Playoffs!!!1 gameday: Game 4 Bruins @ Leafs

Click on the headers of our blogs in the upper right of our website there. All of them are in some varying stage of discussing their respective team’s offseason. At least the folks at Canucks Army had the chance to discuss four playoff games.

The Leafs Nation is the last blog standing at The Nation Network. I’ve sent an email off to the blogrunners of those sites to drop and give me 20 pushups, and each pushup they have to recite one name off of the Maple Leafs’ roster.

Of course, the Leafs have come much further than anybody (myself included) thought they might. Tonight there’s a lot on the line. Either the Maple Leafs even the series at 2, or go back into the Bs hive down 3 games to 1.

The structure of the Randy Carlyle system was more evident in Game 3 than in Game 2. He had last change, was able to keep Phil Kessel away from Zdeno Chara and work the matchup that worked so well for him, Mikhail Grabovski-on-David Krejci-working for much of the game. Unfortunately, his bottom six was killed, (RIP bottom six) and two costly mistakes gave the Bruins goals that proved to be the difference.

The Leafs did account for 47 shots on net, but who knows how many that would have been if the Bruins weren’t sitting back on a lead through the whole game. The problem with the Leafs is that they’re already overmatched in the series, both on paper and on the ice, so one mistake for them is more costly than any one Bruins mistake. The Bruins have three lines that can score. The Leafs have maybe two.

Invincible, no, but any time you lose the depth matchup, you’re toast. If I may speak my mind freely here, Jay McClement and Nazem Kadri have both not been particularly good in this series. While Grabovski has done a job shutting down the Bruins second unit, Kadri’s line has not been able to generate any offence, and the McClement line has not been on the ice for a single scoring chance “for” the Leafs.

Toronto is a one-line team right now. About 3/5ths of their offence, scoring-chance wise, is coming from the first line. Tyler Bozak, Phil Kessel and Joffrey Lupul account for 21 of the team’s 54 shots at even strength (I’m using BTN numbers, here).

In the last gameday thread I noted which Bruins were seeing the most ice-time. I looked to see the difference between Game 2 and Game 3. Head to Head Ice-time numbers found here and here:

(Scoring chances numbers from Game 3 are here)

The way that would work is that David Krejci (46 along the top) played 28% more time against Mikhail Grabovski (84 along the left) in Game 3 than in Game 2, which means that’s a matchup Carlyle prefers to Julien. That’s incredible since that line went straight head-to-head in Game 2. Since Carlyle was all out of sorts in Game 1, I’m going to ignore that game and focus instead on the more systemic approach he had in the second game of the series.

You’ll note that Carlyle had Kadri lining up against Patrice Bergeron more, and Bergeron saw tonnes more time up against that first defensive pairing for the Leafs. I’m not sure which one had a better hand in limiting that line’s chances in the third game of the series (they combined for one) but I’d wager to guess it’s more the defence than any one forward grouping. Carlyle went straight head-to-head with Kadri’s line against Chris Kelly, Rich Peverley and Jaromir Jagr and lost, but what more is he to do? Get new players in the middle of the series?

Another problem is that if you note the second chart, is that every other line on the Bruins saw less time against the Leafs’ top pairing in Game 3 than they did in Game 2, except for the first line. Unsurprising that the Bruins had a lot of success from the players that DIDN’T match up against Dion Phaneuf and Carl Gunnarsson. I’d like to see Carlyle balance out the minutes a little more: Bergeron took three of every four shifts against Phaneuf’s pairing and the rest of Phaneuf’s night was spent evenly against the other units.

Here’s how the scoring chances broke down in Game 3. I don’t post these normally because I don’t keep them in a spreadsheet, but I did last game so what the heck. 

