Frattin Party: Leafs beat Sabres 4-3 – Recap and scoring chances

Via NHLInteractive

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Well that was unlikely.

Not only has Ryan Miller typically been a beast against the Toronto Maple Leafs in his career, but the Toronto Maple Leafs got in no small way out-played by the Buffalo Sabres at the First Niagara Center Tuesday night, but walked away with a 4-3 overtime win thanks to Matt Frattin’s second goal of the contest.

Jay McClement and Cody Franson also scored for the Leafs, who won a real weird one, but you knew that already. I have some detailed scoring chance data ahead, which I guarantee you is information you won’t see anywhere else on the World Wide Web.

-Scoring chances, first off… were very even, even if puck-possession seemed to be slanted in the Sabres’ favour. Buffalo out-chanced Toronto 16-15 and 14-13 at even strength, 13-10 in 5-on-5 “score close” situations. I have the Leafs getting the only two good chances in overtime, the most important one coming with a second to go, Matt Frattin sneaking around his man and shelfing it.

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-Auto-correct wanted that to say “shelving”, but this is a Maple Leafs blog, not a Maple Leaves blog.

-Why do I say puck-possession was slanted for the Sabres? Just look at the shot counter. Buffalo had 58 shot attempts to 49 for the Leafs, but more of their attempts got through: 32 to 24. James Reimer had to be pretty sharp in this one, and he turned aside 28 of 30 shots at even strength, and picks up his second quality start in three attempts this season.

-This is the real key: by my count, there were 24 face-offs in Toronto’s defensive zone and just 9 in Buffalo’s defensive zone. That’s a pretty fair gap, and only three Maple Leafs had the luxury of starting more shifts in the offensive zone than the defensive: Mike Brown, Colton Orr, and Dave Steckel. I may be off by one or two starts for each of these players (our app isn’t updated for this season just yet) but I’m reasonably confident that only the fourth line saw that prime ice-time. They didn’t do anything with it.

-There weren’t any set match ups in this one, particularly because in the absence of Clarke MacArthur, the Leafs have to do some different things with their lines. Mikhail Grabovski practically played the whole night with Nik Kulemin at his side, but Phil Kessel replaced Jay McClement for a couple of shifts at parts in the second half of the game. Generally his line played against Thomas Vanek-Jason Pominville-Cody Hodgson in the first period, but then Lindy Ruff started mixing his lines around. Grabovski saw shifts against Steve Ott, who had a pretty good game for Buffalo I thought.

-The Leafs’ third line of Nazem Kadri-Matt Frattin-Leo Komarov had a good night against the Sabres’ third line of Marcus Foligno-Mikhail Grigorenko-Jochen Hecht. I thought it was odd early on that, with Kadri having to take so many face-offs in the defensive end, that Ruff didn’t pressure him more with a shift from his top line, but he seemed content with matching young third lines. Kadri had a +1 scoring chance differential despite 7 defensive zone face-off starts. In fact that third line was the only Leafs line in plus territory as far as chances were concerned.

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-Kadri won 3-of-3 draws against Grigorenko, who made a nice play for his first NHL goal, sneaking a backhanded effort through James Reimer’s five-hole.

-Mike Kostka’s ice time was cut to a mere 24:19. His pairing with Dion Phaneuf took fewer risks in this game though and weren’t as noticeable on the ice. They also saw a lot of matching against Thomas Vanek and had a lot of defensive zone starts, so you probably shouldn’t have expected them to do too much on offence.

-Mark Fraser played limited minutes, but he had a fairly good game. Minus a poor clearing attempt that led to Buffalo’s powerplay goal (although Leo Komarov was also complicit) him and Cody Franson were plus-players in scoring chances, which is probably something we weren’t expecting to happen coming in. He also had a couple of key shot blocks in the third period off shots from the slot, covering for mistakes made by members of Kadri’s line on both occasions. Didn’t care to check back and look at who, because I don’t like finger pointing.

-I thought the second pairing with John-Michael Liles and Carl Gunnarsson played well. Like Phaneuf-Kostka, they didn’t seem to eager to jump up into rushes (I think Franson was the only one who did that this game. On two occasions, both two-on-ones with Frattin, one of those resulting in Frattin’s first goal). Gunnarsson played 26 minutes and Liles 24.

-Here’s my scoring chance data. Every player on the ice for a scoring chance for the Leafs gets a “plus” and every player on the ice for a Sabres’ scoring chance gets a “minus” these are 5-on-5 numbers only, sorted by line and defensive pairings:

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  Chances For Chances Vs. Differential
Tyler Bozak 3 4 -1
James van Riemsdyk 4 5 -1
Phil Kessel 4 5 -1
Mikhail Grabovski 3 5 -2
Jay McClement 3 5 -2
Nik Kulemin 3 4 -1
Nazem Kadri 5 3 2
Matt Frattin 4 3 1
Leo Komarov 4 3 1
Dave Steckel 0 2 -2
Mike Brown 0 1 -1
Colton Orr 0 2 -2
Dion Phaneuf 2 7 -5
Mike Kostka 2 5 -3
John-Michael Liles 4 5 -1
Carl Gunnarsson 5 6 -1
Cody Franson 4 2 2
Mark Fraser 5 3 2

-Here’s the total breakdown by team:

  1st 2nd 3rd OT Total
Toronto (EV) 3 (3) 6 (4) 5 (4) 2 (2) 15 (13)
Buffalo (EV) 4 (2) 6 (6) 6 (6) 0 (0) 16 (14)

Talk about Phil Kessel’s drought in the comments. has him with three shots in this game. I recorded just one of those as a scoring chance.

Important Links:’s Three Stars:

  1. Matt Frattin
  2. Mikhail Grabovski
  3. Andrej Sekera

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  • Gunnar was on for all three goals against. This is the reason why Carlyle needs to play Kostka even more. Not only does Kostka clean up for Phaneuf’s poor defensive positioning choices and mental lapses but his good work on defense is rewarded with more time by Carlyle.

    Also, what is the correct amount of time to ignore the fact that Kessel is snake bitten. He is a great player but he is not playing like the leafs best player at the moment. I think it is time for Carlyle to call him out, just like Carlyle called out Grabbo and JVR who returned with great games.

  • Great goal by Franson and fortunately Phaneuf was not at the point or he would have taken Kessel head off who was skating behind the net. Franson needs to get more ice time and maybe Gunnar and Liles should sit a game to reflect on their mishaps.

  • I tend to ignore who was on for the goals and look at who was on for chances. If the puck bounces a different way the next time, Gunnarsson is a minus-two, not a minus-three… if Reimer played as well behind Gunnarsson tonight as he did behind Fraser, that’s another ballpark.

    But that’s a project for another day…

  • He had a really good first four games. Gus agreed in this morning’s post that his game against the Rangers was very weak. Tonight he wasn’t particularly noticeable either. Definitely not the team’s best threat.

    I’m wondering if that’s him or somebody else telling him that if he’s defensively responsible, they won’t worry about the lack of goal-scoring. His line was still good offensively—they got four scoring chances. It’s just that Kessel wasn’t the guy taking the shots.

    I like the confident way he brings the puck through the neutral zone. It could just be bad puck-luck the last two games.

  • Wow – that was quick (855pm). Impressive.

    Despite being on for all three goals I actually thought Gunnar had a solid game. Liles too.

    Kostka to me looked vulnerable.. especially during the first 30 minutes. A couple bad pinches and giveaways that lead directly to chances.

    I think having the top six d-men means replacing Fraser for Komi and Kostka for Gardiner (when he’s ready). You’d obviously have to change some pairings around… but I think the top 6 comes from that group.

    Just an opinion…