Game Review: Game #66, Leafs 3 at Ducks 1

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ANAHEIM, CA - MARCH 10: Tyler Bozak #42 and Dion Phaneuf #3 of the Toronto Maple Leafs celebrate Bozak's first period goal against the Anaheim Ducks on March 10, 2014 at Honda Center in Anaheim, California. (Photo by Debora Robinson/NHLI via Getty Images)

The Maple Leafs rose to the level of competition with a good team effort and beat Randy Carlyle’s (Holland, Lupul and Gardiner’s as well) old team for the second time this season, handing them just their sixth regulation home loss of the season. This was an impressive win by the Buds without a bad effort on the roster to speak of. It has the potential to be a momentum-building win over one of the League’s elite teams, but the fun doesn’t stop here, with a brutally tough turnaround against a rested Sharks team tonight. If you’re the Leafs you’re hoping for two points out of a back-to-back of this difficulty, so the Leafs have put themselves into a position where any points tonight will be a bonus.

The Anaheim Ducks’ Ben Lovejoy spoke about how they fed into the Leafs’ lethal transition and speed game by feeding them turnovers back in October, and they didn’t seem to learn from it tonight. Additionally, the neutral ice was open throughout much of the game, enabling the Leafs to gain speed and/or utilize the stretch pass to great effect, be it an aerial launch or a east-west pass across the neutral zone. Toronto seems to have Anaheim’s number for that reason. This game should infuse the Leafs with some confidence for the stretch run, provided said confidence doesn’t get completely obliterated and they put on a respectable showing in San Jose.

Three goals on their first 15 shots and a 43-save performance from Jonathan Bernier, this was the quintessential Leaf win and yet another middle finger to the regression Gods. The Leafs outshot Anaheim 11-9 in the first, took a 2-0 lead to the dressing room, and were outshot 35-12 the rest of the way. If we isolate the game and set aside our pre-existing 3rd period paranoia, it wasn’t really in doubt. A late-night game that was never at risk of putting the East Coast audience to sleep, this contest also featured three fighting majors (Clarkson x2, Gleason).

Tyler Bozak notched the Leafs’ opening goal of the game, a 4-on-3 powerplay tally and the first PP goal since the Olympic Break. Dion Phaneuf showed great patience coming down off the point, faking the shot to get the Ducks’ defender to hit the ice, and finding Bozak in front, who angled his stick expertly with a nice touch to direct the puck in far side on Andersen. Two primary assists in the past two games for Dion Phaneuf along with nine hits and ten blocked shots. I’ll wait until the Leafs score a 5 on 4 PP goal to declare the slump to be over, but this hopefully will help the team get back on track with the man advantage.

The second goal was Phil Kessel’s 34th of the season, leaving him just three shy of his career-high with 16 games to go. The explosive first three strides and mid-speed acceleration of Kessel was on full display as he jumped on a Ryan Getzlaf turnover inside the Leaf blueline, exploded through the middle of the ice and purposely bounced (not a fortunate bounce, The Phil makes his own luck) the puck off Frederik Andersen and into the net.

The Leafs made it a third in the second period when Paul Ranger followed up an expertly-timed shot block with a rush 180 feet down the ice to finish off a gimme from Kessel on a 2 on 1. Tyler Bozak notched another assist on the play with a great stretch pass to send Kessel away down the right side. Bozak had a hand in all three goals (1g, 2a).

A late goal in the 2nd period after a dominant shift by Corey Perry (he simply wasn’t leaving the ice surface without a goal on that shift; simply have to tip the hat to him) ensured the Leafs’ often-dubious third-period “shutdown” efforts would be put to the test against one of the most lethal offenses in the game. Was it all the money on the board? The Leafs kept a clean sheet in the third period as Bruce Boudreau threw Perry and Getzlaf over the boards for shift after shift to the tune of 24+ minutes of action tonight for the dominant Canadian duo. The Leafs generated about two minutes of sustained offensive zone pressure in the middle of the period; Gardiner and Franson did a good job holding the line while the second line cycled, before the top line followed with some ozone time the next shift. Besides that, though, it was mostly a determined defensive effort in a period spent in the Leaf zone.

The Leafs’ box outs and shot blocks were effective, not just in the third period; there were some meaningful blocks throughout by Paul Ranger, Dion Phaneuf, Carl Gunnarsson, and one by Cody Franson on a second-period penalty kill. Ranger alone laid down three key shot blocks at vital moments, including the one leading up to his goal. Phaneuf registered eight blocked shots on the night. In the final minutes, the Leafs finished their hits and didn’t concede puck battles on the outside so much. Plus the good Bernier saves, of course.

