POSTGAME – Leafs Sweep Alberta

HEY DID YOU KNOW THAT THING ABOUT THE C’S? Yes, the Toronto Maple Leafs had lost four games this year, going into tonight’s game. Yes, their losses came against Carolina, Chicago, Colorado, and Columbus, whose city names all start with the letter C. Yes, Calgary also starts with that letter, and no, the Illuminati isn’t out to get you. More important than alphabetical curses tonight was the chance to take a four point lead on the Atlantic Division. This was a night where exorcism and lead extension were in play, however, and the Leafs extended their Western Canada road trip record to 2-0-0 going into the conclusion. 


The Leafs were under pressure from the start. Despite the jokes and low expectations that surround the Flames, tonight was a textbook example of the hunger an underdog roster can have, taking aim at Jonathan Bernier early and often. Frazer McLaren tried to get some of the balance of shots restored in the form of fists to Brian McGrattan’s face, but even that came to no avail. Opportunity struck when Dennis Wideman headed to the penalty box for a slash. The first minute and a half of the powerplay was very uncoordinated and played mostly in the Neutral Zone, until finally setting up in the final seconds. The powerplay ended, but before Wideman could rush back, Joffrey Lupul beat Kari Ramo with an up-close wrister to give Toronto the lead.

The period wasn’t quite don,  though. With Dave Bolland in the box and the Leafs on the penalty kill, Ramo took the final seconds to admire the scoreboard and prepare for crease exit. At least, that would be the best excuse for his poor reaction to James van Riemsdyk, who snapped home his seventh of the year with just four seconds remaining in the period.

Calgary continued to litter the net in the second period, but Jonathan Bernier stayed calm and collected, even as the shot count crossed 30 for the Flames before his team could hit 15. Alas, something had to give, and you just knew it would be a former Leaf to break the shutout. In this case, it was Matt Stajan bringing the game within one with three minutes left int he middle frame. For those who love momentum, this came seven seconds after Carter Ashton’s nose became a landing pad for Shane O’Brien’s punches, responding to a questionable hit from the Leafs rookie.

The pace of the game began to even out as it approached it’s conclusion, but that didn’t mean an end to the scoring. David Clarkson, looking for his first point as a member of the blue and white, toe-dragged a Flames defender and fired at the net, but didn’t convert. Mason Raymond, however, was there for the rebound, and scored his fifth of the year. Calgary cut the lead back to one with just over five minutes to go, with a Kris Russell shot that bounced off of David Jones and into the net, but that was the closest the game got. With Clarkson in the box, Paul Ranger scored the second shorthanded goal of the night for the Leafs, securing the win.

Why the Leafs Won / Blue Warrior

There’s no point in making these into sepearate topics. Jonathan Bernier was simply lights out, stopping 41 of 43 shots. Meanwhile, 43 was also the amount of shots attempted by the Leafs tonight, with just 21 of them getting to Kari Ramo. Getting three past him certainly helped things, but even an average performance by Bernier sends this game to overtime at best, and leads to a loss at worst.

As critical as I was when the Leafs acquired Bernier, wondering why they were trying to fix a position that wasn’t broken, I must admit that the stability between the pipes has been a godsend in a year like this. If at least one of the goalies is capable of staying in form at any given time, the team can be as unsustainable or mean-regressing as they want.


  • Paul Ranger’s goal was his first since October 10th, 2010
  • The first line was shut down tonight, but JVR and Kadri found ways to get points elsewhere. In an increasingly rare turn of evends, Phil Kessel was left empty handed.
  • Stajan’s goal ended a 150 minute shutout streak for the two goaltenders in the province of Alberta
  • The Leafs are the first team in the Eastern Conference to hit 20 points on the season.  Yes, they’re one of two to play 14 games, but the Buffalo Sabres are stuck at the bottom with just five, so..
  • Scoring goals on the penalty kill is fun, and the Lupul goal was close enough, but the powerplay needs to wake up at some point, do they not?
  • Similarly, the defence might want to add a goal or two to the collection soon. Ranger’s empty netter was the first from a blue liner not named Dion Phaneuf this year.
  • The Leafs are back in action on Saturday night, against the Vancouver Canucks. Hey, if you want to believe in superstitions still, we’ll say they beat Kalgary tonight and they’re headed to canVouver! Or not, because that’s dumb. 
  • STAN

    Excellent points, all.

    But allow me to rant. Just a titch.

    David Clarkson fans will be ecstatic: he registered a point, even though his penalties almost lead to disaster.

