Leafs pick up another point in shootout loss to Rangers at MSG

Midway through the first period, TSN play-by-play man Gord Miller said something to the effect of “if you listen to the analytics people, Mikhail Grabovski is a much better two-way centre than Randy Carlyle gives him credit for.”

It wasn’t a throwaway line in the least. It indicated that Miller has done his research and probably trolled around on this blog or others and found a bit of information that was worth sharing with his many, many viewers. His next line was also telling:

“Randy Carlyle does not believe in analytics.”

Clearly not. Mikhail Grabovski spent the first two periods on Line Number Four between Colton Orr and Frazer McLaren. He put on a show in the last few minutes of regulation and overtime when everything else happened on the ice. The game started out tilted in favour of the Leafs. Then the Rangers. Then it was even. Then it went to a shootout, and the Leafs picked up a point in a 3-2 loss to the Broadway Blueshirts.

I’m not sure what angle to take writing this recap. Usually I like to find a theme to work around, something I’ve been discussing on the blog, a matchup that was particularly advantageous or disadvantageous or the like. But I’m not sure where to go with this, except to point out how damn lucky Randy Carlyle is that Phil Kessel has been a firewagon for the last week—and Nazem Kadri the week before that—and that James Reimer has out-goaltended Henrik Lundqvist twice in a row now. The Leafs take three of four points from the Rangers in the home-and-home set and move back home to play Montreal Saturday night.

Oh wait, I know where to start. With Nazem Kadri’s hilarious shootout attempt. Right before his shot, I yelled out to my younger sister “hey, you should come watch Nazem Kadri shoot. He’s really good at these things.” Now she’ll never trust me again. Thanks, Nazem. Via Eye on Hockey:

I wouldn’t worry about shootout shots. There’s no evidence to indicate they’re anything more than a dice roll.

The scoring chances, as it were, were 13-11 for the Maple Leafs at 5-on-5 in the game. That was all the regulation chances and neither team generated much on special teams, although the Rangers came close shorthanded a couple of times in the third period. The overtime period was all Toronto and it was only a matter of time until they beat Lundqvist if it wasn’t for that damn dirty shootout that kills fun OT periods.

The Leafs best all-around player was probably Dion Phaneuf again. He played 12.2 of his 22.6 even strength minutes against Rick Nash and again held him in check. The Rangers generated a single scoring chance with Phaneuf and Carl Gunnarsson out on the ice for the second consecutive game. Phaneuf was also out on the ice for 13 of the 17 draws that took place in the Leafs zone.

Best player for the Rangers? Speedy Carl Hagelin, who didn’t look terrific tonight, his goal was absolute garbage but man, is he a sneaky-good passer. The Rangers generated seven of their 11 chances with Hagelin on the ice, more than any other Ranger, and he was doing it with everybody: he set up Brad Richards for those two chances late in the third, he scored his goal while on the ice with Derek Stepan and Arron Asham, and he got a couple on his usual line with Derick Brassard.

The Rangers have two centremen named “Derek” but the second uses an alternate spelling.

Ryan McDonagh and Dan Girardi were back together this game, which meant Anton Stralman found himself on Michael Del Zotto’s side as Del Zotto awaits the return of Marc Staal. McDonagh is outstanding at both ends of the ice and took the shot that resulted in the rebound that resulted in the Hagelin goal. After playing just 2.3 minutes together on Monday, Girardi-McDonagh were together for 19.2 on Wednesday, mostly taking on the Leafs top line. They got beat.

I’ve softened my stance on fighting in hockey because sometimes I get caught behind on the PVR.

Nik Kulemin had four shots tonight, which seems odd to me because I thought he was quite invisible in the latter half of the game but he did get a couple of scoring chances in the first. He had a rare “high-event” game tonight meaning there were lots of scoring chances at either end with him on the ice. Unfortunately, two goals went in the wrong net with him on the ice, and one of them wasn’t a scoring chance.

Darren Pang called Mikhail Grabovski not good at defence. He isn’t if your qualification of “good defence” is “doesn’t have a Russian-sounding name”. By that standard, no, Mikhail Grabovski is not good at defence. Mikhail Grabovski until this season did not allow a lot of shots or scoring chances when he was on the ice. To me that is a better indication of defence. I’m split this year because Grabovski’s shot-differential number is pretty low, but he’s been playing with Leo Komarov and Ryan Hamilton and not often with Clarke MacArthur and Nik Kulemin, guys he was so successful with last season and a season ago.

I alluded to the fact Reimer has out-goaltended Lundqvist in both games. In this game he picked up the quality start, stopping 26 of 28 pucks. The second goal was pretty weak. Even if that is a screen, you don’t often see shots that soft get in from that spot because NHL goaltenders routinely track those pucks through the screen. No biggie, though—his two saves off Richards with 5:50 to go redeemed him.

