Maple Leafs beat Senators 4-1 on Hockey Night – PLAYOFFS!!1

Photo by Jana Chytilova/NHLInteractive via Getty

To be quite honest, I didn’t think that Bob Cole’s call of Joffrey Lupul’s clincher was his best work. I remember a similar goal in 2002, when Joe Sakic scored on a breakaway with just over a minute to go for Team Canada in the Olympic Gold Medal Game. Cole blurted out “JOE! SAKIC! SCORES! SURELY THAT’S GOTTA BE IT!” as the visiting fans in attendance celebrated.

Joffrey Lupul’s goal wasn’t as big as Joe Sakic’s that afternoon, but it may be remembered in Maple Leafs lore. He capitalized on a giveaway from whatever remains of Sergei Gonchar’s corpse, sped past him and Chris Phillips and powered a wrist shot at Craig Anderson’s shoulder. 

And, like the snows of yesteryear, the Toronto Maple Leafs’ playoff drought is gone from this earth. I understand that the residents of Oilers Nation are accepting donations for their second degree burns—they accidentally dropped the playoff drought torch when we passed it over to them earlier this evening.

Leafs win 4-1. In the words of Navin Vaswani: “Playoffs!!1” 

-It was mentioned hundreds of times on the CBC broadcast. In the opener, Elliotte Friedman mentioned that no team has made the post-season being out-shot as badly as the Leafs as the 2002 Montreal Canadiens. Those Canadiens took down archrival Boston in six games before bowing out to the Carolina Hurricanes in Round Two. Jose Theodore won the rare Hart Trophy as a goaltender. James Reimer will receive no such accolades. Perhaps a Vezina vote or two, but he was, again, the Leafs best player early on. 

-Toronto was out-shot 18-5 in the first period. I counted eight “quality” shots by the Senators, including these two from Erik Condra as Nazem Kadri forgot who he was covering and Ryan O’Byrne let a pass go through him right to the front of the net. Reimer pulled the first save right off the goal line with his pad and kept it there to make the second save: 

-This is going to be a weird recap since my role in the Leafs blogosphere is the “tempering expectations” side of things, but there were a lot of positives in this game other than the unlikely win. Toronto’s second line came alive again tonight after taking three games off. They played a little more up-tempo and got five scoring chances. I thought Kadri did a great job in the second half of the game. Rather than trying to get a shot away off a rush, Kadri (and Phil Kessel was good at this too) slowed down the play to let everybody get into the zone and start a possession. We don’t track “zone time” anymore but the Leafs did much better in the third than the first two periods. 

-Craig Anderson was awful. Awful awful awful. 15 saves off of 18 even strength shots. Three goals off just seven Leafs scoring chances that resulted in shots. Compartively, James Reimer stopped 44 of 45 even strength shots and 12 of 13 shots that were scoring chances. Friedman noted after the game it was more saves than have been made in a win than by any other goalie this season. On April 6, Henrik Lundqvist stopped 48 of 49 in a 1-0 win. With the five shots the Leafs gave up on the PK, that’s 49 of 50 for Reimer.

-They called Georges Vezina “The Chicoutimi Cucumber”. I can’t think of a cold vegetable that starts with the letter “M” for “Morweena”, Reimer’s Manitoban hometown. We’ll stick with “Optimus Reim”.

-Tough giveaway by Joffrey Lupul on the lone Senators goal, but Mikhail Grabovski did feed him a weak pass and it was a fairly long, unscreened shot and I was even hesitant to qualify it as a scoring chance. As much as I rag on Lupul for his defence, he’s been getting more on offence in his few games this season and in the long run, it’s not an awful mistake.

-Grabovski was +1/-3 in scoring chances, playing mostly against the “Calder Line” of Silfverberg-Conacher-Zibanejad and starting five shifts in the defensive zone, none in the offensive zone. Not a great game for him, but it is worth noting that other than the goal, the Calder Line was mute against the Leafs. Ottawa got most of their possession from their fourth line with Erik Condra, Colin Greening and Jean-Gabriel Pageau, and from their first line who were pretty high-event all game.

-Pageau-Greening-Condra is a fun line. Notice how the Senators use real players from their minor league system rather than face-punchers on the fourth line? They got four scoring chances tonight. To me, the Leafs should use their fourth line for Joe Colborne, Matt Frattin and another scorer. Makes no sense to keep putting guys there who don’t play shifts.

-I think the first game this season that Phil Kessel has been held shotless. For the first time in a long time, he didn’t have to drive the offence. On the ice for a single scoring chance (three against) he was lucky that the rest of the Leafs were able to score four so he didn’t have to. Probably his weakest performance overall on the season.

-Here’s how you can look at zone time… 8 even strength faceoffs were taken in the Ottawa zone. 38 in the Toronto Maple Leafs’ zone. Since Nazem Kadri doesn’t take those draws usually, I’m impressed he was able to get over 16 minutes in this one. Tyler Bozak took nearly every defensive zone draw. He went 8-for-19 and somehow only gave up one scoring chance at even strength. 

