It was an entertaining Saturday night win by the Maple Leafs and, as the scoreline would suggest, not a banner night defensively for either team.
The game was both evenly played and pretty much wide open, which tends to suit the Leafs’ strengths just fine. Despite yet another early goal against, the first period was characterized by a definitive Leaf edge and it briefly looked like the Leafs were going to walk away with this game. While it left the ACC crowd throughly entertained (only thing the game was missing, on top of the nine goals and numerous odd man rushes, was a fight), the Leafs gave up a 3-1 lead in four minutes and it’s going to be hard to consider this team ‘for real’ until they prove they can win a few tight-checking games at some point.
This was Leo Komarov’s best game as a member of the Blue and White as he was undoubtedly Toronto’s HNIC hero.
1 GWG, 1A (shorthanded), 1PDRAW, 8 hits, 2:22 on the PK, 100% on Faceoffs. Can't fashion a more complete stat line than that #Leo
— Alec Brownscombe (@MapleLeafsHS) November 9, 2014
Leo led the team in PKTOI and hits; he set up a shorthanded goal and scored the game winner, taking his season totals to 9 points in 14 games; he was on the ice killing out the game in the final 2 minutes; he drew the first penalty leading to the 5-on-3 goal in the first after a bad start by the team; and he won all six draws he took. With the example he sets with his consistent effort every shift and his affability among the fanbase and his teammates, Komarov is fast becoming a real leader on the team.
The Leafs’ reunited top line of JvR, Bozak and Kessel was really dangerous offensively, and dangerous defensively at points too, which is obviously nothing new. It brings up an interesting question for the next few games: Was it just a case of reverting to the old top line out of necessity due to the Winnik injury, or is Randy going to go back to it even when Winnik returns?
Game in 12
Shot Location Chart
Notes by Anthony Petrielli
Phil Kessel – Kessel was flying all night mixing in an array of entries, beating players to create space in tight, and launching 3 SOG including a goal 5v3. Had one particularly nice play in the third where he walked the blue line, drawing in Ranger players before dishing off to Franson. The Rangers D-men tried to play Kessel on a tight gap off the rush but he was so shifty with the puck in tight that he constantly eluded stick checks and entered the zone cleanly, either stopping up around the hashmarks or hitting players cross ice with bullet passes. He also knocked down Lee Stempniak in the slot during what would have been a great scoring opportunity.
Tyler Bozak – Had a lot of jump tonight, leading the team with 4 SOG, and crushing the faceoff circle at 64%, including win back-to-back draws in his own zone with under a minute left and the goalie pulled to help seal the game. The top line had the highest zone starts on the team (Bozak’s numbers were dropped because of his usage to close out the game), and the three forwards combined for 9 SOG. Bozak was second among the forward group playing 19:21. Best play of the night was a burst of speed in the slot to beat a Rangers D-man wide before setting up Dion in the slot (Dion missed the shot).
JVR – You don’t notice it very well on the TV broadcast, but JVR set up the Kessel 5v3 goal by staring at Franson the entire time, which froze Girardi and left Kessel wide open for the backdoor play. JVR led all forwards in ice time tonight playing 19:59, including PP and PK time. Made a nice read to stall and find Franson as the late trailer off one particular rush, and was part of a high-event game both ways (gave up lots of shots, but was also on the ice to help create a ton). The neutral zone was wide open all game and this line gave and took from from that.
David Clarkson– Played the game many are beginning to expect from him. Clarkson was first on the puck on multiple dump-in retrievals, starting cycles and working the puck to the point for shots while going to the net. Clarkson set the screen on the Polak goal to the tie the game. He’s playing a lot better alongside Kadri this season compared to last, when they looked like oil and water together on the same line.
Nazem Kadri – Had two assists, including a beautiful end to end rush, and second effort battle win, before circling the net and setting up Polak for his goal. Kadri had a few 1-on-1s where he tried to dangle and got stopped, but he drove play all night (highest EV corsi on the team), and had the lowest zone start of any of their top 3 C’s. Kadri was 68% at the dot, and had 3 shots on net, and he also had a little dirtiness to his game tonight throwing a couple of late hits and mixing it up. Surprisingly, he only played 15:13.
Richard Panik – Played 16:09, which is a career high as a Leaf. Launched 2 shots on net and scored one, doing well to find the puck in traffic and get it on net (he has shown a willingness to go to the dirty areas and hunt down pucks). His stride looked elongated tonight, getting in on the forecheck, winning races, and making a few smart dump-ins for retrieval. His size was noticeable tonight working the walls with Clarkson. His 29% OZ start was the lowest of any forward in the top 9.
