Leafs postgame – Toronto paint Picasso, defeats Florida

wtf is going on here

An early 2-0 deficit to the Florida Panthers turned into a decisive win—the last time Florida was in town, Scott Clemmensen stopped 28 of 29 shots for a 3-1 Panther victory—and that wasn’t exactly the case Thursday night. Despite going down 2-0 early, the Maple Leafs rallied in typical Maple Leafs fashion: they scored three goals on three shots taken over an 11:11 span of the hockey game while somehow managing to keep pucks out of their own end.

One sports cliché is when the scoreboard is much kinder than the play indicated. “It’s not a Picasso,” they’ll say “but they count.” I still take issue with this cliché. While I find Picasso’s works to be intriguing, I wouldn’t exactly say they’re pretty. Maybe the cliché would work better if we were talking about the paintings of Vincent Van Gogh, the poetry of William Shakespeare or even the music of John Williams. The Leafs painted a Picasso on Thursday. It was pre-Cubist, and no different to many of the avant-garde works performed by the Leafs dating back to January 19, 2013. Somehow they’ve pulled these ones out, and we keep not finding evidence that there’s anything stopping this, short of every hockey commentator simultaneously closing one eye each.

It was a 6-3 final at the Air Canada Centre.


Not much to say. Early on, the Leafs got caught twice, once on a bad read by Morgan Rielly on a Florida breakout leading to a Nick Bjugstad breakaway, and you could probably say Tim Gleason wasn’t exactly in the best of places when Cody Franson (bad Cody) turned over this puck:

Sean Bergenheim scored the second goal after he created a two-on-one with Brad Boyes in the offensive zone. A few shifts later, however, Randy Carlyle juggled his defensive combinations, putting Cody Franson back with Jake Gardiner and moving Gleason down onto the third pairing with Rielly, guaranteeing us bloggers something to discuss on the weekend.

The move paid off nearly immediately. On his first shift with Gardiner, Franson whipped home a wrist shot (good Cody) to pull the Leafs back to within one.

The Leafs jumped ahead 3-2 early in the second period, first on a Mason Raymond wrist shot that Clemmensen would probably like to have back, and just seconds later, Scott Gomez got his stick up on Dion Phaneuf, giving the Leafs a chance to take the lead early on in the second, which they did on a James van Riemsdyk re-direct:

Side note: remember at the start of his tenure here how difficult of a time Carlyle had parking JvR in front of the net like that? How many goals has JvR scored from just a couple of feet out like that?


Early in the third, the Leafs pulled away, and managed to pull closer to even on shots, helped partly by a horrible Panthers powerplay and Clemmensen’s inability to make an important save. Nik Kulemin scored from the high slot with his eighth, and Joffrey Lupul scored on a wicked blast from the wall on a powerplay on one of his five shots on the night. After Dmitry Kulikov pulled the Panthers to within two, late, Phil Kessel went out of his way to do Phil Kessel things, leaping on a turnover and finding some open space to seal the game:

Best thing about this goal is how Kessel beats Bjugstad twice on the play.


It’d be easy to point to Jonathan Bernier’s 35 saves (though on 38 shots, his save percentage actually dropped tonight) or the Leafs controlling the Panthers on the stat sheet, out-hitting Florida 41-26, winning 44 draws to the Panthers’ 33 and blocking 13 shots to 10. (It’s weird how often inside hockey people will quote these numbers but avoid talking about shot statistics that have shown to be predictive in most cases).

Where the Leafs really won the game was on special teams. There were 8 powerplays in the game, and 7 of them went Toronto’s way. Florida went 0-for-5 on their own powerplays and generated just 8 shots in 10 minutes.

Currently, the Panthers have 2.54 goals per 60 minutes of five-on-four time, which is comically low. Three teams: Chicago, Anaheim and St. Louis, have more five-on-five goals per 60 minutes than the Panthers have at five-on-four. That’s a good PP unit for a struggling Leafs PK unit to run into. 


I liked Mason Raymond’s game tonight. He was +3 Corsi on the night, and scored his first in six games in 15 minutes of ice-time. Also managed a couple of shots on goal, and in his three minutes of shorthanded ice-time, the Leafs actually out-shot Florida 2-1.

Also, if you have any friends who are Canuck fans, here’s in interesting stat forwarded to me by Dimitri Filipovic of Canucks Army fame:



Here’s our Fenwick Graph:

Florida pulled away midway through the second, but generally the shots were even from about the 29-minute mark and through to the end of the game. While Florida kept the Leafs off the puck and hemmed Toronto in the defensive zone often, they didn’t generate too many shots or chances in the early going, and minus that three shots in 11:11 stretch the Leafs went on, they weren’t kept off the shot clock that often.

Tim Gleason’s game may be somewhat subject to debate. He’s been a goals against machine since being traded over from Carolina on January 1, and five blocked shots on the night doesn’t mean he’s a good shot-blocker, it just means he blocks a lot of shots, and you can’t block a lot of shots without letting the opposition take those shots. At any rate, our old friend TimeOnIce.com has Gleason at an even Corsi and a +4 Fenwick on the night. Not terrible. Pretty good, in fact. I’d say his +/- is somewhat PDO-related (96.8% coming into tonight) and he’s been solid, if not spectacular, since coming over, though I’m usually annoyed at the way broadcasters suck up to any North American-born defenceman who doesn’t wear a visor and throws himself in front of shots.

