Preview: Game #20 Leafs @ Flyers – Redemption

Remember that move by James van Riemsdyk stepping around Luke Schenn? Anyway…

Per Chris Johnston of Sportsnet, Randy Carlyle took the Leafs’ loss in Ottawa a little hard:

 “I think I’ve got to bear responsibility, I should have called a timeout with 28 seconds left for the faceoff. Those are the things that you have to do.

Curiously, the play came with No. 1 defenceman Dion Phaneuf and centre Tyler Bozak, the team’s best faceoff man, on the bench. Had Carlyle called the timeout, he could have given both players some rest and kept them out there for another shift.

“It would have settled everything down and put a little bit of a plan in,” said Carlyle. “(The timeout) is only 30 seconds, but it usually gives you an opportunity to rest your people, maybe some of them just got off the ice because Dion just did. We would have maybe had a different centremen or second centre.

Carlyle has some deficiencies as a coach (they’re explored nicely by Steve Burtch over at Pension Plan Puppets. I’ve linked it below as well) but I don’t think his late-game strategy is anything more than second-guessing. With the face-off in the Maple Leafs’ zone with a few seconds left in a tie game, I don’t think anybody except for the most pessimistic of people was thinking the game had a chance of being settled anywhere but overtime.

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Was the right personnel on the ice? Well, Mikhail Grabovski had a great night defensively. He matched up against the top line for the Senators and killed them with the possession arrow, with his line recording two scoring chances for and none against in about 7:30 of time out against them.

Ottawa gets the last change, and Toronto are probably better off with Grabovski in the defensive end than Bozak. The Bozak line had given up four scoring chances to that point, despite Bozak taking five defensive zone face-offs to Grabovski’s ten. Marginal differences, but Grabovski was the better player on the night at both ends. 

Had Carlyle taken a timeout, you run the risk of Ottawa’s top unit getting a chance to rest as well. The Turris-Alfredsson-Silfverberg line had been out for about a minute before a change right before the face-off, so if you take the timeout and send out Bozak, your top face-off guy, you’re getting Bozak out against the most dangerous scoring unit for the Senators.

There’s no real right answers, but taking timeouts for the sake of taking timeouts isn’t the right thing to do. Perhaps Dion Phaneuf may have been a better option but again, Carl Gunnarsson and Mike Kostka had been on the ice for a single scoring chance against in the game to that point. Dion Phaneuf and Korbinian Holzer had been out for four against. Gunnarsson and Kostka had the better game. 

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In retrospect, Grabovski lost the draw and Gunnarsson looked awful on the play, but it still took a bad misplay by Ben Scrivens, and perfect hand-eye from Colin Greening to knock an elevated puck into the net. Bad bounces happen, and sometimes, bad bounces happen with :24 ticks to go. Carlyle shouldn’t be hitting himself for the timeout, he should be hitting himself for playing a game with Frazer McLaren and Mike Brown in the lineup instead of Tim Connolly and Joe Colborne.

He gets a chance for redemption tonight as the Leafs play the Flyers, a team they lit up last time.

Broadcast Info:

Puck drop: 7 PM EST


Radio: TSN Radio 1050

Numbers Game:

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  Philadelphia Toronto
Fenwick Close 50.08% (16th) 45.54 (26th)
5v5 GF/60 2.2 2.5
5v5 GA/60 2.9 2.1
5v5 GF/GA Ratio 0.97 (16th) 1.2 (8th)
Team Shooting % 7.70% 9.30%
Team Save % 0.899 0.937
Team PDO 0.976 1.03

Special Teams:

  Philadelphia Toronto
PP Success 20.7% (9th) 17.3% (15th)
5v4 GF/60 6.5 (8th) 5.3 (20th)
5v4 SF/60 52.6 (7th) 48.7 (15th)
PK Success 82.4% (16th) 82.5% (14th)
4v5 GA/60 7.5 (19th) 5.9 (15th)
4v5 SA/60 46.4% (14th) 48.2 (19th)

Numbers via Behind the Net’s Team and Fenwick pages and


You can tell by the numbers that the Flyers, a slightly-above average puck possession team with less than ideal shooting and save percentages, are probably producing below their expected output this season. That should change soon, and rather than treating the Flyers as a hardly dangerous 9-10-1 squad, look at them instead as the team that has won three of four by out-scoring their opponents 20-13. 

