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.

800

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...

344

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...

380

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...

415

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...

176

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;...

599

1 - 2 -   3 - 4 - 5 - 6 - 7 -   8 - 9 - 10. 

Phil Kessel vs LA Kings

373

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...

66

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...

824

A game in Ottawa on a Saturday night. It brought the goals, the chippy-ness, the sloppiness, and the Leaf win we were all expecting. Bizarre stat - this was James Reimer's third 49+-shot win over the Senators in his career. 1 - 58 seconds into the game, Kadri did what he does better than anyone in the league, earning a powerplay for his team. After the Leafs got set up with the trademark drop pass to Kessel for the zone entry, Phaneuf backed up across the line to the middle of the ice, threw the puck on net, Kadri jammed...

374

Toronto welcomed the HBO crew with a 3-2 overtime victory at the Air Canada Centre.  They came out with the appropriate amount of desperation and effort for a team that has been stumbling significantly. 1. The Leafs certainly came to play tonight. Maybe it was the HBO presence or an unheralded urgency in response to the squad's recent stretch of dismal outings. It could also just be the natural progression for a good - but not elite - NHL team in an 82 game season. In that case, tonight's victory would signify a swing in the right direction for the...

217

Two vastly different Maple Leaf teams showed up, but neither were enough to muster W, as the Leafs fell to the San Jose Sharks 4 – 2 Tuesday night.  Ex-Leaf Mike Brown, Joe Thornton, Brad Stuart and Logan Couture tallied for the Sharks, who won their 19th of the season and sixth straight.  Mason Raymond and Phil Kessel replied with power play goals for the Leafs, who dropped their fourth straight.  James Reimer made 37 saves in defeat, while Antti Niemi stopped 28 in his 24th start of the season. 1.  Tonight marked the beginning of the Leafs’ Dreadful December,...

1053

Murphy’s Law is gripping this Leafs team at the moment. The performance wasn’t terrible in this one; it wasn’t exactly great, but there is a confluence of bad things happening to this team at the moment, some in their control and some not. The most disconcerting part about the conclusion to this month, as the Leafs enter a brutally tough December - 2 regulation wins in 13 November games. 1 - The last thing the Leafs needed was a bad start, but the Leafs got started on one with an interference penalty by Carl Gunnarsson. On the ensuing penalty kill,...

1030

Splitting the points with the Sabres over three games is far from a sign of promise headed into a tough December. Two of the Sabres' 6 wins in 27 games have come against the Leafs. Thanks to Cameron for tonight's Game in 10. 1 - The Leafs came out looking much better to start the game in Buffalo tonight. Granted, the bar wasn't set high after their collapse in Pittsburgh, but they kept the Sabres off the shot clock for 11 minutes to open the game. However, even during this stretch, there were head scratching moments in the defensive zone....

829

The stuff of cardiac arrests. Please keep the 4-1 jokes to yourself. What a crazy game of momentum swings and refereeing-fuelled rage. 1 - The Leafs were making a mess in their defensive zone coverage on the first few shifts, coughing up an early lead when Chris Connor jumped on a pass wide open on the back door, and nearly conceded another one before they found their way into the game. The powerplay Peter Holland drew was a saviour for that reason. It seemed to settle the Leafs in when this game could’ve easily gotten away on them, with their confidence...

690

1. Countless odd man opportunities against. 2. Dreadful defense. 3. Bad breakouts vs. the trap. 4. Turnovers at the blueline. 5. Soft on the puck. 6. Too fancy offensively. Trying to pass it in the net. 7. Barely shooting (18 shots while chasing the lead the whole game). 8. Lupul hurt. 9. Outworked by lowly 'Lumbus for the 2nd time. 10. Poor Reimer. No sense in picking out individuals from the pile. This was the Leafs' first real “blowout” of the season. How will they respond?

713

Lower scoring than one might have expected, this game was more entertaining than the scoreline suggests. The Leafs won the special teams battle and the shootout thanks to Mr. Saturday Night, James Reimer, to move to 14-8-1 on the season. 1 - A pretty fun first period to watch; it was a five-on-five, penalty-free track meet as both teams were skating well while playing a loose and structure-free game. Good goaltending at both ends kept it even. For the Leafs, the biggest positive was a really good period from Lupul - Kadri - Clarkson line, which looked as good as...