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.
Nazem Kadri

1703

The first four game winning streak of the season has quickly erased memories of the lowest point of the Leafs' season, a four-game losing streak wherein Toronto was outscored 21-7.  A couple of regulation wins over divisional opponents Boston and Montreal needs to be a momentum builder for this team as they attempt to chase down a divisional playoff spot, beginning with a 4-game road swing versus the Coyotes, Avalanche, Stars and Jets. This was an emotionally-charged rivalry matchup between the Leafs and Habs, with the fires of last season's line brawl seemingly stoked by the Max Pacrioetty goal celebration...

992

For the life of them, the Leafs can’t put together a pair of ROWs for their burning boat. They still don't have two consecutive regulation-overtime wins since November 19, but they do have a three-game winning streak underway thanks to their ninth shootout win of the season. Given their ROW was already too far below their nearest competitors to catch up on the tiebreaker, the two points are what matter most. Obviously, one thing that’s disappointing about the five games versus the Sabres is just how even/touch and go they’ve been. The Leafs clearly have more talent, and who...

568

A new look line up produced better results, as the Toronto Maple Leafs topped the Boston Bruins 4-3 Tuesday night.  The Leafs were led by the offensive dynamism of Tyler Bozak who scored 2 game-tying goals in the first period and added an assist on the eventual game winner.  Phil Kessel recorded 3 assists, and now has 7 points in his last three games.  It was Bozak’s 7th career 2-goal game… which is actually kind of an impressive stat for him.  Equally impressive was the goaltending of Jonathan Bernier, who made 38 saves in his 9th start in the...

Jonathan Bernier

436

The eighth shootout win of the season (an astounding 36% of total Leaf wins) comes in unconvincing but much needed fashion. There's a couple of ways you could look at this one depending on how optimistic you want to be. The Leafs had a goal called off unjustly on a phantom goaltending interference call, which may have ensured a regulation win. On the other hand, the Leafs were outshot 38-25 and spent their typical extended spells snowed under. Devils head coach Pete DeBoer was thrilled with his team's effort in their third game in four nights, and thought the Leafs were...

2488

The Leafs lost a hard-fought, 50/50 game in Washington by a score of 3-2. There's positives to be gleaned, as Toronto was more combative than in recent games, but there’s only such thing as a "good loss" if it begets the end of a losing streak. The issue is the Leafs have so rarely been able to use a good effort as a building block this season. Carlyle’s message will have been to keep heads high after this one as the effort wasn’t in question. Notes: - Always love watching the Ovechkin vs. Phaneuf battle. They play each other hard,...

1754

I gave up after the 1st, which featured some of the softest defensive play and fundamentally poor defensive coverage we’ve seen from the Leafs since Ron Wilson got fired. Apparently it didn't get much better in the 2nd: In your expert opinion @KatsHockey , what would you call this d-zone coverage? #TMLtalk #FireCarlyle pic.twitter.com/aXI4UaW8kk — Gaudz (@gaudzrn) January 10, 2014   The Carlyle checklist of nonsense tonight: Playing Fraser over Gardiner, or at all. Nonsense. Playing Franson over Gardiner. Nonsense. Leaving Gleason on the top pair instead of reinserting Gunnarsson. Nonsense. Playing Ashton 40 seconds in the first period after the call up. Nonsense. As for the rest of...

964

This was the first loss of the season that can be definitively attributed to poor Maple Leafs' goaltending. Not that the Leafs were totally convincing otherwise, but they carried the shots advantage and play for the first 40, as well as a 4-0 advantage in powerplay opportunities, and came out of it tied at 2s. No excusing three of the four goals on Jonathan Bernier tonight, and yet he remained in the net through 59 minutes. Randy Carlyle called the goaltending situation a "1A/1B" situation just two days ago, but you know what a coach with a real 1A/1B situation...

287

Interesting that a lack of practice time and a busy schedule were cited by Randy Carlyle prior to the Christmas break, as this was a disgraceful effort while carrying the rest advantage in a two-game week while the Rangers played the second game of a back to back. Tim Gleason won't have to wait long to draw into the lineup. First Period After one decent chance for JvR on the opening shift, the Rangers were unlucky, twice, not to score the shift after, as Nash just missed with a wide open cage. Rick Nash was playing on the right wing (left-hand shot)...

883

Usually, HBO's 24/7 beats the actual Winter Classic in fanfare and expectation. This year, it has simply been a welcomed preview. The Big House in Ann Arbour, Michigan gathered a record number of bodies (105,491 people), vastly exceeding 71,217 humans attending the first Winter Classic in 2008. After a tough 5-4 SO loss against the Wings on December 21st, the Leafs were due for a victory. Paul Ranger had the right idea, wearing the eye-paint of the tiger and looking very much up for a game which brought him and all those in attendance to the core of their...