    Yes, Clarkson now has 1 point in 3 games, pretty much on his career pace. He’ll end his 72 game season with about 23-24 points. Maybe even 13 of them goals. But probably not, because his career goals are heavily skewed by power play markers on a a power play in New Jersey featuring Elias and Kovalchuk. Duh.

    Even Mike Duffy could pick up points.

    So look for about 7 Clarkson gpals, tops, for his $5.2M.

    Now, I’m no fan of MLSE and the cavalier and profligate manner in which they dole out cash, but this is getting ridiculous.

    Kessel at $8M per 82 game season ($100K per game) is justified, I suppose, in the modern, warped world of sports remuneration. At least he’ll pot 35-40 goals from October to March.


    As for the Flames game, geez. How many times can they beat the odds? Outshot 2-1.. and still win?

    All the data, the metrics, the analytics shows Vancouver KILLING them about 17-2 Saturday. But that won’t likely happen.

    Speaking of which, it’s comical to listen to the TSN dolts droning on about nothing, especially James Duthie, who informed Leafs Nation at the conclusion of the Flames game that the Leafs will get, quote “a day and a bit off”, end quote, before meeting the Canucks Saturday.

    The game ended at 9:15pm Mountain time Wednesday. Their flight probably left about 11pm. Into Vancouver at 11pm, because of the one hour time change, and the puck drops in The Garage at 5pm Pacific Time Saturday. That’s about 65 hours… a tad more than “a day and a bit”. Most of us would call that The Weekend.

    Thanks James.

    • Edmonton fan here. I wish we could have landed clarkson. That type of player is worth it, when you got other guys who can score.

      Your rant on Duthie is retarded, pointed out by the fact you think the team was on the plane by 11pm.

  • Willi P

    I’m a huge Leafs fan and like all leafs fans, I have been disappointed year after year. Id like to say that the leafs this year are definitely a contender for the cup but I have that little thing inside my head that likes to slap the reality back into me. I’m happy that toronto’s 10 and 4 so far, but sometimes watching them play I know that they don’t deserve to win, this was one of those nights. Its not the being out shot thing that worries me, as many of calgary’s shots were from the outside and at bad angles, but sometimes the leafs just seem to slow down and let the other team dominate them in every aspect. Either way, I’m happy that we’re winning and that statistical numbers seem to malfunction when in toronto. lets just hope this holds up.Go leafs Go! show the stats whose boss!

    • beloch

      Look at a plot of where the scoring chances for both teams were over on flamesnation. The Flames were in tight on Bernier while it was actually Toronto’s scoring chances that were kept mostly to the perimeter. Bernier (and some kind of voodoo goat sacrifice) absolutely stole this one.

      I only regret we have to wait until April for the rematch!

  • jasken

    Nice read Jeff

    Although you should say those teams start with “C” not cities as Carolina, and Colorado are not cities. Was nice to see Clarkson get his first point sooner then expected as he is still trying to adjust to Carlyle’s scheme, missing the first 10 games really set him back a bit.

    Despite the continuous turnovers, and bad giveaways its surprising how they really haven’t got burned on them as of yet. The goaltenders really have stepped up so far this season as the Leafs seem to struggle with any sort of organized hockey structure. Although a trade to shake things up and to get their heads in the game seems to be the only thing that will fix whatever their problem is.

  • beloch


    Your right about the shots. I listened to the first two periods on the radio, watched the third, and then listened to tsn1050 on my way home and they made it sound like the calgary shots were not that threatening. either way, i’m not denying that calgary played a better game. the leafs did play the night before though, unlike the flames who’ve been off since saturday,I believe. but then again, thats no excuse considering the leafs play like this almost every night. as far as the rematch goes, I still think the Leafs are the better team and will win, but im a leafs fan and we’re all a little crazy from all the abuse this team has put us through over the years. lol, jk.

  • jasken

    A few more typos than usual … but a great read as always. 🙂

    To the poster above ranting about salary: can’t we judge players on their product rather than their paycheck? Not saying I wouldn’t prefer our cap situation to be better, but get some perspective here. We’re first in the conference for crying out loud.

    • In a system with a cap, the paycheque and the production are tied. Clarkson has 1 point in 4 games not 3 as someone else mentioned but the 10 game suspension for being an idiot won’t help.

      There’s no doubt the deal was a bad one but hopefully he can get into form soon and give the Leafs at least a couple of decent years. At least no one will ever be able to say he doesn’t give it his all.

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