LEAFS POSTGAME: Leafs Dominate AHL Team

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After The Worst Loss Of All Time, the Leafs needed a win. Fortunately, the Buffalo Sabres came to town.

THE RUNDOWN

The Leafs dominated in every facet of this game – eye-test, fancy stats, everything. Think of how bad the Leafs can look at times, then think of that team absolutely dominating another team. Buffalo is bad. We saw just how bad tonight.

But despite outshooting the Rochester Ameri—Buffalo Sabres 17-4 in the first, the period ended 0-0. Michal Neuvirth was outstanding, and the game had a bit of a stink to it – could the Leafs somehow lose despite dominating?

Most of the second felt the same way. The Leafs continued to exit their zone at will and pepper Neuwirth with shots. Finally, with less than a minute left, the Leafs not only scored, but broke their horrendous PP scoreless streak.

Beautiful pass by Kessel, great finish by Bozak. As much as I don’t like Bozak 5v5, the guy is a special teams and breakaway wizard.

In the third, the floodgates opened. The Leafs added two goals a minute apart, the first one a funny one by The Thrill after a great shift by Santorelli. Man I love this guy.

JVR scored right after off a great feed by Rielly, who had two assists in the game. Five minutes later, Jake Gardiner did a Jake Gardiner thing.

Remember, Buffalo is an NHL team.

The Leafs outshot Buffalo 37-10, meaning Bernier got a 10 save shutout. 

BLUE WARRIOR

Pretty much everyone looked like a star tonight, but I’ll give it to Kadri. He’s not putting up a lot of points so far this season, but he is sticking to the process. He looked fantastic with Kessel and Lupul – all three of them did, actually. But his possession skills and hands added a new dimension to that line. They had tons of zonetime, and a lot of that started with Kadri. His points will come.

NOTES

– Splitting the top two lines up worked tonight, but it’s still funny how the first goal (on the power play) was Bozak from Kessel. Of course.

– I really hope Santorelli stays with the Leafs beyond this year. He can do it all. Great versatile hockey player.

– The fourth line got a tiny bit more icetime tonight, with barely any coming from the PK. So that’s good. I thought Holland had a good game, but the line’s zone starts killed them and they didn’t end up great possession-wise. So that’s bad.

– Overall, this game is hard to evaluate. Leafs looked amazing, but against a terrible team. 

EVERYONE GETS DOWN ON FRIDAY

Come back on Friday for coverage of the Leafs versus the Blue Jackets, which starts at 7 EDT on Sportsnet. Unless you’re going out for Halloween, then enjoy that. The Jackets don’t have Bobrovsky. The Leafs need to take advantage.

  • Jerkball

    “The mouth” kadri should keep it up so when we trade his ass we get max value. Its a good thing we didnt need a goal from him past 5games or so, corsi or not, he’s gotta go.

  • CMpuck

    At a point in the game Kessel, Bozie, and JVR were the only one’s to score. I found that funny. Great lines, but I would like to see Clarkson on the third line (I loved that third line with Davey Clark-man), but he did well today. Can’t wait till booth returns! Maybe it gets better from here beauties!

  • Jerkball

    All games hes with top ,ine yet kessel sets up bozak, santorilli sets up kessel, as soon as the mouth leaves ice tangible results happen immediately. Guys all words.

  • jasken

    I’m not sure how you just “give it” the blue warrior to Kadri so maybe wishful thinking here. You know how many players on the leafs that do not put up a lot of points and stick to process. I’m glad at least not too many people are not going overboard with Kadri like they did when Kulemin or Clarkson struggled in previous seasons. There are a few on here I see but come on there were more worthy recepients.

    Kadri was a bit invisible this season and is clearly struggling so far this season. As for that line, I was more impressed with Lupul/Kessel on the first line then with Kadri’s game. I wonder if there is just too much high end creative talent between kadri/kessel and lupul. Time will tell but Kadri needs to “produce” on score card and show he deserves the 1C role.

    Here is one. Why not step out of your comfort zone and give the blue warrior to Carlyle for putting Kessel with Kadri. And for sticking with that line up even after Bozak scored with Kessel. And sticking with that even after Kessel scored assisted by Santo.

    • Jerkball

      we need to do something bold, kadri as our 1 center means we will never compete for the cup. our best player will be on the decline in 3 years, nows our window or we waste kessels prime.

      • CMpuck

        Blue Warrior? I read a lot of Kadri’s playing great hockey but if not for this site I don’t think I’d realize he was in the line up all year.

        Kessel’s goal pretty sick.

        Rielly playing heads up.

        Gardiner looked like Bobby Orr on that goal, just like when he put up 10 goals out of nowhere as last season ended, Gardiner reminds everyone that he’s still a diamond in the rough.

        JVR clicked.

        Bozak continues to troll his trolls with production.

        Bernier gets a shutty.

        Those are the core pieces by my count all doing what they’re supposed to. The rest of the lineup? Kill’em all and let a Norse God sort them out for all I care. Leafs hit the lottery with this core they get another piece to build along with them.

    • Jerkball

      You make it sound like hockey is a goal scoring contest or something.

      Bozak points were of the low “quality” chances and garbage variety tonight. Kadri had more “quality” and “creative” shots and more total volume of shots even though he generated no points tonight and as many points this season as Bozak generated in this one game.

  • Jerkball

    i would imaging my teamate getting bunch chances and not capitalizing would be a major disapoinment, especially if the opposing team burys their chances. thats why tnite as example after the mouth kadri failed to capitalize on his many changes it was a sense of relief when bozak buried his first chance in the back of the net

  • Quasijr

    So, Bozak gets demoted to the 2nd line and gets two points and Kadri gets promoted to the first line and creates nothing, and you declare Kadri player of the game? What’s it going to take for you to recognize how good Bozak is? What if he continues this kind of production without Kessel? It probably won’t be good enough. I guess he’s gotta raise his CORSI but then you’ll probably ‘blame it’ on his linemates. This analytics fad is becoming fanatical. You are blind. Bozak had an amazing game. Kadri didn’t.

    • CMpuck

      +1

      I wouldn’t be surprised if the Leafs Nation will soon employ Kadri’s dad as a writer on this site.

      Can’t praise Bozak after trying to convince everyone how terrible he is for the last four years, so only highlight stats that confirm that Bozak just continues to be the luckiest player in hackay.

      • CMpuck

        I’m not the biggest Bozak fan but for how objective analytics is supposed to make hockey, the hate Bozak continues to receive makes me question what those promoting fancy stats are really about.

        • CMpuck

          The objective analtyics which proves that Cody Franson is a beast coming off a season where he had 4 goals because he’s a wrist shot monkey, he gets the puck and just blindly puts it on net and a 1 out 5 times it results in a breakaway/short handed goal against the Leafs.

          Guys like Bozak and Kessel are garbage because they bury their chances on the first chance. Bozak is Mr.Lucky for having high shooting percentage. We’re talking ‘objective analytics’ that were invented in basements, not proven to make an NHL team better for paying attention to and creates criticism for players that have higher shooting percentages (i.e. being more talented than plugs).

          Fetishizes cycling the puck and not making distinctions between scoring chances is anything but objective.

          • BubbaLou

            “Guys like Bozak and Kessel are garbage because they bury their chances on the first chance”

            Uh… So please clarify that statement, because it’s not very clear what you’re talking about. Are you making a point that analytics say Bozak and Kessel are both garbage? Because that’s not true. Or are you sarcastically decrying a method in use in the Western Conference for decades because it didn’t come from a hockey player? Because, fun fact, the Chicago Blackhawks have been using not just analytics, but on-ice tracking technology like SportVu for years now. The LA Kings doctrine is heavily rooted in analytics. San Jose has been evaluating players for over 8 years based on analytic-type stats (the article is secretive on what exactly). Teams don’t want to share this stuff, what does that tell you?

            If anything, how quickly have we all forgotten the end of the Leafs’ season last year, and how that was forecasted… basically all year, that you can’t have long-term success getting outshot every night? Consider also that the leafs sit 4th last in the NHL in both Corsi and Fenwick RIGHT NOW. You see these bright spots at the end of an article, this guy had x corsi, that guy did well too – these writers are trying to be NICE to an otherwise similarly bleak picture to last year. If anything, the Leafs are currently trending for another dismal season – fancy stats and basic stats are in agreement here.

            For that matter, when a roster is decided, and you hire an analytics team Mid-August, how is that roster then an indictment of analytics? Ridiculous.

          • CMpuck

            Ok, pretend that Kessel doesn’t get criticized for possession (player that score off the rush have shorter possession cause deh swore quicka) because I read that all the time.

            Bozak is the whipping boy of the AS community….

            SJS, Chicago and LA all have secret Corsi plans that are in the works 4 years? But you’re privy to the information? So it’s not these teams built through the draft, that classic formula, they’re really utilizing cutting edge analytics and have been for years? Was SJ’s big summer get of John Scott part of that plan? Ok… bud.

          • BubbaLou

            Okay most of the articles about western teams came from NHL.com, and news papers. Secret plans For Public Consumption I guess? I didn’t realize that information would blow your mind. Here’s a bunch to read so you don’t think it’s coming from nowhere:

            http://www.nhl.com/ice/news.htm?id=721938
            http://www.fearthefin.com/2013/7/31/4575152/sharks-use-corsi-to-evaluate-junior-players-brian-gross-mirco-mueller-analytics

            By the way, the Globe reported the SportVu equipment the Chicago Blackhawks and Vancouver Canucks use will be licensed by the NHL for installation in all nhl rinks. The contract is already in the works, as per here:

            http://www.theglobeandmail.com/sports/hockey/stubborn-nhl-takes-tech-step-forward/article18595761/

            PowerScout, too. I know that one can measure physical things on the ice like acceleration and top speed. Details are proprietary, but someone dropped the hint that Phil Kessel and Ovie are tied for top speed kings, but Nathan MacKinnon has them beat in Acceleration. Seems right but they have the actual km/h measurements – if the current NHL is about speed, think about what a team who has that data about other players could do differently.

            The point is it’s 2014 – Big data is taking over businesses around the world, because even small gains are advantageous. Sports is really the last domino to fall.

        • BubbaLou

          There’s plenty of studies on the bozak anomaly, so I’ll link to this and summarize

          http://www.pensionplanpuppets.com/2014/2/10/5396466/shooting-tyler-bozak

          The gist of it is this: Tyler Bozak has a ridiculous shooting% – much higher than league average. That’s an outlier, and begs the question: why does Tyler Bozak convert so many shots into goals?

          The answer is two-fold: By eyeballing his goals from last year, we can see they follow a trend – Tyler Bozak collects the garbage. He pokes it in, grabs rebounds, pulls the trigger on sick passes from Kessel and JVR, gets breakaways and open netters… it speaks to his work at getting them, but they are not “good shots” in a sense that he very rarely (2 goals in 3 years, one a few games ago) beats the goalie heads-up with a shot. Even on breakaways, his move is to dangle from close range and fool the goalie. He may have a high Sh%, but he is no Stamkos sniper.

          Secondly, by eyeballing his stats, we can see that Tyler Bozak is in the league basement for centers in shots taken – another critical aspect. He does not shoot much, and that helps his average. If someone is going to try to beat the goalie with a shot, Bozak will hand it to his linemates rather than take it, as they are much better than he is at burying ES chances.

          You can also take a look at his range – where the shots and goals are coming from. Last year, if you added the distance of all of his goals together, they probably traveled less than 150ft – his goals bias heavily towards close range encounters and are clustered tightly around the crease.

          Therefore, Tyler Bozak is your millennial version of a Dave Andreychuk. He is a garbage man. A recycler. He feeds off the abilities of his linemates. He gets a lot of shorties – don’t discredit his work at getting those – but you must now consider his individual Corsi (how much pressure he generates for his line). It’s low, very low, and here’s where you the fan comes in.

          Is it worth keeping Bozak on the first line as a unique arrangement with his wingers, feeding them shots, cleaning up the front, but not contributing much offense overall, or would you rather have someone faster and more skilled, who handles the puck better, draws more penalties, and can not only dish out good passes but be a credible first shot threat all by himself?

          That, in essence, is the Tyler Bozak vs someone else argument. Nazem Kadri is better at generating chances, has a shot, nickname “Nifty Mittens” for a good reason. This is why a subsection of fans want to switch those two centers.

  • jasken

    Nice read but Kadri a blue warrior? Is that for his attempts on face-off wins? You people here have a nice sense of bias Kadri cant win a face-off to get his team puck possession more then 30% of the time and he contributes alot to puck possession and offensive zone time. How did he get the puck? it magically appear on his stick no obviously there was a forced turnover or a giveaway from Buffalo. Its Buffalo he lost 70% of the time in the face-off dot to the worst face-off team in the league.

    Lose 70% of time to Chicago see how much puck possession your going to have. Your going to hand Chicago the puck 70% of the time and try to get it back from Chicago? Does this sound logical to you face-offs mean nothing were going to get the puck back through turnovers, giveaways, and rebounds against Chicago. If Kadri is on top line against Chicago Leafs might as well just start retreating into their own zone off the face-off because thats where its going.

  • jasken

    @coachfancystats

    Of low quality? You mean the PP goal the GW PP goal? Or the second assist he got where he actually kept the puck alive in the offensive zone over to Reilly cause obviously if he didn’t keep it alive the puck was going the other way out of the zone. There is no such thing as a low quality point a point is a point. Are you going to say this game doesn’t count cause its a low quality game and how Kadri performed doesn’t really matter because its Buffalo?

  • Gumby

    You can’t call Buffalo an AHL team. They may be bad but they’re no where near bad enough to be called the Rochester Americans, they have a pretty good number of NHL caliber players. Keep in mind they beat San Jose.

    Also Enroth was in net, and you mis-spelled Neuvirth anyways.

    Kadri the blue warrior? He was awful, always missing the net and making stupid plays.

    This site honestly gets worse and worse.

  • BubbaLou

    blue warrior: rielly. 2 assists in the game and had 2nd amongst sog that game. hate bozak too but i wouldn’t have been mad if he got the reward this game even though one of his points came from the powerplay off of a feed from kessel (lol of course).

    the buffalo sabres deserve the blue warrior for sticking to their plan effectively of tanking. i would give the blue warrior to neuvirth but it’s only for the leafs. poor guy.