The Leafs and Habs: Shift by Shift


                                    Ladies and Gentlemen, lend me your tears- Grabbo being Grabbo

Oh baby! 

One of the things I’ve been noticing is that in the games they have won the Leafs have been able to roll four lines consistently most of the night. The 4th line isn’t necessarily putting up big minutes, but they play more, and later into the game than when Colton Orr is in the line-up. This gives the Leafs top players a bit of a rest and allows them to play long shifts later in the game.

This game was a good example of the benefits of a longer bench.

  • Montreal had three players, Darche, Engqvist, and Palushaj play less than 3 minutes in the third period. (2:07,1:37, and 1:16 respectively) none of them played past the 8 minute mark of the third period. Engqvist and Plushaj only saw two shifts in the third period. You want your top players playing at key times, but a bottom six that can play past the 10 minute mark of the third has helped the Leafs this season.
  • Conversely, every Leaf played past the halfway point of the third period with Jay Rosehill being the first to hit the proverbial showers just after.
  • No Leaf saw less than 6 minutes of ice-time whereas both Engqvist and Palushaj played less than Jay Rosehill.
  • There may be no correlation, but it seems as though the Leafs have benefitted from having a bottom six capable of playing actual NHL minutes, who knew.
  • David Steckel might be my favourite new Leaf. He plays in all three zones, in all situations, and for the whole game. He is the ultimate utility player. He has scored in three straight games. He’s everything Ron Wilson wanted him to be and the way he uses him makes me think that Wilson will find success with this team. He can coach if given the right players.
  • Best Friends Forever Carl Gunnarsson and Dion Phaneuf were inseparable yet again. The only time Wilson breaks them up in on the PP. Some people have complained that they should be split up for the PK but I think that they’re much more effective as a unit than they would be apart. Playing them together as much as possible will be more beneficial to the team in the end.
  • Grabbo and Kulemin saw a whole lot of the Gill-Diaz pairing. Their line scored the tying goal just after Gill and Diaz changed.
  • Ron Wilson has kept with his strategy of best on best w/r/t to the forward match-ups. Kessel saw a lot of Cammalleri, Gionta, and Plekanec. Lombardi rode shotgun with Phil most of the night and his speed and forecheck helped set-up the turnover that lead to Kessel’s goal.
  • Someone mentioned that Wilson move Steckel to the top line for the past two games, but Steckel only saw two shifts with Kessel Saturday, one at the beginning of the game, and one near the end. Lombardi was with him for every other shift besides the one that Dupuis took with him.


I’m really eager to see what the addition of Tim Connolly brings. First and foremost he is a capable offensive player who will add another scoring threat to the top line. Second, it will push a few players down the depth chart eliminating the need for Colton Orr’s existence and ensuring the Wilson can roll four lines all night long every game. The Leafs have fared very well without their defacto #1 C it will be interesting to see what happens once Connolly debuts.

What did you notice, did anything stand out? Take a look and tell me. 

It’s always a good day when the Leafs beat the Habs


Go Leafs Go!


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