If you’re Randy Carlyle, in terms of process, you’re probably only really happy with the middle 20 minutes in this game (and of course Jonathan Bernier’s performance).

That sounds bizarre after a 4-1 win, but there were two empty netters, and Calgary had the shot attempt edge at even strength from start to finish, opening up a gap of 77-51 by the end of the game due to score effects.

Toronto was fortunate to come out with a 1-0 lead through 20 minutes, outplayed by a slight edge in the opening period, but did follow that up with a good second period (consistently their best period this season, for whatever reason) in which they put themselves in the driver seat at 2-0 going into the final frame. They handily carried play for the first 15 minutes of period two and took advantage of a weak Flames penalty kill to extend their lead as Kadri found a very-open JvR in the slot for a redirect finish.

The Leafs kept a clean sheet at even strength; their lone goal against came after Stephane Robidas miscalculated and stepped up on the puck carrier at the blueline on the penalty kill, at which point Mikael Granlund took a pass through the middle and finished up high in tight.  We were wondering when Bernier was going to heat up and steal a few; he certainly appears to be and this game bordered on a steal.

You didn’t even need to look at the numbers to tell it was really only the Kadri, Winnik and Santorelli line making consistent headway in terms of possession in this game. All three plus the pairing of Morgan Rielly and Stephane Robidas (which is looking better and better by the game, even while getting quite a few defensive zone starts) were the five players above 50% in Corsi For.

The Leafs were outworked for not-insignificant parts of this game, but played a strong 2nd period, were the more opportunistic team and held on when the Flames poured it on with active pinching down the walls by their mobile defence throughout the third period. To the Leafs‘ credit, a lot of those final few minutes were spent scrumming along the boards. You got the feeling Carlyle got away with one having the top line out in the final minute, but fortunately Kessel cashed in an empty netter after some desperate moments in the Leaf zone and we could all breathe again.

Now it’s off to Detroit for an 8 p.m. start tomorrow night.

Shot Location Chart

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Possession Chart

chart (11)

Player Notes

Notes by Anthony Petrielli

Phil Kessel – When you have back spasms it is hit or miss everyday you wake up. Kessel wasn’t at his worst on the night, but he certainly wasn’t at his best, either. He struggled to get the puck out and lost his D assignment in-zone more than a few times leading to SOG opportunities, including Kris Russel taking him wide. Made a great play to bat a puck out of mid-air and set up Bozak, and his effort for the empty net goal was commendable.

Tyler Bozak – Made a few plays in front of the Leafs own net to deflect passes or lift sticks to prevent opportunities, but also struggled exiting the zone with multiple missed outlets or blind passes to nobody. Had a nice 2v1 with Kessel but elected to shoot instead of giving Kessel the puck back for what would have been a really high percentage goal-scoring play.


JVR – On paper, he had another good night with 6 SOG (led the team), a goal and an assist. He played over 18 and a half minutes, including PP and PK TOI, too. That was on paper, though. In reality, the goal was a tap in and the assist was on an empty net; the top line was hemmed in their zone pretty well all night and he was a major factor, running around his own zone and rarely on his wall for the breakout outlet.


Joffrey Lupul – Played under 14 minutes tonight, but made an impact going end-to-end, which created the first goal of the night. He missed a few outlet passes on breakouts leading to neutral zone turnovers, but was at least getting the puck out. Took a crunching hit from Ladislav Smid and that seemed to get him going a bit because he started throwing his body after that.


Peter Holland – Drove the net for the first goal of the game and stood up for Clarkson after Giordano took a piece out of him, but otherwise he wasn’t particularly noticeable on the night. Did play almost 4 minutes on the PK and looks to be the guy starting DZ draws on the PK when the faceoff is on the left side (Bozak gets the right assignments, of course).


David Clarkson – Played a shade under 14 minutes, but filled up his boxcar stats as you’d expect: 2PIMs, 3SOG, 4HITS and an assist. Was fighting the puck a bit, particularly on a 3v2 where he got stood up at the blue line thus ending the opportunity, but drove the net hard and worked the walls. Giordano smoked him on an entry and SOG.


Daniel Winnik – Actually led all forwards in TOI with 20:25, in large part because he played over 4 minutes on the PK. His biggest contribution is his work without the puck, bouncing between the slot and covering high, which allows Kadri and Santorelli to go deep into the zone and cycle away. Winnik had a few strong breakouts, patiently waiting for outlets to open up before advancing the puck up ice.