Notes:

– It was James van Riemsdyk and Jonathan Bernier who got the Leafs on the right track in this one. Bernier needed to weather an early storm, as we might have expected, before two solo efforts from JvR woke the Leafs’ offense; one was a great hustle play to win a puck race and draw a penalty and another was the now-classic JvR outside drive around poor Ben Lovejoy, victimized by his almost-unfair package of size, strength and new-level speed. What a backcheck to stick lift Ryan Getzlaf, too.

– Clarkson had three or four of his best shifts in forever tonight, asserting himself on puck battles in the offensive zone and extending plays on the cycle. I’ll give Clarkson some credit as well for dropping them no questions ask with Bryan Allen, a much bigger combatant, after Jake Gardiner was caught with an Allen hit on his blind side. He won the fight against the 6’5 defenceman, as he did his earlier one in the game versus Lovejoy. Clarkson and Gleason should be able to provide those things for this team given they’re in-part paid for those type of intangible contributions, but Clarkson has mostly stuck to chirping throughout the season. Part of the advantage of signing Clarkson to me, I thought, was his ability to do this type of thing and help assuage Carlyle’s need to dress two-minute enforcers.

– Too many great saves to mention from Jonathan Bernier tonight. A ten-bell glove save off a one-timer in the slot in the first, great saves in tight all night long, and he was a sponge on the shots he should hold onto. 43 saves and a well-earned night off, if Carlyle goes that route.

– If you watched Paul Ranger closely, he wasn’t perfect from a defensive standpoint, but he is competing like hell, leaning his strength and size on players and winning his battles. That goes a long way with Carlyle and it earned him 16 minutes and a shift at the end of tonight’s game. He’s gained confidence with this recent stretch playing as the Leafs’ 7th D. Two goals since he’s returned to the lineup will certainly help.

– The inclusion of a 16-minute 7th D allowed Carlyle to keep Phaneuf down at 20 minutes and change, important in a back to back situation. He wasn’t really the 7th D, as the other chunk of his minutes came from Tim Gleason’s share and he was down to 11:16 on the night. Carlyle also shared the minutes among the 11 forwards enough (their lowest TOI among forwards was Bodie’s 7:15) to keep Bozak and Kessel down around 20 (JvR was at 22 on account of PK time).

– Saw Gleason had an egregious turnover into the slot and was beat wide once or twice in this game, but who doesn’t love the anger in this guy when he competes and protects the net. He’s the definition of no-nonsense. Most defencemen shove or face wash, Gleason’s got no time for that. He dropped Maroon on his hind quarters, noted the subsequent call-on, and beat him in a fight later on.

– Interestingly, the Leafs’ road PK has never plummeted to the same extent as their penalty killing at home. They’re an at-least-OK 80.5% on the road and killed 4 on 4 tonight, including two big kills in the third period. Jonathan Bernier being totally locked in is a big piece of it, but so too were some good clearances and timely shot blocks.

The Leafs are now second in the Atlantic Division, surpassing the Habs (even on games), and on pace for 97-points. Onward and upward.

Highlights

Tweet of the Game

Photo: Extraskater
Photo: Extraskater

Dashed line indicates non-even strength play.
Dashed line indicates non-even strength play.

