Image via Graig Abel and NHLInteractive
Well that was a game that had a whole heck of a lot going on. Perhaps we saw the game Nazem Kadri truly “arrived” in the NHL. Perhaps we saw James van Riemsdyk posterizing Luke Schenn on a third period goal. Perhaps we saw the game that the Toronto Maple Leafs’ 2013 playoff hopes suddenly died as James Reimer limped off the ice early in the second period with a left leg injury. Perhaps we saw the game our entire commentariat will point to when they discuss the importance of Colton Orr in the Leafs’ lineup.
Toronto came into this game against the Philadelphia Flyers with a three game win streak and an awful home record. The awful home record gave, as the Flyers hemmed the Leafs in their own end for the first few shifts and took a 1-0 lead late into the period. Dion Phaneuf scored on a point shot to tie the score, and in the second period, Toronto completely broke out with three goals.
By the end of it all, the Leafs had finished with a 5-2 win. All four goalies saw action, Ben Scrivens faced a tonne of shots, stopping 32 of 33, holding the lead he was spotted when he came into the game.
-This is one of those games where I’m glad I always start with ‘scoring chances’ because otherwise I wouldn’t know where else to go. Philadelphia had a slight scoring chance edge, 18-14, although much of that came after the score was 4-1 for the Leafs and the game was pretty well decided unless Ben Scrivens was less than stellar. He wasn’t, and played pretty well, and even though the Flyers out-chanced Toronto 13-6 after Clarke MacArthur’s goal, he didn’t have to be the difference. Just good.
-Irony with the “goalie wins” statistic. The winning and losing goalies are determined by who is in each net when the winning goal (jn this case, the third of the game, Matt Frattin’s) is scored. James Reimer and Ilya Bryzgalov were in goal for that one. Had Ben Scrivens purposefully allowed a long Ruslan Fedotenko slapshot with :21 seconds to go, the score would have finished 5-3, and the winning goal would have been Clarke MacArthur’s. By making an extra easy save, Scrivens cost himself the “win”.
-That aside, Scrivens played pretty well. He’s still an adventure when he plays, looking weird with his glove, coughs up rebounds, can’t play the puck… but he made all the saves, and he made a lot of saves off shots in tight.
-James Reimer didn’t have to look good either, as Toronto for the most part controlled play when he was in the game, or at least puck possession and the scoring chance count. The Flyers blocked a lot of shots in the first and the Leafs missed a lot of their opportunities, so the shot clock was slightly deceiving. Reimer made a big save off of Matt Read’s rebound off the end boards, although it was a pretty big miss by Read, who cost my hockey pool team a point by not burying that puck. It would have given Philadelphia a 2-1 lead going into the break very likely.
–Randy Carlyle said that James Reimer won’t miss a significant period of time. That’s good news, sort of. They made Jimmy play through an injury last season. We may know more tomorrow.
-The second period started with a couple of good shifts by the Leafs, including an excellent one by the fourth line of Jay McClement-Colton Orr and Frazer McLaren, a line dubbed by Joe Bowen as “the Winnipeg Blue Bombers” which makes absolutely no sense. They had the Flyers pinned in their own end for about 30 seconds and scored a goal.
-For those of you who will say “you cannot overstate the importance of this fourth line” you absolutely can. People have been doing it all year, as if Colton Orr and his line have been playing shifts like that through the whole season. That hasn’t been the case, and they’ve usually been the guys hemmed in their own end by the other teams’ third and fourth line and bottom defensive pairing.
-By the way, the Flyers on the ice for that sequence: Jakub Voracek, Ruslan Fedotenko, Tom Sestito, Kurtis Foster and Nicklas Grossmann. So that’s, um, two thirds of the Flyers’ fourth line and two halves of the Flyers’ bottom defensive pairing. So Congratulations to Colton Orr on his second star for doing precisely what teams have done against him all season.
-At that point though, Nazem Kadri took over. Kadri lifted Tye McGinn’s stick, allowing Cody Franson to grab hold of the puck at the point and preventing a clear. He then tipped Franson’s pass attempt on goal, right on the stick of Matt Frattin who had a wide open glove side on Ilya Bryzgalov, who apparently didn’t see the Leafs’ goal leader next to him. Great awareness there on his part.
-The third goal was a thing of beauty. Just a perfect play from all three players on that line:
-Mikhail Grabovski’s line was in tough against Claude Giroux and the Philly top line, although he kept his scoring chance differential somewhat even, being on the ice for five chances for the Leafs and six for the Flyers. He looked very bleak at the start and as a result, Randy Carlyle took away the bulk of the defensive zone face-offs from him and gave them to Tyler Bozak.
-Seriously, Bozak took 14 defensive zone draws and Grabovski only took four. Heck, even Nazem Kadri had five (although he couldn’t win any draws in any zone). Toronto struggled at the dot and their zone exits, particularly in the first period, weren’t a feature of a well-oiled Leafs machine. Grabovski and Nik Kulemin struggled especially early on, but they picked it up offensively later in the contest.
-The Leafs worked well after Korbinian Holzer got kicked out, and had a very good 5-minute kill on his boarding penalty, allowing a single Flyers’ scoring chance. Since Carlyle has been moving defencemen up and down all year and experimenting with pairings, it helps for a situation like this. Dion Phaneuf can play with Mike Kostka, and John-Michael Liles can play with Cody Franson.
-Mark Fraser is now tied for the league lead in plus/minus with Saku Koivu. I know he has pretty good possession numbers in easy minutes with Cody Franson, but that’s a sign of a pretty dubious statistic. Fraser’s been very good for his role, but he didn’t deserve to be a +5 in this game. He was only on the ice for six scoring chances for and had three against, so there may come a time when Fraser doesn’t get these bounces going his way, and he won’t be the Third Star despite playing exactly the same was as he is now.
-But geez, he’s 26 and looking pretty good in the last few games. Franson is handling more minutes and doing it well. He had a chance to kill some penalties with Holzer off the ice, and looked fairly effective doing it.
-I mentioned in the preview Kadri’s potential matchup with Brayden Schenn. Well, that didn’t happen. Kadri got two shifts against Schenn’s line, and spent most of his night against Max Talbot, Mike Knuble and Tye McGinn, and smoked them pretty convincingly. Schenn instead got the Toronto first line, and neither of those lines were a factor, drowning each other out offensively. Phil Kessel was pretty invisible and had few zone entries and for the first time on the season, didn’t factor in on any Toronto scoring chance. Tyler Bozak played strong defensively and that line didn’t give up anything.
-Finally, four shots on goal for James van Riemsdyk on five attempts. I marked three of those down as scoring chances, including his goal. He had a pretty good game against his former team, cutting wide and making a power move on Luke Schenn who fell flat on his face. That goal will get talked about, but if you check the scoring chance numbers, you’ll see Schenn did pretty well for himself: that JvR goal was the only Leafs scoring chance he was on the ice for against. The Flyers did generally pretty well when Schenn was on the ice, and he did get an assist on Philly’s first goal.
-Individual scoring chances:
|TARANNA||Chances For||Chances Vs.||Chances +/-|
|James van Riemsdyk||2||4||-2|
|BATTERY THROWERS||Chances For||Chances Vs.||Chances +/-|
|Philadelphia (EV)||3 (1)||10 (7)||5 (5)||18 (13)|
|Toronto (EV)||3 (2)||7 (7)||4 (2)||14 (11)|
LeafsNation Three Stars:
- Nazem Kadri
- Claude Giroux
- Cody Franson