Period Time Team Result Shooter Pass B B B B B T T T T T
1 1817 TOR S 43   46 18 17 33 44 43 81 21 3 36
1 1811 BOS S 17   46 18 17 33 44 43 81 21 3 36
1 1319 TOR S 39   19 37 63 33 44 42 19 39 3 36
1 1240 TOR S 21   46 18 17 6 54 84 21 41 4 45
1 1056 BOS S 19   19 37 63 6 54 11 47 28 3 36
1 959 BOS M 18 17 46 18 17 21 55 42 19 39 3 45
1 622 BOS S 17   46 18 17 6 54 42 81 19 4 45
1 500 BOS S 22   11 20 22 33 55 11 47 28 23 51
1 8 BOS M 21 20 11 68 20 21 55 42 81 21 3 4
2 1503 TOR S 19 81 19 20 22 21 55 42 19 81 23 51
2 1458 TOR S 42 81 19 20 22 21 55 42 19 81 23 51
2 1403 BOS G 2-0 49 68 23 49 68 6 54 43 39 48 23 51
2 1337 BOS S 18   46 18 17 21 55 84 21 41 4 45
2 1013 BOS S 6 44 46 63 68 6 44 11 42 21 3 4
2 526 BOS G 3-1 18 17 46 18 17 6 54 47 84 41 36 45
2 443 BOS S 68 23 23 49 68 33 44 43 19 39 23 51
3 1025 TOR S 42   19 23 37 33 44 42 81 21 3 36

(I also want to show I’m not trying to sell snake oil with these. I sit and watch each game and note down scoring chances, then look back and check to see who was on the ice. The Bruins skaters are all listed under “B” by jersey number and the Toronto players by “T”. I also track to see which player took the shot and the pass. This is what it looks like for Game 3.)

I also bring this up to comment on the Leafs losing the Grabovski-Krejci match, it’s worth noting that Krejci was on the ice for six scoring chances “for” in 12 minutes of play (or one every two minutes) but just two in 8.9 minutes against Grabovski. A loss for Grabo’s line, but not as bad as it looks at first blush.

Anyway, I’ll be looking for improvement from Kadri tonight, hopefully he can provide some needed offence.


There’s also StreakCred, which is a tonne of fun. You can pick a winner in each game, or “skip” it, and the leaders are the players that guess the longest “streak” throughout the playoffs. The leader somehow got to 10, which is nuts, because I haven’t beaten 3 yet. I lost it all betting against Pittsburgh last night, although I was somewhat gaming the system because I’m rooting for the New York Islanders in that series.

So now I’m back to “1” after a Chicago win and skipping the Sharks-Canucks game. Just two good days and I’m back among the leaders… there’s also cool prizes and stuff. Sign up if you haven’t. Lots of the cool kids are doing it. It’s just $20 + GST and some of the proceeds will go to various Nations-supported charities. Link to sign up here.

  • MaxPower417

    Completely off topic but I had a thought and didn’t know where to post it. Does the data exist to compare Grant Fuhr’s save percentage in close games vs not? Is there a difference for goalies in general? If Fuhr’s isn’t vastly better, I imagine that would take a lot of wind out of the sails of the “clutch performer” crowd. Or who knows, give them some credence.

  • We could look at box scores of close games he played in but it would take lots of manual work.

    You do need to know that Chris Osgood’s Game 7 record in his career is really brutal for a guy who is mentioned as a clutch goalie.

    But “close games” “Game 7s” and “playoffs” are all small sample sizes. You never want to purposefully ignore available information when comparing players.

    • MaxPower417

      Yeah that was my worry, that it would take a massive amount of manual work.

      The purpose wasn’t to compare the information to other players but to himself, and then compare his differential (if any) between close games and not and everyone else differential (if any) between close games and not.

      But regardless, as you say it would take an unfeasible amount of labour to compile.

  • Also, goaltending varies from year to year. A good goaltender in Fuhr’s age would have a save percentage of .900, while a good goaltender in today’s age has a save percentage of .915.

    The equipment’s changed, the style has changed, the game has changed.