Just what the doctor ordered.

Coming off an embarrassing defeat to the Pittsburgh Penguins, the Maple Leafs needed goals from their top offensive players and a better performance in net – they got both in chasing Henrik Lundqvist and skating to an eventual 6-3 victory.

After their all-too-familiar possession issues reared their ugly head while getting doubled up in shots, conceding over 40 to Pittsburgh, the Leafs also needed to control play against a Rangers team that’s missing a few key contributors — they did pretty much that, leading the possession battle for the most part until score effects took over in the third (see possession chart below).

Randy Carlyle also partially escaped a torrent of criticism for benching Jake Gardiner three games into his new $4 million contract. Unquestionably Gardiner was off his game in the first two games of the season – turning pucks over, losing too many if not ducking out of his 1 on 1 battles — but it is curious that he seems to be the only one who ever gets held accountable in terms of a D regular being scratched.

Concern rests with James Reimer’s injury status after he took a knock to the head from Dominic Moore while covering up the puck in the third period. Jonathan Bernier was solid in relief, but this just seems to be Reimer’s luck, doesn’t it? He gets a chance in net, does well with it, and down comes an injury. The optimistic take is that Reimer didn’t stay down very long and seemed to be playing it safe over sorry given the score of the game.

If he’s healthy, who gets the next start becomes an interesting question for Tuesday.

leafsrangersA few scattered thoughts before the player notes:

Line 2: Winnik seems to have effectively replaced the elements Kulemin used to bring to the Kadri and Lupul unit, in terms of being a big body who is effective at puck retrieval, working the walls, and bringing the needed simplicity of solid north-south hockey to the line. Lupul has been a man possessed so far this season – their most consistent player through three games.

Line 3: A good game from Santorelli, Komarov and Clarkson, which s hopefully going to be the consistent third line the Leafs never had last season. Clarkson is starting to look more comfortable on a line that is all about working the walls. For whatever reason (we all know why, but he’s taken enough flak), he’s not as effective as the physical presence on a more skilled L2, and should probably be regarded as a straight L3er at this stage. That’s better than being in no man’s land like he was last season, because he’s actually contributing here and there.

Cody Franson had a mixed game in his return, but with more positive than negatives. He turned a puck over in the neutral ice leading to Moore’s goal, and was beat wide a couple of times as per usual, but powerplay 1 seemed to snap back to normalcy with his right shot on the right side of the point. That backdoor option he provides creeping in off the point is the effective complement to the unit that runs through Kessel on the opposite halfwall, and his excellent half-clapper finds holes in goalies and provides juicy tip opportunities.

Line 1 woke up on the powerplay, but remains less than convincing at evens. With L2 and L3 making some inroads tonight, it’s doubtful we see them split any time soon… one can’t help but wonder what Lupul on line 1 and JvR down with Kadri on L2 might look like. It was JvR, Kadri and Winnik on the ice for Kadri’s goal in the second period.

Line 4 had its moments early on in the game, but I’m not sure they’ve found the right combination there yet. That said, it’s a little bizarre Randy didn’t give them more ice in the third with the game decided, especially in a back to back situation. Panik and Holland only played five minutes and change, while Kozun saw 7:43 TOI.


Player Notes

Notes by Anthony Petrielli

  • Phil Kessel – Looked determined to get the monkey off his back from the start and ended up with 3 points and 3 SOG. Looks a lot more comfortable on the PP with Franson on the far side with the right outlet option as opposed to a lefty there.
  • Tyler Bozak – Found Franson for the first goal and later scored when the Rangers started to generate some momentum. This line still had problems with getting cycled on defensively, though. It’s not just Bozak’s fault, but it starts with the C play.
  • JVR – Nice breakaway goal shorthanded and beautiful behind the net pass to Kadri for another goal; he also had an additional 3 SOG and appears to be a regular penalty killer on PK2 to start the season.
  • Joffrey Lupul – Set the tone early in the game, creating some scoring chances including hitting the post in the beginning of the game. That’s three good games in a row for Lupul to start the season.
  • Nazem Kadri – Tied for the team lead in SOG tonight with JVR, with four. Although the top line will get all the attention because of their scoring, this was the best line of the night to my eye. They controlled play, weren’t getting cycled against defensively, created on 5v5, and added some PP. Kadri is the straw that stirs the drink as the C of that line.
  • Daniel Winnik – Fitting in really well on the second line as a defensive presence with some board play. He’s regularly F1 on the forecheck and does a lot of the dirty work. Helps that he can play his off-wing, and his game of taking the puck to the net contrasts nicely with Kadri and Lupul, who sometimes get too cute together.
  • Leo Komarov – Settling in as a primary penalty killer and even had multiple scoring opportunities tonight. Although he didn’t bury any, he did have two assists.
  • Mike Santorelli – Led the cycle on the third line, often being the guy working the puck as the other two get open, or offering support when one of Clarkson/Komarov had the disc.
  • David Clarkson – Has had a quietly good start to the year. He’s working the walls a lot better and driving the net with authority; he even looked good on the PP in front of the net, retrieving multiple rebounds. Hopefully his goal goes to his confidence, but Clarkson quietly going about his business and improving is a good thing. Needs to build on this.
  • Dion Phaneuf – Only 3 games in so it’s not to be expected, but he hasn’t synced up with Robidas yet. They aren’t using each other as outlets to make the game easy, and until they do there are going to be mishaps defensively where they get cycled against for stretches. Dion looked a lot more comfortable with Franson beside him on the PP, though.
  • Stephane Robidas – Still looks like a guy that missed most of preseason, but he’s slowly getting better. Battles hard to retrieve the puck, but the zip on his passes and outlets isn’t there yet.
  • Morgan Rielly – When he played with Franson last year it was scary bad, so it was nice to see them play off of each other a little better, looking a little more controlled. Last year it looked like they both wanted to be the offensive D-man, but tonight they were both relaxed. Didn’t even play 15 minutes, however, so not much to say. Did his job, Leafs won, he can go home happy.
  • Cody Franson – Got beat wide a few times, including one where he crunched the Ranger who just kept going with the puck after the hit. Personally don’t like that PP1 doesn’t have a mobile defender on it, but it looked comfortable and assertive with Franson back alongside Dion. His shot was in fine form today and he made some good reads to intentionally shoot wide but keep it deep.
  • Stu Percy – Struggled early with a few turnovers as the speed of the Rangers appeared to catch him off guard. He settled down and slowed the game to his pace after that, proceeding to have a solid game. Had a few good zone entries and looked comfortable with Rielly on PP2.

