Greg Fiume/NHL Interactive
Irony of all ironies, for the second consecutive night, the Toronto Maple Leafs were visually out-played and out-shot, but the Randy Carlyle tight system did everything as advertised: it restricted scoring chances against.
The Leafs out-chanced the Washington Capitals at even strength. Even in the early going when the Capitals held an edge in zone time, the Leafs kept shots primarily to the outside… although the Capitals seemed like they were trying to force things through and set up deflections. Maybe. Maybe not. Some teams have strategies where they try to fire pucks through shot blockers and pounce on rebounds. Occasionally, it’s successful.
Tuesday night, the second half of a back-to-back, with one of the league’s hottest offensive squads against a backup goaltender, it worked. Not an awful loss for the Leafs, however. It’s a schedule loss. It’s one that we could have expected. The Leafs looked at the schedule, started James Reimer against the Devils, and decided to come out of a tough back-to-back with their best chance at two points.
The Leafs lost 5-1.
Clarke MacArthur and Matt Frattin were sat in favour of Colton Orr and Frazer McLaren. I also have no problem with that. Both players have missed significant time with injuries this season, and if games get rough, it’s best that the guys taking much of the abuse will be the face-punchers of the world, and not useful players that the
Just wish the team was able to sit Joffrey Lupul by the same token of logic…
My belief is that the process you use to make a decision is more important than whether the decision was right or wrong. It’s the “show your work” aspect of the game. If Carlyle sat MacArthur and Frattin because he thought they were legitimately the problem against New Jersey and not the lack of a competent fourth line, well… I disagree with him.
But there’s not even too much to talk about. Like the Montreal game, we got a period of hockey in before the scoreboard inflated one side’s goal totals that left us with a third period that didn’t resemble hockey. Jack Hillen started the scoring on a lucky one and Washington went into the break up 1-0.
In the second, the Capitals got goals from Martin Erat, Troy Brouwer and Alex Ovechkin on a powerplay. It was over by that point. A good bounce led to a Ryan Hamilton-Mikhail Grabovski hookup that resulted in a Grabovski goal that broke the shutout, but Marcus Johansson put in a 5-1 goal on another Caps powerplay. For the first time in a long time, the Leafs PK was leaky.
That Alexander Ovechkin is very good. Him and Phil Kessel are probably the two best players in the world right now although Kessel didn’t have a real good night. The entire first line had a night off, and that meant the team didn’t have too much offence to speak of in the first half of the game.
As good as they were at preventing chances against at evens, this is the second consecutive game the Leafs allowed a bunch of chances while killing a penalty. Six against the Devils, six against the Capitals. It’s pretty inconsistent with the way the Leafs have played all season and they got eaten up killing penalties. Two goals against, six shots… six chances. Something needs to be cleaned up.
The Leafs were down by 13 shot attempts in this game at evens: Toronto had 34 and the Capitals had 47. Given the Leafs were down for most of the game, this isn’t entirely flattering.
That said, Dion Phaneuf was a minus-5 in Corsi, or shot attempt differential. He also played 10.3 minutes against Alex Ovechkin, who, you’ll note below, didn’t accomplish a whole lot at even strength. Despite the Leafs getting creamed, Phaneuf, and Mikhail Grabovski, have been very good in the last two games. The offence from the second line is really lacking.
To expand on that, this is the second straight game Nazem Kadri wasn’t on the ice for a scoring chance for. Steve Burtch said on Twitter today that his shot rate has fallen off since he went cold after the Ottawa game. We’ll have to look more into him.
Surprisingly good night in scoring chances for the Leafs second pairing (or is it third?) of Ryan O’Byrne and John-Michael Liles. Should be qualified that they played mostly against the Caps’ third and fourth lines and started shifts primarily at the offensive end (Liles had 6 offensive starts and 1 defensive)
Amazingly, Mark Fraser started 13 shifts in the defensive end, 0 at the offensive end. Got mostly minutes against the Capitals’ second line. Him and Cody Franson were crushed in possession but did a little bit better in scoring chances. Honestly I’m not too sure about this pairing’s promotion. I think Liles is better than Fraser at both ends of the ice, as is Jake Gardiner or Carl Gunnarsson, depending on which one Dion Phaneuf plays with.
Hopefully Thursday will give me more to write about. I guess because the Winnipeg Jets got a point in their game against Tampa Bay, the Leafs won’t be able to clinch a playoff spot on Thursday barring an emergency re-alignment.
Individual Scoring Chance differential:
|OTNOROT||Chances For||Chances Vs.||Chances +/-|
|James van Riemsdyk||5||3||2|
|NOTGNIHSAW||Chances For||Chances Vs.||Chances +/-|
|Toronto (EV)||2 (2)||6 (3)||4 (4)||12 (9)|
|Washington (EV)||1 (1)||8 (4)||5 (2)||13 (7)|
LeafsNation Three Stars:
- Alexander Ovechkin
- Mike Green
- Troy Brouwer