ANAHEIM STATISTICS            
GOALIEDEC.SHOTSSAVESSAVE %MIN.
Frederik Andersen (15-4-0)L23200.8757:44:00
PLAYERGATOI+/-SOGPIMFWFLHITSBSTAKEGIVE
Bryan Allen00:0025000201
Francois Beauchemin0026:00:00-150001102
Matt Beleskey0014:40010022010
Nick Bonino0016:30010990000
Andrew Cogliano0012:00010000000
Mark Fistric0012:03010003200
Cam Fowler0029:36:00-120001201
Ryan Getzlaf0126:35:000401491000
Saku Koivu0013:10022590000
Hampus Lindholm0020:16040003110
Ben Lovejoy0016:28019003200
Patrick Maroon0113:54137012010
Kyle Palmieri0012:32020001000
Corey Perry1024:21:00-180000103
Rickard Rakell0010:26-110350000
Teemu Selanne0014:11-120130000
Jakob Silfverberg0015:49020004000
Daniel Winnik009:43-120000112
TORONTO STATISTICS
GOALIEDEC.SHOTSSAVESSAVE %MIN.
Jonathan Bernier (25-16-7)W44430.97760:00:00
PLAYERGATOI+/-SOGPIMFWFLHITSBSTAKEGIVE
Troy Bodie007:18000001000
Tyler Bozak1220:3022014160121
David Clarkson009:170012004000
Cody Franson0017:44020002101
Jake Gardiner0017:38020000100
Tim Gleason0011:16009000110
Carl Gunnarsson0023:56010002510
Peter Holland0011:08010540000
Nazem Kadri0014:15-102831000
Phil Kessel1220:54160000101
Nikolai Kulemin0018:03000002101
Joffrey Lupul0016:28-110001102
Jay McClement0013:200001090110
Dion Phaneuf0120:03002006801
Paul Ranger1016:05130004310
Mason Raymond0015:55020000002
Morgan Rielly0013:51120002000
James van Riemsdyk0122:19210100021
REVIEW OVERVIEW
Offence
90 %
Defence
85 %
Goaltending
95 %
Special Teams
95 %
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Alec Brownscombe is the founder of MapleLeafsHotStove.com, where he has written daily about the Leafs since September of 2008. He was also the editor of the 2009-12 Maple Leafs Annuals. You can contact him at [email protected]
  • The Craigory

    Thanks for the review as always Alec. Nice game Leafs!

  • 17Forever

    Great Job Alec !! didn’t expect it tonight … or should I say this early in the morning.

  • Great Dane

    Also watched the Isles – Canucks game or rather the third period.

    The Canucks right now are all over the place. I wonder if Nonis could make a deal with the Nucks for Edler and Lack.

    Might not even be Gilles he would have to deal with.

  • Great Dane

    Regarding our defense I believe that a lot still needs to be done in the summer.

    With Ranger getting into NHL form again I wouldn’t mind Nonis bringing him back for another season.

    Gleason has done a good job since arriving from the Canes, but if he could be move out and replaced with Ranger it would be 3 million less in cap hit.

    Franson is a good QB on the PP but I expect that he wants to much on his next contract, so I would trade him as well. A lot of teams would like to have someone to run their PP.

  • Belfour20

    Great Dane  Paul Ranger has been Dy-No-Mite lately but Nonis cannot make the same mistakes this off-season that he did last off-season. He thought coming into this year, he could trust the likes of Franson and Gardiner and even Mark Fraser to make progress from last season, and even though at times they have played well, I think their progression has been stagnant if not regressed. 

    As much as I’m a big backer of Ranger, I would rather play it safe than end up sorry 2 seasons in a row. I dont care about trading Franson because he’s very replaceable on this team, shit it might even create more ice time for a guy like Rielly. 

    Gleason has played well and is under a pretty decent contract for next season, who knows what he could do for a guy like Rielly starting straight from training camp into the regular season. 

    If Gardiner isnt traded at the Draft, I dont think he makes it through the first half of next season with the Leafs, unless of course he has another amazing playoff series, that might buy him a little more time, but in my mind I think he’s as good as gone if he doesnt get his shit together for the rest of this season and into the playoffs.

  • wiski

    Looks like TSN is gonna have live video streaming.

  • Knights2Leafs

    Belfour20
    Are your comments on Gardiner a joke?  “Get his shit together” The guy has cut back on his offense and concentrated more on his defensive play and done pretty well considering who he is paired with.  With all that said, he is tied with Dion as the leading goal scorer amongst Leafs dmen.  I’d call that progression over last year.

  • Belfour20

    Knights2Leafs Belfour20  I’m referring to Gardiners defensive game, you just looking at his points production and I guess as long as he’s getting assists and scoring 6 goals If im not mistaken, you are ok with the bad defensive plays? Lately he’s actually played well but I’m not going to say Jake’s changed until I see him become more consistent. 

    He’s got 6G 12A for 18pts and a -3 in 64 games so far this season

    His first full season here he had 7G 23A for 30pts in 75 games and a -2

    So even looking at his stats, how much improvement has Jake really made?

  • TheCanucksnaphook

    Went to bed after 1st period..I literally couldnt sleep more than a few hours without thinking of the Leafs.  Finally checked this morning.

    WHOOT !!!

  • Belfour20

    TheCanucksnaphook  Missed a pretty good game bud.