LEAFS POSTGAME: Controlled Heartbreak

You know what’s a real kick in the pants? When Henrik Zetterberg completely dominates you for an entire game, racking up points as if he’s playing Be A Pro mode on NHL 15 with the difficulty set to easy. Do you know what’s a kick in the pants, but with a steel toed boot? When you get a second crack at him and his team, outplay them, and…

The Rundown

I’m not even going to bother trying to give a spectacular rundown. Nobody scored a goal for sixty minutes. There were some scoring chances, but nothing that was “oh my god” noteworthy. Though I liked Roman Polak finishing his check as a puck and an empty net headed his way:

Nobody fought. The two teams kept the flow of the game going back and forth. The Leafs got slaughtered on the Draw, but found a way to make up for it by piling on the shots. Eventually the game went to overtime, appeared headed to a shootout, and then…

Jonas Gustavsson with the shutout.

Blue Warrior

There are so many good candidates tonight; a few guys flat out dominated. I’m going to split it between the two guys that will get fingers pointed at them for the game winner – Cody Franson and Jonathan Bernier.

Why those guys, despite the result? Well, one can say that Franson wasn’t quite in the right position on the goal, and there’s a definite argument to that. But he also dominated on the possession chart; a whopping 78.6% at even strength. That isn’t even luck on sheltered minutes, either – he was on the ice for 28 total attempts, only fewer than Dion Phaneuf, Morgan Rielly, and Roman Polak.

As for Bernier, he made 31 saves on 32 shots, and didn’t let one in until the 64;51 mark. If the Leafs give him even a single supporting goal, he has a shutout. That was a wicked and maybe even slightly redirected shot by Zetterberg, too; I can’t point fingers at him. Both of them get the nod.

Notes

  • The powerplay kept this game as close as it was. Both teams had five opportunities, but the Wings did a really good job out of eking some shots out of their man advantages. At even strength, this was one of Toronto’s best games of the year.
  • Also dominating the puck tonight was Mike Santorellli, at 78%. He’s been either (or both of) a positive relative possession player or above 50% CF in every game this year – that entire third line is driving play really well. Dion Phaneuf, Leo Komarov, and Daniel Winnik were also in the 70+ crowd.
  • Komarov also drew two penalties. Great game for him as well – I had a grocery list of Blue Warrior candidates to work with tonight.
  • The fourth line didn’t get played much at all. Richard Panik never really saw the ice, Matt Frattin was out in spurts, and Peter Holland was basically only put in for draws that Carlyle felt that Nazem Kadri couldn’t win.
  • In case you missed it, the Toronto Marlies also played today (and lost 4-1). Check out our recap here.
  • If you need some good news, the Orlando Solar Bears (Toronto’s ECHL affiliate) had their season opener tonight. The Marlies just sent a bunch of guys down, and it looks like a few of them stepped up at once in a 5-2 win. Brad Ross had a hat trick and an assist, Tyler Biggs had an assist and a fight, and Garret Sparks made 35 saves, had an assist (?), and ended up getting a roughing minor (??). 
  • FlareKnight

    Unfortunately that didn’t turn out well. Got a point which is nice, but 2 losses against a team we are likely to be fighting for a wild card spot is unfortunate.

    Good game from Bernier who certainly gave the team a chance to win this. They just got shut out by Gustavsson….well that can happen.

    All you can do is hope the general effort will continue on to the next game.

    2 losses, 2 wins, 2 losses. Let the roller coaster continue!

  • Nate

    Time to fire the leafs analytics department. They can’t get the job done. They made this team worse in the standings with this uncharacteristic slow start.

    At least the leafs of old gave us unsustainable wins by getting massively outshot and then imploded late in the season. The leaf analytics group has managed to make this team worse and have them implode from the start of the season. Great job guys.

    • BubbaLou

      Again, what the hell are you talking about dude?

      We’ve had new management for… six games, not counting pre-season… and you’re expecting a light switch – Bing! They’re Grrrreat!

      Fun fact: The team you’re talking about in the age of 3 months ago – is this team. The same thing is happening… because its the same team. With the same coach no less (You really give him too little responsibility in this).

      Another fun fact: You can’t judge new management after 6 games unless you’re kidding or heavily intoxicated. No one can tell you if changes to a team’s GM(basically Shanahan) and management will be a success or bust until YEARS under their belt and time to rework the team to their liking…

      So neither can you

      • FlareKnight

        The leafs are worse this season despite the efforts of the big expensive analytics team. The leaf folks who have done well and are happy are the analytics group who are picking up their big pay checks and producing nothing of value. Us fans just get screwed every year with big promises and more expensive tickets.

        And that useless dinosaur at least got the leafs to the playoff once. And that was the only time the leafs made the playoffs in the past decade. The analytics group has produced nothing of value this season for me- zilch. Just more talk and hot air that let us leaf fans down. If this team cannot even match what the useless dinosaur managed (albeit in a half season) then I’m calling BS on analytics until it at least out performs Carlyle playoff season and winning record.

