March 12 2013 10:12PM
"A possession black hole on every forward line, and an AHL defenceman on every pairing."
Not entirely sure if Randy Carlyle's rebuilding of the Maple Leafs locker room has that hung up on a sign somewhere, but the good fortune the Leafs got in the defensive zone of the first 10 or so games of the season has finally come to catch up with them.
The Toronto Maple Leafs stunk against Winnipeg, and there weren't very many bright spots. They were out-scored 5-2, out-chanced 17-12 and the Jets had 78 shot attempts to the Leafs' 46. This is all despite the game starting with two face-punching tilts with Colton Orr against Chris Thorburn, and then a well-advised Dion Phaneuf-Andrew Ladd scrap that wiped out a potential Blake Wheeler scoring chance.
-Like I mentioned before the jump, the chances were 17-12 for the Jets, and 15-10 at even strength. After Carlyle pulled James Reimer, essentially conceding defeat, the Leafs held a 5-2 edge. That's likely due to score effects, as the Jets completely checked out after Blake Wheeler's goal with 7:07 to go in the game. After the Wheeler goal, it was of course, 5-1 for Toronto.
And boy, on those last two goals, the ones by Evander Kane and Blake Wheeler, a pair of AHL defencemen didn't look too good on them. Korbinian Holzer just watched as Kane sped by him, and Kostka was just not fast enough or strong enough to cover Wheeler who jumped behind him.
-At the end of the second period, the Kostka-Carl Gunnarsson pairing had been out on the ice for six scoring chances against the Leafs. I watched in the third for reasons why and came up with nothing concrete, other than the fact that Kostka is probably not good enough to cover legitimate NHL players. The most dangerous guy on that line was Wheeler, the one coming off the right wing. He took two scoring chances and set up another two.
-Normally Dion Phaneuf and Korbinian Holzer get the big assignments. They played against the Evander Kane line while Kostka-Gunnarsson saw the first line. At least they did at first, or maybe they switched up. Phaneuf and Holzer actually played their assignment quite well: it wasn't until the Kyle Wellwood goal that the first pairing was out on the ice against for a scoring chance. I'm no scout so I couldn't tell you what Holzer or Phaneuf was doing differently tonight.
-Here's some good zone matching: the Jets had to take 17 draws in the defensive end tonight. Jim Slater took 10 of them, winning six, and all three against Nazem Kadri. Slater didn't start a shift in the Toronto end, and wasn't on the ice for a single scoring chance against him. He played 11:04 minutes of effective, invisible hockey you like from a 4th line centreman.
-Hint to Carlyle, who had 23 defensive zone draws, sent Tyler Bozak out for 10 of them and Jay McClement for four. Bozak also won six of ten draws in that end. He also had 20:57 of ice-time, leading all forwards. That's right, no forward in this game had more ice-time than Tyler Bozak, a player who can really do nothing between face-offs. He had a good chance on net that one time I guess, but he was gifted an opportunity on the PK, chased down by a defensive group that includes Dustin Byfuglien and then lost his stick trying to corral the puck. I don't want to pick at any one play that Bozak made because again, I'm not a scout, but it's clear that it isn't really working with him on the ice.
-I hate to be the GM that gives Tyler Bozak $4-million this summer.
-Mikhail Grabovski played just 12:23, which was less time than the following Leafs forwards:
- Jay McClement
- Clarke MacArthur
- James van Riemsdyk
- Matt Frattin
- Nik Kulmin
- Tyler Bozak
- Nazem Kadri
- Leo Komarov
- Phil Kessel
This is a player who is the Leafs' best two-way guy, a player who was +2/-2 in scoring chances after two periods and shut down the Jokinen-Kane-Miettinen line through two. Something is seriously wrong here.
-Clarke MacArthur shut down a couple of scoring chances with his stick in the high slot before they got going. He was pretty good as well. I liked the play of Phil Kessel, who was pretty dangerous all night and rushed the zone with a couple of solid entries. Even if he hadn't gotten the change up away on his first goal, he probably would have scored from that tight. His second goal was thanks to a good bounce off the end boards, but they count as well.
-Here's how starved the Leafs were for shots: Kessel led the team with three, tied with Kostka, Phaneuf and Cody Franson.
-James Reimer was okay but in the end not enough. If the Leafs are going to play like that, you need an elite goaltender to keep that to a 2-1 or 3-2 game. He stopped 20-of-23 at even strength and 8 of 11 scoring chance attempts, but both percentages are below his season average. Rough night, but you expect those over the couse of the season.
-Ondrej Pavelec drew a big meh from me. He made a great save on the 3-on-5 against James van Riemsdyk on the only scoring chance the Leafs generated on that sequence. He had a nice save on Mike Kostka in the first and his lateral movement was there. Anecdotal evidence suggests that more athletic goaltenders like Pavelec are susceptible to higher "highs" and lower "lows". I've seen nights where Pavelec mails it in and lets in five goals in 14 shots or something, and will come back the next game and look like a total wall. Over the course of the season, he doesn't play like this, and Winnipeg won largely because their skaters outplayed those of the Leafs.
-Except for the first line, Carlyle juggled his lines for the second straight game in the third period. Matt Frattin went back with MacArthur and Nazem Kadri, although I could do without Leo Komarov and the goons as Jay McClement played up with Kulemin and Grabovski. There is still no reason for Colton Orr or Frazer McLaren to be in an NHL lineup, seeing as it doesn't seem to matter whether the Leafs fight or not. They were rough early and the team was still struggling to catch up against the Jets, almost as if they were a few defencemen and a first line centreman short of a real team.
-Individual scoring chance differentials. Best line for the Leafs offensively was 42-81-21, who connected for three chances. They were also on the ice for five against, though. Best Leaf offensively was 81, who took two shots recorded as chances and set up another. Another good game offensively lay with Nik Antropov, who used his size real effectively against his former team:
|TARANNA||Chances For||Chances Vs.||Chances +/-|
|James van Riemsdyk||4||6||-2|
|WINTERPEG||Chances For||Chances Vs.||Chances +/-|
|Toronto (EV)||2 (1)||5 (4)||5 (5)||12 (10)|
|Winnipeg (EV)||5 (4)||7 (6)||5 (5)||17 (15)|
LeafsNation Three Stars:
- Blake Wheeler
- Nik Antropov
- Andrew Ladd