October 29 2011 02:30AM
At the end of the third period last night I wondered aloud, Hey, is Brad Richards playing tonight? A few other people on Twitter had asked the same question. He was practically invisible all night. I think the fact that he saw 10 of his 19 at even strength against Phaneuf and Gunnarsson had a lot to do with it.
- Dion Phaneuf is a horse. He played 26 minutes last night including 21 at EV, 3 on the PP, and 2 minutes of PK time. This is the player that Brian Burke thought he was getting when he got Darryl Sutter drunk one Saturday in January. Seriously that has to be the only explanation. GMs just don’t trade a 15 goal defenseman who can play 25 minutes a night in all situations for a handful of decent, but entirely unspectacular and replaceable players. If Phaneuf can sustain this play for 20 games, oh baby.
- Wilson didn’t have the last change so Lupul-Connolly-Kessel saw a lot of time against the Dubinsky-Callahan-Stepan line, about 9 minutes at ES.
- The MKG line saw the majority of their ES time against the Gaborik-Richards-Fedetenko line and fared well. MacArthur scored his first of the season and you could hear the sigh of relief all the way from New York.
- For the second game this season Luke Schenn was the first Leaf done last night. He took his last shift with 6 minutes left in the third. For a guy who is supposed to be a shutdown not to be out there when the team is protecting a lead says a lot. Not a big deal since Dion Phaneuf can do everything.
- Every single Leaf forward played a shift after the 15 minute mark of the third period. This needs to happen every night. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that the team played one of their most complete games of the season last night. DEPTH!
- Kris Newbury had not seen a shift at all in the third period but Torts put him out there right after the Leafs went up 4-2. What a joke.
Last Night's Keystone Stat:
- No Leaf forward played more than 20 minutes. Grabovski played the most minutes among the Leafs forwards at 19:23.
- Three Rangers forwards, Callahan, Richards, and Gaborik, played over 20 minutes. Gaborik played 23 and Richards played 24 minutes. That’s insane for a team with decent forward depth.
With the return of Connolly and Bozak the Leafs can play four lines all night, each with the ability to contribute. They’ll be even stronger when Armstrong returns. May we never see Colton Orr again. The Leafs are on the right track. Health is a big variable but I think this is a group of forwards capable of making the post-season, been a while since I could say that.
What stands out to you? Take a look at the charts and TOI yourself and let me know in the comments.