        • BubbaLou

          I’m sorry you’re drunk, but you see, there has never been a year where the Leafs
          a) had an analytics team, and
          b) played a full season

          So you are just being silly. Cry into your beer, toss your jersey onto the ice, take your Trash It!’s, and don’t forget to call a cab.

    • DenisJones121

      I think that was sarcasm, and besides I for one, would rather have a slow start with low expectations and not get my hopes up than a wild start and an 18 wheeler going off a cliff ending the season with a HUGE, heartbreaking, collapse.

      • Jeremy Ian

        I agree with you — but find it a sad reality of being a Leafs fan that we have to do psychological gymnastics to manage our hopes and expectations.

        This team ages me.

  • Jeremy Ian

    Though the Leafs didn’t play terrible

    We were out coached.
    out face-offed
    and they make way too many mistakes-
    and I dont remember a team taking so many
    off sides ….ever.

    I believe the Leafs have more talent than the Red Wings yet the Wings walked away with 3 of 4 points.

    Babcock believes in his forth line,
    and Carlyle doesn’t trust his .

    Gardiner continues fighting the puck making some ill advised passes and I think he must be on a very short leash as i don’t remember him pinching in the offensive zone once.-which happens to be his greatest strength.

    How can the forth line ever gain any confidence when they never play……

    and wasn’t anything learnt by last years debacle
    when the Leafs top players ran out of gas…..

    Clarkson line was the best again , though too bad
    nobody on the line has a scoring touch…..

    Bernier played great.

  • BubbaLou

    Dinosaur coach was in full swing, calling up Matt Frattin to have him play 2:54 tonight (for big league “experience”), Richard Panik(experienced big leaguer) for 3:10 seconds, and Peter Holland for 6:52 minutes…

    (I mean, more like 3 minutes – you see, he played 2:58~ish of special teams. So, his ES time was as much as Frattin or Panik, because those two never got any. )

    Doing strange line moves like benching Nazem Kadri because he was having a rough face-off night (I mean I want him to be better in the dot, I really do guys, but fancystats – faceoffs are turnovers in a game full of turnovers. Kadri drew 2 penalties, hit people, generated chances all night and was basically Neutral Zone Jesus, so…) and stapled him so hard to the bench he ran the Peter Holland – David Clarkson powerplay unit (lol wut?)

    And leaning hard on Jake Gardiner for over 22 minutes back-to-back, after having scratched him back-to-back nights – Second only to Dion Phaneuf and Phil Kessel in ice time. If I’m following the logic, I guess incredibly important defencemen really do get better in the press box!

    Another strong third-line showing, I don’t know how to feel saying Clarkson had another strong night. Feels good I think, until I see Leo Komarov and his way less bloated-tradeable-short term contract tearing it up, too.
    And Bernier was ON ACTUAL FIRE – the melting ice around him actually slowed the pucks to where he was in command for 99.9% of the night 😀

    Do we see Reimer again? Because we don’t just need good goaltending to hide our team’s deficiencies, we need Bernier-tonight level good, or this will be a long season.

  • BubbaLou

    Nothing to worry about for us leaf fans. Bernier will win a game real soon. The leafs have a real soft schedule coming up in the next 15 games as they face Boston twice, Pittsburgh twice, Tampa Bay, Chicago, Detroit, N.Y.Islanders, Colorado and Arizona on the road. A piece of cake for Randy and the boys.
    Slumps will happen as our leafs have only one goal to show for those back to back games. Let us remember how much Burkie praised Detroit’s back up, the monster who is now 2 and 0 versus his former team.
    Stop picking on the whiz kid analytic boys. Randy is trying to keep his job and of course he will play the hell out of his best players.
    Gardiner is so impressive with his offensive game. Has he got a point yet??
    Look don’t come in here all worried and wired, the leafs are in a rebuilding program. Look how well Tyler Biggs played tonight in the ECHL.
    Come on support the team, like I say WHAT’S 47 YEARS.

  • Jeremy Ian

    Sure, let’s give more minutes to a 4th line that starts every shift in the offensive zone and manages to have the worst CF% on the team.

    Holland, Frattin and Panik have been brutally bad. To the point where the Orr line hasn’t been all that much worse. The 4th line needs to be replaced with guys who can play. We don’t need to give more minutes to bad players.

    • BubbaLou

      IMO they never got a chance to play, or in your example, right the ship. Case in point: Babcock’s players all played over 10 minutes that night except Stephen Weiss (~8:50). Patrick Roy played his 4th line 10:30 and up. I also invoke the sample size argument – CorsiFor is probably not a good descriptor of performance when all you have is 2:50 of sparse shifts scattered all game to measure.

