Photo Bill Wippert/NHL Interactive
A talent agent is sitting in his office. He hears a knock on a door and opens it up, and it is Frazer McLaren. It is Colton Orr. Both are standing in the doorway. “What can you do,” asks the talent agent, who has had a very long day and is very tired. He is visibly frustrated and annoyed with the sudden appearance of these two thugs.
“Not much,” says Frazer McLaren. “I can stand on a guy’s wing and not skate very fast. I can visibly restrict Jay McClement’s abilities. I can also, in a pinch, absolutely fill in a guy’s face if the situation requires it.”
“There’s this puke on the Sabres named Patrick Kaleta,” continues Orr. “Maybe he’ll dive across the half the ice on a weak shove and stop play. I’ll go out on the ice for the next faceoff. I will crosscheck him hard across the back. I’ll break my stick across him and impale him with the remains.”
“Good grief!” says the talent agent. “What do you call an act like that?”
Colton Orr and Frazer Mclaren say in unison: “The Aristocrats!”
-I was none too impressed by the antics early in this game. Frankly it killed a lot of the pace from the start of the game, and combined with the shootout, the game lasted three hours, not ending until 10:00 PM EDT. As bleak as it is watching Patrick Kaleta play, not much is gained by filling him in. It may make you feel a little bit better for five minutes, but you can also end up on the penalty kill for four minutes and two skaters short of a full bench.
–Looks like Colton Orr set a record for penalty minutes playing fewer than five seconds of ice-time. There’s one game in there that doesn’t look liked it was tracked correctly.
-Overall, there were too many penalties called in the first couple of periods for this game to have a lot of flow, but late in the game, both teams were rolling three lines and both were sufficiently tired that there were lots of breakdowns and a few more scoring chances and shots. A very sloppy hockey game but entertaining nonetheless. I had the scoring chances counted equally at each end: 13-13 overall and 9-9 at even strength. The Leafs had a 9-6 advantage at 5-on-5 because Buffalo dominated a brief section of 4-on-4 midway through the second period, and those are the numbers that appear in the chart below.
-There isn’t a whole lot of actual “hockey” to analyze, since much of the game took place on specialty teams. Just four of the game’s eight goals were scored at 5-on-5. The Sabres scored 4-on-4 and once on the powerplay, taking advantage of a Leafs group that wasn’t particularly good a man down tonight. The Leafs also struck with a couple of goals on the man advantage from Tyler Bozak and Mikhail Grabovski.
-The Sabres held the bulk of possession, but they had the most powerplay time. Timeonice is a bit wonky tonight, so I’m not exactly sure on the total at even strength. I thought the game was mostly even. I didn’t like the Leafs blowing a lead, but that’ll happen in hockey. Leads get blown, and sometimes the hockey overtakes the sideshow especially if there’s lots of fighting. The chances the Leafs gave up in the first couple of periods were usually gaffes on one or two guys, and in the third everything just fell apart.
-The Leafs went head-to-head first line versus first line, power versus power, and I’d say that battle was won by Toronto’s first line for the first time in several games. Phil Kessel looked real good in this one. He had six shot attempts, which wasn’t a team-high (Kadri had 10!) but three were inside the scoring area and set made the play on Bozak’s goal. James van Riemsdyk, who was the Leafs most consistent offensive player at the start of the season, good for a couple of shots a game and a scoring chance or two, has gone oddly quiet, but his shot statistics are the same as Kessel’s: his shots came from a bit further out however. I did like how he stuck around in front of Ryan Miller after getting hit in the leg right before Kadri’s tying goal. Grit? Bozak had six shots. He looked lost in the defensive zone a couple of times but was ultimately a positive in this game.
-Should note van Riemsdyk did nearly end this in regulation by hitting the post with 3:34 to go.
-No sense worrying about shootout losses or who should have gone out. The shootout is a bit of a crapshoot and the Leafs played well enough in a game with a lot of variables to take it there. Probably could have done a bit better in the third defensively. Jake Gardiner was the source of a couple of breakdowns and let Ville Leino walk right through him, but otherwise Gardiner was pretty good. He had a +3 scoring chance differential.
-Nazem Kadri is very very good. 10 shot attempts, three from scoring chance land, and he carried the puck in on a tonne of contested zone entries. He likes having the puck and is really confident with it, and the best players you can get are the ones who are good at playing on the puck.
-I thought James Reimer played fine. He was shaky to start but settled down in the third period. He stopped 27 of 30 at even strength, so overall the numbers aren’t real good, but they aren’t split up by period. He stopped eight of 12 shots from the scoring zone. Better than Ryan Miller, who misplayed a couple of pucks early. Poor guy probably deserves better than the Buffalo net.
-Last thing. Did the fights at the start of the game contribute to protecting the stars? During the second period, Buffalo got a goal when John Scott was able to take Phil Kessel off the ice. Pretty good trade for the Sabres. They dominated the sequence and out-chanced Toronto 3-0.
-Individual scoring chance differentials:
|TORONTO||Chances For||Chances Vs.||Chances +/-|
|James van Riemsdyk||6||3||3|
|BUFFALOL||Chances For||Chances Vs.||Chances +/-|
|Toronto (EV)||4 (3)||3 (2)||6 (4)||0||13 (9)|
|Buffalo (EV)||1 (0)||6 (6)||5 (3)||1||13 (9)|
LeafsNation Three Stars:
- Nazem Kadri
- Phil Kessel
- Tyler Ennis