Leafs POSTGAME – Reimer, van Riemsdyk lead Leafs to first in East with W over Penguins

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After a real lacklustre effort in Columbus a night ago, the Toronto Maple Leafs rebounded and beat the Pittsburgh Penguins 4-1 on Hockey Night in front of yet another spectacular performance from James Reimer. The theme for the Leafs so far this season seems to be “play well in two periods and get totally out-shot in the other 20 minutes” and that remained true Saturday. After a fairly even first period and forcing Penguin goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury to make some excellent saves, the Penguins peppered Reimer in the second, but he was very solid and making all the saves he had to.

Clear of the second frame, the Leafs put together a couple of highlight-reel goals against Fleury, one coming at the start of the period, another coming at the end, and got an empty-net goal from David Bolland for good measure. 

Also, despite taking the second period off, the Leafs did manage to generate 30 shots on goal. On the whole, a pretty good game for Toronto, who find themselves at 8-4 ahead of their three-game Western Canadian road trip.


Just before the game, it was announced that Tyler Bozak would be sitting out this game, moving Nazem Kadri onto the top line. While you hate to see any player lose a job to injury, this was going to be a good test for Kadri, who hasn’t gotten a chance to prove himself on the first line just yet. 

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The Penguins did open the scoring early in the first, just as the Blue Jackets did, and they did it on the powerplay, just as the Jackets did. A good pass from Evgeni Malkin behind the net found Kris Letang out front, and while he heeled his shot and it didn’t have a whole lot of power, it was still taken from a very dangerous area and past James Reimer’s right pad. From then-on, Reimer was perfect.

On another Leafs penalty kill later in the period, David Bolland got a break and got the Leafs on the board with one of three great goals on the night for Toronto:

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What a heads-up pass from Phaneuf to find Bolland. He hit him right in stride. Who doesn’t like a good slapshot goal on a breakaway? Just under the bar, the puck made the goalpost sing. Best sound in hockey.

The second period belonged to Reimer. Pittsburgh out-shot Toronto 16-4, and had 24 unblocked shots to Toronto’s six. I’m not entirely sure what happened to the Leafs in that frame, but they had a tonne of problems getting pucks through the neutral zone. The Penguins did a great job at containing Toronto at the line, not allowing them to get any sort of speed up-ice, which really is Toronto’s bread-and-butter for establishing possession.

The important thing is that Toronto got out unscathed, with the period punctuated by this great post-to-post save by Reimer on Pascal Dupuis:

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Reimer also stopped two shots during the lone Penguins PP of the game. The Leafs again had trouble preventing shots while down a man (9 in 4:37) but it didn’t cost them too much.

Start of the third period, the new van Riemsdyk-Kessel-Kadri line went to work. While Kessel was pretty quiet in the early going and not generating any shots on goal through 40, van Riemsdyk was probably the best Leaf in the opening two periods. He had three shots on net and entered the zone five times with possession, team-highs in both. He was the big part in setting up this excellent goal:

Just beautiful.

Finally, van Riemsdyk set up Kessel’s clinching goal on a powerplay with just under three minutes to go. Against Anaheim, van Riemsdyk had a similar assist, whipping the puck in front of the net while simultaneously falling down. This one also landed on Kessel’s stick, and he had some time to eat a cookie or two before putting it in:

Bolland got the empty-net goal after an extended 6-on-5 sequence from the Penguins really generated nothing of substance.


Gotta be JvR. Five shots, two assists, most active Leaf in the neutral and offensive zones. While all eyes were on Kadri, van Riemsdyk was the guy that really stepped up in the absence of Bozak.

Another guy that was real good was Carter Ashton. He was playing with Jay McClement and Colton Orr, and those two have had some issues at even strength turning dump-ins into shots and turning ice-time into offensive zone time. Some pretty good Corsi numbers through two as well. Check ExtraSkater for details tomorrow for a full game statistical recap.

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  • MaxPower417

    I thought that the McCement-Orr-Ashton line was great in general all night. Really seemed to have at least three sustained instances of pressure throughout the game and was not a liability defensively in this one.

