It was the first game the Maple Leafs have won without a Phil Kessel point this season. And it came in a five-goal game for the Maple Leafs.
Depth contributions were the key in this, the Leafs’ eighth win over the Senators in their last nine meetings. The Maple Leafs got an important contribution out of their third and fourth lines in a back-to-back situation, along with goals from each of their top-6 lines en route to a 5-3 win.
While the defensive play still makes it difficult to get too excited about this team, their forward depth is giving us legitimate hope they won’t be go dry offensively for an extended spell of time as they did last season. The off-season moves were geared toward making this team less reliant on its top 6, and while it’s still a work in progress, the Leafs are showing signs of being something closer to a four-line hockey club.
Making the recall of Trevor Smith between the weekend games was a shrewd little move by the coaching staff. He seems to give Carlyle a player he trusts more on that 4th line (he moved up the lineup a few times when injuries struck last season) — enabling them to play a little more; he aided Josh Leivo and Sam Carrick on the cycle on a few shifts; he made a nice play on the boards to stick with the play and set up Leivo in front, and he played a regular shift on the penalty kill. The fourth line is still lower than normal for minutes, but Smith might be worth keeping around if he’s a player Carlyle trusts down there.
As a corollary, it’s getting increasingly difficult to envision Matt Frattin finding his footing here; Smith jumped in the lineup, earned more minutes and made more of an impact in one game than Frattin has in six.
With a chance in the top 9 after the Lupul injury, and an emerging knack for killing penalties, Peter Holland is starting to receive ample minutes (17+ again tonight) and he’s beginning to produce. 6 points in 15 games off the 3rd/4th lines is something closer to what we were hoping for from Holland after a slow start. He looks to have some chemistry building with Mike Santorelli on line #3 and on the penalty kill. That was some good patience and a nice flash of skill by Santorelli to bury his second goal and 7th point; the Leafs are getting some valuable secondary scoring from Komarov, Holland and Santorelli at the present – some of which is coming shorthanded, a stellar bonus.
On the flipside of the positivity of a four-point weekend, the Leafs allowed the first goal in both games – making it four in a row — and they allowed 75 shots and seven goals against despite decent goaltending. Both of these games were pretty much wide open with little structure through neutral ice, a lot of easy zone entries against and missed assignments defensively. That goes for both teams, but we’ve seen this type of hockey, complete with tantalizingly entertaining victories, by this team early in the season and it usually starts better than it ends.
A few other notes:
– Nice to see JvR rebound with a goal in the 2nd after a brutal first period. He got caught cheating up the boards on the breakout leading to the turnover before the 1-0 goal for the Sens, and he turned it over fooling around with the puck high in the zone before goal #2; in addition to the giveaway and taking a penalty on the play, he seemed to give up on the play after taking the penalty. Owed his team that one.
– This was one of Roman Polak’s better games as a Leaf in his 22 minutes of work. Some timely shot blocks in this game, a few good plays to break up entries at the blueline, and a number of good hard clearances on the penalty kill. He also rushed the puck up ice and took a hit to gain the zone before the Peter Holland goal.
– Dion Phaneuf has to do more in front to prevent the 3-2 Sens goal. This bad habit of standing flat footed and marking space in front of his net has been persistent since the collapse last season. To his credit, he followed it up with a nice play to drop Bobby Ryan with a hard hit, pissing off a few Sens and drawing a penalty.
– Anyone else conflicted about Richard Panik? The knock was inconsistency in the scouting reports, but effort and hustle hasn’t been the issue; he covers ice, finishes checks and is willing to go to the dirty areas which helps create space for his line (as seen on the David Clarkson goal off the Morgan Rielly point shot). Same time, he does some boneheaded things with the puck and seems to screw up on the most fundamental plays a few times a game. More assessment time needed, perhaps.
– As I tweeted after the game:
Doesn't really matter how the two teams have been playing going into the game. Leafs always own the Senators. Fact of life.
— Alec Brownscombe (@MapleLeafsHS) November 10, 2014
The Leafs always seem to get the better goaltending in these matchups and that was the case again tonight. Now a winner of 8 of 9 in his career versus Ottawa, #34 will continue to haunt the Senators’ dreams.
The Leafs have to go back to Reimer against the Bruins on Wednesday.
Shot Location Chart
|PLAYER||POS||G||A||P||+/-||PIM||S||HITS||FO%||PP TOI||SH TOI||TOI|
|J. van Riemsdyk||L||1||0||1||-1||0||3||1||0%||2:55||3:31||21:19|
|GOALIE||EV||PP||SH||SAVES - SHOTS||SV%||PIM||TOI|
|J. Reimer 4-2-0||30 - 32||0 - 0||38 - 41||0.927||0||60:00:00|
|All Situations||All Situations||Even Strength|
|Name||Position||Corsi For||Corsi Against||Corsi||Corsi For%||Zone Start%||Corsi For||Corsi Against||Corsi||Corsi For%||Zone Start%|
|JAMES VAN RIEMSDYK||L||25||31||-6||45||64||15||24||-9||38||56|