Nazem Kadri – Had a really strong game, maybe his strongest of the season, and was rewarded accordingly, playing the most of any C on the team. Had two assists, drove play all night, and set up shop on the half wall at 5v5, dominating the puck and creating chances almost every shift. Had 2 SOG and even won 53% of his faceoffs.


Mike Santorelli– Served as Kadri’s primary outlet for passes on the cycle as Winnik went to the net. Had multiple one-touch give and goes with Kadri and was quick to dart into space, doing so a few times in the slot while Kadri had the puck behind the net for opportunities. Had 4 SOG as a result of his strong board work play.


Richard Panik– Good hustle to beat out an icing on one play and he laid the body afterward too. Had the highest zone starts on the team along with Smith yet didn’t register a SOG.


Trevor Smith– Played only 4:39, by far the lowest on the team. Didn’t get any PK time as it looks like the Leafs are moving away from him on that unit. Also didn’t win a faceoff on the night.  Wonder when the shoe drops here.


David Booth– Played just 8:39 but was noticeable and feisty. Had a few strong battles along the wall and drew a penalty. Wasn’t credit with a SOG but drove the net hard a few times. He’s getting these rushes but never has any skill with him to help finish off the play. Did have a mini 2v1 with Gardiner and Gardiner wasn’t able to identify the pass and get a SOG.


Dion Phaneuf– Was ready to obliterate a one-timer from Kessel but the puck was in his feet so he moved it off to Kadri who then set up JVR for a tap in. That was his first of two assists on the night as he played nearly 24 minutes with heavy PP and PK time. Had a scrappy game two handing Gaudreau and engaging in numerous battles in the corner and in front of the net. The possession numbers weren’t strong, but had 25% OZ starts at evens tonight and handled it pretty well.


Cody Franson– Had a couple very aggressive and strong pinch-ups at his own blue line to prevent entries, including one that caused an offside on the PK. Didn’t record a SOG but did have a few opportunities that hit bodies in front just going wide; not being on PP1 is going to really hurt his overall numbers though. Struggled with the speed of the Hudler-Gaudreau combo at times, but when he got a hold of them he rag-dolled them.


Morgan Rielly – Led the D with 5 SOG and only played 16 minutes; he didn’t get any PP or PK TOI. He was really active all game leading and joining the rush along with roaming in the offensive zone. Only Kadri had better possession numbers than him (Robidas was tied), as he’s become very confident in his low wrister and is firing away.


Stephane Robidas – Like his partner, only played 16 minutes but he too was active. Robidas had 2 SOG but launched a few other attempts to the net as well. Wasn’t a fan of his step up on the wall that helped create the PP goal; the goal scorer wasn’t necessarily his man but he should have read it better and retreated considering he was down a man. Can see he has trouble with faster games like the one tonight.


Jake Gardiner – Played over 21 and a half minutes, second most on the D tonight. Also had the second worst possession numbers on the team. He struggled to win battles against the hungry Flames forwards, so the puck was going in his corner and not exiting the zone afterward; it didn’t help that Holzer struggled as well. Had a nice seeing eye pass to Winnik for an opportunity in the slot and played with Phaneuf for a shift that was very promising as he drove play up ice.


Korbinian Holzer – Played nearly 20 minutes but thought it was one of his weaker games since coming up. He struggled with the pace at times and threw a few pucks up the middle leading to giveaways and opportunities. Didn’t record a SOG but was physical a few times along the wall, which is probably why he played so much.


Leafs vs. Flames Game Sheet

D. PhaneufD0223002631-2:273:4323:47
C. FransonD0002005416-1:483:4321:28
S. RobidasD0000225100-0:001:0716:02
R. PanikR0000001200-0:000:007:03
J. LupulL0111013001-1:570:0013:01
D. BoothL0000001000-0:000:008:39
J. van RiemsdykL1121062001100%2:170:3818:39
T. SmithC00000010100%0:000:004:39
P. HollandC101101000050%0:003:5217:08
M. SantorelliC1011040121100%1:271:0118:07
D. WinnikC0001010013-0:004:1220:25
T. BozakC000102011250%1:571:0918:31
N. KadriC022102120153%1:500:0018:50
M. RiellyD0000051200-0:000:0016:03
J. GardinerD0000002520-1:430:3621:32
K. HolzerD0001004432-0:001:4319:23
D. ClarksonR01112340010%1:370:0013:47
P. KesselR1011020130-2:270:0017:30
J. Bernier (11-6-3)28 - 283-41-132 - 330.97060:00:00
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