    Blue Warrior of the game has to be Reimer though. If he gives Pittsburgh the lead in the 2nd they don’t look back and take the win. Reimer’s play tonight was the whole reason why the Leafs were able to still be in the game by the time the 3rd rolled around and win.

  • STAN

    Raymond had another solid game. His passes are crisp and right on the money.

    Rielly was solid. You can just see his confidence building with each game. I would think Ranger has to sit when Fraser comes back. Ranger mishandles the puck far too many times for comfort.

    I thought it was hilarious that after Kadri’s beautiful goal from Kessel and JvR, the Hockey Night crew (either Hughson or Simpson) gave much of the credit to…. David Clarkson, who was parked on the bench. That was weird. Something about, “just having him on the around gives that line a lot of confidence.” Or words to that affect.

    In fact, Clarkson got lots of camera time and comment, for doing very little. It must be something about his massive contract that has them drooling over his VERY average abilities. Strange. Carter Ashton was FAR more effective.

    Anyway, that was one of the best Leafs performances of the year…. without Bozak and Lupul. Interesting.

    I’d put Bozak on the third line when he comes back. Kadri is far more creative with Kessel and JvR.

    Reimer should not be allowed to handle the puck with his stick. Another could of close calls tonight that almost cost goals. Otherwise, pretty solid.

    Next 6 of 7 Leafs games are on the road, where they’ve been solid (except for last night’s no-show in Columbus).

    • Quasijr

      Clarkson actually had a pretty good game last night, considering it was his second game back. He is just what the Dr. Ordered for the Leafs top 6. They really didn’t have anyone to make life miserable in the corner and in front of the net for opposing defenceman, and Clarkson makes a huge difference in this area, along with bringing a lot of shots and a scoring touch. Also, the Leafs are far better with Bozak in the lineup, either on the first or 2nd line. People love to hate on him but the loss of him leaves a massive hole in the lineup, as seen last night.

  • MaxPower417

    Ha ha. You are too funny Cam. Orr had a the leafs best and a dominating 87.5% Corsi tonight with only one Corsi event against?. Would it hurt the advanced stats and facepuncher narrative to say that he played well tonight.

    And would hurt even more to say that Carlyle used Orr effectively in this game.

    It took me a while to figure out but I’m onto you stats guys who pick and choose stats to suit the prevalent narrative.

  • I was surprised the leafs were so handily outshot without Bozak (and Lupul) playing tonight. From the numerous blogs about how Bozak is not a good 1C, the leafs still have deeper possession problems even back from the Wilson days. Bozak is not the only issue but who else should we focus on. Based on TOI – Phaneuf? Kessel?

    And I don’t know what to make of all these twitter fans talking up Kessel/Kadri pairing. That pair was lucky as they shot at an unsustainable 33% and 10% respectively. And Kessel and Kadri pair was grossly out corsi’d tonight (31% Kessel and 45% Kadri). Sadly Kadri/Kessel are not a solution as a top pairing on a winning team. But hopefully Kessel and the team can keep outscoring the teams poor possession problem.

  • Quasijr

    You said Kessel was quiet in the first couple periods, offensively yes but he did some real serious back checking & also cleared the puck from the front of Riemers crease. I thought it was Phils best all round game. I think people are over looking how much Phil’s defensive game has picked up the last 2 years under Carlyle

  • Quasijr

    I can’t believe the pandemonium I was hearing about Orr’s Corsi last night. Orr’s goals scored is much better indication of his talent rather then last night’s Corsi.

    And the same for Kessel. Corsi makes Kessel look like a terrible player while goals scored is much better indication of his talent. It is time to own up that Corsi and other shot differentials and advanced stats are a flawed stat – just like goal differential. The irony is that it took a face puncher to make it clear just how much a fraud advanced stats are.

    • Quasijr

      “Corsi makes Kessel look like a terrible player while goals scored is much better indication of his talent.”


      “It is time to own up that Corsi and other shot differentials and advanced stats are a flawed stat”


      “it took a face puncher to make it clear just how much a fraud advanced stats are.”


