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.

131

Standout performances by Nazem Kadri (2 goals) and Jonathan Bernier (40 saves on 42 shots), and another timely goal late in the third by the top line (JvR's 21st from Kessel and Bozak), saw the Maple Leafs take the first of four season meetings against the Lightning. The Leafs are 7-1-1 in their last nine, and remain in fourth place in the Eastern Conference with a 28-21-6 record (62 points). 1st period - The Leafs couldn’t take advantage of any of their three powerplays in the first period, despite going up against the fourth worst penalty kill in the League. On...

James Reimer

1464

It was 4-1! Half way through this one, it looked to be a continuation of the Dallas game, where uncharacteristically poor goaltending ensured every Leaf mistake wound up in the back of the net. Given the context of the 4-1 deficit, it's hard be disappointed in the (loser) point the Maple Leafs received. Whereas the team folded like a card table once a few things went against them versus Dallas, they battled back admirably in this game and now pass Montreal for third in the division—for the time being. Enjoy this image: 1st period Franson-Gleason/Lupul-Kadri-Kulemin started the game in a tentative fashion...

769

Well, they weren’t going to win forever, but this was an emphatic way to end the winning streak. Ray Ferraro had a pretty good comment as this game got out of control: “In the NHL, if you let off 5-10% one night while the other team plays great, this is what happens.” Dallas looked pretty good on this night, and made the Leafs pay time and again with their speed and timely, clinical finishing. The Leafs couldn’t get a save to help settle them down, either, from Bernier or Reimer. Mistake, turnover, goal... rinse and repeat. It was one of those...

Dion Phaneuf

558

These Leafs are rolling. Their first six game winning streak since 2006 comes thanks to another offensive explosion and a commendable effort in a back-to-back situation at mile-high altitude against a top team in the West. The Leafs chased goaltender Semyon Varlamov, who was 11-0-5 in his last 16, with three goals on their first 10 shots. The Leafs have scored 25 goals over their six game winning streak, as the top line is blazing hot, the Leafs’ offensive production from their defense has gone from famine to feast, their PP continues to be elite, and their goaltending continues to be...

Leafs Coyotes

156

The Maple Leafs made it five in a row for the first time since the 2006-07 season with a 4-2 win in Phoenix, as Nazem Kadri and Phil Kessel stayed hot and Jonathan Bernier turned away a whopping 39 shots. The Leafs also now hold the dubious honour of leading the league in 3rd period goals against with 60 after two third-period goals made things, as always, interesting. Nevertheless, the road swing started on the right note and the Leafs have collected all 10 of the last 10 available points. 1st Period -  The Kadri line was the second unit out, and...

Nazem Kadri

1556

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...

940

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...

539

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

365

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...

2222

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,...

1670

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...

925

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)...

827

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...

348

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...

350

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...

386

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...

420

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

772

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...

898

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...