It’s a four-point weekend for the Maple Leafs.

Among the fan base, it was ‘blow it up’ last week, ‘playoff bound’ the next.

James ReimerThe Leafs needed their goaltender to be their best player to get this win over one of the league elite in a back to back and that’s exactly what they got. While it could be argued he should’ve come up with a save on one of the first two goals, James Reimer was every superlative in the book in the third period to close this out as the Maple Leafs just hung on for dear life – tonnes of collapsing with a lead late in the third for Toronto, which is all too familiar.

How bad was the domination by Chicago in this game? The end probably sways the perception. Shots were 21-20 going into the third; Peter Holland’s early goal ensured score effects took over, but 26 shots against in 20 minutes isn’t really an acceptable result regardless of game situation, let alone with a precarious one-goal lead.

This was a fantastic hockey game from the viewing perspective – early on in the 2nd period it seemed to bust wide open into a full-on track meet; two good skating teams whose top skill lines were just going at it.

The Leafs weren’t winning their matchups in terms of possession so much as they were more opportunistic and got top notch goaltending. The one line that had some success in the possession battle, for the first 40 at least, was a trio of Mike Santorelli, Peter Holland and Leo Komarov who were going up against the fourth line of Chicago comprised of Brandon Saad, Marcus Kruger and Ben Smith.

Not giving up an even strength goal to the Blackhawks is an achievement, but it’s worth noting that the Hawks entered the game 23rd in 5v5 scoring and 21st in GF/G, so it’s been a struggle of theirs in the early going (but is unlikely to last).

However…

[quote_box_center]In Toronto’s last five games they’ve outscored the opposition 15-3 at even strength. Wow. – Draglikepull ?@draglikepull  8:57 PM – 1 Nov 2014[/quote_box_center]

[quote_right]”Carlyle on Reimer’s performance: In reality, he was number 1 star, simple as that.”[/quote_right]What happens if the powerplay wakes up?

Between Bernier and Reimer having a good week and the 5v5 offensive production, things are looking a little better in Leafland right now. It’s still early to be making conclusions in either direction.

Pretty great to hear the ACC crowd come to life in a good way, especially in support of Reimer, as the Leafs closed out this game.

 

Toronto Maple Leafs vs Chicago Blackhawks Boxscore

PLAYERPOSGAP+/-PIMSHITSFO%PP TOISH TOITOI
D. PhaneufD0001064-1:583:1124:41:00
C. FransonD0001003-2:151:4320:14
S. RobidasD0001214-0:071:2217:28
R. PanikR0000011-0:000:004:12
J. van RiemsdykL1011031100%3:140:5521:24
P. HollandC101203455%2:171:4516:35
M. SantorelliC000001050%0:070:0013:40
D. WinnikC011100333%0:073:2219:51
C. AshtonR0000010-0:000:004:06
T. BozakC000021045%2:351:0320:45
N. KadriC101102173%2:170:1918:00
M. RiellyD0001000-2:020:4817:21
R. PolakD0001042-0:073:0020:55
L. KomarovC0111012-0:072:4016:10
J. GardinerD0001001-3:290:0019:35
S. CarrickC000020150%0:000:004:15
D. ClarksonR0001221-1:380:0015:06
P. KesselR0112010-2:350:0019:39
PLAYERSAVES - SHOTSSV%PIMTOI
J. Reimer45 - 470.957060:00:00
J. Bernier0 - 0000:00

