It was an uncharacteristically slow pace for a game involving the Tampa Bay Lightning, or perhaps I’ve been swayed by a bias because their games are usually high-scoring. There wasn’t a lot going on for either team, a slow first period and a slow second period ended up having a pretty fun ending thanks to the Toronto Maple Leafs pressing with the empty net, but ultimately the Leafs dropped their first game in three outings with a 4-2 loss to the Bolts.
The difference may have been Ben Scrivens’ first two mistakes on the season. Alexander Killorn and Matt Carle both scored on long, unscreened point shots misplayed by Scrivens. Neither him nor Anders Lindback were overwhelming on forward shooters—much of the reason for the low shot total in this game, 25-19, was the result of missed nets and blocks.
-Not too much space. I counted the scoring chances at 10-10, but three of Toronto’s came with under five minutes to go as the Leafs pressed for the tying goals. Those were the only chances the first line got tonight, although two of them came on the powerplay and one came on a 6-on-5, so they aren’t marked below. I noticed after the game that they gave Phil Kessel’s goal to James van Riemsdyk, who was practically sitting on Lindback.
-At 5-on-5, the Leafs held a slight 7-6 advantage, and counting 6-on-5 opportunities, it was 8-7 for the Leafs. That looks re-assuring, but score effects was much of the reason the Leafs had more of a shot advantage in this game. Tampa Bay had a 5-4 “score close” chances advantage, and a 3-0 “score tied” advantage. Toronto were unfortunately flat in the first couple of periods and misplayed some rushes.
-So… where did the chances go? In the first period I noted a wild swing and a miss on a ricocheted puck in front from Nazem Kadri, and late in the third period Mikhail Grabovski and Clarke MacArthur both whiffed on a puck that was sitting in front of Lindback who looked like he was practicing for a spot on the Swedish luge team for the 2014 Olympics. Neither player could bury.
-What else? Oh yeah, there were 20 scoring chances in this game total, which is defined as a shot, on net or missed, from a spot within the “home plate” area of the ice. Dribblers don’t count, but I do count misses. I counted eight in this game total, five for the Leafs including two posts. You need to put pucks on net for them to be able to go in.
-Nazem Kadri looked like the Leafs’ best forward tonight, but he lost his composure in the third period during a sequence where he slashed Victor Hedman. Hedman took a shot at Kadri, but unfortunately noted tough guy and Kadri’s protector Colton Orr wasn’t on the ice to take the heat off of the young Leafs’ leading score—
—oh wait, yes he was. Orr was ten feet away, cross-checking B.J. Crombeen in the back. I’m going to leave this image here as a data point for “goons don’t protect stars”. Being an elusive skater protects Kadri. The rulebook protects Kadri. Orr doesn’t protect Kadri, he fights George Parros when he gets a chance.
-Other than that, Kadri had a pretty good game. It was OHL-standard. Individual zone entry, scoring chance. Individual zone entry, scoring chance. Individual zone entry, scoring chance. Individual zone entry, scoring chance. Yeah, all four good shots from the Leafs’ third line were generated by Kadri on his lonesome.
-See if you can spot anything on the Leafs’ first goal:
-Other than Lindback flubbing a rebound cover, that would be Clarke MacArthur re-united with Mikhail Grabovski and Nik Kulemin! Happy times. They were also on the ice together early in the third for a Nik Kulemin chance. You may note below that MacArthur was on the ice for seven scoring chances for, which was, yes, every single 5-on-5 chance the Maple Leafs recorded in this game. What a player.
-I threw out the notepad I use to record match ups in this game, because Guy Boucher kept flipping around his guys. He dressed seven defencemen, with Marc-Andre Bergeron in the spot of Adam Hall. He used Richard Panik, a skill guy on his non-existent fourth line, a bunch with Vincent Lecavalier. He moved Martin St. Louis up to Teddy Purcell’s spot. He had Crombeen come out with Tom Pyatt and Nate Thompson. Like I said in the preview, Boucher prefers zone matching to player matching: Stamkos took nine offensive zone face-offs and four in the defensive zone. Thompson and Pyatt combined for five in the defensive zone and two in the offensive zone. I’m sure there’s a wider disparity at 5-on-5.
-The Leafs took a lot of penalties and played pretty well on the kill. The one goal was a softie on Scrivens, they allowed just six shots and three scoring chances in 9:40 of 5-on-4 against a powerplay that’s struggled to take shots this season. They try to set up a specific shot but only managed to set it up during their second attempt and Lecavalier’s shot went well wide.
-I liked Randy Carlyle’s aggressiveness in pulling Jussi Rynnas with 2:42 to play. Not much you can give up at that point, but I think it was Dion Phaneuf who was beaten on two consecutive icing races. Somehow, the Leafs didn’t give up a goal, but they got a scoring chance with the goalie out, and a couple of scary pucks in the slot. On the right night, you could get a goal or two out of that.
-I didn’t like how Randy Carlyle dressed a line that played 4:11 and 4:25. Jay McClement is being absolutely wasted out there.
-Anyway, not much else to talk about. It was a game that didn’t have a whole lot of events. Clarke MacArthur was excellent for the losing team. Here are the individual scoring chance differential numbers:
|Chances For||Chances Vs.||Chances +/-|
|James van Riemsdyk||0||3||-3|
|Chances For||Chances Vs.||Chances +/-|
|Martin St. Louis||3||3||0|
-And here are the team tallies:
|Toronto (EV)||3 (3)||1 (1)||6 (4)||10 (8)|
|Tampa Bay (EV)||2 (2)||5 (4)||3 (1)||10 (7)|
LeafsNation Three Stars
- Benoit Pouliot
- Vincent Lecavalier
- Clarke MacArthur
Note: I think I’m hiring a headline writer.