Maple Leafs lull Flyers to sleep: win game in third period – Game recap

(Photo by Paul Bereswill/NHLInteractive)

I don’t want to say the first two periods of the Maple Leafs and Flyers game was really boring, but at one point during the second I forgot which team was shooting at which end. I couldn’t tell whether it was incompetent passing, a reluctance to enter the zone with possession for either team or slow ice.

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It’s not that shots were being kept to the outside through much of this game. What little shots there were came from the inside from good shooters. The shots after the second period were 15-14 for the Flyers. The scoring chances were 6-5 for the Leafs. The only moments of interest were thanks to misadventures on the part of Ilya Bryzgalov and Ben Scrivens.

Thankfully, the game got a caffeine jolt for the start of the third. Luckily for Toronto, they got much of the rush, against most odds. They came away with a 4-2 win with an empty net goal, thanks to another excellent performance from Nazem Kadri and Mikhail Grabovski.

-The scoring chances in the third period paint a better picture of this game than the chances through the first two. It was 8-6 for Toronto in the final frame, with the Leafs withstanding a lengthy onslaught from the Flyers and some absolutely insanely lucky bounces around their net. Scrivens was all over his net, dumping rebounds into dangerous areas, fumbling pucks on long shots. There was that shot late in the game that broke Dion Phaneuf’s stick and the puck bounced off the side of the net and was sitting right there next to the goal mouth and not a single Philadelphia Flyer saw it for the longest time.

-Toronto DID win the chance battle in this one. I have no idea where they found that gear at the start of the third period. Grabovski just took the game on his own hands, well, him on one line and Kadri on another. Leo Komarov got set up with two glorious chances right from the high slot and got poor shots away on both.

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-One trend is that Randy Carlyle has slowly been giving more defensive zone assignments to the first line and more offensive zone assignments to the Grabovski line. Somewhat expectedly, their offensive outputs have reversed over the last few games. Grabovski was on the ice for five scoring chances for—Tyler Bozak just one. Grabovski took just 7 non-neutral zone draws, 5 in the offensive zone. Bozak ended up with 22 non-neutral zone draws, 9 in the offensive zone and 13 in the defensive zone. It’s almost as if his overuse had led to Bozak wanting to play slower to conform to the wishes of his coach. You hardly ever see him deeper than the offensive half-wall. That’s for Phil Kessel and James van Riemsdyk.

-On that note… Kessel and van Riemsdyk were very quiet against Philly. I think some people were expecting van Riemsdyk to have a big game considering his play of late. I didn’t count Kessel’s goal as a scoring chance, since, well, look at the image. That’s not a shot that produces goals very often. Via JP Nikota:

-Kessel had four other shots, and I only counted one of them as a ‘scoring chance’ and none at even strength. He’s strung a couple of bad games together now, despite the goal tonight. Sometimes you get goals when you aren’t getting chances, sometimes you get all the chances in the world and don’t get any luck. That’s… hockey, I guess?

-Hasn’t been the case for Nazem Kadri though. Generally, he’s produced in the games he’s performed the best. Seven on-ice scoring chances for him and Clarke MacArthur tonight. Peter Laviolette, evidently, decided to match up Sean Couturier primarily against Tyler Bozak. I thought he might go power-on-power. Couturier had a pretty good game, low-event, tough-minute, plus-scoring chance game against the Leafs’ first line.

-When you go power-on-power on the Leafs, you open up the defensive incapabilities of the Phil Kessel unit. When you choose not to go power-on-power with the Leafs, that means your power line is going against Mikhail Grabovski, which is the type of matchup he relishes. Kadri and Grabovski both have an extra couple of chances in there thanks to the play leading up to the 3-1 goal right at the tail-end of a powerplay that were technically at even strength, but even so, that gave Grabovski a decided advantage over Claude Giroux.

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-Kadri was left to match up against Brayden Schenn, something I was looking for the first time these two teams met up a couple of weeks ago. Kadri was drafted two spots after Schenn in 2009 and neither player made the NHL right away, although Schenn’s world juniors performance in 2011 earned him rave reviews. Kadri certainly won the matchup tonight.

-Great game from Carl Gunnarsson and Mike Kostka. No complaints. Korbinian Holzer is still rough around the edges, as evidenced on the first second Philadelphia goal:

-But who knows. Justin Bourne today wrote about on-ice communication, and perhaps there wasn’t much on that play from Holzer and Bozak. Holzer would have expected that Bozak was going to tie up Scott Hartnell and he was going to take Giroux. Bozak never let him know, and Holzer never decided to shoulder-check and figure out for himself whether Hartnell was indeed tied up by Bozak.

-You hate to blame a guy for one play, but I think him and Dion Phaneuf are playing some awfully tough minutes that Holzer can’t handle. Gunnarsson and Phaneuf were in plus-territory last season in a big-minute role, but they keep losing scoring chance battles. They didn’t have a specific matchup that I can deduce from the play-by-play sheets, but it would be interesting to see matchup data for that pairing. Phaneuf ended up with 19:12 at even strength…

-Mike Knuble has lost all hockey-playing ability. He’s been carved up in both games against the Leafs this year. The Flyers depth guys had a bad game. Max Talbot was +2/-5. Ruslan Fedotenko was +1/-5. Having good depth guys helps, but evidently they can hurt you less if you don’t, you know, play your depth guys. I think Mike Brown was on the ice to fight Tye McGinn in the first and then just sort of left the ice for good. No sign of Frazer McLaren. David Steckel played 1:56 of effective penalty kill minutes, and should be playing more at evens, and with real people with skill, not grizzled old vets like Fedotenko and Knuble.

