Leafs Postgame: PDOhWhatever

A preseason game against the Buffalo Sabres; what could possibly go wrong? Well, if last year was any indication, a lot of things. Fights, lumberjacks, suspensions, and all sorts of crazy stuff. Tonight, the goal was to keep everything a bit less aggressive and just play some hockey, and these two teams definitely did that.. for the most part. In the end, we got a bunch of scraps and the Leafs got an overwhelming 6-4 victory.

The Rundown

The Sabres were the first ones to strike in this game. Chris Stewart flew in towards the net and lifted up a heck of a backhand to open the scoring just eight and a half minutes in. It was a lead that didn’t last long though; Roman Polak tied it up thanks to a gorgeous pass by Tyler Bozak a minute and a half later.

Bozak wasn’t done his period of havoc, either. At the fifteen minute mark, he took a pass from Josh Leivo and tucked home an easy goal, and then picked up another assist on a pure snipe by Dion Phaneuf. Before the period could end, however, he did make a giveaway that eventually lead to Chris Stewart picking Petter Granberg’s pocket and beating James Reimer.

The two teams weren’t done with scoring. Two minutes into the second period, Leo Komarov scored his first of the preseason, casually walking in and beating Michael Neuvirth. Jake McCabe responded for Buffalo, giving everybody weird flashbacks to a famous Sabres overtime goal. For about fifteen minutes, things went silent on the goal count, until David Clarkson tipped in a point shot by Roman Polak to once again give the Leafs a three goal lead.

Midway through the period, the point-shot-to-tip strategy worked again, with Josh Leivo redirecting a Stuart Percy shot. With a minute and a half to go, Cody McCormick fired a slapper past James Reimer to close the gap a little, but it was to no avail, as the Leafs left Buffalo victorious.

Oh, and the fights. Lots of fights. Drew Stafford fought Dion Phaneuf, Sam Carrick fought Chris Stewart, David Clarkson fight Cody McCormick, and a few roughing situations went down as well. These teams didn’t like each other very much.

Blue Warrior

I was initially going to give this to Tyler Bozak, because a goal and two assists in a single period is fantastic, and he stayed in the top half of relative possession tonight, but I want to make a bigger point.

Instead, this goes to David Clarkson, who tipped in Roman Polak’s point shot late in the second period, and was the second best possession player in the lineup for the Leafs. Two things about David.

One, I really liked the fact he was in front of the net to make that goal happen. Clarkson found his best success with the Devils while playing the mythical “Holmstrom Role”. It gives him a purpose, and he’s effective at it. Keeping him from free-roaming and over thinking his game would be a wise move by the coaching staff.

Secondly, his fight with McCormick. Entertaining, sure, but you know what? He got injured in the scrap and the Leafs had to keep him out of the rest of the game as a precaution. For better or worse, the man is here for six more years and is being paid in excess of 36 million dollars to do so. He can’t risk injury by punching people with the frequency that he has since coming to the Leafs. I know he just wants to put it all on the line, but it’s more likely to become a detriment before it becomes a positive.

So David, you’re our Blue Warrior for playing good hockey. But at the same time, in trying to be more of a warrior, you’ve failed your purpose. It’s an odd paradox, but it’s up to you to find your balance.

Notes

  • James Reimer looked alright for the most part. He faced a lot of rubber, so letting in four isn’t a huge deal. That last goal by McCormick is probably one that he would like to have back, but fingers should probably be pointed at Petter Granberg as well for how passive he was on the play.
  • Stuart Percy was the best possession player on the team tonight, and the only one who finished with an even Corsi For percentage. The Sabres clearly controlled the pace of this game, which is kind of worrisome.
  • I’m starting to wonder a bit about Petter Granberg. He hasn’t looked good at all during training camp, and he and Phaneuf were a mess tonight. Neither of these two are incredibly mobile, and it cost them. Granberg spent almost the entire 13/14 AHL season with John-Michael Liles (incredibly gifted skater at that level) and Stuart Percy (incredibly intelligent positionally), and it makes you curious as to whether they were carrying the load.
  • Dion Phaneuf had a Gordie Howe Hat Trick – he fought and scored in the first, and had an assist in the third. Also, the worst relative possession player on the team.
  • Sam Carrick is super fun to watch with the Marlies, and he was fun to watch tonight with the Leafs. He held his own in his fight with Chris Stewart, and showed Tyler Myers that he isn’t scared of a guy who is 7 inches taller.
  • The Leafs face the Sabres again on Sunday, in Toronto.
  • jasken

    Snipe by lupul? What game were you watching? It was phaneuf that scored. The give away to stewart was unfortunate unlikely to happen. Any of Komarov, Polak, Bozak and Leivo could have been given the blue warrior as well.