-Consider the above, then consider that Frazer McLaren, Colton Orr and John-Michael Liles started more shifts in the offensive zone than the defensive. Shouldn’t Randy Carlyle at least be trusting his fourth line or second defensive pairing in those situations?

-Last thing… Ottawa picked a good night to have Zack Smith and Chris Neil, normally pretty reliable defensive players, stink up the joint. Smith had a team-low +7 Corsi (…) but went +1/-4 in scoring chances. He generally did well against the Leafs first line, but got eaten up by Kadri and Nik Kulemin when the matchup broke down.

Individual scoring chances differential:

x – TORONTO Chances For Chances Vs. Chances +/-
Tyler Bozak 2 1 1
James van Riemsdyk 2 3 -1
Phil Kessel 1 3 -2
Nazem Kadri 5 5 0
Joffrey Lupul 4 5 -1
Nik Kulemin 5 5 0
Mikhail Grabovski 1 3 -2
Clarke MacArthur 1 3 -2
Leo Komarov 1 0 1
Jay McClement 0 1 -1
Colton Orr 1 1 0
Frazer McLaren 1 0 1
Dion Phaneuf 3 4 -1
Carl Gunnarsson 1 4 -3
Ryan O’Byrne 1 4 -3
John-Michael Liles 1 2 -1
Cody Franson 5 3 2
Mark Fraser 5 3 2
OTTAWA Chances For Chances Vs. Chances +/-
Kyle Turris 4 2 2
Milan Michalek 4 1 3
Daniel Alfredsson 4 2 2
Mika Zibanejad 4 1 3
Jakob Silfverberg 4 2 2
Cory Conacher 4 1 3
Zack Smith 2 3 -1
Chris Neil 2 5 -3
Matt Kassian 2 2 0
Jean-Gabriel Pageau 1 1 0
Colin Greening 1 0 1
Erik Condra 1 1 0
Marc Methot 4 2 2
Chris Phillips 2 2 0
Jared Cowen 2 4 -2
Eric Gryba 0 4 -4
Patrick Wiercioch 7 1 6
Sergei Gonchar 7 1 6

Team totals:

  1st 2nd 3rd Total
Toronto (EV) 2 (2) 4 (3) 3 (3) 9 (8)
Ottawa (EV) 8 (6) 1 (1) 5 (4) 14 (11)

Add up the Ottawa “individual” chances and you’ll get 50. Divided by five, that’s “ten” but the Senators get 11 even strength chances because they had one during the 4-on-4.


LeafsNation Three Stars:

  1. James Reimer
  2. 38-way tie
  3. Craig Anderson


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  • jasken

    Condra actually was not Kadri’s man thats a misconception he’s Liles who should have went to weak side post when puck was passed back around the net instead proceeding to give a few unnecessary shots to the player he was chasing. Kadri was suppose to take Byrne’s spot on strong side post which he did although helped a little from Condra. He couldn’t leave Condra alone so he was stuck on 2 position area coverage weak side and strong side posts because Liles was busy chasing a player to top of face-off circle for some unknown reason. Wonder if Carlyle will bench him for doing it after benching Gardiner who did it last game which resulted in a goal. Lupul wasn’t expecting the quick return feed, and it wasn’t a long return pass, edge of circle to circle dot is not far. The fanned on the clearing was problem and ended up in the net. Not his fault it happens to bad it was costly. Kinda hard for kessel to hit net with a shot when they are even lying down to block his.

    Now come my assessment of defensive play

    Carlyle has them doing 2-1-2 through neutral zone followed by a simple basic Box setup in defensive zone hasn’t even tried to do perimeter attacking and they have a problem following it. He hasn’t added an aggressive part of the defensive set-up that forces turnovers, gains puck possession and reduces shots yet. This is just a passive set-up a basic stage and they still are going out of position I would be ripping my hair out Carlyle is just shrugging it off. End result I keep laughing saying well that player should be in press box next game they usually are. I dont care what Liles can do sit him next game for leaving his position for extended period of time for absolutely no reason resulting in scoring opportunity.

  • Elizabeth

    Cam, quick question but how much value do you put in a guy like Jay McClement? I personally think that his value to the Leafs (especially defensively and on the PK) is a big part of the success of this Leafs team so far but the advanced metrics do not completely show the value he has. I know he plays with plugs like Orr and McLaren who greatly affect his possession stats, but what do you think about Jay?

    • I think he’s pretty weak at even strength but has been tremendously effective on the PK.

      Seeing he doesn’t play much at EV, and as you mentioned, either players with Orr/McLaren (or in high-pressure defensive situations with Grabovski/Komarov) I don’t expect too much out of him there. The Leafs are a three-line team and he’s not on any of ’em.

      But I’d say he’s the driving force behind the PK.