Toronto Maple Leafs‘ win, a 6-5 victory in OT, marks best start
for the franchise in 20 years (1993-1994 Toronto Maple Leafs).
Randy Carlyle and Dallas Eakins are probably going to want to forget this game; it was poorly played with more turnovers than we’ve seen in a while, complete 5-man defensive breakdowns, poor goaltending, no hitting, no commitment and/or sacrifice in the way of blocking shots or being hard on the puck.
On the other hand, it was river hockey at its stats-padding finest (or worse, in the case of Cody Franson & Morgan Rielly). They were on for a number of goals and were directly or partly responsible for them, though the forwards gave them no help and Bernier wasn’t at his sharpest. I can understand how this was a thrilling game for most fans as there were 11(!) goals scored in an era in the NHL when that isn’t seen very often, but there was more moaning on my side of things than cheering. Toronto has yet to play a complete game and that’s something that’s very encouraging considering their start to the season, but also frustrating to see no progress in playing the game properly. Early days, still.
- Leafs got off to a good start and controlled the play for the first 5 minutes of the game, but Ryan Smyth scored his 2nd of the year from Mark Arcobello at 5:21 with a nice deflection top-shelf on a shot/pass from the corner. A soft wrap by Rielly on the boards caused a juicy rebound that ended up in the back of the net.
- A beautiful goal short side, top-shelf from Nazem Kadri (2nd of the year) from Mason Raymond and Dion Phaneuf at 9:47. Kadri beaver-tapped a call for a pass from Raymond who sent a crisp pass down low for Kadri to bury at very hard angle, through a very small gap.
- You knew this game was just getting started—a power play for Toronto resulted in James van Riemsdyk potting his 4th of the year off a Cody Franson blast from the point on a setup from Dion Phaneuf. A scramble with 3 penalty killing Oilers on the half wall, battling for a loose puck was never going to end well with a wide open Phaneuf and Franson on the points. Phaneuf, to Franson, and a tip by JVR brings T.O. ahead.
- Toronto’s 3rd ranked penalty kill (94.4%) gets put to the test on an poorly called penalty on JVR for battling for body position that would have resulted in yet another 2-on-1. RNHs shot gets by Bernier with Hall providing net front presence. Clearly the pre-scout was to get traffic and get in the blue paint to get Bernier off his game—it worked. 2-2
- The 2nd period is a statistically very weak period dating back to last season for the Leafs and this game was no different. The Leafs arrive on the ice late and look unprepared.
- David Perron and Boyd Gordon started a rush in the neutral on a scrambled play and caught Bernier not knowing where the puck was and swimming in his crease. Easy tap in for Gordon. 3-2 Oilers.
- David Broll carries the puck through the neutral zone and gains the zone, stops up at the half-boards and kicks a back pass to Kadri who throws a no-look to Lupul for a beautiful and typically rush-attack goal, like Toronto is now known for. 3-3.
- This game has turned into a feast of turnovers and both teams are terrific in transition — a complete track meet of rush, shot, counter-attack for large spells in the 2nd period, mostly in Edmonton’s favour with the shots 17-4 (Edmonton with 4mins of PP time).
- Eberle scores. Rielly plays the 2-on-1 like a 2-on-2 and gives away the passing lane with no laydown and Eberle converts on a beautiful pass from Arcobello. The shot hit Bernier’s glove and I’m sure he’d want it back. 4-3 Edmonton
- JVR has kept his red-hot post-season play going into the early games of the 2013-2014 season and was a force all night. On a patient rush (surprise) started by Kessel, who got the puck deep to Bozak, Bozak passed to a wheeling JVR and he converted on a his wrap around that’s perfect with the shallower nets. 4-4 (Note: Bozak primary assist on a JVR goal. This is not a test.)
- Ryan Smyth gets another one on a play that was all Jordan Eberle, who played a great game. Arcobello hits a flat-out Eberle who sends in a perfect pass for a tap in for Smyth. 5-4 Edm.
- The game was nearly sealed for Edmonton on a Arcobello shot that Bernier absolutely ROBBED with a diving save.
- The game looked like it could be out of reach and, in fact, there was footage of platinum seat holders leaving. Enter: Joffrey Lupul. With 30 seconds left on the clock, and the extra attacker on the ice, Gardiner kept a clearing attempt in, got a quick shot off and Lupul picked it up and fired it under Dubynk’s pads to tie the game. The ACC’s roof blew off and it was a great sight to see.
- OT: RNH over handled the puck on in a 4 on 4 situation and Franson made him pay with a hard-but-fair shove from behind, picked up the loose puck and sent it away to Mason Raymond for a 3-on-1 with him, Franson and Bolland on a break. A 4-touch passing play with Raymond and Franson resulted in Bolland sinking the rebound for the OT winner. Meltdown complete.
I know Leaf fans get accused of thinking they’re the center of the hockey universe but that was the biggest goal of Dave Bolland’s career.
— Down Goes Brown (@DownGoesBrown) October 13, 2013
Another point, somewhat off-topic: Don Cherry makes sure to feed fodder into the MSM’s manure spreader for articles to come about Morgan Rielly by calling him the best defenseman on the team. He got lit up badly this game and is far from the best defenseman, but his talent level is immense and his ceiling is high. I have no doubt, in due course, he will be the best defenseman on the team and easily one of the best in the league. Leave the kid develop and quit overselling his play on your HNIC soapbox. I think he’s being eased into the NHL perfectly and saying this sort of stuff does nothing but create huge distractions. He’ll be fielding questions from the media for the next week about that.
The Leafs are still looking to get a more complete game under their belt, but they are winning and putting points in the bank.
Game in 6
Torontot Maple Leafs vs. Edmonton Oilers Game Sheet (Oct. 12)
|Jonathan Bernier (4-1-0)||W||31||26||0.839||61:43|
|James van Riemsdyk||2||0||22:54||2||3||2||0||0||5||0||1||0|