      You don’t learn squat on 2:50 a night either, and you can hardly get any offense going on that much time. I swear, because SOMEBODY will write this, if the argument for Carlyle after this season is “look, the 4th line didn’t do anything anyway, should have had an Orr” I’m going to lose it. Because, it’s partly Carlyle’s fault nothing’s happening in that line either – it takes longer to get dressed to play than the time you get to play.

      How does a player advance in the Randy Carlyle coaching system anyway? Seems like you go from 3 minutes a night, 4 minutes a night, to 15 minutes a night – all situations, facing all lines. What do you mean, he looks lost out there? Back to 3 minutes a night. Great development curve 🙂

      • FlareKnight

        Before the season started I read a number of reports where the leafs farm system was ranked around 20th. So Nonis and company simply went to other teams composts and pulled out a bottom six, which that other team simply threw into the scrap heap.

        That being the case, Carlyle basicallly has no choice but to try to go with his so called Phil Kessel’s of the world who has shown up for 2 of the six games. It means playing the non captain Phaneuf, the antithesis of Zettleberg 23 minutes a night. It means playing a guy you benched for two games because he won’t play defence and is doing nothing offensively, Gardiner 22 minutes.

        FACE THE FACTS THIS AS USUAL IS A NON PLAYOFF TEAM.
        We are in a 4 to 5 year rebuild until the Phaneuf, Clarkson, Kessel contracts run out.

        Ownership is only interested in being number one in Steve Forbes listings. Whereas a Mike Illitch would rather win on the ice.

        Got to love the gee whiz, computer geek stat boys coming in giving us the Corsi, Fenwick, the yin yang. HEH HERE IS THE ONLY STAT YOU NEED. THEY FREAKNG LOSS TWICE TO DETROIT OVER THE WEEKEND.

        • FlareKnight

          So, if stats hold no water to you, what makes you trust farm reports enough to base this on?

          Pick any scoring talent in the NHL not named Stamkos, Crosby, or Ovechkin. For the last 3 years, they have -surprise – been worse at generating points than Kessel. Now pick any scoring talent not named Stamkos or Crosby. They are – surprise – just as streaky as Kessel. Even the dumb-dumb stats support that claim…

          If Phaneuf is the antithesis of Zetterberg, then they cancelled each other out all night in a 0-0 game. That’s a good thing right? And Gardiner was generating chances all night, how can you say he’s not playing defense in a game that ends 0-0 in regular time…

          Clarkson, Kessel and Phaneuf are locked for 7+ years, where do you get 4 or 5 from?

          There’s just so much factually incorrect here I’m not sure what to make of it. Are you just angry, or can’t decide how to vent it? I can give you plenty of suggestions – as you’re correct that this team is a Bubble team, looking in at the playoff picture, and going sideways fast.

          • FlareKnight

            Good to debate with you. Both Stamkos and Crosby are 200 foot players and it appears Stamkos is developing into a leader similar to Crosby. Ovechkin is similar to Kessel in that he plays his way and not a team way.

            Obviously you did not clue into the fact that Zettleberg stated that as the team captain he had let the team down in the game against Boston. So as a TRUE leader he guaranteed he would really step up his game against the leafs to set an example for the team. Yep 4 assists in the first game and the game winner last night shows he is a man of his words.

            Now Phaneuf on the other hand, well let us recall last season when he got booed off the ice for an even more brutal performance than normal. Now as the captain did he face the music of the media. Nope he hid in the toilet stall.

            Of course I know how long their contracts are but one can hope or pray, kind of like thinking the leafs will make a playoff appearance once or twice a decade that some other club would be willing to accept the remainder of those contracts and trade with the leafs in 4 or 5 years.

            I would say I’m more sad than mad as I got to watch the leafs win 4 stanley cups in the 1960’s but the young fans what have they gotten.

            Think about this and how absurd it is. There will be youngsters graduating from high school in a year or two and they will look back on those 12 years of education. Someone will say heh you remember that one year that we actually got to see the leafs in the playoffs during our school years.

            I do feel there is more anger from the Toronto sports fans that went from the 18 wheeler over the cliff 2 and 12 record last spring to the Jays choking in the summer and back to this Monty Python circus that is performing at the Air Canada center supposably as a hockey club. One and three at home just doesn’t quite cut it.

            However there is indeed salvation for Toronto sports fans as it is only 9 days till the opening of the season for the only Major League sports team that made the playoffs last year and will again this year, namely the exciting, the talented, the winning Toronto Raptors.

            I look forward to reading more of your posts in the future.

  • jimithy

    Only six games in and the writing is on the wall. But the fans are completely content to wait forever if they have to. Just one win will validate their patience. Vive la Deadication.

  • FlareKnight

    this organization is just loss man. it’s straight up poisoned from the well. pete deboer sure would be nice right now as our head coach. damn the devils! i can’t wait until randy is fired and hopefully nonis too. enough is enough. i’m just so tired of being garbage every year. nothing ever changes here.