Toronto Maple Leafs vs Chicago Blackhawks - Leafs Possession

Player All Situations    Even Strength    
NamePositionCorsi ForCorsi AgainstCorsiCorsi For%Zone Start%Corsi ForCorsi AgainstCorsiCorsi For%Zone Start%
DION PHANEUFD1641-2528331330-173041
CODY FRANSOND1023-133050718-112850
STEPHANE ROBIDASD1219-739461117-63950
RICHARD PANIKR23-1402523-14025
JAMES VAN RIEMSDYKL1734-1733531428-143345
PETER HOLLANDC181625350151145862
MIKE SANTORELLIC1016-63860916-73656
DANIEL WINNIKC1133-2225271025-152933
JAMES REIMERG4487-4334413771-343444
CARTER ASHTONR23-1402523-14025
TYLER BOZAKC1139-282241833-252038
NAZEM KADRIC1722-544501421-74050
MORGAN RIELLYD1831-1337381529-143443
ROMAN POLAKD1845-2729251736-193230
LEO KOMAROVC1128-1728331022-123142
JAKE GARDINERD1417-345571114-34450
SAM CARRICKC23-1402523-14025
DAVID CLARKSONR1318-542441018-83644
PHIL KESSELC1827-940621524-93856

 

Toronto Maple Leafs vs Chicago Blackhawks Toronto Maple Leafs vs Chicago Blackhawks Corsi

