Leafs Postgame – Leafs win at hockey

Yes, that’s right, the Leafs won! It happened, I watched it. 

This game was a bit of a snore, as is expected when the Devils are in town. You can also count on the Leafs being pinned in their own zone for a lot of the game, and they sure didn’t disappoint there either. There are some positives to take out of the game, however, so we’ll get to it.

The Rundown

The Leafs got off to a painful start in this one, generating absolutely nothing and running around in their own zone for most of the first period until just before a Bozak goal 15 minutes in. They did seem a little more desperate than usual to win battles, but it didn’t translate to them getting the puck much. Looks like "compete level" may not be the answer. 

Nik Kulemin didn’t even wait a minute before taking a holding penalty in the second, which Adam Henrique capatalized on to tie things up. But the Leafs responded with a powerplay goal of their own only a couple minutes later when van Riemsdyk banged in a Franson rebound past Cory Schneider, who had a a strong game of his own. It seemed like the Leafs may be turning it on, but only 27 seconds later Ryane Clowe blew by Franson for a partial break and tied things again. From there, the teams then realized they’re the Devils and Leafs, and not much happened for the rest of regulation.

Overtime was a wild one, with a few good chances for each team. The Leafs didn’t register a shot on net, but Morgan Rielly nearly ended it at one point and fired high. Would’ve been nice to see him do it, since I thought his game was solid overall in this one.

Anyway, off to the shootout we go, where the Leafs are good these days, and the Devils stink. James van Riemsdyk scored, a bunch of other guys didn’t, and the Leafs now have 49 points, which puts them a single point behind the Wings and Flyers for the final playoff spot(s).

Why the Leafs won

The Leafs won because this game went to a shootout and apparently they kick the shit out of everyone there this year. Why were they in this game? It seemed like they were the Leafs of old. And by old, I mean earlier in the season where the goaltending was insane and the powerplay did good work.

Bernier turned away 36 of 38 shots for a .947 sv%, and the Leafs were outshot by 13 overall, so it isn’t like the team is magically better now, but as Carlyle said after the game, the win gives them a minute to breathe. 

Blue warrior

I’ll give the honors to James van Riemsdyk. The guy is just an offensive machine every night, it seems. As mentioned earlier, he scored in regulation, as well as the lone shootout winner, and had six shots on goal. Plus I think I’ve given Bernier the Blue Warrior every other time I’ve written a recap, so I gotta try something new.

Notes and all that

  • Jake Gardiner had the second-most icetime for defencemen, with 24:31. Carlyle, man.
  • The Leafs were out-attempted 60-34 at evens, which is quite awful.
  • Orr and Ashton both played less than five minutes, so really, what’s the point? Send Ashton down if you’re going to treat him like a designated fighter (which he clearly isn’t).
  • The Leafs have four regulation wins in their last 33 games now. 

 

  • Cam Thornton

    So based on recent trends, expect Gardiner or Reilly to be scratched next game, because you know, good performance means they get to relax during the next game by Randy logic.

    I also thought Clarkson looked pretty good out there tonight. From what Steve said in his podcast, I really don’t think he should be playing with Kuli and McClement. I like the idea of having Clarkson with Lupul and Kadri, and allow Raymond to bring some offense to the third line

    • Cam Thornton

      I completely agree with getting Clarkson onto the second line. I think Kadri/Lupul/Clarkson could be a solid cycle line against the opponent’s top offensive players.

      The third line could then be a sheltered, fast scoring line with Holland, Raymond, and Kulie.

      That puts McClement where he belongs as a PK/FO specialist 4th line C with D’Amigo and Ashton as his wingers.

      • Cam Thornton

        As much I would want to see that third line (until Bolland is back), I’m not sure what their plans are for Holland. He has I think 3 games left until the 3rd round draft pick the Leafs gave up turns into a 2nd. I could see them potentially dealing Holland now that he has shown some promise. He has potential to be more than a third liner, and the organization may have Bozak, Kadri, and Bolland ahead of him. Could get some decent return for him

  • Cam Thornton

    My thoughts on the game were had Reimer started, he would have posted a shut out and so there wouldn’t be the need for a shoot out. And looking at the high number of starts Bernier, it is pretty clear that the reason have no regulation wins is that Bernier is not a “clutch” goalie like Bernier when the leafs have a lead.

    And also, I mentioned in the Capitals post game blog that the turning point of the season for the leafs was Orr’s fight vs Erskine. And it was good see more progress in terms of a win (and quality scoring chances) but the the leaf execution and 1 on 1 battles compete needs to elevated.

  • Cam Thornton

    Not sure how Rielly had a good game at all…

    On for 9 shot attempts for and 27 shot attempts against (5v5)… 25% CF, 2nd worst on the night.

    The worst was Gardiner, who somehow managed to be on for 36 shot attempts against, accounting for 60% of the total shot attempts against the Leafs.

    Not sure this pairing should be kept together

  • Cam Thornton

    This was the leafs 12th shootout game this year, the most in a single season by one team is 20, which has happened twice. With 30+ games remaining the leafs only have to force 9 more shootouts and we can rewrite the record books, maybe there is a positive from this year!