Music City Miracle: Outplayed Leafs win 4-0

Jeff Veillette (Jeffler)
October 10 2013 09:54PM

Sometimes, your team isn't ready for an overwhelming opposition. You have flashes of briliance, but that other team just gives it to you. For some crazy reason, though, you  end up pulling through and winning the game. The Leafs had one of those nights tonight. As they do often, but that's a topic for another day. The main point, however, is that the Nashville Predators are probably scratching their heads right now, as the Maple Leafs head back to Toronto with a 4-0 win. 

THE RUNDOWN

The first period with the Predators testing Jonathan Bernier early and often, while the Leafs focused on everywhere around Pekka Rinne instead, not actually forcing him to make a save until there were five minutes left in the opening period.  Both teams had a powerplay opportunity, but failed to convert. With just a combined 14 shots, this was a rather boring first period.

Things picked up in the second. Just minutes after killing off their second penalty of the period, the Leafs are first to jump onto the score sheet. James van Riemsdyk reacts to a lost faceoff by Tyler Bozak by charging behind the net and dishing the puck over to Phil Kessel for a one timer.

Things didn't stop there for the dynamic duo. Wtith nine seconds remaining in the period, van Riemsdyk snatched a Phil Kessel shot away from Pekka Rinne and tucked in an insurance marker. The period ended with a fight, as David Broll fought Matt Hendricks. Despite the two goals, the Leafs were outshot 17-9 in the second period.

A scary moment came in the third period as Mike Fisher hit Cody Franson from behind, into the curved glass near what used to be the stanchion area. Franson was bleeding pretty badly, and Fisher was tossed. The Leafs took advantage of the situation twice, with powerplay goals coming from Tyler Bozak and Joffrey Lupul. Potential for a fifth goal came as Carl Gunnarsson was hauled down, but his attempted Forsberg was easily stopped and the last bit of notable hockey before the final buzzer.

WHY THE LEAFS WON

Goaltending, goaltending, goaltending. While I remain adament that the Leafs didn't require a "saviour" going into this season, Jonathan Bernier has been nothing short of fantastic, and tonight may have been his best performance yet. There weren't any particularly mindblowing saves, but he was constantly in the right position and prepared for what was coming next, and was rewarded with a 36 save shutout. 

On the flip side, it could have also been the reason the Leafs lost if luck flipped onto the other side of the see-saw; Pekka Rinne was equally spectacular, making some massive saves to keep the Predators in it until Fisher was sent off.

BLUE WARRIOR

Beyond the spectacular play of Bernier, James van Riemsdyk had a great night. The awareness on the first goal was top notch, his goal was scored as a result of not giving up on the play, and may have had a second one if Bozak's pass didn't bounce off a Nashville player and into the net. He's been impressive to start the year, and tonight was no exception.

NOTES

  • Phil Kessel now has 3 goals and 9 points in six games two goals and six points in five games. Nine more years, guys!
  • David Broll didn't look out of place at all. I've become increasingly more impressed with him over the past few months. He may actually be a viable option as a fighter who can play down the road.
  • Paul Ranger appears to be adjusting a bit. Didn't seem to be caught out of position as much tonight. I'm not entirely surprised that he's been out of place a few times, as he does need to get used to the NHL pace, but he needs to figure it out sooner than later.
  • The penalties that the Leafs took tonight couldn't have been more obvious if they held signs up admitting their guilt. Easy job for the referees tonight, thankfully for them there wasn't more of them.
  • Thanks to the 4-0 lead, Cotlon Orr got to play 1:01 on the powerplay, which I find hilarious but not that big of a deal.
  • The Leafs got slaughtered on the draw tonight, winning just 26 of 66 faceoffs. Nobody was above 50%.

Toronto plays their next game on Saturday against the Edmonton Oilers. Speaking of, we're having a contest that allows you to watch the game with a couple of us, and you should check that out .