354

Welcome back, Tyler Bozak! 1. The Leafs predictably start the game with some lackadaisical play which allows the Hurricanes to jump out to an early shot advantage of 7-0 after the first ten minutes. Having said that, the shot clock wasn't totally indicative of the flow of the game. Zone time was even, and the Leafs had a few chances at the net. Kessel notably ripped a heavy wrister just wide, and the team made a few attempts to bring the puck to the net from the corner. Most of Carolina's shots were weak perimeter wristers, save for one opportunity...

405

Better than one point or zero, but all we can do is exhale and move on after this one. This was way too much of an adventure for a must win game against Buffalo. Still with just 1 regulation win in the last 19, this was the fourth straight Leafs game decided in a shootout. The Leafs led in the third period in three of them. 1 - In a nondescript first few minutes, the Leafs took 6 of the first eight shots. Not a great first 5 or so minutes, but not a horrible start, either. 2 - The...

403

The Leafs are doing their best Mighty Ducks impersonation for the HBO cameras, taking three straight games to shootout. Except these shootouts don’t have Goldberg, knucklepucks, Gunnar Stahl, triple dekes, and shouldn’t decide NHL games. The Leafs had no business getting a point in this game to begin with. This was another game featuring a full period spent snowed under, and  another stolen point by a Leaf goaltender. We're nearly at the half way point of the season and we're still all too often talking about points as though a bonus despite poor play. That's a bummer, but it at least...

446

The Leafs dropped a 5-4 shootout decision to the arch-rival Detroit Red Wings tonight in Toronto. I missed a portion of the game due to various Christmas functions I was attending but a few things stood out from what I saw: Reimer got pulled after a period and 3 goals against...again. Seems a touch unfair seeing as Bernier has yet to be pulled from any of his starts this season. Carlyle's insistence on using Raymond in the shootout over other options is becoming a point of frustration. Without the spin-o-rama in his arsenal I don't know that he's a good option...

Troy Bodie

861

Big sigh of relief as the Leafs pull one out in the shootout to stave off .500 and move to 18-16-3. Another one-goal effort here, but the Leafs generated enough chances for a regulation win if the top line could’ve buried.  Let’s switch up the format to keep things fresh. 1st period Reasonably happy with the energy level to start. Jerry D’Amigo set up the best opportunity for either team in the first 5 minutes. Noticing zone time is less of a problem lately, with less of those extended spells in their own end thanks to better exits. Rielly and Liles were excellent...

935

Despite losses in two of three, the Leafs looked to be fighting their way out of a slump with some good efforts against some good competition in San Jose, Los Angeles and Chicago. A 50/50 game to the Pittsburgh Penguins was kind of a writeoff defeat. A loss as sloppy as this one to the Florida Panthers, though, suggests the tailspin is still very much in progress. 1 - Three minutes into the game, Dion Phaneuf lost a gamble in an attempt to provide the drop pass option to Kadri, only for Kadri to force a pass into the...

188

After the first period, this was a 50/50 game that the Leafs didn’t end up on the right end of. Toronto will be ruing some missed scoring chances and blown powerplay opportunities on the plane ride home. 1 - Randy Carlyle started the game with the Holland, Lupul and Raymond line and Phaneuf-Gunnarsson on defence. They simply weren’t ready to start the game, while the Penguins came flying out of the gates with a Vitale, Conner and Sutter combination. The Leafs were a scrambling mess; with Holland laying down in the crease and the wingers collapsed, the Penguins scored off...

382

That the Leafs' offensive outbreak and first regulation win since November 19 (12 games) came against the League's top team could be pivotal in restoring some confidence in the Leafs' game. This was a great win, keyed by better lineup decisions by Randy Carlyle, secondary offensive contributions, and some rookie scoring. Two goals for Peter Holland, two for Joffrey Lupul, a goal and assist for Jerry D'Amigo and Nikolai Kulemin, Phil Kessel's 17th of the season, four assists for Mason Raymond... The Leafs' first win over Chicago since 2003 was an emphatic one. They outshot them, too. Tonight's lines: JVR-Kadri-Kessel; Raymond-Holland-Lupul;...

627

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Phil Kessel vs LA Kings

407

The Maple Leafs played their best game of the season, but were dealt a taste of their own medicine with a sublime goaltending effort by Martin Jones, ultimately thwarting a plethora of fantastic chances and a game full of uncharacteristic sustained offensive zone time by the Leafs. 1st period The first minute of the game had the makings of yet another one of those games where Toronto was going to spend way too much time in their own zone (“The Leafs have difficulty getting the puck out of their zone™”). That quickly changed at the 18 minute mark, with the Rielly/Gardiner pairing moving...

69

The opposite of the typical Leaf game from earlier in the season. A decent even-strength performance by the Leafs, but the game was lost on special teams and an uncharacteristic bad goal on the Leaf netminder. The Leafs again played the Bruins pretty even, but can't find a way to beat this team. 1 - An excellent opening period of hockey from the Leafs. Toronto came out with a better energy level in the back to back situation than the Bruins, and outworked them for much of the period. 2 - Jake Gardiner continues to make good things happen, jumping up...