Leafs Postgame: Another One

Don’t look now, but the Toronto Maple Leafs are on a 103 points pace since November 10th. It’s impressive how this team has turned itself around now that some percentages have evened out and the roster has finally bought into what Mike Babcock has been trying to sell them. Tonight was a good example of that; the team rebounded from a poor start to roll over the Anaheim Ducks.

Another thing that helped the Leafs win tonight? A storm-weathering goal, of course. While the Ducks began to pour shots in the direction of Jonathan Bernier, P.A. Parenteau opened the game’s scoring with an opportunistic rebound. Matt Hunwick’s attempt to score bounced off a leg, leaving Parenteau open for a gimmie.

The period was chippy, leading to a few moments of pushing and shoving, but none got worse than when Roman Polak hit former Leafs forward Mike Santorelli from behind. Josh Manson, son of former Leafs defenceman Dave, dropped the mitts with him in response, and was none too pleased with Polak’s parting shot after the two were broken up, earning himself an additional misconduct. The Leafs killed off Polak’s boarding penalty before the period’s buzzer. It’s hard to know for sure what Mike Babcock said to his guys after getting outshot 18-8 in the first period, but whatever it was, it worked.


The second was high event hockey at its finest, with the two teams combining for 30 shots and a ton of opportunities that just barely missed the goaltenders. Parenteau picked up his second of the game seven and a half minutes into the frame. Tyler Bozak brought the puck into the zone, found James van Riemsdyk, and while JVR’s deke didn’t fool John Gibson, Parenteau had enough time to sneak in the second attempt while Gibson double checked to see whether the first shot beat him. Five minutes later, Nazem Kadri added his eighth of the season to extend Toronto’s lead to three. By the end of the period, the Leafs had made it look like they controlled the game all along; something they carried over to the third.

The third period was just 41 seconds young when Kadri and Gibson had an unfortunate collision. As a result, Gibson had to leave the game, leaving Frederik Andersen to take his place. Brad Boyes didn’t make it easy for him, though; two minutes later, he tipped in a point shot from Dion Phaneuf to give the game it’s final goal. That’s not to say the entertainment ended, though, mostly because Jonathan Bernier and Corey Perry don’t like each other very much.


After that, which resulted in the Ducks taking three minor penalties and Bernier one, the game was a relative snoozefest, as the Leafs effectively played keep-away while continuing to chip away at the shot gap created in the first.

By The Numbers

4zip

While the JVR-Bozak-Parenteau line grabbed two of the four goals, the Kadri line and Holland lines were the ones who seemed to really tilt the ice, scooping the puck out of the defensive zone and littering the Ducks to the point where it diminished their momentum. Kadri also led in a certain intangible tonight as well; making Anaheim’s players lose their minds, particularly Corey Perry, who otherwise spent the night trying (and failing) to gain anything from playing mind games with Jonathan Bernier.

Kadri and Leo Komarov had the toughest minutes on the team, starting just 23.08% of their shifts in the offensive zone, and still had stellar possession numbers. Peter Holland led the bunch at 66.7%.  Jake Gardiner led all defencemen with 62.16% even-strength CF, though he and Dion Phaneuf played favourable minutes. Matt Hunwick and Morgan Rielly, on the other hand, joined the Bozak line as the teams only negative possession players. 

BernierWatch2K16


Maybe things are going to be okay after all. Bernier picked up his second shutout of the season and his fifth win in seven games. Blowout against he Islanders aside, he’s been lights-out since Christmas, and has made 39 saves in three consecutive games. Note that he’s allowed one fewer shot on goal in each; I don’t think he’ll be able to stop 39 of 38 in his next start.

It’s going to be interesting to see how whoever plays tomorrow does. James Reimer coming off an injury is concerning, but Antoine Bibeau’s “shutout or seven” level of consistency isn’t much more inspiring.

See You Next Time

The Leafs return to the ice tomorrow night! Well, technically tonight; for us; these west-coast games are hard. They’ll be taking on the Los Angeles Kings at the Staples Center, attempting to win their fourth consecutive game.

If they keep this pace up, by the way, they’ll end the season at 94 points. That (don’t) usually (shoot) gets (the) you (messenger) into (please) the playoffs.

  • Jeremy Ian

    The first ten minutes it seemed like the guys were on the beach, not the bench. After that, what a team effort! How can you not keep Babcock in the Jack Adams-talk?

    I didn’t see any glimpse of Nonis and Carlyle in the coverage. Did anyone else?

    Kadri may not be the classic, big, “power forward.” But he plays an outsized game. He was the dominant player on the ice whenever he stepped onto it.

    I am not into the tanking strategy, by I do yearn for that top 5 pick. If losing that pick is the pain we are going to endure, I’ll be a masochist.

    • Harte of a Lion

      When they dismantle the team at the deadline, they might still be competitive however not quite at this level. Expect another ten game stretch while the kids from the Marlies learn the system and where the wins are tough to get.
      That should be enough to qualify for a decent lottery opportunity.

      Babs was quoted when asked about playoffs, they are sticking to the plan which translates to… If I may quote from that wonderful christmastime movie Trading Places…
      “sell, sell, sell, get in there and sell you idiot”

      Not likely going to be any playoff parties this year however, see you all next year while the Leafs learn how to win a couple of rounds

  • silentbob

    They are now sitting at 24th……

    They need to trade some of their “better” players out of here asap. Finishing 22nd instead of 28th gains them absolutely nothing.

  • STAN

    Real Leafs fans can’t help but cheer for these guys. Even Dion Phaneuf looks like a brand new man.

    At this rate the Leafs will finish well inside the top 20. Nothing wrong with that. A lot can happen between now, the trade deadline and the June draft.

    It’s lead-footed Luke Schenn and the Kings tonight.