LEAFS POSTGAME: Horacheckmate

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Okay, so maybe the first game of the Peter Horacheck interim-era didn’t go the way the Leafs would have liked it to. They out chanced and out shot Washington, but couldn’t outscore them. Tonight was an opportunity to build on the positives and turn it all into something constructive, and, to the Leafs’ credit, they did exactly that, earning a convincing 5-2 victory against the Columbus Blue Jackets.

The Rundown

This game actually didn’t start off as planned either. Ryan Johansen opened up the scoring about three minutes in, stripping the puck off of Cody Franson as Dion Phaneuf suffered a wicked tumble. While James van Riemsdyk gave chase, Johansen had a pretty easy breakaway ahead of him.

With that said, the Leafs kept at it, and luck came to their side en route to the tying goal. Tyler Bozak attempted to set up Phil Kessel, but the puck went off a skate and beat Sergei Bobrovsky. It was the start of a wave of offence for the Leafs, who received goals from Daniel Winnik, Phil Kessel, and James van Riemsdyk before the first came to a close.

Johansen, apparently the only member of the Blue Jackets who remembered to come play tonight, closed the gap a bit in the second period. With Daniel Winnik in the box, Johansen took his time from the blue line and easily wristed a puck past Jonathan Bernier. That was pretty much the only chance his team had for the second period, however, as the Leafs held them to just four shots. A lot of the third period was spent in the neutral zone for both sides, but with a minute to go, JVR added an empty netter.

Blue Warrior

When Phil Kessel can get Jeff O’Neill to say good things about him, you know it was a good game. He did all the narrative things; he forechecked hard, backchecked hard, bodychecked on occasion, and blocked a shot. He did all the Kessel things too; he set up van Riemsdyk on his first goal, he scored one of his own, and had a few legitimate scoring chances. He was also one of Toronto’s best play-driving players tonight, drawing 53% CF at even strength.

Notes

  • Phaneuf’s play on the first goal was definitely not the nicest of efforts. I get what his idea was; he saw that Franson was unlikely to retain possession of the puck and figured that he’d be able to get in front of Johansen in time. With that said, the wipeout meant that he had not only failed at that, but wasn’t around to protect the net. 
  • Holy crap, the Leafs held a team to 20 shots. It’s the second time the entire season they’ve held one to fewer than 24, and really, we shouldn’t count succeed against the Buffalo Sabres towards anything. One of the best defensive games by the Leafs in quite some time.
  • That said, the powerplay time definitely helped in outshooting them. The team was firing on all cylinders in its four man advantages, and hey, it lead to two goals.
  • Jonathan Bernier had a decent night, stopping 18 of the 20. One of them was a breakaway, so I can’t really blame him too much for it.
  • The Leafs now have the weekend off, and will return to the ice on Monday in Los Angeles.
  • Bertly83

    Finally a game that the leafs worked hard and competed. Too bad they rarely played this way for Carlyle and won’t continue this for horachek past a few games.

  • Bertly83

    Finally a game that the leafs worked hard and competed. Too bad they rarely played this way for Carlyle and won’t continue this for horachek past a few games.

  • Bertly83

    A well deserved win for the buds as Phil decided to play tonight. Lots of plus players this evening.

    Now the killer part of the schedule with 9 out of 11 on the road, with the next three being against the talented California teams with the last two being back to back versus Anaheim and San Jose. A day off to travel to St. Louis so 3 games in 4 nights playing some of the best teams in the league. I don’t think Vegas will be picking he leafs in these games.

    To even have a sniff at the playoffs the rest of the way, the leafs have to be a lot better than 2 and 5 as they were in their last 7 road games.

    In reality these are the real stats that have always truly mattered. But heh if your game is spending half the night creating some bizarre fantasy stats go for it.

  • Bertly83

    I like the line combos,

    I thought Winnik had hands of stone ,
    but perhaps I have to rethink that idea-after seeing his goal to nite.

    It’s only one game but it’s a new promising direction.
    Good to get in the win category again!

  • Bertly83

    Congrats to the Leafs !!!

    Columbus still has an NHL team?

    ie. and Quebec City, Hamilton, Seattle, Hartford, Indianapolis, Cleveland, Kansas City, and Green Bay cannot get one?

  • Bertly83

    Time to plan the parade. A better coach not named Carlyle that was open to fancy stats was the only thing needed. And now this talk about trading away Phaneuf and Kessel looks silly.

  • jasken

    Nice read Jeff

    It all starts with doing things the right way. The system and structure hasn’t changed the only thing on ice that has changed are, they are working as a unit, holding each other accountable, no anticipating passes, no puck watching, being responsible in your own end.

    I want to see this for the next 41 games with some consistency. I wont say it’s fully Carlyle’s or Wilson’s fault they weren’t able to get the players to buy in that’s on them. For whatever the reason is irrelevant now they are off the hook, going forward everything is on the players.