Sunday Mashup: Tops in the East

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Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images

Leafs Nation woke up this Sunday morning with the Leafs in first place in the Eastern Conference standings after a redeeming effort against the Pittsburgh Penguins last night on Hockey Night in Canada. For a few hours, anyway – Tampa Bay could take over the Conference lead with a win today over Florida.

A certain level of production will be expected of David Clarkson given his pay stubs, but his ability to impact a game without showing up on the scoresheet was on full display last night. The Davids of Mimico led Leaf forwards in ice time with 21-22 minutes, as Carlyle leaned heavily on Clarkson and Bolland’s ability to close out a game and refusal to give up an inch of ice. Clarkson led all skaters with eight hits.

Bolland’s line, along with the Phaneuf and Gunnarsson pairing, kept Crosby off the scoresheet and in customary losing form complaining to the referees, while Franson and Kadri took on the Malkin assignment; Malkin was quiet but did notch a powerplay assist.

A lunchpail third line of Carter Ashton, Jay McClement and Colton Orr received around 11 minutes of ice time as they brought a simplified but effective effort, consistently mucking it up in the right end of the rink and getting the better of the Penguins’ bottom two lines. Not that this combination should be a third line fixture under ideal (i.e. healthier) circumstances, but credit to all three players for last night’s effort. Ashton in particular took advantage of an opportunity to not only play but play in the top 9, impacting the game more than he did at any point in his first stint on the team with some strong work on the boards.

Let’s be sure to mention that the Leafs likely aren’t even in the position to go win the game with a big third period if not for James Reimer’s heroics in a 16-save second period in which the Leafs were quadrupled on the shot count. Two consecutive pad saves with Pascal Dupuis wide open off a 2 on 1 were unquestionably the MLHS Turning Point. And what more needs to be said of the combination of JvR and Kessel in terms of their talent levels and telepathic chemistry.

Sunday morning discussion point: With Lupul sounding probable for Tuesday and Bozak out at least for the next three games, how do you see this lineup shaping up for this week’s Western road trip? Does Lupul obviously join Bolland and Clarkson on line two? Or perhaps Ashton and McClement on line three (assuming Kulemin’s still out)?

Thanks to Tim (@tj_bayer) for putting together this morning’s links…

LINKS:

Last night’s Game in 10 | Full Game Replay | Game in 6 | Randy Carlyle Post Game

Toronto Maple Leafs’ Nazem Kadri makes the most of top-line opportunity in win over Pittsburgh Penguins
I’m pretty OK with Kadri at first line center for the next few games. From Michael Traikos of the National Post.

Shoalts: Leafs get shutdown effort from Bolland and Phaneuf
Crosby gets Phaneuf’d. From David Shoalts of The Globe and Mail.

Maple Leafs’ Bozak out 7-10 days with lower body injury
This news came across the wire after the game.

Maple Leafs getting the best out of Bolland
Carlyle continues to gush about how much of a pro this guy is.

Exploring David Clarkson’s Toronto roots
David Clarkson revisits his Etobicoke roots. Video from CBC Sports.

VIDEO: Minnesota players celebrate goal, get helmets stuck together
This isn’t Leafs-related, but it’s pretty funny nonetheless. From Chris Peters of CBS Eye On Hockey.

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  • MaxwellHowe

    Yup, I’ve expressed doubt and even derision regarding Phaneuf for some time, but I will concede that he has played stellar hockey so far this season. I do hope the Leafs can find someone within or outside the organization to help ease his ice time, because he will be sorely needed for the payoff push and beyond. Anyway, I am happy to eat crow if it means the captain is truly leading the team.

  • Lescott

    You can’t put Lupul any further diwn the depth chart than line 2. Seriously?

  • Knights2Leafs

    I protest!!  This article is way too Reimer centric. We need unbiased writers. : )
    According to some on here Paul Ranger should be looking for a new career.  MLHS head writer?

  • WendelGilmour

    I gotta believe Lups goes to Line 2 with Bolland and Clarkson.

  • Alec Brownscombe

    MaxwellHowe Welcome to enlightenment

  • Burtonboy

    WendelGilmour Absolutely .  Then there is Carlyle lol

  • WendelGilmour

    Burtonboy WendelGilmour Haha, yes you never know what RC will come up with.

  • Roenick72

    One of the big reason the leafs prospect system looks good now compared to days back, is because the team has improved overall drastically, so they no longer have to come in and be the savior. Way less pressure on a 19-22 year old kid that is going to go through ups and downs no matter what. Remember when Kadri started he needed to be the 1st line center and he was pencilled in to make the line up as a 19 year old. Now look at the difference with Morgan, he is still getting a lot of attention(because its Toronto) but no one was going to call him a failure if he was returned to the WHL and no one is all up in arms because he hasn’t been lighting up the lamp yet. That’s how you develop prospects!

  • wendelsway1

    Thanks so much to the posters who posted Dion’s combined 1 goal against the better players in the league…..between that post and Dion’s stellar play against Sid last night…….my Hubby was left speechless and we actually watched a game together without me having to hear him go on and on and on about trading Dion….didn’t have to throw a thing last night…lol  :)

  • Alec Brownscombe

    wendelsway1 Ah, the trade Phaneuf guy.. every Leafs fan has at least one of those friends.
    “He’s slow! He screws up!”