  • Roman Polak – Got caught pinching for the first Rangers goal; needed to read that he didn’t have the forward support. Otherwise, he played a relatively solid game moving the puck with Percy and stopping cycles cold. Played over 22 minutes as the Leafs loaded up his ice time once they were up handily.



Toronto Maple Leafs vs. New York Rangers -- October 12, 2014

3D. PhaneufD0110203200-2:481:2723:09
4C. FransonD112-1014230-2:382:2316:56
12S. RobidasD011-1234100-0:031:1521:01
18R. PanikR000-1000000-0:000:005:28
19J. LupulL0001030000-1:510:0019:15
21J. van RiemsdykL1121041000100%2:471:5119:32
24P. HollandC000-102100043%0:000:005:52
25M. SantorelliC000001000040%0:030:0011:57
26D. WinnikC011102110050%0:002:0219:49
42T. BozakC112002010070%2:430:2717:14
43N. KadriC101104000050%1:380:0019:21
44M. RiellyD0000020110-2:000:0014:09
46R. PolakD0002014100-0:031:3722:26
47L. KomarovC022003120056%0:031:3712:52
50S. PercyD0112020121-1:501:1820:00
67B. KozunR0000002001-0:002:037:43
71D. ClarksonR1010032010100%1:540:0014:12
81P. KesselR1230030210-3:040:0018:24
34J. Reimer24 - 260.923046:43:00
45J. Bernier10 - 110.90900:00

Maple Leafs vs. Rangers - Possession Stats

PlayerAll SituationsEven Strength
#NamePositionCorsi ForCorsi AgainstCorsiCorsi For%Zone Start%Corsi ForCorsi AgainstCorsiCorsi For%Zone Start%
3DION PHANEUFD302555545211925231
4CODY FRANSOND2030-1040641022-123133
12STEPHANE ROBIDASD2025-544291922-34629
18RICHARD PANIKR34-1436034-14360
19JOFFREY LUPULR2610167225191096625
21JAMES VAN RIEMSDYKL2331-843441324-113523
24PETER HOLLANDC37-4306037-43060
25MIKE SANTORELLIC1112-148251112-14825
26DANIEL WINNIKC191725318181355825
34JAMES REIMERG5847115536414105023
42TYLER BOZAKC2229-743421325-123425
43NAZEM KADRIC2310137025181086425
44MORGAN RIELLYD1822-445401122-113340
45JONATHAN BERNIERG518-132236413-92442
46ROMAN POLAKD1618-24720151505025
47LEO KOMAROVC1114-344201013-34322
50STUART PERCYD221012692014866423
67BRANDON KOZUNR410-6296034-14360
71DAVID CLARKSONR1813558251113-24625
81PHIL KESSELC2430-644471327-143225

Game Highlights

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Alec Brownscombe is the founder and editor of, where he has written daily about the Leafs since September of 2008. He's published five magazines on the team entitled "The Maple Leafs Annual" with distribution in Chapters and newsstands across the country. He also co-hosted "The Battle of the Atlantic," a weekly show on TSN1200 that covered the Leafs and the NHL in-depth. Alec is a graduate of Trent University and Algonquin College with his diploma in Journalism. In 2014, he was awarded Canada's Best Hockey Blogger honours by Molson Canadian. You can contact him at