LEAFS POSTGAME: Leafs Bury Avalanche in OT

chart

On paper, the Avalanche looked like a perfect opponent for the Leafs to play to encourage some positive habits and get another win under their belt. Why? Possession. The Avs, like the Leafs, aren’t a possession powerhouse. With some luck, it looked like the Leafs could work and succeed at a bunch of the things they wanted to incorporate this season.

The Rundown

The first period was almost entirely counter-attack, both teams utilizing their speedy forwards and mobile D to generate chances. The Leafs got on the board first. Tyler Bozak picked up a turnover caused by a pinching Cody Franson, made a great pass to van Riemsdyk, who then had a beautiful give-and-go with Kessel, and buried the puck from in tight.

A few minutes later, Ryan O’Reilly picked up a puck that took a weird bounce, and buried it. Despite the period finishing 1-1, the Avalanche were the far better team. 

The Leafs picked up their pace in the second. They outshot the Avs 16-7 and looked like they were bound to put in their second goal of the game. Matt Duchene had other ideas, putting home a beautiful wrister #bardown. 

A perfect shot, but of course some people on social media brought up the whole “high glove” thing. Sad, really.

The third saw the Leafs continue to dominate the Avalanche, outshooting them 15-5. Only this time, they were rewarded for their efforts with a Joffrey Lupul goal, tying the game at 2-2 10:36 into the period. The Leafs continued to press, but couldn’t keep the game from going to OT.  

After the very exciting dry scrape, OT started. 34 seconds later, this happened:

Can we just all love and appreciate Phil Kessel for like ever? Can we stop complaining about him? That’d be cool. 

Blue Warrior

Phil “The Phil” Kessel. After a really horrible, terrible, no good, very bad two-game (lol) slump, Phil called himself and his line out for not getting – in his words – shit done. Since, Phil has 5 points in two games, including this OT GWG. 

Oh and clutch goals are nothing for Phil – he led the league in go-ahead goals last year. 

Praise be. 

Notes

  • Reimer was great again. I expect he’ll get the start on Friday, with Bernier getting the call on Saturday in their home-and-home with the Red Wings. 
  • The Leafs second line continues to be monstrous, with Kadri, Lupul, and Winnik posting 70%, 69%, and 67% 5v5 corsi for% respectively.
  • Speaking of lines, how about that third line? They must be incredibly frustrating to play against. Constant cycling and physicality. 
  • It’s one game, but Phaneuf-Franson worked really well as a pairing, posting 5v5 60% and 59% corsi for respectively. 
  • In fact, all D-men were over 50% CF other than Robidas (47%). Numbers or eye-test, he should sit for Gardiner next game. Other than a big hit, he was bad. 
  • They surely can’t sit Percy. Boy is that kid good. I lost count of how many great plays he made this game, and only remember one particularly bad one.
  • One note of leftover Carlyle – the 4th line played around 5 minutes. What happened to using all four lines? This is going to need to change.
  • The Leafs outshot – yes, as in they had more shots than the other team – the Avalanche 40-24. It was beautiful.

See You Friday

The Leafs head to Detroit on Friday for the first half of a home-and-home. The game starts at 7:30 and you can see it on Sportsnet.

Want more hockey in your life? Take part in the Nations draft! Get all the details here. 

  • CMpuck

    I’m sorry what has Bozak done wrong since signing his deal? Confirmation basis in blogger nation, y’all collectively wrote Bozak off so he can never be your boy 🙁

    • I’d love to be wrong about Bozak, but at this point, he still hasn’t shown that he can sustain his high level of play past a single season. He’s basically put together 82 good games (I think he has 67 points in his last 82, which is great).

      I’m not convinced that’s a big enough sample to overwrite his previous 200 games where he was a middle 6 center. Like I said, I’d love to be wrong. But I think the odds are just against it.

  • Bozak is leech of a player who only has success because he plays with Kessel. He doesn’t generate offence/assists for that line and only scores goals because two or three of the opposition are swarming Kessel. Best to trade him at maximum value to another team for a young 1C like Duchene, Monohan, Johansen, Coutorier or ROR etc. Make it happen Dubas.

