Wednesday, March 4, 2015
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.

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...

0

A poor start for the Leafs saw Chicago hold them to only a single ES chance in the opening period, and a goal in the final second left Toronto a two-goal deficit to try and make up. The Leafs were much better in the second period, at least until the last five minutes, when Chicago took control again. The third was similar, with Toronto having a good start, but not managing a breakthrough; when Chicago got a pair of insurance goals in under two minutes, the game was all but over. The Leafs were ahead in ES chances once the first...

284

Toronto had a familiar start to the game, as they were even in chances early, but managed a pair of goals to take the lead. Things took a quick turn for the worse after that, as Philadelphia dominated the last twelve minutes of the period, winning the chances 9-2 and scoring three goals, leaving the Leafs somewhat fortunate to be tied after the first twenty minutes. Despite giving up two goals, the Leafs were actually fine at ES in the second period, with Philadelphia getting most of its chances with the extra man. The third was the real disappointment, as...

264

It’s not a particularly shocking revelation: The Leafs have enough talent to beat any team in this League, but they can be made to look awful by much less talented teams if they think talent alone is going to be enough on any given night. They're not the only team for which those rules apply, but Toronto's 14-3-2 record versus above-.500 teams compared to their 5-7-2 record versus below-.500 teams is quite the confounding incongruity. A team like Carolina is entering this game with no illusions about where they stand or how they need to play to get a result; they’re in...

6

The opening period of tonight's game was similar to the Leafs' last road outing against Detroit. The difference was that the Hurricanes were able to take advantage of their dominance. They not only out-chanced Toronto 8-3 at ES, they finished the period up 2-0. Toronto had some fightback early in the second, and while Carolina dominated the middle of the period, a late goal gave the Leafs some hope. Until the last five minutes, there wasn't much Toronto push in the final frame, as Carolina added a third goal, and held the chance advantage. Things turned around in the last...

729

The opponent doesn’t seem to matter; no team has an answer for the Leafs’ four-line attack at the moment. Tonight it was the League’s hottest team and owner of its best overall record rolling into town, and the Leafs lit them up for six goals. Outplayed on the whole (didn't 'feel' as bad as the shot count, but the shot location chart below doesn't paint a pretty picture), the Leafs got the better goaltending and were certainly the more opportunistic team; boiled down, that’s been their basic formula when they’ve gotten hot in the past few seasons. Two goals had a definitive...

17

While the score line was different, there was a lot similar between the Leafs' back-to-back wins against the teams from Southern California. Much like Sunday, the Leafs went out to a 2-0 lead, despite being out-chanced in the first two periods, and, also just like that game, Anaheim responded with a goal late in the second, putting some pressure on Toronto. The Leafs showed some good resilience with another great third period; despite holding a lead, they were even in chances. Of course, the difference was that they turned four of those chances into goals, making the final score pretty lopsided. It...

17

Through the first half of this game, the Leafs looked in great shape, especially given it was the second half of a back-to-back; they had a 2-0 lead, and were roughly even with the defending Stanley Cup champions in chances. They seemed to hit a wall late in the second, though, as the Kings generated six straight chances, including two goals. That continued in the third, with Los Angeles going into the lead, and it seemed like that might be it for Toronto's hopes in this game. However, instead of folding, the Maple Leafs showed some great resilience, as they...