Five Leafs thoughts to begin the week: Six-o de Mayo

A few scattered thoughts… my brain is cluttered this week.

No. 1 – Matching up

Read some analysis on how effective Colton Orr was at being a “constant pain” for Zdeno Chara, battling with him in front of the net and knocking him down twice. Not sure I buy that. Chara had a fantastic Game 2, as noted by James Mirtle in his column about the matchups. (Mine can be found here)

Boston outshot Toronto 19-13 with Chara on the ice at 5-on-5 in Game 2, Chara led his team in minutes and did it with several different pairings matching up mainly against Toronto’s tough offensive guys. That’s a difficult matchup, but I don’t think he looks like a player who is being worn down physically.

I think the way to beat him is to beat him to loose pucks and force him to work along the boards, tiring him out, and then sending guys out against the players replacing Zdeno. He’s in an upper class right now.

No. 2 – The fourth line… ugh

Jay McClement should be the king of the “grocery skate” by now. There was a sequence in the second game where Colton Orr completely forgot about his check, threw a hit on Chara, and then Jay McClement fell over, leading to a 3-on-2. It was the most Leafs fourth line-iest shift ever, and while McClement has been real good on the PK, the reality is that he’s been pretty bad at 5-on-5 this season. He’s pretty offensively deficient, and being good on faceoffs and pressuring bodies doesn’t lead to the puck spending a lot of time at the other team’s end.

How long can he go between shifts? If the Leafs can deploy five different forward lines with their top nine, there’s no particular reason to use McClement except on the PK or as faceoff insurance. Just scanning through the shift chart, I counted two opportunities in the second period where Carlyle gave his fourth line a shift when he could have iced his first line against no Chara, or a tired Chara.

This is from, the website Elliotte Friedman mentioned in the post-game. The green shifts are Zdeno Chara’s. The middle one is Phil Kessel and the middle bottom is Jay McClement. Here are the two incidences. First is right after the Boston goal:

Second is right after a Boston kill in the second:

That would be nitpicking, though. I thought Carlyle had a wonderful game behind the bench in Game 2, even if he does keep sending the fourth line out after goals.

No. 3 – What changes at home?

It should still be pretty tough to get the Chara-less matchup for Kessel in Games 3 and 4 of the series. Even with last change, road teams have an advantage matching D against F because they can more readily change in transition.

What the Leafs will be able to do though, is avoid forward matchups. Boston doesn’t match by line: they zone match their forwards (put Patrice Bergeron on for big faceoffs at either end, and use David Krejci mainly in the offensive zone without regard for who is on the ice).

Now, though, Carlyle will find it easier to get Mikhail Grabovski and David Krejci and Tyler Bozak on Patrice Bergeron, which I think are the matchups he wants. Two home games this year he’s gone power-on-power and left second lines against each other (it was Grabovski one night and Nazem Kadri later through the season).

No. 4 – The curse of Clarke

Randy Carlyle used six distinct line combinations on Saturday night, which was all the weirder that Clarke MacArthur was not involved in any way. Carlyle used MacArthur on the first, second and third lines this season at various intervals, but was scratched Saturday as players like Matt Frattin and Ryan Hamilton saw their usage swap between first-and-third line roles.

Carlyle never really took to MacArthur and that’s a bit of a shame because Clarke is a pretty good player. He had a goal every fifth game this season and 20 minutes. He scored 20 goals in 2011 and 2012. Pretty underrated guy the team is probably going to cut loose.


No. 5 – The Leafs need to give tickets to this guy:

This is nuts. Don’t take sports too far. Just a game, no matter who cheers for who.

And the guy…

No funny business at the ACC… it’s just a game. What a comeback tweet, however. Beers on me.