Player Notes

Player notes courtesy of Anthony Petrielli

  • Phil Kessel– Led the team with 62% zone starts overall, but was second with 56% at even strength. The Leafs didn’t shelter Kessel’s line matching (was out against Kane quite a bit), but they did protect where he started on the ice. Had a few strong entries leading to scoring opportunities, including the opening goal of the game. Was able to set up in the offensive zone and pass it around with Nazem Kadri making 5v5 play at times look like a power play. Despite all that and playing nearly 20 minutes on the night, he only had 1 SOG. 
  • Nazem Kadri– Like Kessel, Kadri also had high OZ starts relative to his team (50%). Finished off a great passing play to open the scoring. Got into it with Kane at the end of the second after getting slashed in the back of the leg. Crushed at the faceoff dot winning 73%. Has to make sure he doesn’t get too cute playing with Kessel because he passed on a few shooting opportunities to try low percentage passes through multiple bodies.
  • Daniel Winnik– Showed some quick hands to take the puck on his backhand and pass it on his forehand to Kadri for a tap in on the opening goal. Played 20 minutes on the night, including a team high 3:22 on the PK, which was a sore point on the night as the Hawks worked it around with ease and scored twice. Carlyle leaned on him at the end of the game and he helped get it done, but it was far from pretty. As with the Komarov note, he needs to work on his PK rotations up top to close gaps and lanes on the PK.
  • JVR– Led all Leafs forwards in ice time with 21:24 and only Gardiner played on the PP more than him. Happily accepted his gift from Oduya and buried against Crawford in the slot. For some temporary relief late in the third he was able to get the puck up ice, get a SOG, and OZ draw in the process which was a big deal at the time because the Leafs were getting dominated. Leafs lean on him for PP zone entries and he delivered tonight helping set it up cleanly more than a few times.
  • Tyler Bozak– Has continued to create despite playing without Kessel, but will have to start shooting. Had multiple 2v1s where his pass was stopped which is easy to criticize in hindsight, but eventually you have to start putting pucks on net. Had one SOG in the game, but also just missed the far corner on a backhand in the slot. Was out at the end of the game and lost the draw to Toews (was 45% on the game). Played over 21 minutes on the night and a lot of it was against Toews.
  • David Clarkson– Only played 15 minutes tonight despite the rest of his line playing over 21 minutes each. Took a really dumb penalty in the offensive zone late in the game which was unnecessary. Did have a few shots on goal and was able to work the cycle. Made a nice chip off the boards in the D-zone to spring Bozak on a 2v1 with JVR to open the game.
  • Leo Komarov– Made two big plays in the game to help get the win– Crushed a Blackhawks D-man and then centered the puck to Holland for the game winning goal, and later blocked a shot with seconds left on the clock to seal the game. Struggled on the PK with Winnik in their rotations up top and to properly pressure the points which allowed for a lot of shots up top. Late in the game Carlyle really leaned on him to seal the game as he was out for the entire final minute.
  • Peter Holland– Season high 16:35 of ice time including power play, penalty kill and a promotion to 3C time. Had a scoring chance off a rebound in the second but held on for it a second too long, but in the third he learned and quickly released a one timer that ended up being the GWG. Was 55% at the dot and had the highest even strength OZ starts on the team as they relatively tried to shelter him.
  • Mike Santorelli– Had the second highest OZ starts on the team to Phil. Played under 14 minutes, but was noticeable on the cycle and eating the puck down low behind the Hawks goal line. Doesn’t appear Carlyle trusts him defensively as much as Tortorella did last year yet, but Santorelli was out there protecting the lead with a few minutes left.
  • Carter Ashton– Won a few battles in the corner and tried getting a cycle going. He shows flashes out there but as is the norm, did not get much ice time. The fourth line had 25% OZ starts across the board, which was the lowest on the team.
  • Sam Carrick– Drew a penalty on his first shift, planted Brad Richards on his second shift, then shortly after took a hooking penalty. Later in the game he drove the net hard and went through Oduya in the process. Showed some hustle and spark but like the rest of the fourth line played under 5 minutes so there’s only so much you can say.
  • Richard Panik– Failed to find the puck and bury it when Carrick drove the net, but it’s tough to get in the game when you’re sitting for the majority of it. Did throw a puzzling no look backhand pass up the middle in his own zone that a Blackhawk defender picked off, which is an effective way to insure you wont see much ice time.
  • Dion Phaneuf– This was a pretty vintage Dion Phaneuf game. He played over 25 minutes, led the team with 6 SOG, and threw some crunching hits including one that will make many Leafs fans happy on Kris Versteeg. Playing PK 2 actually helps him in a game like this because he played at least a minute less than he would have otherwise, which would have pushed his time on ice close to 27 on the night. Only Polak had lower OZ starts, which make his 6 SOG all the more impressive. He’s stopped trying to hammer the puck and really focuses on getting the puck on net.
  • Cody Franson– Unlike his partner, he actually didn’t have a SOG. On more than a few occasions he was pressured and shot the puck intentionally wide so you can’t blame him when he’s making the right read and not shooting into shin pads. Also unlike his partners, his OZ starts were among the highest on the team at even strength, which was probably in part because Phaneuf played a ton down the stretch and not all the time with Franson. Had a nice slap pass to Bozak in the slot on the PP in the first that almost turned into a goal.
  • Roman Polak– The Leafs saddled him with the lowest zone starts on the team other than the fourth line, and he played nearly 21 minutes doing a lot of the heavy lifting on the night. He actually had 4 SOG which was second on the team. After a Kane pass he buried him on the boards, and he sacrificed his body more than a few times around the net blocking passes and getting guys out of the crease.
  • Morgan Rielly– Finished the weekend without a SOG (this includes the CBJ game). Led a few solid breakouts with strong outlets, sucking forecheckers in and using the net and his speed to turn the corner on guys. Played a little over 17 minutes and had some secondary PP time. Partnered with Polak, he had some of the lowest OZ starts on the team but this at least allows him to use his speed and passing to begin the rush.
  • Stephane Robidas– Had the lowest TOI of any D-man on the team tonight and one of the highest OZ starts on the team as they’ve been trying to ease him in the line-up. Despite that, he was counted on down the stretch for some minutes and tough play around the net. Made a really nice read on Kane in the second after Kane won a race to a loose puck behind the line and tried a no look center pass that Robidas blocked by sliding. His one SOG was a cannon in the slot.
  • Jake Gardiner– Getting power play one time with Franson and doing a good job leading breakouts with his speed. His 3:29 on the PP led the team, however he did not have a SOG on the night. Tonight Gardiner’s decision making was just a second behind the play, taking an extra stride to hit wingers on the breakout instead of passing it immediately or skating himself into a corner on the rush.
REVIEW OVERVIEW
Forwards
85 %
Defence
75 %
Goaltending
95 %
Special Teams
65 %
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Alec Brownscombe is the founder and editor of MapleLeafsHotStove.com, 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-hosts "The Battle of the Atlantic," a weekly show on TSN1200 that covers 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 alec.brownscombe@mapleleafshotstove.com.