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I bring news about the Toronto Marlies, opinions about the Toronto Maple Leafs, and a bunch of ridiculous thoughts about everything else.
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#1 chuck
October 11 2013, 08:53AM
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Bertly83 wrote:

One of my concerns has been with faceoffs lately. Bozak needs to get back to form on that. And Kadri needs to "want" to win them more. He seems to be just going through the motions at times. Bolland has been decent, but a definite drop off for Bozie so far, and those offensive zone faceoff losses can hurt.

Faceoffs don't matter, its what happens the second after a faceoff - see Kessel's goal. Leafs got demolished in the faceoffs, yet won 4-0...

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#2 Dougdawg
October 11 2013, 09:39AM
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Sooo the leafs game last night is a perfect example of how Corsi is more or less useless...

Too soon?

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#3 Bertly83
October 11 2013, 08:57AM
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chuck wrote:

Faceoffs don't matter, its what happens the second after a faceoff - see Kessel's goal. Leafs got demolished in the faceoffs, yet won 4-0...

Faceoffs don't matter?

I stopped reading after that.

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#4 Mac daddy
October 11 2013, 11:14AM
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^Thanks for the link, good article written in a neutral tone. I especially liked the part where he said "Meanwhile, the advanced-stats community can barely contain their excitement over the coming crash-and-burn that they're convinced is inevitable. "

I feel this personally describes some of the writers here at TLN with their constant negative views.

I for one think this will be a great year for the buds! Go Leafs Go

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#5 Dougdawg
October 11 2013, 01:17PM
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@Thanksgiving

Leafs were lower in shot attempts, and possession numbers... yet still won based on quality chances. So yeah, really.

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#6 Cole
October 11 2013, 01:48PM
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@Thanksgiving

The following is a number that represents how relevant I think Corsi is as a stat:

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#7 MaxPower417
October 10 2013, 10:33PM
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Phil Kessel doesn't have 9 points in 6 games. He has 6 points in 5 games. Something tells me you looked at his season stats assuming they weren't updated but...they were. lol

Not knowing how many games the Leafs have played? Thats a paddlin'.

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#9 STAN
October 11 2013, 12:12AM
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Bernier is making it easy for Carlyle to choose his go-to goalie, but I wouldn't let Reimer sit around for too long. Perhaps he should face the Oilers.

I thought Rielly had a better game than last. 3 in a row for him now and he's getting a little better each time out.

JvR may be turning into the power forward beast that was talked about two seasons ago.

You wonder who will sit when Clarkson gets back. Bodie, Broll, Ashton and Devane (in that order) appear to be just fine. They all have speed and energy.

I wouldn't mind seeing T.J. Brennan get a look on the D and let Ranger sit a couple of games. As mentioned many times, he's just too slow and his backwards skating needs work. That, and he really makes some bonehead puck decisions.

Perfect road game for the Buds tonight. A slow start, with no shots until the 12th minute, but after that they looked to be the far better team.

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#10 Bertly83
October 11 2013, 06:57AM
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One of my concerns has been with faceoffs lately. Bozak needs to get back to form on that. And Kadri needs to "want" to win them more. He seems to be just going through the motions at times. Bolland has been decent, but a definite drop off for Bozie so far, and those offensive zone faceoff losses can hurt.

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#11 LonnyBohonos
October 11 2013, 09:49AM
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http://www.grantland.com/story/_/id/9799967/toronto-maple-leafs-advanced-stats

re: comment above - Very interesting story on whether the debate on advance stats will come to a head over this year's Leaf season

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#12 Thanksgiving
October 11 2013, 11:54AM
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@Dougdawg

Leafs had a higher Corsi than the Preds at 5v5 Score Close so no, not really

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#13 Thanksgiving
October 11 2013, 01:43PM
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@Dougdawg

Uh...what? Leafs had the better Corsi (5v5 Score Close), a statistic that you said this game's outcome proved was useless. You're not making any sense.

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#14 Dave
October 11 2013, 07:56PM
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I still don't understand people's reluctance to appreciate Corsi and what it represents. It's just a proxy for measuring possession, something every hockey fan inherently knows is critical to the success of hockey teams?

I feel a lot of the ignorance for Corsi is out of ignorance, and if people took the time to understand it they would realize the arguments regarding the Leafs are tangible and real.

But nevertheless, GO LEAFS GO!!!

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