Wednesday, April 1, 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.

300

We shouldn’t have to spill ink on the head-scratching decision that was the Morgan Rielly scratch, but it ended up clearly affecting the game in a negative way, so here we are. In Arizona, Rielly did get caught on a bad pinch and coughed up the puck at his own blueline, one partially leading to a goal against (assist to JvR’s giveaway behind the net), but he also directed six shots on goal in that game and had recently been playing well. Alas, Carlyle's decision was quickly exposed as a poor one in this game. Stuart Percy struggled jumping into...

739

Unprepared to start the game. That was the story of the Leafs' 3-2 loss to the Phoenix Coyotes on Tuesday night as they tried to dig themselves out of a 3-0 hole and ultimately couldn't overcome it. 1st period - The Leafs generate a little ozone time and a SOG from Polak on the first shift with Clarkson, JvR and Bozak, after Carlyle pretends to reunite the top line of old before yanking Kessel for Clarkson right after the draw. - On the first shift for Kessel, Winnik and Kadri, the wingers (Kessel first, Winnik second) fail to get the puck moving on...

4

The Leafs came out flat in Arizona, with a couple of bad giveaways and an unlucky bounce seeing them fall behind 3-0. Toronto didn't generate a single ES chance until just before the halfway point of the game. They improved in the second half, but still ended up out-chanced pretty decisively. They managed a pair of powerplay goals, but there wasn't much generated at ES down the stretch, even while they were chasing the one goal lead in the last few minutes. The Leafs never got back to ES Close after the early part of the game, and while they...

937

It’s a four-point weekend for the Maple Leafs. Among the fan base, it was ‘blow it up’ last week, ‘playoff bound’ the next. The Leafs needed their goaltender to be their best player to get this win over one of the league elite in a back to back and that’s exactly what they got. While it could be argued he should’ve come up with a save on one of the first two goals, James Reimer was every superlative in the book in the third period to close this out as the Maple Leafs just hung on for dear life – tonnes...

8

Toronto was unfortunate not to be ahead after two periods, as their second period performance was excellent, putting a lot of pressure on the Blackhawks and severely limiting Chicago's chances. They did manage a breakthrough early in the third, through Peter Holland, and then went into a defensive shell. Chicago threw everything they had at the Leafs' net in the third, generating a crazy twenty-three chances in the period, but James Reimer somehow managed to keep the Hawks at bay and earn Toronto a third consecutive win. Some major momentum shifts here, but that excellent second period means the Leafs finished...

703

The Toronto Maple Leafs were delivered a blow before the start of the game with the news that oft injured forward, Joffrey Lupul, was out with a broken right hand. This was a a decent win for Toronto against a team they should beat given the Blue Jackets had $30 million in players on the IR. They did not convincingly shut the game down and were dominated towards the end of the game, however, they did push shots to the outside and none were really of much threat. Tough luck for Jonathan Bernier on the power play goal. He looked good...

Phil Kessel

4

The Leafs earned a second straight win against a short-handed Blue Jackets team, getting some opportunistic third period goals to secure the victory. The first two periods were fairly close in chances until the Leafs scored their second goal, after which a couple of strong shifts saw them open a gap in chances. While Toronto managed only two shots on goal, both goals, in the third, they were even in chances, a sign of a very good defensive road effort. This was the lowest overall chance game the Leafs have played this year; they were content to defend their lead after...

1242

Buffalo is projecting as one of the worst teams in the modern era, but this win was convincing and much needed. If you want to put a positive spin on it, the Leafs have been generous with their shots allowed against even the worst of opponents in the past year; tying a franchise record for fewest shots against in a game – 10 – is a plus regardless of the opponent. The decision to go with Bernier over Reimer seemed somewhat curious given their recent form, but both goalies got the night off as it turns out. Bernier was credited with the...

7

After getting a lot of media heat from Saturday night's loss, the Leafs had the perfect response. They played what was, by the numbers, easily the most dominant single performance from a Leaf team in a long time, as they allowed Buffalo just ten shots on net, and had over 80% of the chances at even strength. Through most of two periods, they were playing with fire a little, not having turned the domination into any goals, but in the third Buffalo ended up paying for their struggles, and the Leafs were able to win easily. These numbers are nuts; to...

5

When I had the chance to sit down and watch this game, having missed it live, I expected a Leaf performance quite a bit worse than what I ended up seeing. Boston had a territorial edge, but for the most part didn't generate much in the early part of the game. The Leafs actually led in chances after two periods, despite being behind 2-0. However,  Toronto wasn't good in the third period, and two quick goals saw a game that was still within reach break open, with Bernier pulled. That first period was quiet in terms of chances, and the Leafs were unfortunate...

Nazem Kadri

1788

With an ugly loss to the Boston Bruins, the Maple Leafs have fallen to 1-4 on home ice, and Randy Carlyle sounds lost for answers again already. While the Bruins carried the edge in play, this was somewhat of a nothing game for the first 40. A flukey first goal and a bad pinch put the Leafs behind 2-0. It wasn’t out of reach until a disastrous early third period powerplay, which this game seemed to hinge on, yielded a shorthanded goal against.  While the Maple Leafs struggled to get more than one line going among their 11 forwards, the Bruins showed them...

10

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

538

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...

56

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...

685

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...

286

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...

121

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...

4

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

841

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...

735

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...