      • MaxPower417

        Sweet argument man, I really liked that part where you backed up your opinions with cold hard facts and reasoning.

        Corsi and other advanced stats have their uses, but it also has a major flaw because it only represent one aspect of the game. Which is why we have other stats, and our minds for when numbers fail.

        If you think that possession numbers and shot differential are the ONLY things to be considered after a hockey game, then you clearly know nothing about the sport.

  • Quasijr

    Colton Orr’s rank among Leaf forwards (min 20 GP) by Corsi Rel:

    2009-10 – 13th of 13
    2010-11 – 15th of 15
    2012-13 – 9th of 12 (2nd best zone starts)

    1. Colton Orr is a bad player.

    2. Colton Orr needs to be sheltered with O-zone starts or else he becomes the worst possession player on the team.

    3. Corsi was never meant to prove much of anything over a one game sample.

    I thought he played well last night too but lets not go nuts.

  • MaxPower417

    I know this is the big year for zone entry data collection, but does anyone know how much zone exit data is being collected around the web and for what teams?

      • MaxPower417

        Not how fast, how effective.

        It looks at who (usually defenceman)makes the pass out of the zone. How many attempt did they make and how many were successful. I think they also count controlled and uncontrolled exits similar to the controlled and uncontrolled entries at the other blueline.

        Interesting stuff for sure, but we’ll have to wait a while (end of the 2014/2015 season at the earliest) to see a full year of data.

  • MaxPower417

    To me Corsi is not materially better then +- as a stat. Why bother with this more cumbersome stats like Corsi when at the end of the day you need to apply “context” and “watching hockey” which can be influenced by personal bias.

    Any stat that for the past several years that suggests Kulemin, Kessel and Phaneuf etc are below average players is clearly missing a BIG part of the game. Come up with a better stat this is more realistic and representative of player contributions instead of these better mouse traps that are not much better then the original

      • I’m not sure if this is how kesselkadri feels, but I personally understand Corsi perfectly… I just don’t think that it is that much more relevant than other statistics. To me, Corsi is just another tool to evaluate and the negative feelings towards it stem from overuse by certain bloggers.

        • MaxPower417

          If he doesn’t see the relative advantage over +/- than he doesn’t understand it.

          If you don’t understand why it and other possession measures are more relevant to other stats than, in all honesty you have more reading to do on the subject. However, that doesn’t mean it’s the be all and end all.

          NO ONE is suggesting to use Corsi in a vacuum. That is a ridiculous strawman argument.

          But when used in conjunction with context, possessions measures are by far our best predictor of future performance. For that simple reason, they are going to come up more than other stats.

          There is a difference between understanding the basic concept, and having a true grasp on the intricacies of how it’s applied. My issue is with people that think “Oh yeah, shot attempts for minus shot attempts against, I got it, I just don’t see what the big deal is”.

          • MaxPower417

            I’m going to stop you right there and ask that you stop using the term “strawman argument”, when it doesn’t apply. I assume you learned the term today and want to use it but you need to open your eyes. Cam is using corsi in a vacuum currently, he can’t write a story or make a point about a player without it, which is a point that comes up a lot in the comment section of his articles

          • MaxPower417

            I wish I could stop. But the com mentors on this website love to make up nonexistent counter arguments.. The favourite narrative is that “stats guys” care only about Corsi, don’t watch the games, think they know the game because of one start, blah blah blah blah, it’s always the same nonsense.

            The only time I’ve seen Corsi used without context is when it’s merely being listed as a game stat. Do you get mad at people for reporting ice time or points without context? Of course not. Only if they are trying to make a broader point based on those things. I think this blog does that well.

          • MaxPower417

            Well, I don’t know about them not watching the games (seems silly) but I can tell you that in the last 40 or so articles Cam has written the facts are strictly about corsi. And that’s why I believe there is such dislike towards it. It’s not about him making a few points using it, it’s the only thing he uses.

  • MaxPower417

    After Orr’s phenomenal effort last night, I’m creating a new stat.

    Whenever a player gets a 90% Corsi rating in a game, this will be from now referred to as a cORRsi.