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-Seriously, what’s the aversion of having a skill guy on the fourth line?

-Chances data. To clear up some confusion, “chances for” indicates the number of scoring chances (generally, shots taken in the slot, but there’s a definition here) the designated player was on the ice for at even strength. “Chances vs.” indicate the number that went against his team. This only counts 5-on-5, so the total number will be a multiple of five, since there are five guys on the ice:

  Chances For Chances Vs. Chances +/-
Tyler Bozak 1 2 -1
James van Riemsdyk 1 2 -1
Phil Kessel 1 2 -1
Nazem Kadri 7 4 3
Clarke MacArthur 7 4 3
Leo Komarov 4 5 -1
Mikhail Grabovski 5 2 3
Jay McClement 2 2 0
Nik Kulemin 4 1 3
David Steckel 0 0 0
Mike Brown 0 0 0
Frazer McLaren 0 0 0
Dion Phaneuf 4 5 -1
Korbinian Holzer 4 4 0
Carl Gunnarsson 7 2 5
Mike Kostka 7 2 5
Cody Franson 0 2 -2
Mark Fraser 0 1 -1
  Chances For Chances Vs. Chances +/-
Claude Giroux 3 5 -2
Scott Hartnell 2 2 0
Jakub Voracek 2 2 0
Brayden Schenn 3 3 0
Wayne Simmonds 5 3 2
Danny Briere 3 3 0
Sean Couturier 2 1 1
Max Talbot 2 4 -2
Zac Rinaldo 0 1 -1
Ruslan Fedotenko 1 5 -4
Mike Knuble 1 3 -2
Tye McGinn 0 1 -1
Brayden Coburn 2 6 -4
Nicklas Grossman 2 5 -3
Luke Schenn 3 3 0
Kimmo Timonen 3 3 0
Bruno Gervais 3 3 0
Erik Gustafsson 3 2 1

-For team chances, the first number is the total number of scoring chances for each team. The parenthetical is even strength. Most of my analysis is done at even strength:

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  1st 2nd 3rd Total
Toronto (EV) 4 (2) 2 (2) 8 (7) 14 (11)
Philadelphia (EV) 3 (3) 2 (1) 6 (4) 11 (8)

LeafsNation Three Stars:

  1. Nazem Kadri
  2. Mikhail Grabovski
  3. Wayne Simmonds

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  • Great game but boring. I always check the scoring chances to see if it fits how I saw the game.

    That said it dawned on me that Carlyle’s coaching, player use and defensive system don’t get enough credit for turning the leafs into a defensive powerhouse.

    First, Carlyle Uses rookies an inexperiencied player (kostka, fraser, kadri)in situations without them being placed over their heads.

    Second, Carlyle defensive strategy limits scoring chances. That is, he is fine allowing the leafs to give up shots on net and even from close up but his approach is dogmatic in preventing the leafs from giving up a high number of quality scoring chances.

    Third, Carlyle’s implements his defensive system with the right combination of skill, grit and size on the blue line and forwards. This balance of player size (Orr, Fraser) and skill (Mclement, Grabbo) on the leafs shows us with less goals against and improved SV% (and ultimately driven by fewer quality scoring chances). Yes face punching does produce positive results for the leafs by limiting scoring chances.

    Fourth, this type of overall defensive system is something that the leafs have not been seen here for nearly a decade. And it is simple enough for even Phaneuf and the rookies to excel and also doesn’t make kessel and some other forwards look like a defensive liability (so long as Kessel doesn’t shy away from taking too many hits). That is, the improvements we have seen in Phaneuf(playing on his other side), the rookies and JVR and Kessel is largely because of Carlyle’s coaching strategy.

    Finally and not surprisingly, Scrivens and Reimer are playing like solid NHL goalies. This has especially helped Scrivens who is usually all scrambly and looks confused at times in the net but he is supported by the defensive scheme of Carlyle. Also note this year how Reimer has improved his SV% on the PK also from Carlyle’s defensive systems. The defensive changes and adjustments on the PK have not only helped the leafs on the PK, but the similar defensive strategies also helps the leafs at even strength. This is thanks to Carlyle and his defensive systems.

  • “First, Carlyle Uses rookies an inexperiencied player (kostka, fraser, kadri)in situations without them being placed over their heads.”

    Kostka played 31 minutes paired up against Nash, Richards and Gaborik in his 5th NHL game.

    “Second, Carlyle defensive strategy limits scoring chances.”

    For both sides.

  • “Seriously, what’s the aversion of having a skill guy on the fourth line?”.

    I think a lot of times it’s not financially reasonable. I mean – it would be nice to have a team full of skill guys – but who could afford it? Even if you could.. is an above average skill player going to want to play on the 4th line? Maybe for a year.. but they’re eventually going to want their shot.

    The other thing is depth. Not many teams have the depth to dress 12 skill guys. I could see Nonis calling up Connolly to play on the 4th line – but who else?? Colbourne? Ashton? I don’t think they’re ready and it doesn’t help them to play 6-10 mins a night.

    The line depth will be better when Lupul and Frattin return (obviously). Maybe something like this…

    Lupul-Kadri-MacArthur (I really like this)

    Steckel vs. McLaren depending on opposition. I chose McLaren over Orr because i think he’s better at the cycle game. Probably a little more skilled as well.

    Do I think Randy will do this? No. That’s not who Randy is.