The Toronto Maple Leafs were delivered a blow before the start of the game with the news that oft injured forward, Joffrey Lupul, was out with a broken right hand.
This was a a decent win for Toronto against a team they should beat given the Blue Jackets had $30 million in players on the IR. They did not convincingly shut the game down and were dominated towards the end of the game, however, they did push shots to the outside and none were really of much threat. Tough luck for Jonathan Bernier on the power play goal. He looked good for a shutout up until that point and was in control of the game.
- Phil Kessel – Really good game from Phil. Was regularly first forward back, was more noticeable in his puck battles and was skating in the dirty areas. Phil had a goal and 2 assists, the first assist being an absolutely beautiful play setting up Kadri. Nice to see two gifted players finishing off a play that few others could make happen. Randy kept his minutes down to 12:39 and just 11:38 at evens. Amazing production considering and he’s certainly being kept fresh for tomorrow’s game against Chicago.
- Nazem Kadri – Played well alongside Phil and Winnik. 54% on the dot and 4 SOG. It would be nice to be able to see him on power-play one with Phil, as he deserves it. Again, low ice time for Kadri at 13mins and 12 at evens.
- Daniel Winnik – Great game from Winnik. was a beast on loose pucks and along the boards, played very intelligently all over the ice. Was the primary puck retriever on L1 and helped the line. He does lack a goal scorer’s touch, but he doesn’t look out of place shift to shift with his good speed, tenacity, and ability to find open men. Nice to see him bury a great chance alone in the slot in his 500th NHL game. Excellent job killing penalties and was a key factor for the Leafs winning offensively and defensively tonight. He’s been a huge addition for the Maple Leafs and one of the unsung heroes so far. Nice to see him get rewarded because he’s bringing something every game for them. 1g, 2a.
- James van Riemsdyk – Still finding his way on a line with Clarkson; hasn’t hit his stride yet. Didn’t generate a lot of chances with almost 20 minutes of ice time. Glad to see that his head is fine after taking heavy fall in the boards. Waiting for a game where he takes over like he did on occasion last year.
- Tyler Bozak – Good game for Bozak. 54% on the dot, was committed to one-on-one battles and was playing the game at fast rate. Unlucky to hit a post after making a great play at the blue line anticipating the play and stripping the defenseman of the puck. We still don’t know how he’s going to fare on his own—without Phil—until they play against opposition that puts them to the test.
- David Clarkson – Really strong game from Clarkson. Played whistle-to-whistle, initiated a lot of contact, had a power play goal and could have had another if he concentrated on getting it off quickly instead of a pretty toe drag. He’s playing with confidence and he looked good alongside Bozak.
- Leo Komarov – Yet another great game from Leo. Was a pest all over the ice, great on the cycle, was a catalyst on the PK.
- Mike Santorelli – 63% on the dot, great job on the cycle and spent a lot of time in Columbus’ end. Wasn’t creating offense, but had a great deal of detail in his game tonight.
- Richard Panik – Looked better higher up the lineup on a line with two good possession players. Was engaged physically and didn’t look out of place like he does on the fourth line sometimes. Again, hard to tell against soft opposition. We’ll find out tomorrow more about him playing higher in the lineup.
- Carter Ashton – For the first game of the year, the coaching staff has to be happy with Ashton’s game. Was physical and hard on the forecheck, made good plays with the puck and worked hard coming back with two takeaways off the rush. Didn’t get a ton of ice time as the last minute of the game was garbage time. Fourth line looked better than it has in the past.
- Peter Holland – Played all three situations: penalty kill, power-play and even strength. Sent a nice pass to Dion Phaneuf on the power play which ended up being a shot deflected by Clarkson. The coaching staff is giving him as much opportunities they can with special teams opportunities. The fourth line doesn’t look great yet, but that’s the best we’ve seen out of them to date.
- Matt Frattin – Up-and-down game for Frattin. Had a couple good shifts, but also took a marginal penalty that cost the Leafs the only goal against. Plays like this will not endear him to the coaching staff or allow them to trust the fourth line with safe minutes. The trio were given pillow soft minutes with 75% offensive zone starts, which shows where the trust level is at with them at this stage.
- Morgan Rielly – Big game from Big Mo. Was paired with Polak and played in all situations. Was surprisingly good on the penalty kill, especially on one occasion where he had no lane and just stated calmly out, across the neutral zone and into the offensive zone. Played almost 2mins on the PK. Having a solid, steady defence partner is helping Morgan and he is starting to look like a future top pairing defenceman.
- Roman Polak – Good game from Polak tonight. Played huge minutes, was his usual nasty bit of business, made good breakout passes, blocked shots, took care of business after the whistle, and drove play north.
- Dion Phaneuf – Didn’t love his game tonight. Was caught running around on a couple of occasions. Was guarding the wrong side of the ice on a number of occasions and is still allowing forwards on the puck first when he has the opportunity to get to the puck before them, electing to instead try and pin with a one-hand poke check/flush. While that works on some occasions—and for a heavy minute defenceman, I can see the benefits of not wearing yourself down by taking on every little battle—it’s becoming his default move in one-on-one coverage and that is alarming. Dion needs to get to pucks first, stand players up, and strip/flush, which he has done as well as anyone in the league previously. He wasn’t doing this as much at the start of last season, and started to do it towards the end when he faltered down the stretch. His minutes are being limited to below 25 minutes a night and typically under 23, so he should be able to withstand the punishment. Carlyle tried to get Franson and Phaneuf out when the 4th line was out, so a good portion of he and Franson’s minutes came with L4.
- Cody Franson – Good game from Cody. He gets a lot of flak, but he is better defensively this year alongside Dion. His angles are better, and he’s timing his pinches better—two areas of his game that were previously suspect. As usual, he was great at directing quick wrist/snapshots at the net all evening. Great job on the Kessel goal; a pass/shot to Kadri, who tipped it to Winnik and the rebound went to a wide open Phil.
- Jake Gardiner – Is still not his confident self yet, but did a great job breaking out tonight. There were a number of times where there were no options and he instead reversed the puck and waited for forward support. Still waiting for the Jake of last year (down the stretch) to show up.
- Stephane Robidas – Good game from him tonight. He was given fairly easy minutes and the highest offensive zone starts of any defenseman. He looked good in his own zone and had very clever, “vet” plays that you don’t see other players make. Pulled off a spin backhanded indirect pass tape to tape and out. Not easy to do, and he had a couple of those tonight. Good for 60% possession at evens tonight.
- Jonathan Bernier – .966 save% and looked calm, cool, and collected. Was directing shots into corners and kicking them north to start a quick break all night long.
Toronto Maple Leafs vs Columbus Blue Jackets
|NO.||PLAYER||POS||G||A||P||+/-||PIM||S||HITS||FO%||PP TOI||SH TOI||TOI|
|21||J. van Riemsdyk||L||0||0||0||0||0||1||0||50%||1:15||1:30||19:46|
|NO.||PLAYER||SAVES - SHOTS||SV%||PIM||TOI|
|34||J. Reimer||0 - 0||0||0||0:00|
|45||J. Bernier||28 - 29||0.966||0||59:45:00|
Toronto Maple Leafs vs Columbus Blue Jackets Possession
|#||Name||Position||CF||CA||Corsi||Corsi For%||Zone Start%||CF - ES||CA - ES||Corsi - ES||Corsi For% - ES||Zone Start% - ES|
|21||JAMES VAN RIEMSDYK||L||13||20||-7||39||38||12||16||-4||43||33|