Things should trend upward for Philadelphia, who come into today’s game third last in the NHL in PDO, meaning that they’ve gotten certainly unlucky to start the season. Last time the teams met, Toronto won 5-2 but Philadelphia had more scoring chances than the Leafs, 18-14. Some of those were garbage time chances, but good shots late in the game ought to go in, over the long run, as much as good shots early in the game.

That was also the Leafs’ last game with James Reimer and Matt Frattin. Now both are out with knee injuries. The Nazem Kadri line with Frattin and Clarke MacArthur was the Leafs’ best in that game. With non-scorers like Leo Komarov and Colton Orr on that line, Kadri has somewhat cooled, although him and MacArthur keep generating piles of scoring chances each and every game.

So how will Philly match up against these Leafs? We turn to our useful usage charts:

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Max Talbot and Sean Couturier generally see the tough competition at the wrong end of the ice, leaving scorers like Brayden Schenn, Daniel Briere, Jakub Voracek, Wayne Simmonds and Claude Giroux in the prime scoring positions. Last time around, Couturier was out for the Flyers with the flu, a fairly important miss because he’s a tough minutes guy who can advance the puck—necessary for the Flyers to shut down either Kadri or Phil Kessel.

Here they are on defence:

Braydon Coburn sees the tough minutes and is getting killed, but he doesn’t have a lot of help on “D” back there. The only pairing in plus-territory is Luke Schenn and Kimmo Timonen, but knowing Schenn historically, the reason why that pairing has a positive Relative Corsi is due to Timonen and the forwards. They see somewhat tough competition but start less exclusively in the defensive zone compared to Coburn, who played almost the entire game against Winnipeg’s top line on Saturday (as did the Couturier line with Max Talbot).

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These were the Flyers lines, FYI: 

Scott Hartnell – Claude Giroux – Jakub Voracek
Danny Briere – Brayden Schenn – Wayne Simmonds
Zac Rinaldo – Sean Couturier – Max Talbot
Tye McGinn – Ruslan Fedotenko – Mike Knuble

Braydon Coburn – Nicklas Grossmann
Luke Schenn – Kimmo Timonen
Bruno Gervais – Erik Gustafsson

Ilya Bryzgalov
Brian Boucher

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Jakub Voracek was named the “first star of the week” and Wayne Simmonds had two straight Gordie Howe hat-tricks, so suffice to say this is a team that’s been getting it done lately, although I dispute how meaningful “fights” can be, “goals” and “assists” are somewhat important. Voracek is red-hot, but more important than that, he’s a good offensive player who drives play. Presumably, Peter Laviolette will go head-to-head with Giroux against Tyler Bozak and leave Couturier for the Nazem Kadri line, who get much of the offensive zone starts for the Leafs.

Since Carlyle is on the road and doesn’t have last change, that means Grabovski will likely be left for Brayden Schenn. One guy the Flyers are without is Matt Read, who skated with Voracek and Schenn the last time the team’s faced each other and that was the forward combination that got the least beat up by Toronto. Read being out will sting that team a bit, but they have some good forwards to swap in. Missing the centreman Couturier last time around was a bigger deficiency, but he’s back.

The depth guys for the Flyers may sub in and out, but it appears Bryzgalov will get the start. Here’s our Leafs lineup:

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James van Riemsdyk – Tyler Bozak – Phil Kessel
Clarke MacArthur – Nazem Kadri – Leo Komarov
Nik Kulemin – Mikhail Grabovski – Jay McClement
Frazer McLaren – David Steckel – Mike Brown

Dion Phaneuf – Korbinian Holzer
Carl Gunnarsson – Mike Kostka
Cody Franson – Mark Fraser

Ben Scrivens
Jussi Rynnas

According to Paul Hendricks, James Reimer was with the team practicing on a separate net, so he could be close to a return. Scrivens has been excellent in Reimer’s absence, so it won’t be a huge upgrade to the teamgoaltending is not the team’s issue, it’s puck-possession. Despite the loss, Randy Carlyle won’t be flipping around his forward units, as he would apparently need to buy a new chisel and a new stone.

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We’ll have a scoring chance count, as usual, afterwards about 45 minutes to an hour after the game ends.

Lines information from Left Wing Lock

Game Day Notes:

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