Leafs Postgame: Leafs Overcome West Coast Ref Bias, win 4-3

On one hand, the Leafs are on a five-game winning streak and picked up a victory on the second half of a back-to-back against the defending Stanley Cup Champions. On the flip side, Toronto was utterly dominated for much of the night, and could consider themselves lucky to come out with a victory, especially after allowing Los Angeles to come back 2-0 deficit with three goals in exactly five minutes.

Quick’s glove save in the opening moments set the tone for a back-and-forth affair.

The Rundown

Bounces- quite literally- helped to decide this game.
After Mike Santorelli put the Leafs up 1-0, Cody Franson’s slapshot from the point snuck past Jonathan Quick for his fifth of the year with 30 seconds left in the first period.
Late in the second, Jake Gardiner played the puck with a high stick, which Justin Williams disregarded and ended up scoring the Kings first goal. The goal was questionable due to Gardiner’s high stick, which is more clearly explaind in the attached article below. 

Shortly after, Dwight King’s goal in the final fifteen seconds of the period also slipped past Reimer, with some (mostly my roommate) believing the refs should’ve blown the whistle earlier. On the second replay, the puck appeared to be live the whole time, but either way, struck a nerve with some.

Among LA’s first two goals and numerous potential penalty calls, fans certainly weren’t happy with the reffing today.  
Marian Gaborik took the lead for the Kings on this goal, where Korbinan Holzer could’ve learned from Andy Wozniewski that lying down on the ice isn’t a favourable idea.
Nazem Kadri drew a penalty on a breakaway (what else is new?), and James van Riemsdyk was right at home in front of the net to tie the game at 3.
In the end, the Leafs managed to push this game into overtime, which was scoreless, before Joffrey Lupul scored the lone shootout goal to earn the two points. 

Blue Warrior:

Mike Santorelli. On his 29th birthday, Santorelli scored and added an assist on the first two goals of the game. Santorelli now has nine points in seven games in Decemeber, and has been a key contributor to the Leafs winning streak. Few Leafs were stellar in this one, but Santorelli and his linemates Winnik and Kadri were one of the bright spots on the night.

Notes:

  • Drew Doughty is definitely the kind of guy who goes to play shinny and gets mad at the rink guard because he has to wear a helmet. He looked at ease out there with his flow reminiscent of a black-haired Guy LaFleur.
  • James Reimer had a solid performance, while not otherworldly, making 33 saves on 36 shots.
  • Daniel Winnik and Nazem Kadri posted 52 and 50 Corsi percentages, the only two positive marks on the team. Meanwhile, every King was over 50 percent, lead by Kyle Clifford at 82 percent. Tyler Bozak ended up with 20 percent, conceding 4 shot attempts for every one his line was able to generate. (JVR and Kessel weren’t much better at 27 and 29).
  • The Leafs didn’t allow a single shot attempt at 5 on 5 in the final 8:43 of the third period. While they were shellacked 62-38 in this regard overall, it’s notable that the team was able to defend effectively and force overtime.
  • Korbinan Holzer was on the ice in the first minute of overtime. That’s… not what I would’ve expected, to say the least.
The Leafs host Anaheim Tuesday night at 7:30.

(Stats courtesy of hockeystats.ca and nhl.com)

  • jasken

    The Leafs were “utterly dominated”? While I admit I did flick between hockey and football, the parts I saw especially most of the third period, the Leafs were the better team. How much of the game did you watch?

    • jasken

      I agree.. other than that 5 minute span where the kings scored their 3 goals the leafs were taking it to them. If not for quick it would not have went to OT

    • Jeremy Ian

      Yeah, “utterly dominated” does not capture the enigmas of this game. I would say utterly uneven.

      Decent first 25 minutes; horrid for a long spell in the 2nd and early 3rd; then pretty impressive rebound. One softie goal by Reimer, but otherwise doing the job. We have a good duo — is going to be very helpful for the next 20 games.

      Line 1 is an issue. How do you mix things up when the other lines seem to be clicking?

      Also, Line 1 draws the matching top line, which creates breathing room for the rest. If opponents start to zero in on Kadri — which has to come — that would give Line 1 more oxygen. As long as the rest deliver, the formula works.

      But it’s painful to watch Kessel, Bozak, and van Riemsdyk in the Leaf end. The coaches must want to throw up. The PP makes their figures look good; but 5 x 5, yikes. If I were Carlyle, I would really work on this group’s puck retrieval and zone exit strategies. OK, so Kessel won’t go near the boards, but he doesn’t have to have one foot outside the blue line waiting for a clearing pass in order to transition. Their match ups have figured this out. Time to focus on how to turn puck recovery into repossession.

      Phaneuf and Franson were good. Had tough zone starts and assignments.

      All things considered, Holzer’s a nice surprise.

  • jasken

    I’m sad for Reimer. He played well enough as a back up but not well enough to convince me to play him instead of Bernier. See you at the next back to back James.

    • Jeremy Ian

      Don’t worry. The Leafs have 4 games coming in the next week; 5 in the next 10 days. He’s earned some of those starts. RC knows it.

      2 of the next 10 games at home.

  • Jeremy Ian

    The Leafs have 39 pts two points behind Tampa Bay
    the division leaders with a game in hand.
    -not too shabby.

    and that’s without “otherworldly ” goaltending-
    what all Leaf fans know we have…
    kudos to Mr Laskaris .

    Now the big test is to see if the Leafs are contenders or pretenders and whether or not this is the best it gets in Leaf land or if we can kick ass on the road as well.

    Robidas 12 hits
    Holzer 7 hits seems there is internal competition
    for who comes out when Polak comes back.

    I think they said 56 hits total on the second half
    of a 2 games in two nights……
    -that doesn’t include Polak, Komorov and Clarkson has only one hit…….
    I think the Leafs sent a message to the former Stanley cup champs …and the whole league.
    Love him or hate him the Leafs are playing Randy Carlyle “old time ” hockey.

  • Jeremy Ian

    Another impressive weekend for both the leafs and raptors. Wow a couple more leaf wins and they join their cousins the Raptors in leading the eastern conferences of their respective sports. Who would have thunk that a while back.

    I agree that the physicality has really stepped up without Polak and Komarov. I still think the best two hits were Saturday night when Panik gave Smith two good solid shots and then punched his lights out.

    Nothing new about the first line, Kessel will never play defence and thus both J.V.R. and Bozak suffer from the one dimensional Kessel. But what a one dimension. I will admit that neither J.V.R. or Bozak will ever win the Frank Selke trophy.

    The lads have beaten a lot of the top teams in the past few weeks and the next game is the number one team which has been red hot like the leafs. Should be a good one and then the squad begins the long, long, rugged part of the schedule which sees the leafs play 17 out of 22 on the road. If Bernier and Reimer can maintain their level, the squad should go through this stretch at around 500.

    One further thought on Reimer and his play. I’m sure glad he was in the net for the two shoot outs as he is much superior in this facet of the game compared to Bernier. One goal in 6 attempts in those two o.t. games. Way to go James.

  • CMpuck

    Woooooooooo, Leafs are on a roll….

    Good time to sell high on Kadri, Franson, Bozak, Holland, Phaneuf and/or Riemer.

    Or we celebrate being December champs like this organization always does and start throwing out January 1st extension.