April 16 2013 08:55PM
Greg Fiume/NHL Interactive
Irony of all ironies, for the second consecutive night, the Toronto Maple Leafs were visually out-played and out-shot, but the Randy Carlyle tight system did everything as advertised: it restricted scoring chances against.
The Leafs out-chanced the Washington Capitals at even strength. Even in the early going when the Capitals held an edge in zone time, the Leafs kept shots primarily to the outside… although the Capitals seemed like they were trying to force things through and set up deflections. Maybe. Maybe not. Some teams have strategies where they try to fire pucks through shot blockers and pounce on rebounds. Occasionally, it's successful.
Tuesday night, the second half of a back-to-back, with one of the league's hottest offensive squads against a backup goaltender, it worked. Not an awful loss for the Leafs, however. It's a schedule loss. It's one that we could have expected. The Leafs looked at the schedule, started James Reimer against the Devils, and decided to come out of a tough back-to-back with their best chance at two points.
The Leafs lost 5-1.
April 16 2013 01:06PM
We've had some content on the site today so another short preview today with just the general numbers. In the second half of a back-to-back, Ben Scrivens gets the start against the stronger offence. I like that move, giving the start to the backup against the stronger opponent in a back-to-back. There's some aspect of gaming the schedule there: the Devils can't score, so get Reimer up against them and limit them to two or fewer goals almost certainly. Do that and you've got at least one win.
Now, Washington has the stronger offence when compared to the Devils, but they're weaker defensively. They lead the Southeast Division with 48 points… five below the Leafs. The Caps are 5th in the Conference in goals scored but are 8th in goals against.
The Capitals also have Alexander Ovechkin, who's been playing pretty well lately, I've been told.
April 16 2013 11:21AM
"This hug is for penalty killers only, Phil. You don't even go here."
The penalty kill for the Toronto Maple Leafs was beyond awful last night against New Jersey. The Maple Leafs allowed six scoring chances, five of them resulting in difficult stops for James Reimer. He saved his best ones for last.
What was amazing about the awful performance for the penalty kill was that it's rare that the Leafs had given up such a large number of scoring chances when down a man. This season, the penalty kill's problems have been beyond fixed. We have enough data in the sample to be able to suggest that there's really something to what Scott Gordon has done with the penalty kill. There's no more fronting. The squad is getting legitimate pressure on the points and (though I have no data to back this up) it seems they're stingier on allowing zone entries.
April 16 2013 10:47AM
Love for Boston.
Jeff Veillette (Jeffler)
April 16 2013 10:33AM
The cool thing about the Toronto Maple Leafs doing so well is unlike the typical listing of the scapegoats, we get to hear the reasons for the Leafs success. Some are reasonable (Jay McClement and both Goalies), some are great but sample sizes leave you weary (Nazem Kadri, Joffrey Lupul), and some are just plain wrong (Tyler Bozak, Colton Orr, Frazer McLaren, anything to do with Randy Carlyle and line matching). But in all of these, two guys are left unmentioned. Which is odd, because realistically, these two are the franchise players, and when the team goes cold, they’re first to blame.
Dion Phaneuf is one, and I’ll touch on him in a little while. But today, let’s talk about Phil Kessel. Amidst all the hype that the forward core is getting, few are talking about the fact that their best forward may be having the best year of his career.