WAIT WAIT WAIT there was this:

Individual scoring chance differentials:

taranna Chances For Chances Vs. Chances +/-
Tyler Bozak 5 3 2
James van Riemsdyk 6 3 3
Phil Kessel 6 5 1
Nazem Kadri 4 4 0
Clarke MacArthur 4 4 0
Nik Kulemin 5 4 1
Jay McClement 2 1 1
Leo Komarov 2 1 1
Ryan Hamilton 1 3 -2
Mikhail Grabovski 2 3 -1
Colton Orr 1 1 0
Frazer McLaren 1 1 0
Dion Phaneuf 5 1 4
Carl Gunnarsson 4 1 3
Ryan O’Byrne 2 3 -1
John-Michael Liles 1 6 -5
Cody Franson 7 7 0
Mark Fraser 7 4 3
new york hagelins Chances For Chances Vs. Chances +/-
Derek Stepan 5 6 -1
Ryan Callahan 3 4 -1
Rick Nash 1 6 -5
Brad Richards 3 3 0
Ryane Clowe 3 3 0
Mats Zuccarello 2 4 -2
Derick Brassard 3 2 1
Brian Boyle 4 4 0
Carl Hagelin 7 3 4
Darroll Powe 0 1 -1
Taylor Pyatt 0 1 -1
Arron Asham 2 2 0
Michael Del Zotto 6 4 2
Anton Stralman 6 5 1
Dan Girardi 3 4 -1
Ryan McDonagh 5 5 0
John Moore 0 4 -4
Steve Eminger 2 4 -2

Team totals:

  1st 2nd 3rd OT Total
Toronto (EV) 6 (6) 4 (4) 3 (3) 4 17 (13)
NY Rangers (EV) 1 (1) 6 (6) 4 (4) 0 11 (11)


LeafsNation Three Stars:

  1. Carl Hagelin
  2. Dion Phaneuf
  3. Phil Kessel

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  • Carlyle needs to put Gardiner in the lineup he’s not going to develop by sitting in the pressbox. Also either put Grabovski back between Kulemin & MacArthur or put him between Kessel & JVR permanently & move Bozak down to the 3rd line where he probably should be. Grabovski is struggling because his linemates McClement & Komarov both 3rd line players

  • CheezWhizard

    Everything you cited as luck is actually an indicator that Randy Carlyle is a good coach. He gets the players working hard, and when they work hard they do good things like score 2 goals or steal a game from the net.

    They have a drive that leads them to wins. It’s why we always score key goals in the third period.

    That’s what statistics misses. The emotions. From the emotions come statistics, not the other way around.

    A lot more evident in football, but certainly applicable to hockey. You see it more in the playoffs, but Leafs play (many) games like they’re playoff games.

    • Travis Hrubeniuk

      Let me start his off by saying I defend Carlyle as much as I think I can. There is no doubt in my mind that he has the team as a whole playing better defensively, and his arrival correlates greatly with the improved special teams.

      He also made the smart decision to let Kadri come up and play in a role he was comfortable with, and generally uses him in ways I like.

      I understand that he has a system that allows the team to face more shots, but unless I am greatly mistaken, the quality chances the Leafs give up are something that doesn’t work long term.

      The outrageously high shooting percentage this team has is also a result of luck. Not coaching. At some point that is going to come down. There is no debating that.

      He is also directly responsible for Grabo’s lack of production. He puts him in situations that hamper his ability to score, and then gets frustrated with the lack of production.

      He can choose to ignore stats all he wants, but they do not lie. Sure, he has seen success this year, but I wouldn’t go so far as to say he has been a “good coach”.

      • jasken

        So now stats are gonna say kessels actual scoring is lucky. Did you even know he has not even been scoring until last 2 games? So he goes 9 games without a goal, 2 goals both last 2 games and this is lucky scoring now.

        Stats dont lie hmm kessels ppg will drop, lupul bring his ppg up to his status quota okay a little above to where he actually was before he was injured last season. These are all gonna stop because stats dont lie that being the case they are now balanced. Lupul was a ppg and so was kessel.

        • Travis Hrubeniuk

          I don’t recall saying Kessel directly…in fact he has been quite normal in that aspect.

          I am talking about Lupul, Bozak and Frattin who have been shooting the lights out at a simply unattainable pace.


          Even Kadri, who I do love as a player, has stats that reflect Crosby at this age which simply are not sustainable. (As pointed out by Jeffler I believe in a blog earlier this week)

          Such stats don’t mean they are “lucky” per say, just that right now these players are performing at a level that historically has shown to be unsustainable over the long term.

          • jasken

            again lupul only brought his point production up to where it was. 67 pts in 66 games 10 games 14 pts its around where he should be. Bozak has always been around 15% shooter mainly for 2 reasons 1 doesn’t shoot all that much. 2 he’s always in the high percentage zone areas. Rarely is Bozak shooting from outside 20 feet.

            Frattin I never even consider because that with only 2 pts in March hard to believe he wont maintain that pace.

            So your “luck” whatever you want to call it is in balance. The stats dont lie right….

            If a player scores on his own net. Opposing player doesn’t control the puck no chance of scoring, he is even on bench when puck goes in net. He was the last player on his team to touch the puck, he has a goal, a zero when being on ice at time of goal. How do you do stats you lie about it.

