Leafs Postgame: Dancing with the Devils

It was a night of celebration for the Toronto Maple Leafs. A few people had some endurance milestones; Dion Phaneuf was playing in his 800th game and Mike Babcock was coaching his 1000th, but what really mattered was the pre-game tribute to Darryl Sittler, whose famous 10-point game was 40 years ago this week.

Oddly enough, the Leafs and New Jersey Devils decided that a fitting tribute would be to put the sticks away and avoid scoring at all costs. Even with the shootout considered, the teams only put five pucks in the back of the net in a 3-2 Leafs shootout victory.

At first, it looked like this was the Devils’ game to lose. Jacob Josefson made the most of a puck-over-glass penalty to Matt Hunwick to put his team up just four minutes in, but Shawn Matthias was quick to respond with his fifth of the year, planting himself firmly in front of the net to redirect a pass by Keith Kinkaid into the back of the net.

That calmed the game down for quite some time. In fact, both teams were relatively timid about getting the puck on net, and until the third period, nobody was able to find mesh. That was until David Schlemko beat James Reimer with a point shot that brought the Devils back ahead. To make matters worse, the Leafs lost their time out with a failed coaches challenge on the goal, as the referees felt that Lee Stempniak’s light bump on Reimer didn’t impede him from stopping the puck.


The Leafs pulled Reimer for a sixth attacker in the period in search for a goal, and eventually, they found one. Tyler Bozak went to the high slot and got into perfect position to rip a wrister that sent the game into overtime. That didn’t solve much, and in a lot of ways, the shootout didn’t either, but PA Parenteau scored the only necessary goal to give his team the win.

Why The Leafs Won

leafsdevils

This is another game that the Leafs had control of front-to-back, and they got rewarded for it. Something that really helped, as much as we like to harp on a certain broadcaster for over-emphasising it, was Toronto’s prowess on the draw. Going 64% at the faceoff dot certainly improves your chances of controlling the flow of the game, and when you combine that with having absolutely no hesitance to move a player into an available position in the slot, good things happen.

Blue Warrior


If the Boston game was the prototypical “good Nazem Kadri” game, this was Tyler Bozak’s version. He assisted on Matthias’ tally, scored the game-tying goal, played a shade over 20 minutes, had two takeaways, was one of the team’s top possession players at an insane 76.9%, and was an even crazier 80% at the draw. Bozak’s all-around game has been noticeably better this year, and this game was an example of what happen with him if everything goes right at once.

See You Next Time

The Leafs will now take a trip across the province to take play in their secondary home venue, the Canadian Tire Centre in Kanata. There, they’ll face the Ottawa Senators, who are in the “just got blown out by Edmonton” stage in their most recent cold streak. Puck drop for that game is tomorrow at 7:00 PM.

  • Gary Empey

    After spending the first half the the season teaching defense, until it became second nature, Babcock has opened the chute, and let ’em go.

    After confirming both, the reserves are firmly in place, and anxious to see NHL action, Babcock began his slow, methodical march, to the Stanley Cup, earlier then expected.

    A “woozy” TANK NATION has been observed, looking Bewitched, Bollocksed, and Bewildered.

    Even TANK NATION’S Grand Poobah, Justin Fisher, was rushed to hospital suffering from post confusion syndrome, after his prized beer tankard bounced back off the wall and caught him squarely in the forehead.

    • Harte of a Lion

      No Playoffs, No No NO!!!!!
      Next year is soon enough. The talent pool of this team is far deeper than most will give it credit, but add Mathews, Pulujärvo or Laine and they will ROCK the new logo next year in the … Dare I say it… PLAYOFFS

  • Gary Empey

    @ Bill from Burford Thanks for the question.

    I wouldn’t call it a lock yet. Using the secret code if found in my new NHLECalculaor they only have to win 24.5 of their last 30 games and their in. How deep they go in the playoffs is anyone’s guess.

  • Harte of a Lion

    Gary, I’ll have what ever you are having. The leafs better not let this get contagious winning games. But they embark on a long road trip so that should stop the momentum.

    Reimer another strong game as he ranks right up there in save percentage and goals against.

    Leaf management has to seriously consider resigning Reimer. Similar to Joey Batts the number one goalie wants to play in Toronto.

    • Gary Empey

      TANK NATION people have been returning their membership in droves.

      One former member, Nathan Threenacker, from Prince Rupert B.C. said he thought someone said “Do you want to get Tanked Nathan?”

      Nathan also stated he has no idea who the **** Auston Matthews is, as he normally is either passed-out or locked up before Coaches Corner and the rest of those(expletive deleted) from CBC comes on.

  • Jeremy Ian

    Good shout-out for Bozak. He played a solid game. His whole line was effective.

    Nice to see more of Corrado out there, too (though he’s still trying to find his place).

    My main concern is the Leafs giving the Devils their pity point. Though the Penguins have two games in hand over the Devils, they are a point behind them in the standings — at 9th. Come on guys. We want that 1st round pick! When you get a chance to deep six the Pens’ rivals, esp with their back up in net, you have to do it.

  • Harte of a Lion

    Tank Nation is going to have to drink a lot more beer.Their tears are really going to dilute it on them.
    What did Babcock do between the second and third period?Threaten to put the bottom 6 forwards on waivers or even worse give them all to Montreal.Love to have been in the dressing room for that pep talk lol.
    Is this the year Riemer is going to go and get hot and lead them into the playoffs like he did when he first came into the league?3 of the next 4 games are winnable the way they are playing right now and if the right teams loose they could jump up in the standings.Should be real interesting.

    • Gary Empey

      You think like a true blue Maple Leafs fan. Babcock recently said he only wants players motivated to win on his team. He has put every player in the organization on notice. He is setting the standard of how he expects the team to play now and in the future. Motivated players are easy to teach. Players that mail it in are a waste of time. For now,he will let Hunter’s department do their job. He will worry about the draft when the season is over.

  • Kanuunankuula

    the leafs can’t just win or lose in regulation… they just had to give the Devils a point to knock the Penguins out of the final wild card spot…. they don’t know how to do things properly!

  • Jeremy Ian

    I’ve been following this team since the days they played the first period,coasted the second and turned it on for the last 10 minutes of the third.That was before we got our first tv in 1950.Sat in front of the ra did io back then.Don’t know how much weight I put on eating Behive Corn Syrup to get the pictures.LOL.

    I hadthe honour of meeting Turk Broda at the Sagamore Hotel on the lakeshore in Mimico.He was a sales rep for Labatts when he retired.My uncle owned the hotel back then.Those were the good old days.