The Leafs played the Flyers in yet another must win game. With Washington winning earlier today, the pressure was on. Here is how the boys responded.
1 — The Leafs are 30-30-8 and the team looked better on the defensive side of the puck. Our team conceded four goals both previous times it faced Philadelphia.
2 — A sloppy start from both teams forced one good save out of Gus. Our boys got the early PP after the Lilja trip but nothing came of it. When I say nothing I mean literally zero shots on net.
3 — Only 6 shots on net (3 in the first 13 minutes) in the first period but Grabo—s line was getting chances and I liked the play of Carter Ashton in the period. Only 13 faceoffs in the period, of which the Leafs won 10.
4 — Luke Schenn made his return to the lineup and he was trying to make an impact. He was physical. Simmons and Crabb fought during the commercial break and it was a really good, emotional fight. Crabb held his own against a bigger man, Crabb took a few good shots but came back with a couple of rights. This was the 4th fighting major since Carlyle took over as coach, a direction similar to that of his Anaheim teams.
5 — During most of the two periods (35 plus minutes of play) Jay Rosehill was the only Leafs who generated more than one shot on goal which was strange. Also, say what you will about Hartnell, and I did, but he—s an effective player.
6 — The improved defensive side of things took away from our transition speed but I think it—s just a matter of adaptation. I—d rather our team fixes the glaring holes in the defense and adapts an already proven offense to the changes needed than still have the glaring holes in defense. If you don—t get many chances, one option to score goals has to be the power play, but the man advantage play wasn—t working tonight.
7 — The third period offered an increase of Leaf chances, but the team just couldn—t get the bounces and couldn’t solve Bryzgalov.
8 — The game went to the shootout which featured a fantastic goal by Giroux. Similar to OT, Kessel can’t solve Bryzgalov and that was the game.
9 — Gus was really solid in net tonight and he looks like he—s gaining confidence. Consecutive starts seem to be doing him some good. Bryzgalov was equally good in the opposing crease. Gus also seemed to be benefiting from that defensive system too.
10 — This is how you start coaching defense. It—s definitely going to lower the entertainment value but it—s going to produce more wins. The offensive part will come, but what—s important is that the team starts picking up points. No better way to do it, especially late in the season, than with good defense.
Game Highlights (a.k.a. the Giroux goal):