There was a lot of doom and gloom around the Toronto Maple Leafs entering the season, and a bad goal against in the first few minutes seemed to signal the start of a long year.

However, despite an opening night loss, there’s a lot of positives in the Leaf performance from last night. In addition to carrying the play in terms of possession, the Leafs had the better of the scoring chances and zone entries. While they only narrowly out-chanced the Habs, they were slightly ahead, and they won the neutral zone battle just over half the time as well.

TeamOverall Chances1st2nd3rdESESCloseESC%NZEnt%ContEntOppContEnt

The Leafs had their strongest run at the start of the second period, including the tying goal, but did disappoint somewhat in the closing minutes, as it was Montreal that had more chances in the last four minutes, when the Leafs were trying to push for an equalizer.

Scoring Chance Events

119:0900TorBoyes drivesES212836434551152226315174
118:5500TorKadri from loose puckES212836434551152226315174
117:2300TorLupul deflects Phaneuf shotES2319234245172128313277
115:4901MtlFleischmann drives wideES151626364551152226315174
115:2901MtlWiese post from DesharnaisES151626444552222631516777
114:3101TorVan Riemsdyk wide from HollandES232143451426316774
113:1001MtlGilbert drivesES24284445521327283177
106:4801MtlGalchenyuk bar from SubbanSH216264445132731767981
104:5101TorBoyes drivesES212836434551152228315177
101:3301MtlEller wide from SeminES243344454752132731767981
219:4101TorGOAL! Van Riemsdyk deflects Kadri shotPP315212843451517263174
218:4011TorKadri from BoyesES212836434552132627317481
215:3711TorWinnik drivesES151626364551152228315177
213:4711TorMatthias drivesES2319234245111426316774
213:4311TorMatthias from reboundES2319234245111426316774
213:2411MtlPetry from PaciorettyES2319234245131426316779
211:5111TorLupul drivesEN151924424451111415317479
209:4311TorHolland wide from BozakES192433424551143167767981
209:1711MtlDesharnais drivesES162442444551152228315177
207:5411TorVan Riemsdyk from MatthiasES32123434445131528315177
207:0011MtlPlekanec drivesES2319234245111431677679
206:4311MtlPlekanec from PaciorettyES2319234245111431677679
206:4211MtlPlekanec post from reboundES2319234245111431677679
205:4911MtlFleischmann drivesES152426444552152228315177
205:1511TorKadri drivesES212843444552132627317481
203:3511MtlFleischmann drivesES243336454751152228315177
201:5811TorRielly drivesES212843444552132731767981
201:2911MtlEller drives wideES284243444552132731767981
200:1711TorKadri deflects Phaneuf shot wideES2321284345142131677679
318:5811TorRielly drivesES212843444552152226315174
317:3711TorWinnik from SpalingES162633364551132728313277
313:0711MtlDesharnais from reboundES32128434551152231517679
308:5111MtlFlynn deflects Gilbert shot wideES2324334547172128313277
308:2711TorSpaling wide from ParenteauES151626364551131728317781
308:1011MtlEller drives wideES151626364551132728317681
307:5811MtlGOAL! Galchenyuk from MarkovES151626364551132731767981
305:4312TorHolland from ArcobelloES243344454752172131327679
304:2212TorLupul from BozakPP1924334244451526317481
304:1012TorRielly wide from HollandPP1924334244451526317481
303:1812MtlSmith-Pelly wide from loose puckES22128434551172131327677
302:5312MtlPlekanec from GallagherES31516264551111428316777
302:0112MtlGallagher drivesES31924424551111426316774
300:4012TorHunwick deflects Van Riemsdyk shotEN21521284351131431767981

Leafs Players Game Data

Van Riemsdyk10283%14:4375%50%76%57%

It was a strong night for the ‘top’ line, with Nazem Kadri, James van Riemsdyk and Brad Boyes, as they were the primary trio that produced even strength chances, and they were somewhat unlucky not to be rewarded with an ES goal. A part of that offensive ability was down to their ability to enter the Montreal zone with control. They also were the worst line at preventing the Habs from entering with control, but the margin was much more in that line’s favour.

Tyler Bozak, playing with Joffrey Lupul and Shawn Matthias, was used mostly against the top Montreal line, and you can see that tough matchup reflected in their data. They were out-chanced, though not too badly, and were the only Leaf line to be beaten out in the neutral zone. They were able to prevent the Canadiens from entering with control, but didn’t generate much themselves.

I mentioned it in my preseason preview, but Peter Holland’s chance numbers have regularly been pretty poor, and this wasn’t a great start to the 2015-16 campaign. Despite having the most offensive zone start ratio, he was a team worst -5 at ES. That line was able to do well at entering the zone, but didn’t turn that into enough chances. Leo Komarov also had poor chance numbers, while Mark Arcobello managed to finish at even.

P.A. Parenteau and Nick Spaling, who were excellent in the preseason, were outchanced in this game, though they were used more defensively than any of the other lines.

It was a good first game as a Leaf for Scott Harrington, who had relatively easy assignments, but was the only Leaf defenceman to be above even in ES chances. Dion Phaneuf had the weakest numbers, lagging behind his partner, Matt Hunwick, who was solid in his matchup with the Montreal top line.

The two young defencemen, Morgan Rielly and Jake Gardiner, got a lot of ice time against the other Montreal lines, but were both out-chanced. Rielly was the best at winning the neutral zone, and was the most likely defenceman to carry the puck in himself, both good signs for the remainder of the year. Martin Marincin also started well, and was the defenceman on for the highest percentage of controlled entries.