Yes, that’s right, the Leafs won! It happened, I watched it.
This game was a bit of a snore, as is expected when the Devils are in town. You can also count on the Leafs being pinned in their own zone for a lot of the game, and they sure didn’t disappoint there either. There are some positives to take out of the game, however, so we’ll get to it.
The Leafs got off to a painful start in this one, generating absolutely nothing and running around in their own zone for most of the first period until just before a Bozak goal 15 minutes in. They did seem a little more desperate than usual to win battles, but it didn’t translate to them getting the puck much. Looks like "compete level" may not be the answer.
Nik Kulemin didn’t even wait a minute before taking a holding penalty in the second, which Adam Henrique capatalized on to tie things up. But the Leafs responded with a powerplay goal of their own only a couple minutes later when van Riemsdyk banged in a Franson rebound past Cory Schneider, who had a a strong game of his own. It seemed like the Leafs may be turning it on, but only 27 seconds later Ryane Clowe blew by Franson for a partial break and tied things again. From there, the teams then realized they’re the Devils and Leafs, and not much happened for the rest of regulation.
Overtime was a wild one, with a few good chances for each team. The Leafs didn’t register a shot on net, but Morgan Rielly nearly ended it at one point and fired high. Would’ve been nice to see him do it, since I thought his game was solid overall in this one.
Anyway, off to the shootout we go, where the Leafs are good these days, and the Devils stink. James van Riemsdyk scored, a bunch of other guys didn’t, and the Leafs now have 49 points, which puts them a single point behind the Wings and Flyers for the final playoff spot(s).
Why the Leafs won
The Leafs won because this game went to a shootout and apparently they kick the shit out of everyone there this year. Why were they in this game? It seemed like they were the Leafs of old. And by old, I mean earlier in the season where the goaltending was insane and the powerplay did good work.
Bernier turned away 36 of 38 shots for a .947 sv%, and the Leafs were outshot by 13 overall, so it isn’t like the team is magically better now, but as Carlyle said after the game, the win gives them a minute to breathe.
I’ll give the honors to James van Riemsdyk. The guy is just an offensive machine every night, it seems. As mentioned earlier, he scored in regulation, as well as the lone shootout winner, and had six shots on goal. Plus I think I’ve given Bernier the Blue Warrior every other time I’ve written a recap, so I gotta try something new.
Notes and all that
- Jake Gardiner had the second-most icetime for defencemen, with 24:31. Carlyle, man.
- The Leafs were out-attempted 60-34 at evens, which is quite awful.
- Orr and Ashton both played less than five minutes, so really, what’s the point? Send Ashton down if you’re going to treat him like a designated fighter (which he clearly isn’t).
- The Leafs have four regulation wins in their last 33 games now.