    The truth is if they can perform like that in a preseason game with their jobs on the line there is no reason why they cant do it game in and game out regardless of who they play with.

    Clarkson could have returned probably would have had the game had meaning for him, but being preseason tend to the nice shiner you have. Dont worry about the rest of the night put some ice on it for the next game.

    Nice read though jeff

    • Yeah, sorry, that’s been fixed. I’ve been near sleepless for the past few days doing stuff for the site and had a bit of a slip (Leivo’s name is directly above where I wrote Lupul’s in the post editor and it must have triggered my subconscious somehow with the JL). I meant Dion, but good catch.

  • jasken

    As a side not I think granberg, Bodie, Nylander, Holzer are on the next list to be sent out although I like to see more of Nlyander I dont think he is staying.

  • STAN

    ‘Blue Warrior’ to Clarkson is insane, as perfectly presented in your reasons for naming him – “…he got injured in the scrap…” “…he can’t risk injury by punching people…” and the cream of the crop – “… in trying to be more of a warrior you’ve failed your purpose…”.

    We rest your case.

    • Again; it wasn’t meant to a traditional “player of the game”, otherwise I would’ve gone to Bozak. Clarkson was up there but I wanted to make a point about how you could go too far with being a warrior. I wasn’t going to write an entirely new post to make that point, so that was the right spot.

      It’s not like these guys are getting performance bonuses based off what The Leafs Nation dot com says in their post games, haha

  • STAN

    What truly amazes me is how many people actually think Clarkson will help this team this year. Hello calling earth, the guy can’t skate. Heck Colton Orr would beat him in a race. Oh sure put him in front of the net and he will deflect 4 or 5 pucks into the net for the season. He also isn’t much of a fighter as his opponent will attest to tonight.

    He drag downs the speed of his line. He is a pylon in his own defensive zone as he has this weird habit of waving his stick with one hand as the opposition buzzes the leaf zone as if they are on a power play.

    The key comment by this author in his article was that Reimer got bombarded with shots. So what else is new with the leafs style of play.

    • If you’re actually trying to argue that Colton Orr is a better option over David Clarkson, than you are not a smart person.

      His contract is absurd and he’s overrated; but he does have a role to play on this team.

      Ask your mom for a Subban jersey this Christmas.

      • Well Tyler you might have clued in that I’ve been around more than 47 years and thus mom has been in heaven for over 25 years. But thanks for the kind comment. As for Subban, gee didn’t he play his hockey in Toronto and those master minds you know the same stinking scouts we have had for years, Morrison, Watt, and Penny couldn’t find this guy playing in their back yard.

        The point you will quickly learn this season is that like Orr, Clarkson can’t skate, is terrible defensively and also can’t fight as he proved last night.

        Now I get it that most teams won’t admit a mistake so this washed up Clarkson will get far more ice time than he deserves. Check the stats of last season and you will see the leafs were way over 500 when Clarkson was hurt. When he played the leafs struggled. That wasn’t coincidental.

  • I think Granberg needs a bit more time in the “oven” so to speak. He couldn’t really “cook” up any chemistry with Phaneuf tonight, who’s our best defenseman by a “muffin”. Mmm…I’m starting to get hungry.

  • Clarkson?!!! I just read this post and was planning to question Clarkson’s IQ when I see he’s the player of the game. Silly me – I think the guy has bleep for brains and simply can’t resist any kind of provocation. If he makes decisions like this in exhibition games, who’s going to use him when a real game is on the line?
    On the other hand, Josh Leivo and Stuart Percy played really well.

  • percy is the best defensive prospect at the moment. holzer is ok as a 7th d-man or a bottom-pairing d-man but i see percy being a partner to a more offensive-minded d-man in the near future (possibly gardiner/rielly). leivo was the best ahler & one of the best players this game. even carrick impressed me! looks like our defence is still a mess but what’s new. i was also shocked at polak contributing more points in this one preseason game than he usually does in the regular season lol. i thought he’d be scratched for sure after that game vs philly with 3 penalties