Leafs Postgame – It Was Three Nothing And They Won

You know how sometimes the Leafs lose two games in a row and it feels like everything is about to fall apart? Well, this game didn’t really do a whole lot to improve that feeling (especially in the third period), but two points is two points and getting them by any means necessary is what the Leafs needed to do in this game, and they managed to pull it off.


This game was a lot of fun to watch (unless you’re a Sabres fan, but if that’s the case I assume you’re used to this by now). It got off to a fantastic start for the hometown team (78% Corsi For in the first!!!!! What!!!!!), and the Leafs kept it up for most of the game. James van Reimsdyk scored twice after a good start with sustained offensive zone pressure, and both goals were assisted by Cody Franson. The new guy, Peter Holland, played well in his first game, starting on a line with van Riemsdyk and Phil Kessel.

The second period got going with an entirely unnecessary fight between David Clarkson and Buffalo captain Steve Ott (someone needs to tell David that he’s not going to get a goal if he’s sitting in the penalty box for five minutes). McClement took the first Leafs penalty of the game, and Holland followed suit shortly thereafter (McClement penalties are especially terrifying). Reimer had not had a whole lot coming his way up until this point, and he handled anything the Sabres threw at him without any trouble (but he needs to stop getting his helmet knocked off). Nikolai Kulemin scored his first of the season, putting the Leafs up 3-0 halfway through the game. The period ended with some four-on-four hockey after Carl Gunnarsson and The Spawn of Satan took off-setting penalties.

The Sabres ended Reimer’s shutout bid early in the third, on a hard shot from Jamie McBain. Throughout the game I was wondering when we would see John Scott do something dumb, and I was not disappointed. Phaneuf took an awkward fall in a collision with Cody McCormick, after which he got up and cross-checked McCormick in the chest, leading to a stupid brawl between the goons from each team and a power play for the Sabres. McLaren and Scott were both given game misconducts and spent the rest of the third period in the dressing room. The Sabres scored on the ensuing power play, making it 3-2 with 13 minutes to go. The Leafs were badly outshot by the Sabres in the third (score effects!), bringing the Sabres shot total up to 35 in a game where it looked like the Leafs might finally control  possession (the silver lining here, I suppose, is that it improves Reimer’s save percentage). The Leafs put this one to rest with a power play goal from Mason Raymond on a badly timed penalty from Ville Leino late in the third. 


The Leafs won because of a very strong first period, and because of two boys named James. After scoring two goals and dominating possession early in the game, they took too many penalties in the second and began to slip badly in the third, but a yet another solid goaltending effort from Reimer kept the Leafs in the game. Reimnier forever (their average save percentage is .940) (when was the last time the Leafs had anything close to that?).  


Though I was tempted to go with James Reimer here, I think it would be unfair to choose anyone but van Riemsdyk – the move back to left wing seems to have been magical for him, as his two goals scored early in the first period that proved to be critical. Thinking about where the Leafs would be if they’d never made the Schenn-for-van Riemsdyk trade is simultaneously horrifying and delightful. 


  • You can call me a jerk for not being too upset about Mark Fraser’s injury if you must, but if it means Rielly gets more ice time I will be able to manage. Go Rielly go.
  • Is there a hasclarksonscoredyet dot com? One of you should get on that.
  • Jake Gardiner had a solid game, and led the team in ice time with 24:12 minutes. It appears Carlyle is back on board.
  • Christian Ehrhoff in this game was very much preferable to Christian Ehrhoff in yesterday’s game.
  • Mason Raymond goals are my favourite goals because mmmm. Value.
  • Danny Gray

    Okay I’m not a big fan of goons and pointless fights. I wish Orr and MaClaren both sat in the press box more often. However, this article was a little over the top. Clarkson and Ott’s fight was far from pointless. Clarkson had just taken a huge run at McBain, a very young good defenseman. On a losing team with a long year ahead of them Ott did something about Clarkson feeling free to take huge runs at young players. Even though it was Ott that was an example of a good fight to me.

    Secondly, what did Scott do that was stupid? Phanuef started it with a pretty vicious cross check. When MaCormack took exception to that and defended himself Orr jumped in and then they all paired off and really the only reason Scott and MaClaren got penalties was because the ref wanted them off the ice. At best they should have got maybe two minutes each. I don’t like gratuitous fights at all but neither of these was an example of that.

  • The Craig

    I’m not sure people think much when they talk about how Orr and Mclaren should be sitting. Just how many people want Phaneuf fighting Scott? Thankfully Orr and Mclaren stepped in because Phaneuf stuck in the penalty box for 5 minutes is just silly. If the other team doesn’t dress a play their goon then I don’t want to see the enforcers.