    Also I was puzzled by Carlyle going with Reimer and not playing Gardiner these past two games. Yet based on the leafs winning record and the dominant corsi scores the leafs put up without Gardiner I think he is onto something regarding possession. It sure looks like Gardiner despite being a great corsi player on his own, seems to make the team in aggregate much worse overall in terms of corsi. That is something definitely to keep an eye on.

  • A very entertaining game.

    I remember before Kessel came the Leafs didn’t have one 1st line player ,
    now the Leafs have 3 very solid lines and 2
    solid goaltenders.
    As well it looks like the Leafs drafted well in the first round to get Percy.

    As well all the criticism of Polak when we traded for him was unfounded-I prefer him over Gunner
    I can say I can see why we retained salary in the deal-So far he has been a real bright spot.

  • jasken

    So at the end of the season when Kessel only produces in in 45-50 games maybe now Leafs will have more wins because he actually puts in an effort defensively and there is a chance for other lines to produce. Media gets on Kessel for good reason he produced in 48 games last season and forgot to show up in the other 34.

    Robidas dont need to sit Franson or Phaneuf do atleast Robidas has an half decent excuse he is still trying to get back to top forum what is theirs. Good call Corsi dont justify carelessness and lack of effort. Amazing how removing prima donnas and replacing them actual aggressive gritty type players can make Clarkson look half decent after all. Where was Komarov and Santorelli last season. Reims for the time being has stole back starter position it seems and 4th line plays but its play time is dependent on a few things team performance, matches, how well they themselves play. Seriously you praise Kessel but are you going to take 3 minutes from any of the top 3 lines the way their playing to play the fourth? Who do you take it from Kessels? Kadri? the best cyclers in Santorelli’s? You cant praise players then say they should lose ice time. You can say because you dont coach try being a coach and justify it to your players and then expect results from those players you just punished for no reason at all.

  • CMpuck

    CONGRATS REIMS!!!!

    It was great seeing Reims in net and the team actually playing in front of him for a change, actually the team itself is better it was nice to see the shots higher on the other side for a change..

    It’s eaaly yet but Reims has come into this season with a purpose and for all those who were doubters that Reims was not going to be any good becasue he didn’t want to be here….eat your words..Reims always comes to play and compete, if you look at last season you can se how awful the team played in front of him Reims was the only player that was at least competed, its to bad how it ended for him and the team..but He is here for a purpose and he looks really good right now,,and it was refreshing to hear the sports reporters comment on how great and calm and more assured of himself and how in the game agasint the Rangers commented” “Reims shut the door and calmed the team down” when was the last time you heard that about Reims?

    Than RC actually had nothing but good things to say regarding Reims pregame for last night…it was great that he really is going to go with his word this year that the hot Goalie plays till he stumbles…..

    I know thats it’s only 2 games, but its 2 wins on Reims record..sad he didn’t get to finsh the games agasint the rangers but a win is a win….ANd it was nice seeing Bernier sitting the bench for a change…will make him more hungry right?
    Let the steal the Net games begin….

    It was also stated that Bernier still has to prove himself that the elite Goalies play 60+ games season after season and he has yet to meet that and also that many injuries in only one season..not good…..Bernier also said in an interview that it was earlie lots of games to play and he’s warming up…not a great comment or boost for this team…..He needs to at top form now not later…

    Its early yet but Reims will stumble but I know its not Reims of last year this Reims is more passionate and more comfortable in the net..In his mind he is competing for the net and not the back up job and if not here he’s competing for another net elsewhere.
    GO REIMS GO!

  • Jeremy Ian

    Fun game.

    But I am pissed about Carlyle not dressing Gardiner for 2 games. If the team plays poorly in games 1 and 2, why persecute one of the key solutions to the problem?

    That’s just playground psychology, Randy Carlyle. A little more maturity behind the bench is too much to ask?

  • TGT23

    Glad Reimer was healthy. Anytime he gets hit to the head you have to worry about him. And thankfully, he’s playing well. That can only help the team.

    I’d still be surprised if Reimer plays more than 30 games on the season but so long as they are quality games (especially since Bernier is obviously still a bit banged up), I’ll be happy.

    Getting a bit tired of Carlyle. He can’t keep neglecting his 4th line. I have to wonder if this is his silent protest vs. Management for taking away his face punchers.

    And #FreeGardiner … Robidas isn’t NHL ready. Win or not you have to sit him.