“Nazem Kadri’s league-leading talent” – Photo from Graig Abel/NHL Interactive
Carey Price has a reputation as a partier, but generally I thought that his indiscretions took place post-game as opposed to pre-game.
Saturday’s Hockey Night game between Montreal and Toronto, previewed as a possible playoff matchup, began rather inauspiciously. The Canadiens had some puck-possession off the first shift, with Brian Gionta and Josh Gorges each having shots blocked by Mark Fraser.
But then Francis Bouillon high-sticked Nazem Kadri. It was Kadri’s league-leading 28th drawn penalty, and everything fell apart. Tyler Bozak scored finishing a nice play between him and James van Riemsdyk. Estonian-born ex-KGB recruit Leo Komarov scored on a real weak goal by Carey Price after Komarov put the fear of God into him. Really rattled his brain. Jay McClement finished off a lovely play at the end of a good penalty kill and then Dion Phaneuf took another shot from the outside that made it through Peter Budaj’s five-hole.
Four goals, five shots in the first period. 4-1 lead for Toronto at that point. Not surprisingly, everything fell apart at that point, and Toronto would get one more late in the game for a 5-1 win.
I don’t think it takes too much to convince people that the Leafs got pretty lucky in the first period with regards to Montreal’s goaltenders being so painfully bad. Price spent the afternoon at Real Sports, and Budaj accidentally took a swig of Price’s water bottle when he went into the net. Over the course of a long season, the effects of one game sort of strain out in the wash, but in a 48-game season, particularly towards the end, this game is going to be seen as a stepping stone towards the playoffs.
The Leafs out-played the Habs tonight. Massively. Myself and Justin Fisher, counting chances, had differing scoring chance counts (his was 13-6 for the Maple Leafs, I had 15-5). It was just one of those games. Early in the second period, Montreal got extremely messy and that resulted in four scoring chances for the Toronto first line of Tyler Bozak-Phil Kessel-James van Riemsdyk in quick succession. It ended with the pretty JvR-to-Kessel goal.
The first line remain red-hot both in goal-scoring and in generating chances. Part of me wonders what was ailing JvR mid-season because he’s played as two different players this season.
There’s a caveat though. Reading too much into anything that took place in this game and you’ll just be shooting yourself. The results of one or two normal games, even, and there’s a sample-size issue, but when you factor in how the poor Canadiens goaltending at the start of the game so wildly affected game strategy for either team means we only have about two minutes of actual hockey we can look at.
In fact, I’m pretty surprised that Montreal didn’t end up out-chancing the Leafs. They took so many more shots in the latter half of the game, but the Leafs did a good job forcing out and Reimer didn’t allow and real bad rebounds. The Habs just sort of gave up trying to move the puck to the middle. It’s like they didn’t even care about the moral victories!
But, nah, this is just one LeafsNation can enjoy and not worry too much about. The Leafs were dominant on the scoreboard. James Reimer again had a solid game, and here is a GIF of Nazem Kadri crushing Lars Eller:
Individual scoring chance differential:
|TARANNA||Chances For||Chances Vs.||Chances +/-|
|James van Riemsdyk||7||1||6|
|OLÉ OLÉ OLÉ||Chances For||Chances Vs.||Chances +/-|
|Toronto (EV)||2 (1)||8 (8)||5 (2)||15 (11)|
|Montreal (EV)||2 (2)||3 (3)||0 (0)||5 (5)|
LeafsNation Three Stars
- Phil Kessel
- Tyler Bozak
- James van Riemsdyk