    But deal with it folks, until the NHL get rids of the goons, Orr is here to stay.

    • The Craig

      You act as if who the other team dresses has anything to do with Carlye’s personnel decisions re: Orr and FML.

      I thought Nolan had an immediate impact on Buffalo’s fourth line, and they frequently pushed the puck pack towards Reimer during the matchup that Orr and Mclaren lost handily to Tropp and Scott.

  • Jeremy Ian

    Nicely done, Emily. The scrapping aside, what do you think is going on when the Leafs get bottled in their own zone and their opponent is holding the corkscrew? And this was with the Sabres! If the Leafs can’t deal with this problem, Reimer and Bernier are going to have to carry a very heavy load all season… Thoughts?

    • Killawatt

      Curious to know what the advanced stats crowd things about the fight metrics from last nights UFC fight? George St Pierre landed more punches, had more takedowns and won 3 out of 5 rounds… And so he won the fight. On stats. Which is how the sport is scored, taking human judgement apparently out of the equation. Anybody with a set of looking balls saw GSP dominated and punished and undeserving of the win. He got his ass handed to him, his face looked like Lasagna and he was punch drunk out of his mind. He LOST. But thanks to “metrics” he won.

      Obviously two different sports, but in my mind last night was proof that the stats lie. Often enough that they need to be taken with a grain of salt. As is the case with the Leafs who while we keep being told are crap 5 on 5 because of “shots towards net”, they are winning and a lot of nights never look threatened to lose despite “bad stats”.

      • Killawatt

        Also, Jeremy, or any other person knowledgeable of adv stats, another question: why are PP and PK numbers often ignored in advanced stats? I always see 5v5 as the lone standard. Last night almost 20% of the game was spent with one team on the PP. Considering the higher probability of scoring during a powerplay, why is it ignored so often?

        • Killawatt

          You may be thinking of stats such as Corsi (even strength shot attempts) which exclude special teams because they are explicitly even strength stats. Corsi is a very good indicator of which team has possession of the puck at even strength, but it doesn’t work as well at tracking possession on the powerplay.

          The powerplay has it’s own, equally “advanced” statistics, such as conversion rate and shot rate. There is no one stat in hockey that covers everything, which is appropriate because it’s possible (though not necessary) for a good even strength team to be a poor powerplay or penalty killing team and vice versa.

          You may see the even strength stats talked about more because they are seen to be more important. Historically it’s been better to be an above average even strength team than an above average powerplay team (although again, they don’t have to be mutually exclusive). But that’s not to say that special teams are irrelevant, a point that Cam Charron has made on this blog several times already this season.

          Shorter: you can identify a stat that is most ‘important’ for indicating future success, but you simply cannot describe ALL of the ingredients for future success in a single statistic.

          • Killawatt

            Well you can’t really describe ALL of the ingredients for future success using any combination of stat.
            Also, Corsi is an ok indicator of puck Possession sometimes, but it is often very inaccurate in this area. It would be nice if the NHL actually timed puck possession but this looks to not be happening any time soon.

          • Killawatt

            “Also, Corsi is an ok indicator of puck Possession sometimes, but it is often very inaccurate in this area.”

            If you have any evidence of this I’m sure a lot of people would be interested to see it.

  • Danny Gray

    Great stuff Emily. It’s clear the Leafs had a tough time dealing with the pinching D on the side boards during the third. Their wingers need to be stronger on the puck there. And Gardiner needs to cut out the AHL nonsense brining the puck out in front of the net and up the middle. He guln get burned.

  • Danny Gray

    Glad you mentioned Mason Raymond. He could be the Leafs’ best pickup by the end of the year – stay healthy, Mason. And, like a lot of Leaf fans, I’ve been waiting for Kulemin to score a bit. Nice play by him to free Raymond on the wing and a lovely pass back by Raymond.
    Kadri needs to come back and be a professional for a change – the Leafs need him at his best, not his worst.
    Please bring Reilly back, Coach, he can handle it.

  • Danny Gray

    Lots of strange points in this article. First off, Clarkson has been playing great and the goals will come eventually. He is great in the corners in the O zone and had another assist last night.
    Fraser adds value to the Leafs D and is far more reliable Defensively than Reilly at this point, so I don’t know why you welcome an injury to him.
    What was so pointless about the Clarkson v. Orr fight? Maybe you just don’t like fighting, but it definitely has a place in the game, and this fight was not just a staged battle bw two tough guys.
    Also, shot/shot attempt differential is a bit overrated in team evaluation, so I wouldn’t worry too much when it comes to this but it would be nice if the Leafs could prevent a few more shots per game.