Leafs Postgame: Huge Win on Long Island

About 10 minutes into this game I thought it would be one of those nights for the boys in blue. The Leafs were completely out-chanced and out-played in every zone and every facet of play. It looked like a typical Leafs period. But hockey’s a funny game. Things change quickly.

THE RUNDOWN

Does anybody know what happened in the second? Anybody? 

After getting dominated in the first and coming in to the second down 2-1, the Leafs came out guns-a-blazing scoring four goals on their first 10 shots. You know it’s a wild one when Polak and Clarkson get on the scoresheet. Kessel had the other two as his line controlled play for the better part of the game. There was some good puck movement in the o-zone between him, JVR, and Bozak that was encouraging to see after their last few games.

With the game all but put away completely, the Leafs took their foot off the gas, as usual, and let up big time in the third. The game was pretty much out of reach, so it’s not a huge deal, but it’s not a good thing to see the team playing prevent defense time and time again when it’s burned them in the past countless times.

chart

via hockeystats.ca 

Luckily Bernier came up huge, as usual, in the third, especially with that paddle save on a flubbed Cizikas shot. The first goal was not a good one, but he was lights out after that, and he needed to be. He stopped 34 of 36 shots.

BLUE WARRIOR

It’s hard not to give it to Phil “The Phil” Kessel. He dished off a great feed to van Riemsdyk for the opener and then sniped two beauties of his own to spark the second period rally. When The Phil is on, good things happen for the Leafs. He’s their biggest threat out there, even when he doesn’t look like it. Most nights I’ll be watching the game with my dad and he’ll always complain that Kessel is doing nothing out there. What’s funny is that, probably better than anyone else in the league, he can create something from that. In the blink of an eye Kessel goes from lazy floater to snipeshow supreme. It’s what makes him such an exciting and dynamic player. 

I should give an honourable mention to Clarkson though, he played another solid game. He’s a north-south player and he’s at his best when he keeps it that way going straight to the net where he’s most effective. Too many times last year he tried to do too much and just looked lost trying. 

NOTES

  • The penalty kill was awful in the first. The Isles could do whatever they wanted in the zone and got a goal out of it. The Leafs settled down throughout the game and had a pretty good night otherwise. It seemed like they were in a constant parade to the box at one point. Most of the calls were warranted, but there may have been one or two that was kind of sketchy.
  • A few things I have to give credit to the coaching staff for. First, the Leafs responded very well in the second after a bad first period. Second, the Leafs targeted a specific spot on Halak to shoot for that was obviously scouted. They scored every goal in the exact spot as Ray Ferraro pointed out on the brodcast. Third, and probably most important, the ice time was very well managed. Aside from Panik, every Leafs forward was between 10-20 minutes of ice-time. Phaneuf and Polak led the D at 22 minutes. Big change from last season’s deployment.
  • My dad spent most of the night shouting at Gardiner who only played 14 minutes tonight. He did make some mistakes in his own end, but he was the Leafs best possession driver, as usual.
  • I have no idea what Roman Polak was doing beneath the goal line before his goal, but he scored so who cares. I can see why traditional hockey guys like him, he passes the eye test and looks decent in the defensive zone as well as the penalty kill. The problem is he’s there too much.
  • The Kessel line was break even in possession, a nice change of pace for them. It’s weird that Kessel has been the worst of the three in possession this year and this game too. He’s still piling on the points, but I don’t think he’s healthy. Even an injured Kessel is better than your favourite player though.
  • This is the fourth solid game in a row for the Leafs. Hopefully they’ll be able to keep this going tomorrow in Ottawa.

  • JPJPJP

    Kessel did get two goals but let’s face it his corsi was not on part with the Bozak who lead the leafs forwards with Corsi tonight with a 52%.

    Fair weather fans focus too much on small sample goals data like +- and goals which are error prone and can be misleading unlike the shot differentials which are more predictive and more stable.

