The Leafs played the Sens in the fourth of five meetings between these two teams. This Battle of Ontario offered great value as the Sens held a two point advantage in the Northeast Division and the Conference standings headed into this one. Not anymore.
1) The Leafs are 20-12-4 and James Reimer has never lost in Ottawa. 8 straight games with at least a point. Can you say pl… no, shut up and don’t jinx it. The Senators don’t give up four goals on the regular, by the way.
2) The Leafs’ powerplay has been soaring lately and it kept on flying tonight. Daniel Alfredsson went to the box early and the Leafs made him pay with a quick redirect goal by Joffrey Lupul off a Nazem Kadri dish. Lupul is good at hockey, I’ve said it all along! Side note – It’s fun hearing Alfie get booed in his own barn.
3) Matt Kassian fought Colton Orr right after the goal, trying to grab back some of the momentum. He got the takedown after a few quick punches. Then, after a couple of Senator chances and a scrum in front of Reimer (who made some big saves there), Fraser fought Greening. Later on, Fraser McLaren took on Kassian and won decisively. 38 fighting majors are 3 more than the Leafs had all of last season. Yes, I know it was a 82-game season, but Carlyle didn’t exactly have time to get the old truculence fired up.
4) The second Leafs PP of the game again provided chances and yet again it was Lupul with a major one, which ended up knocking Bishop’s stick out of his hand. There was no second goal, though, as Kessel ended up in the box for interference.
5) To be perfectly honest, the Senators played a better opening two periods of hockey but simply couldn’t get the puck past Reimer. A little bit of luck on a few rebounds, but an overall solid performance by the netminder kept the lead. Reimer is an incredible 10-1-4 in his last 15 starts. Luongo? Get Lou-ost.
6) Reimer being huge certainly paid off after a dumb penalty by Chris Neil. After a good cycle, Lupul uses his body to get that puck to Kadri, who couldn’t miss from up close. The 2nd powerplay goal of the night only shows how much improved special teams mean to a hockey team. The Leafs probably don’t win tonight’s game if the PP isn’t as productive. Also, Kadri went to the scoring area. You stop in front of the net, you score goals – hockey is simple like that.
6.5) Kadri’s last 18 games – 12 goals, 13 assists, 25 points and plus-15. Joffrey Lupul since returning – 8 goals, 4 assists, 12 points in 6 games. Stunning.
7) Speaking of special teams, the PK was huge late in the second period. After a weird delay of game call on Franson, Reimer ended up stopping Latendresse on a breakaway and Alfredsson missed a wide open net. Luck and effort kept the 0 on the Senators’ end of the scoresheet, pointed out so fittingly on their “vintage” jerseys.
8) A note I wanted to touch up on was a very good game by Matt Frattin. Frattin showed some great wheels getting in on the forecheck and looked threatening throughout the game. In a similar vein, Kulemin put in his usual workmanlike performance, playing a direct role in the Kadri hat trick goal. Oh, and in case you missed it, Dion Phaneuf continues to be a very important player for this team.
9) Giving up the lead seemed to be a problem recently, but Jakob Silfverberg turned the puck over to Lupul (who carried the puck in the offensive zone with authority prior to that play), Lupul found Kadri and the youngster finished with ease. 3-0. Soon after, Nazem completed the Kadream with his second hat trick of the season. Earlier in the season, it seemed that whoever played on Kadri’s line was producing. Now, it would seem that whoever is on Lupul’s line is producing. Them both being on the same line pretty much translates to – money! Kadrupul? Ludream?
10) The Leafs were blocking a ton shots and when you play like that you pretty much create your own luck. Add in the talent of Joffrey Lupul and Nazem Kadri, who were on fire tonight, very good special teams, and top notch goaltending performance… you have yourself a W most of the time. With a 4-point night, Nazem Kadri now sits 6th in NHL scoring, trailing just Patrick Kane, Martin St. Louis, Chris Kunitz, Steven Stamkos and Sidney Crosby. Booyah!