            If you dont you have to credit the player who actually put the puck in the net with the goal but mark it for opposing team. Anything other then that is a lie.

  • CheezWhizard

    Ultimately, Cam Charron is just a journalist who probably hasn’t played that much hockey and judges everything on his little stat sheets. Calling Randy Carlyle “lucky”……. You must make a much better coach, Cam,

    • jasken

      Whether he has or not is irrelevant. He is going on stats and what he sees. If you never played or watched what everyone on the ice is doing has nothing to do with it. He knows hockey. Sure I might not like some things he says. But if he enjoys hockey and watches its his passion his entitled. Like the rest of us and does it through stuff he knows.

      He believes it works. I think its being manipulated throughout the league by coaches like carlyle. He basis his opinion on what he sees in stats so he says he is lucky. Fact is he has but then again so are goalies 10% – 20% of saves are based on luck.

      The truth is, there is no luck. There is not even the slightest chance that luck may exist in this universe, because everything in this universe is governed by very exact laws.

      If you work in harmony with these laws, you will succeed and therefore will be considered “lucky” by those who are still sleeping.

      People who face something unexplainable are likely to call this phenomenon luck or accident or some other way that suggests something that happened by chance. However, this view only expresses their ignorance of how this universe operates.

      He uses stats invented from an engineer I will use the laws of the universe that have always been here

  • jasken

    What do you find that you need to do to handle the media scrutiny that exists in Toronto?

    “You try to respect the position that they’re in. There are a lot of them and they’re going to ask the same question in different manners, but you try to be as honest as you possibly can and you try to not get upset when one person asked a question that you don’t like. You try to remain level-headed about everything that is going on around you. You have to be honest and truthful, and you try to give them as much of the information that you deem necessary in the situation that you’re involved in. You respect the position that they’re in, be as honest as you possibly can be, and treat them the way you’d like to be treated.” Randy Carlyle on dealing with Toronto media.

    In other words I might have to talk to you and answer the question politely as much as I want to say you dont like it deal with it.

    Did he know how much time without a shot yes he did. He said 7 or 8 minutes. After that he wasn’t saying anything more sorry. Must be really hard to be in the media with Randy answering questions. Half truths and all that stuff. If Randy has contempt for press who can blame him.

  • jasken

    In 1989, his one international experience, he was humiliated by the IIHF at the World Championships in Stockholm. Chosen to provide a urine sample after Canada’s game with West Germany, he apparently failed the test and withdrew so as not to taint future results of the team. In the wake of the Ben Johnson scandal, Carlyle’s case was front-page news across Europe, another Canadian cheat. His name was mud. A day later, the IIHF announced that the B sample was clear as mountain air. No explanations or apologies only a shame-faced hockey player that had done nothing wrong.

    After something like this media are even lucky they have access to Randy at all.

  • asdf

    lol what

    forget law of the universe or stats from engineers, “luck” as used in this narrative refers to statistical anomaly as in occurrence of certain event that is contrary to the statistically anticipated outcome.

  • asdf

    First time I’ve seen spirituality invoked as basis of a sports stat-denying position. Bravo.

    If all goals are predetermined, does Phil Kessel really have free will?

  • asdf

    If you want to talk about fundamental laws of the universe, reality runs on the intersection of general relativity and quantum mechanics and QM is totally probabilistic.

  • Travis Hrubeniuk

    A lot of anti-stats people seem to misunderstand the role of stats and what they tell us. Statistics isn’t about fine details. Statistics won’t tell you that Phil Kessel will definitely score a goal tonight, or that James Reimer will definitely save 93% of the shots he faces. What statistics will tell you very accurately is the big picture – over time, which teams will be probably be successful, and which teams will probably not be successful. But with statistical models, we’re working with probabilities. In a full season, most of the teams with poor possession will end up out of the playoff picture, and most of the teams with good possession will end up in the postseason. Most years, the best possession teams will end up in the Stanley Cup finals. But every year, thanks to random chance, elevated shooting percentage, a hot goalie, or some other non-repeatable event, a couple of teams who really shouldn’t make the playoffs do, and a couple of teams who really ought to have made the playoffs based on their underlying metrics don’t. Luck isn’t some magical metaphysical construct, it’s just an event that’s unlikely to happen happening. The larger the sample size, the less likely luck will influence the results. If you flip a coin five times, there’s actually a pretty decent possibility you’ll flip heads ever time. If you flip a coin five hundred times, you’re probably going to get a result close to 50/50.

    That’s all statistical models are – ways of predicting general future performance most of the time. It’s not magic, and no one is claiming to be able to perfectly predict individual events or performances on a micro level.

  • jasken

    Carlyle is a master of hockey psychology and bench management. He can watch how his team is playing and make changes on the go and doesn’t need your computers and advanced math. In fact, your approach is too slow to be useful for a world class NHL coach like Carlyle. That is, all your stats do is tell us what happened. Carlyle could care less – his job is to understand what is happening in real time and not after the game.

    This is why Carlyle is able to sport a decent win/loss record.