarre way to decide game one of the season. A streak of four...

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The Maple Leafs looked sharp, determined and detailed — especially for a preseason game -- easily handling the Detroit Red Wings in their final game of the 2014 preseason. The Leafs' few days off allowed the coaching staff to work with a roster that will more closely resemble the opening night iteration and continue to refine some system tweaks that were so direly needed. What was apparent in tonight's game was that the points were better covered off and the swarm was only activating when appropriate. They didn't overcommit on offensive zone forechecks and provided good structure through the netural...

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This game was an abject waste of everybody’s time. On top of being one of the poorer-played games we’ve ever seen out of two NHL teams, the refs’ eagerness to call everything and anything made it a choppy, special-team-dominated affair. 18 minor penalties and one major penalty were assessed in sixty minutes of truly uninspiring hockey. The teams split 11 shots in the first period despite six penalties being assessed. The Maple Leafs won last night after allowing 38 shots on goal, and lost tonight after allowing just 17. The biggest positive after this eighth game of preseason: Just one more...

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The Maple Leafs moved to 4-1-1 in preseason with a game that followed an awfully familiar script: The Leafs' first line was dangerous in both ends. The Leafs gave up way too many shots, including 15 in 13 minutes in the 2nd period, and 38 overall.  Jonathan Bernier was the Leafs' 1st star. The Leafs won an unconvincing game in a shootout. We won't hit the panic button until the results are similar with the full lineup, and system changes aren't learned and executed perfectly overnight, but the early signs could be more encouraging. A few other quick notes: David Booth left the game with a bruised foot from a shot block, but...

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The Toronto Maple Leafs still seem to be working through systemic issues, learning new defensive and neutral zone systems, but the shots against remain a red flag. Toronto Maple Leafs vs Buffalo Sabres Player Notes Tyler Bozak - Had an up and down first game. Bozak had three points, but he also gave up the puck in the middle of the D zone leading to a goal, and had an opportunity to make a play on another puck during a different goal against (albeit, it was a tough play and bouncing puck). Was nice to see him producing without Kessel though, and he...

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A Leafs team that was short on energy after playing back to back and a veteran group short on effort gave the fans little to cheer about consistently. A fairly boring game—even by preseason standards. Player Notes: James van Riemsdyk - Very good game for JVR. Had a number of good chances, was trying unlike a lot of the team. Mike Santorelli - Another good showing for Santorelli. Even in back-to-back games, he kept his legs moving all night, was hard on pucks, showed some good hands and was a consistent performer. Phil Kessel - Certainly not a game he was challenged in....

Morgan Rielly

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The Sens' top line of Bobby Ryan, Kyle Turris and Clarke MacArthur could do whatever they wanted against a weaker Leaf lineup, but the Leafs got pretty good goaltending and hung around despite a 35-22 shot count, skating to a 3-2 final. The Leafs made it mildly interesting in the final minute when Morgan Rielly scored with 30 seconds left, and Daniel Winnik nearly put an exclamation mark on a nice game by nearly tying it, hitting the post with a few seconds remaining. Some player notes: Morgan Rielly – Good game. Started with a nice rush in the first; followed it up...

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Thanks to a 4-0 win over the Philadelphia Flyers, the Maple Leafs are now 2-0 in preseason. While that means exactly nothing, especially given this was the exact same Flyers lineup playing its second night in a row, we did get our first looks at William Nylander (rookie tourney notwithstanding), Mike Santorelli, Roman Polak and Henrik Tallinder. With five regular NHL defencemen in the lineup, it was good to see the Leafs gave their goaltenders just 14 shots of work through two periods, although Antoine Bibeau needed a 13-save effort to preserve the shutout in the third. We'll have to see what he...

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It was choppy (early)preseason hockey to be sure, but some players stood out for different reasons. The Maple Leafs played a good first, were mostly snowed under in the second – falling behind 2-0 – but battled back on goals from Nazem Kadri and Tom Nilsson (set up beautifully by Kadri). David Booth was the lone goal scorer in the shootout. Scattered thoughts: - Expect Petri Kontiola to get lots of ice this preseason, or the coaching staff would be wise to give him lots anyway, because it's clear he is experiencing an adjustment, perhaps moreso than any of the other bubble forwards....

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Game Highlights - Toronto 3 vs. Texas 1 Steve Spott Post Game Press Conference