I didn’t get a great look at this hockey game, juggling cooking dinner during play (quesadillas!) with running errands during intermissions, so I can’t really go too in depth tonight other than what my eyes (somewhat) told me and also what the statistics say.
Basically, the CBC has led me to believe that the Winnipeg Jets are hotter than a quesadilla loaded with Sriracha sauce ever since firing Claude Noel and putting former Toronto bench boss Paul Maurice behind the bench. Maurice has the Jets playing better hockey, if better hockey means “riding your hot goalie”.
The Jets got out to a 4-1 lead over Toronto, but the Leafs fought back with two goals by the end of the second period and a late tying (read: clutch [!!]) goal by Phil Kessel to tie the score and send it to overtime. Dustin Byfuglien, however, ended the game with a hard wrist shot from just inside the blue line moments after Evander Kane hit the crossbar. There was a lot going on and, to step back from it, it was pretty entertaining, all in all.
I may have to watch this mess when it’s available in 48 hours to break down certain aspects, but presumably I’ll get too lazy to do it. Given the circumstances, with Toronto at the end of a tough four-game Western road trip, they did well to keep the shots on goal and possession somewhat even. Unfortunately, some reeeeeaaaaal bad miscues in the first period had the Leafs down 2-0 early. The first one was somewhat a bad bounce: Tim Gleason attempted to send the puck around the boards behind the net to the near side, where the Leafs had two men and the Jets had none, but the puck hit the referee and Plan B from Gleason was a pass right into Nik Kulemin’s skates. Kulemin was stripped and Mark Scheifele was left alone in the slot for a pass to give the Jets a 1-0 lead.
The second goal may have been the worst thing ever done by Cody Franson. Let’s just pretend it didn’t happen.
The second period was wild. Toronto got one back on the powerplay. Some good puck-recovery work from Kessel set up a point shot by Dion Phaneuf, who blasted it through a screen to make the score 2-1, but the Jets got two of their own efforts from the outside: Bryan Little found some easy ice and redirected a slap pass from Tobias Enstrom, then Zach Bogosian let a weak shot from the point go that went through everybody, and that was (regrettably) the end of James Reimer, whose 2014 is not going as well as his 2013 did.
However, the Leafs ace up the sleeve was Ondrej Pavelec. Troy Bodie finished off a nice little passing play started by Nazem Kadri who carried three Jets into the zone, and then dished it off to the speedy Bodie for a nice wrist shot. Tim Gleason scored his first as a Leaf on a reeeeaaal bad effort from Pavelec:
In his defence, the puck hit Jacob Trouba a little, but it was also going painfully slow. Carter Ashton made a nice pass after controlling the puck in over the line, but Gleason didn’t exactly skate fluidly on to it and didn’t get a great shot away.
But hey, put pucks at net!
The Leafs got some great chances in the third, including a powerplay thanks to a puck-over-glass, but didn’t get any great scoring chances until late, and eventually Kessel tied it on a sharp angled shot:
Credit where credit is due: Tyler Bozak made a great play to strip Zach Bogosian of the puck, getting it to James van Riemsdyk, able to set up Kessel.
In OT, the Jets had both the chances. Evander Kane hit the post, and Dustin Byfuglien put the only puck past Jonathan Bernier on the night. 5-4 final.
WHY THE LEAFS LOST
Before the Phaneuf goal, James Reimer made an excellent save on a Jets shorthanded two-on-one. The Leafs had five PP chances on the night but converted just once, and had just four shots on goal which isn’t particularly impressive. Special teams let the Leafs down all night—they also allowed two goals and four shots in four minutes of Jets 5-on-4 time.
Reimer didn’t have a really good start, which is a problem, but you can’t always expect your goalies to steal you games. I thought Toronto did a good job of staying in it, shots-wise, with the Jets, and Pavelec made three real big saves in the early going: a glove save off Kessel, a pad save off Joffrey Lupul, and stopping Nik Kulemin on a breakaway (not necessarily in that order).
I thought Carter Ashton had a good game in his 6:52. I can’t figure out for the life of me why he doesn’t get closer to ten minutes: he seems like a player that could contribute on a speedy fourth line geared a little more towards offence. Just the single shot on goal, but did come very close with about three minutes to go to tying the score before Kessel did.
NUMBERS AND NOTES
I gotta head out so won’t really parse through the Extra Skater data (or wait for all of it to be live) but it’s worth noting the Leafs crushed the Jets in shot attempts on the night. Partially score effects, but Toronto did a good job territorially in another game that they probably shouldn’t have. Granted, I know that won’t be enough to convince some people of the reliability of shot statistics, but Toronto was getting chances early, they just needed more of them to eventually start going in.
Worth noting that with Montreal’s loss and Toronto’s point, the Leafs climb ahead of the Habs for third place in the Atlantic Division. The Habs have some games in hand, but they also have their own shot differential problems to worry about, too.