Leo Komarov – What can I possibly say about Leo Komarov and what he did tonight? The Leafs had a bit of a lethargic start, and the game really turned when Dan Girardi ran Komarov. Leo was clearly ticked off by it, and the next shift he raced down the ice, launched a slap shot on net, and then drove toward the goalie to ensure they got the offensive zone faceoff, which drew a penalty. That led to the 5v3 goal the Leafs scored and turned the tide of the game a bit. Then, he went on a solo mission shorthanded before setting up Holland in the slot for a mini breakaway goal. Then he scored the game winner. There were a few crunching hits along the way too (he was credited with 8). Oh, and he was on at the end of the game to close out the win. Of course.
Peter Holland – Only Komarov, JVR and Bozak played more than Holland’s 17:49 tonight. He played on the PK (only Komarov had more PKTOI), PP, and was active all night. Holland actually struggled mightily at the dot winning only 33% of his draws, and he had the worse Corsi on the team, too. However, he was excellent on the penalty kill disrupting passing lanes, and he scored a beautiful shorthanded goal, showing some finish with a great move in tight while facing back pressure. Holland is finally gaining the trust of the coaches, and at times shows flashes of using his his size in battles on the puck; the next step is doing it consistently.
Mike Santorelli – Santorelli had another quietly solid game, playing 17:15, getting PKTOI and launching 3 SOG. He pressured the Rangers D-man that ultimately turned the puck over leading to the game winner, and started his usual cycling by being strong on the puck in the corners. Santo also began stepping in for Holland at the dot, but he only won 40% of draws himself. Had a few nice exits with Holland, and at times was at the center position for them, which is where I still think he is at his strongest.
Matt Frattin – Seemed like he’d make one good play and then follow it up with a bad play. Example: In the third period, he took the puck from his own zone, all the way up ice, chipped it into the corner, won the battle and retrieved, then passed it back to the point only for it to be picked off by a Ranger and turned up ice the other way. He’s really fighting it right now, but at least for me does show little flashes here and there. It’s obviously not enough if he wants to keep his job and keep playing. He is in a tough spot playing with two rookies, but it is not as if he didn’t have an opportunity to play higher up in the line-up. He did have one nice entry and SOG leading to an offensive zone faceoff, though.
Stephane Robidas – Not really a game that suits him, it being so wide open. Should not have played the puck into Gardiner’s feet leading to the Rangers third goal, but he had the league’s fastest skater in Hagelin right on his back and needed some help; looked like Gardiner should have looped around down-low and given him a support option on the drop-pass instead of cutting across the front of the net. No help in terms of forward outlets on that play either. Still came out a +2 and had a good sequence on the offensive blueline in the second, directing a few dangerous shots on net.
Dion Phaneuf – Rough night for Dion. Struggled keeping up with the pace of play. Had troubles with pivots and containing players off the rush. Took his league-leading 13th minor penalty of the year and wasn’t one of Toronto’s best players, to put it mildly.
Sam Carrick – He had no OZ starts, and actually won 57% of his draws, so you have to give him some credit. Carrick is at his best when he’s holding the puck and driving the net, along with working the walls (like he did against Chicago); tonight he was very tentative and trying not to make mistakes. Carrick is adjusting to a new league and is not playing much alongisde similarly-struggling linemates. It is tough to judge all three.
Josh Leivo – Took a poor penalty, didn’t play much after that (or before it to be fair). Can’t imagine how hard it is to go from playing on the top line and eating ice time in the AHL to playing just 6:59. He struggled on his off-wing, missing a cross ice pass from Carrick and circling back in the zone with the puck on a breakout, leading to a Rangers scoring opportunity.
Leafs Player Stats
|PLAYER||POS||G||A||P||+/-||PIM||S||HITS||FO%||PP TOI||SH TOI||TOI|
|J. van Riemsdyk||L||0||1||1||-1||0||2||0||-||1:23||1:31||19:59|
|GOALIE||EV||PP||SH||SAVES - SHOTS||SV%||PIM||TOI|
|J. Bernier 4-3-2||29 - 33||1 - 1||1 - 1||31 - 35||0.886||0||60:00:00|
Leafs Possession Stats
|Player||All Situations||Even Strength|
|#||Name||Position||Corsi For||Corsi Against||Corsi||Corsi For%||Zone Start%||Corsi For||Corsi Against||Corsi||Corsi For%||Zone Start%|
|21||JAMES VAN RIEMSDYK||L||22||26||-4||46||53||20||22||-2||48||50|