My pregame chat with Declan over gtalk:
“Alec: Wild are playing some kid in net and are in the second game of a back to back
Declan: Easy win tonight. Leafs will score three goals with under 20 shots”
With their three biggest skilled forwards on the sidelines (Clarkson, Kulemin, JvR), playing the best shot suppressing team in the league so far this season, the Leafs needed a good performance from James Reimer and their special teams to win tonight. That’s exactly what they got.
With negligible offensive zone time and a total of 14 shots on net, the Leafs beat the Wild 4-1 to move to 6-1-0 on the season. Reimer stopped 37 of 38 shots and the Leaf powerplay went 2 for 3. The Leafs penalty kill went 5 for 6, and the high number of penalties was a big part of why the shot count was even more tilted in the opponent’s favour than usual in the first two periods. Jay McClement played over 21 minutes on account of the PK time.
In the first 10 minutes of the game, the Wild had 10 shot attempts, and the Leafs had a total of 1. The Leafs’ was Tyler Bozak’s goal off a beautiful passing play with Dave Bolland and Cody Franson. That sort of sums up the evening. The Leafs scored 2 goals on their first three shots, and chased Darcy Kuemper with three goals on seven total shots.
Morgan Rielly posted two assists tonight, his 2nd and 3rd career NHL points, and his confidence seems to be growing by the game. Mason Raymond scored twice for the Leafs (3-1 an 4-1 goals), including a JvR impersonation to the side of the net on the powerplay and an empty netter that Kessel rather kindly laid off of in order to pad the new guy’s goal total. Raymond now has 8 points (4g, 4a) in 7 games played, which as of last check puts him in a tie (along with Lupul, Kessel and a few others) for eighth in league scoring.
The second goal was Trevor Smith’s first as a Leaf off a lead pass from Morgan Rielly.
The Leafs just keep banking points – 12 of a possible 14 – in spite of playing less than their best hockey and a plethora of injuries. The likes of Leivo, Rielly and Broll have stepped into the lineup without missing a beat, and the goaltending tandem could not be working out any better through seven games.
David Clarkson is now three games away from returning. His absence alongside Kulemin, and especially without JvR, has made and will make the Leafs’ inability to sustain offensive zone time all the more challenged. Given it was a game time decision, JvR’s issue doesn’t seem to be anything too serious.
I missed a big chunk of this game, which I’ll watch later tonight. Some frustration with the refereeing seemed prevalent in the Game Day Thread as it pertained to the first 40 minutes. Reimer made some massive saves in the first 40 from the looks of the highlights. In the third, the Leafs forwards looked to be supporting the defence effectively, much better than Saturday anyway, and the Leafs defence was boxing out attackers well to kill the game out. The Leafs had several spells collapsed on the low slot, and what the team in front of him didn’t block or clear, Reimer was able to stop. The Leafs managed to generate some quality chances in only transient flashes of o-zone time. Bizarre team.
Interesting note: Jake Gardiner played 22 minutes tonight, 18 seconds less than Phaneuf. Doesn’t seem like he’s going anywhere any time soon.
Feel free to provide your own mini Game in 10s in the comments below.
Updated Leafs Player Statistics.
Leafs vs. Wild Game Sheet (October 15th, 2013).
|James Reimer (2-0-0)||W||38||37||0.974||60:0|
Game in 6 Minutes: