Leafs Postgame: van Dreamsdyk

It’s been a difficult week for the Leafs, and while it’s somewhat foolish to label a game “must-win” this early in the season, if they had dropped last night’s game to the Lightning, the big-picture articles and radio spots regarding coaching and management would have kept churning out until an example was made. A solid win against arguably the best team in the conference helped to alleviate all that, at least temporarily.

The Rundown

As mentioned above, this was a solid win if there ever was one. Nothing dominant, not overly exciting (good or bad), just a nice effort and two points on a Thursday night.

Future Leaf Steven Stamkos agreed:

“This media stuff that has been going on the past few days makes them seem like they are the worst team in the League. They are a good hockey team that had a couple of bad games. Every team goes through that. They were better than us tonight, and not to take anything away from them, we weren’t good.”

The Leafs got on the board early on a goal from David Clarkson, who surpassed his entire total from last season with his sixth. A late short-handed tally from Killorn tied things up before the end of a good back-and-forth opening period.

Richard Panik put the Leafs ahead early in the second. Yes, that’s right, for once the dreaded curse of having every player with ties to Toronto score against their former team was flipped the other way. Panik is going to burn the Lightning for years, hopefully.

From there, van Riemsdyk used two gorgeous goals to put the game somewhat out of reach heading into the third. However, this being the Leafs, they sat back a bit too far in the final frame and things got a little scary with the Lightning pressing to tie it late. It’s typical for the trailing team to muster up this kind of pushback, but Toronto’s willingness to go into a shell while defending the lead is something they really need to break out of. 

Blue warrior

No doubt the hero in this game was van Riemsdyk, who hadn’t really been dominant so far this season, but showed the elite shot and ridiculous hands in tight to the net that he’s become known for.  

Honorable mention goes to Bernier, however, as he really put in a great game, stopping 26 of 28. 

Again, this game wasn’t too eventful in terms of pull-your-hair-out moments, which was certainly a good thing, and the Leafs just played a well-paced, responsible game for the most part.

Notes

  • Boxcar stats for the Leafs’ top line are getting far up there. With two points a piece last night, Bozak and van Riemsdyk each have 17 points through 20 games, while Kessel added an assist to bring his total to 23, keeping him in the top five league-wide and only four back of Voracek for tops.
  • It would be nice to see the Leafs spread things out a little, ice-time wise. Panik scored last night, and has four goals as a Leaf, but he finished the night with only 8:18 TOI. I think he’s looked good and I’d like to see more of him out there. Same goes for Leivo, who only played 5:57. These guys aren’t bad players. This isn’t a Colton Orr type of fourth-line, so there’s no need to play them that way.
    • BubbaLou

      Perfectly said.

      JVR has some good numbers but I don’t know if he’s actual line 1 material. He doesn’t often show up at crunch time and isn’t that clutch. When you look at the lineup, no player really stands out in a good way. No elite talent and lots of overpaid, bad contracts. Pray some desperate team can be duped into taking a couple of these contracts.

      • BubbaLou

        JVR is a former #2 overall pick
        and was noted in Philly for an unusually strong playoff run.
        Let’s make a rule in Leaf Nation
        we should only criticize player when they do something wrong -not after they score 2 goals
        and are the best player on the ice against one of the top teams in the NHL.

        • TGT23

          not to mention his dominant performance in the leafs/bruins series. he led the team in scoring with 7 points in 7 games. more than kessel but no one talked about him. he’s a big time clutch playoff performer. we just need to make the playoffs more than once in a decade to foster his full time beast mode.

      • TGT23

        This is a very funny comment. JVR isn’t clutch? How about the playoff run when he was with Philly and the series in the shortened season against Boston? He was the best player in both of those scenarios. Also there’s “No elite talent” on this team? I would like to bring your attention to the fact that Kessel is in the top five in the NHL for points. Also Bozak and JVR are not too shabby with 17 points in 20 games each. JVR is a complete steal at his contract and I would be willing to argue the same for both Bozak and Kessel. But I agree that the defense is overpaid by a ton. Robidas is one of those guys that you take at $1,000,000 for one year just until some of the younger guys make the team but considering his age the 3 years at $3,000,000 is a waste of cap space. Percy would be perfectly capable in his role for much less money

  • BubbaLou

    I think we know what this team is by now to know that even the blind squirrels will get some points in the standings.

    I think the coaching staff needs to do a better job of getting the team less fixated on the current score. If you play the way you’re supposed to (under a good system, anyway) and do it all right and you still lose that night – oh well, move on. If you play like crap to a victory(3rd period this game), that’s not a cause to celebrate. It’s like doing math, where all your work is wrong, and you somehow ended up with the right answer – that should not be “full marks woot woot we are A+”

    Here’s a stat, after game 14 of last season – the Leafs only won 16 games in regulation … out of the remaining 68 gp. (23.5%).

    That does not point to us having a great team on our hands, just because we beat Tampa tonight. I still enjoyed it – fun as hell, and thank god the last 2 games are behind us. But, uh… just be realistic about this team so you don’t have your soul crushed.