The Maple Leafs played a patient, disciplined game en route to a 4-1 win over the Detroit Red Wings.
They were certainly out possessed in terms of zone time, but it didn’t translate into a shots deficit (shots were 28-27 Leafs), which is a testament to some committed defensive play by the Leafs. The Leafs were disciplined in keeping a third man high and made the safe play more often than not on the half walls; you’d like to see the Leafs generate some more time in the right end of the rink, but bend but not break mantra would be an apt description of their defensive performance.
The Leafs were patient and relied on some quick strikes for their offense, including two great solo efforts by Tyler Bozak and Peter Holland. Depth contributions steered the Leafs to a rare win without a Phil Kessel point. It wasn’t a particularly pretty game to watch; it was fairly low event game in terms of scoring chances, so getting an opportunistic win on the back of goals from the likes of Komarov, Holland and a shortie from Bozak is a nice thing to see.
– Randy Carlyle is starting to get it by going with the third line to start games and periods. The first line wades into games and likes to feed off the rush, and that’s not how you want to start games. You want high energy, some early body contact, hopefully a few turnovers to set the tone for the game.
– Nazem Kadri is playing the most complete hockey of his career and getting zero rewards right now. It has to be frustrating, but it’s really encouraging going forward. What a great hit on Kronwall to create the rush that led to Komarov’s goal (no point for Kadri on the play). All season he’s shown an increased commitment to tracking back deep in the defensive zone and working tirelessly to provide support options on the breakout. Laying big hits here and there, is just gravy.
– Imagine if the Leafs were crazy enough to actually care about preseason enough to waive Peter Holland? That was a lights-out effort and shot on the insurance goal.
– The Leafs fourth line is starting to take reasonable shape at the quarter pole of the season with this Smith, Leivo and Panik combination. Still just six mintues and change for Panik and Leivo, but it seems like they’re bit by bit proving they can take a regular shift and provide safe minutes, energy and kick in a little offense.
– The loss of Roman Polak will be the first test of the Leafs’ defensive depth this season. Presumably Stuart Percy will be called up in time for the next game, which as a leftie will require a rejig of the pairs.
Toronto Maple Leafs vs Detroit Red Wings
|NO.||PLAYER||POS||G||A||P||+/-||PIM||S||HITS||FO%||PP||SH||TOI||ES CF%||ES ZS%|
|21||J. van Riemsdyk||L||0||0||0||0||0||1||2||33%||4:20||0:00||17:37||42||67|
|34||J. Reimer||0 - 0||0||0||0:00|
|45||J. Bernier (W)||26 - 27||0.963||0||60:00:00|
ES ZS% = Even Strength Offensive Zone Start %