April 10 2013 09:26PM
Midway through the first period, TSN play-by-play man Gord Miller said something to the effect of "if you listen to the analytics people, Mikhail Grabovski is a much better two-way centre than Randy Carlyle gives him credit for."
It wasn't a throwaway line in the least. It indicated that Miller has done his research and probably trolled around on this blog or others and found a bit of information that was worth sharing with his many, many viewers. His next line was also telling:
"Randy Carlyle does not believe in analytics."
Clearly not. Mikhail Grabovski spent the first two periods on Line Number Four between Colton Orr and Frazer McLaren. He put on a show in the last few minutes of regulation and overtime when everything else happened on the ice. The game started out tilted in favour of the Leafs. Then the Rangers. Then it was even. Then it went to a shootout, and the Leafs picked up a point in a 3-2 loss to the Broadway Blueshirts.
I'm not sure what angle to take writing this recap. Usually I like to find a theme to work around, something I've been discussing on the blog, a matchup that was particularly advantageous or disadvantageous or the like. But I'm not sure where to go with this, except to point out how damn lucky Randy Carlyle is that Phil Kessel has been a firewagon for the last week—and Nazem Kadri the week before that—and that James Reimer has out-goaltended Henrik Lundqvist twice in a row now. The Leafs take three of four points from the Rangers in the home-and-home set and move back home to play Montreal Saturday night.
Oh wait, I know where to start. With Nazem Kadri's hilarious shootout attempt. Right before his shot, I yelled out to my younger sister "hey, you should come watch Nazem Kadri shoot. He's really good at these things." Now she'll never trust me again. Thanks, Nazem. Via Eye on Hockey:
I wouldn't worry about shootout shots. There's no evidence to indicate they're anything more than a dice roll.
The scoring chances, as it were, were 13-11 for the Maple Leafs at 5-on-5 in the game. That was all the regulation chances and neither team generated much on special teams, although the Rangers came close shorthanded a couple of times in the third period. The overtime period was all Toronto and it was only a matter of time until they beat Lundqvist if it wasn't for that damn dirty shootout that kills fun OT periods.
The Leafs best all-around player was probably Dion Phaneuf again. He played 12.2 of his 22.6 even strength minutes against Rick Nash and again held him in check. The Rangers generated a single scoring chance with Phaneuf and Carl Gunnarsson out on the ice for the second consecutive game. Phaneuf was also out on the ice for 13 of the 17 draws that took place in the Leafs zone.
Best player for the Rangers? Speedy Carl Hagelin, who didn't look terrific tonight, his goal was absolute garbage but man, is he a sneaky-good passer. The Rangers generated seven of their 11 chances with Hagelin on the ice, more than any other Ranger, and he was doing it with everybody: he set up Brad Richards for those two chances late in the third, he scored his goal while on the ice with Derek Stepan and Arron Asham, and he got a couple on his usual line with Derick Brassard.
The Rangers have two centremen named "Derek" but the second uses an alternate spelling.
Ryan McDonagh and Dan Girardi were back together this game, which meant Anton Stralman found himself on Michael Del Zotto's side as Del Zotto awaits the return of Marc Staal. McDonagh is outstanding at both ends of the ice and took the shot that resulted in the rebound that resulted in the Hagelin goal. After playing just 2.3 minutes together on Monday, Girardi-McDonagh were together for 19.2 on Wednesday, mostly taking on the Leafs top line. They got beat.
I've softened my stance on fighting in hockey because sometimes I get caught behind on the PVR.
Nik Kulemin had four shots tonight, which seems odd to me because I thought he was quite invisible in the latter half of the game but he did get a couple of scoring chances in the first. He had a rare "high-event" game tonight meaning there were lots of scoring chances at either end with him on the ice. Unfortunately, two goals went in the wrong net with him on the ice, and one of them wasn't a scoring chance.
Darren Pang called Mikhail Grabovski not good at defence. He isn't if your qualification of "good defence" is "doesn't have a Russian-sounding name". By that standard, no, Mikhail Grabovski is not good at defence. Mikhail Grabovski until this season did not allow a lot of shots or scoring chances when he was on the ice. To me that is a better indication of defence. I'm split this year because Grabovski's shot-differential number is pretty low, but he's been playing with Leo Komarov and Ryan Hamilton and not often with Clarke MacArthur and Nik Kulemin, guys he was so successful with last season and a season ago.
I alluded to the fact Reimer has out-goaltended Lundqvist in both games. In this game he picked up the quality start, stopping 26 of 28 pucks. The second goal was pretty weak. Even if that is a screen, you don't often see shots that soft get in from that spot because NHL goaltenders routinely track those pucks through the screen. No biggie, though—his two saves off Richards with 5:50 to go redeemed him.
WAIT WAIT WAIT there was this:
Asked Randy Carlyle about 24 minutes without a shot. "Stats are for you guys." Okey dokey.— Jesse Spector (@jessespector) April 11, 2013
Individual scoring chance differentials:
|taranna||Chances For||Chances Vs.||Chances +/-|
|James van Riemsdyk||6||3||3|
|new york hagelins||Chances For||Chances Vs.||Chances +/-|
|Michael Del Zotto||6||4||2|
|Toronto (EV)||6 (6)||4 (4)||3 (3)||4||17 (13)|
|NY Rangers (EV)||1 (1)||6 (6)||4 (4)||0||11 (11)|
LeafsNation Three Stars:
- Carl Hagelin
- Dion Phaneuf
- Phil Kessel