Maple Leafs defeat alleged Montreal hockey team 5-1 on Hockey Night

“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 +/-
Tyler Bozak 9 1 8
James van Riemsdyk 7 1 6
Phil Kessel 8 1 7
Nazem Kadri 3 1 2
Matt Frattin 2 0 2
Nik Kulemin 3 0 3
Mikhail Grabovski 0 2 -2
Clarke MacArthur 0 3 -3
Leo Komarov 0 3 -3
Jay McClement 1 1 0
Colton Orr 0 1 -1
Frazer McLaren 0 1 -1
Dion Phaneuf 0 1 -1
Carl Gunnarsson 1 1 0
Ryan O’Byrne 3 3 0
Jake Gardiner 3 3 0
Cody Franson 7 1 6
Mark Fraser 8 1 7
OLÉ OLÉ OLÉ Chances For Chances Vs. Chances +/-
Tomas Plekanec 1 5 -4
Rene Bourque 1 5 -4
Brian Gionta 1 3 -2
David Desharnais 1 4 -3
Brendan Gallagher 1 4 -3
Max Pacioretty 1 4 -3
Alex Galchenyuk 2 0 2
Michael Ryder 2 0 2
Lars Eller 2 1 1
Jeff Halpern 1 4 -3
Brandon Prust 1 1 0
Travis Moen 1 2 -1
Francis Bouillon 1 5 -4
Andrei Markov 1 4 -3
Josh Gorges 1 4 -3
P.K. Subban 1 3 -2
Nathan Beaulieu 3 4 -1
Davis Drewiske 3 2 1

Team totals:

  1st 2nd 3rd Total
Toronto (EV) 2 (1) 8 (8) 5 (2) 15 (11)
Montreal (EV) 2 (2) 3 (3) 0 (0) 5 (5)


LeafsNation Three Stars

  1. Phil Kessel
  2. Tyler Bozak
  3. James van Riemsdyk
  • jasken

    This game demonstrated how Carlyle’s defensive system and physical play helped goaltending and GA. Not only did Reimer not have to make too many difficult saves, the habs never looked dangerous.

    I learned a lot from these advanced stats and if you take a holistic look at the game and marry that with the on ice play then Carlyle’s effective coaching style becomes evident. Good job.

    • Not sure why you’re so obsessed with “advanced stats” that you bring them up in every comment.

      Also, if THIS game demonstrated how Carlyle’s defensive system and physical play helped goaltending… how come that didn’t work out last time out against Montreal? Team got horribly out-played and out-shot and lost 5-2.

      • The leafs didn’t execute Carlyle’s plan in that game. But this game was more then bad hab goaltending. Ignore that, even when the habs cycled and put pressure on the leafs that didn’t translate into great number of scoring chances.

        The leafs dominated much of the game and from my experience with advanced stats if you also consider what is occurring on the ice, then advanced stats can be effective in describing what is occurring.

        • Jeremy Ian

          “The leafs didn’t execute Carlyle’s plan in that game.”
          Well that’s convenient. Leafs win, they executed Carlyle’s plan. They lose, they didn’t.

          I’m not sure how anyone can laud Carlyle’s defensive system considering the amount of shots it allows.

          A good defenseman is one who prevents offense, and that means preventing shots. Same applies to a good defense.

  • This game was definitely an outlier. Nice to stomp the Habs, but Price doesn’t have too many off-nights.

    I want the Habs in round 1, but at this point maybe the Bruins are the weaker opponent. No Bergeron and Marchand takes away alot of their bite. Losing in regulation to the Canes is not a good sign.

    Either way PLAYOFFS!!!!!11!1!!!! in two weeks.

  • jasken

    Well it seems Price left his luck in Montreal. If JVR plays like this constantly one rather then a hit and miss could be factor in every game. Kadri had his trash thing going on always great to watch that kid play lots of potential. Developed properly could be 1st line next season provided no set backs. Bozak had his feathers ruffled which only seems to happen with some teams, that edge is needed every night. Kessel the more he trusts himself and uses his other skills the better he becomes. Grabo cute with the passing on the 4 on 1 and should have shot, unselfish act to pass close game he buries the pass in back of net.

    Kessel , JVR, McClement three stars.

    McClement deserved star in my opinion. What he brings this young team his points are a bonus, how he has them performing on PK is a very big reason as to their winning.

  • Jeremy Ian

    Cam – I agree with you that there’s a flaw in Carlyle’s strategy. But his defenders have a point: it’s hard to point exclusively to outstanding individual performances (Reimer et al) night after night to explain the pattern of victories. Seems at odds with the nature your effort to draw analytical attention to how the team plays, ie the data predicts correctly when they lose and standout performances overrule the data when the Leafs win.