    Blue warrior is Bozie the Clown. The guy drove possession tonight.

  • JPJPJP

    Similar to the Rangers game Phil Kessel and company woke up in the second period. A couple of years back the leafs didn’t lose a road game in N.J., Long Island and the big Apple. Perhaps history will repeat itself.

    One has to give credit where credit is due as Clarkson played another solid performance which is what he has done most of the season. Phil take notes.

    Now on to the black hole of tax payers, namely Ottawa. Once again the leafs are in a back to back as they play 44% of their games in this situation by far the most in the east as M.L.S.E. squeezes blood out of the concrete of the Air Canada center with a gong show in the building every night. The back to back games will cost the leafs the usual 5 to 6 crucial points. But since when did M.L.S.E. ever care about winning.

    One has to be pleased with the hiring of Mark Hunter as obviously more diligent work will be applied to the Ontario hockey league. What a concept. I can’t wait till the old boys net work of scouts, namely Morrison, Watt, Penny etc. get their sorry A$$es fired.

    Keep it going road warriors, 5 out of 6 points so far on the road is truly outstanding.

  • TGT23

    Davey Clarkman! Man he was great, again. With the cap set to explode the next few seasons his contract will begin to seem less awful and so long as they keep the Clarkson-Komo line together they should be an effective pairing for the next few seasons. 2.95 (Komo) doesn’t look so bad, anymore.

    I sort of like 7 d-man, but not if it keeps the 4th Line off the ice. And not if it means Percy, Gardiner, and Reilly play less while Polak and Phaneuf play 20+ (even in a blowout). 7 d-man should mean that some pressure is taken off Dion, keep him fresh for the big shifts. We might need him tomorrow night and playing him 22 minutes in a blowout just seems like bad time management.

    And man am I glad Bernier is back to form. If both goalies can get hot the team can go on a run. So long as neither disappears or gets injured there is still hope that this could be a playoff team, albeit a slim one.

    On to Ottawa!

  • BubbaLou

    Ignore that graph going into the third period – Score Effects: no teams do particularly well in shots allowed when they lead by 3 goals already. I just kind of wish the team wouldn’t make it such an on/off switch.

    Some of the calls were dubious, but Cal Clutterbuck was baiting penalties all night. Need to keep cool.

    Phil Kessel has 8 points in 7 games so far. Like any scorer, he’s up and down – even his first period was kinda meh. The trouble with evaluating that top line is they have deficiencies, and they’re big ones. But they score an awful lot, and today it was so over the top that the game flipped on their play tonight

    Holy crap, Davey Clarkman! Ignoring the contract for a moment, because he’s not gonna be 5.25 mil in value, what will we look back on this year and think about him when it’s all said and done? If that third line keeps this level of play all year, they will be a fantastic asset. Komarov got points as well tonight (and he’s close to half the price :D)

    Roman Polak got on the board tonight as well, which is great. Apparently he has a good shot, hopefully this gets him more active.

    The D man minutes were spread pretty well, but it came at the cost of a 4th line which again hardly played. So for the people who think the new managers are calling the shots – no, it’s still Carlyle’s ship to sink or pilot

    • Very aware it’s just score effects which is why I said it’s not a huge deal. But the Leafs seem to take it to another level. You hit it on the head with the on/off switch metaphor. There’s score effects and then there’s Leafs score effects.

  • JPJPJP

    If only the second line would get going
    this team would be formidable.

    Congratulations to Roman Pollack for his 1st Leaf goal and the game winning goal at that!

  • CMpuck

    Classic TSN burying Kessel in the first intermission, they’ve been doing it since day one when they’d run the highlights of every goal Seguin scored. Kessel scores two in the second and they simply leave him alone.

    They did show that over the last five years Kessel (38th best player) has 50 more goals than Kane (10th best player).

    TSN panel are complete hacks and I’m glad Rodgers bent them over.

    And their new website is brutal