Randy Carlyle has been giving his top line a large share of defensive zone minutes lately: of the 22 defensive zone faceoffs at five-on-five tonight, Tyler Bozak, James van Riemsdyk and Phil Kessel were on for eight of them, tied for the team lead. Most of the offensive zone starts went to the Rielly-Gleason combination, as well as the Nazem Kadri line.

Three assists for The Wizard of Naz tonight. Regressing back towards that mean…

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    • Cam Thornton

      Wow, I missed that article, so much BS and anger throughout it but I guess a drubbing like that gets people worked up. I especially like this little nugget from the comments.

      “Hey Cam, just a minor thought. A consolation for you: feel free to say I told you so. To those who rubbished data analysis in favor of “watching the game” or extolling the virtues of Carlyle’s “shot quality” opportunism, you can fairly say they didn’t understand your prophecies.”

      I wonder what tune this guy is singing now. No matter what we are now at a point where we can safely say that a lot of the simple numbers guys have missed a lot when it comes to these Leafs, and overrated their predictive powers. Heck, a lot of them were picking the Leafs to finish in the bottom 5 of the league. These opinions were crazy last year, ignorant in the offseason, and obnoxious in January. Now we see these folks (PPP and the like)really spinning their wheels to find any little thing to complain about to try and save a bit of face.

    • MaxPower417

      You’re totally right, after this 8-1-1 stretch the Leafs now have 19 regulations wins and 21 regulation losses. Can you say powerhouse?

      But really, after each stretch good or bad, are we going to play the I told you so game? Seems silly on everyone’s part.

      • Right, as long as we’re going back a ways:


        “I’m as interested as ever in what the Leafs do or don’t accomplish this season and a good batch of people’s acceptance of new hockey analysis is probably going to depend on whether the Leafs compete for the Atlantic Division crown or not. It’s going to be divisive, entertaining, and every small winning or losing streak is likely to be accomplished by a thousand “i told you so”s in unison.”

        Ya, completely wrong. My gripes about Carlyle aren’t necessarily about the team being bad, it’s that a group of entertaining skaters are being restricted, that Jake Gardiner is on too tight of a leash and my favourite Leafs when I watched during a dark, dark period, namely Clarke MacArthur and Mikhail Grabovski, are making good on their opportunities elsewhere. I would rather that not be in the future for Jake Gardiner and Nazem Kadri.

        But, hey, if parts of LeafsNation are cool with the team bouncing between 5th and 8th in a crappy Conference, playing below .500 in regulation, a negative goal differential and in the playoffs only because of a historic season from their goaltender, cool. I think the team could have been built way better, and they have way more potential than their record (and play) shows right now.

        Not to mention I completely nailed regressions for Kadri and Lupul (and now people vent about how crappy they are during broadcasts, despite THAT not being entirely true either) and we were always very vocal here in support of Phil Kessel and James van Riemsdyk, who are all having excellent seasons.

        Meanwhile, Nik Kulemin is out-producing David Clarkson (as we suggested in the summer would be a possibility) and despite Tyler Bozak’s crazy hot streak, he still can’t generate points off of the top line, but the reverse ain’t exactly true.

        So if we’re going to complain about all the things I got wrong about the Leafs (namely, that they’d be playing in such a bad conference) then it does make sense to pick and choose.

        • MaxPower417

          I don’t mind you trying to be impartial about your own personal record and it would be great if you mention some of the things that Nonis and Carlyle got right with the same amount of impartiality.

          • MaxPower417

            Yeah, Cam never says anything nice about Raymond or Holland. Geez, he just complimented Carlyle in this post!

            It’s a funny game for the “I told you so’s” to come out. They won, yes, but they beat a terrible goalie and one of the very worst teams in the NHL. There’s a limit to how good you should feel about giving up 38 shots to the Florida Panthers on home ice.

          • MaxPower417

            Why are you calling me an “I told you so”. I never used I told you so in my post. I’m asking for fair, unbiased impartiality on both sides be it – the leafs corsi or the difficult clarkson signing.

            The fact the corsi crowd is getting so defensive is interesting to note because it is not the point of my post.

        • Cam Thornton

          Cam, I used to think you were one of the rare reasonable Leaf bloggers out there, but after reading your comment above, still trying to justify a lot of things you had said I am starting to question just how reasonable you are. Do you think the Leafs would be first in the East with a different coach?

          Lupul and kadri regressions were obvious.
          Kadri has started to play differently as of late and the score sheet reflects this.
          Bozak has played great, and would still do well without Kessel but I guess we don’t know for sure as they never play apart.

          The goaltending has been good and the team shouldn’t apologize for that. Sv% is also inflated bc of all the outside shots the Leafs allow.

          You really went out on a limb in backing jvr and Kessel. Boy wjo knew they could be such good players (sarcasm).

          Bolland is a better third line option than Grabbo at his price tag. I miss Maca but when are we going to stop griping about guys not on the team anymore. Raymond has been a solid cheaper replacement.

          You just sound angry and unreasonable sometimes, and you tend to focus on the negative when the leafs win bc it means a lot of your assumptions are incorrect.

  • Poluza

    Hmm, so the Leafs keep on keeping on but remain second last in ff%. Since its now pretty obvious that luck has very little to do with the Leafs success, maybe some of the stats. Guys can start looking for legit. Reasons as to why the Leafs continue to have success. Could it be that there score of the rush style is actually a trade off for more shots and shot attempts? When a team scores off the rush they don’t have an opportunity to get in the zone and throw a bunch of pucks towards the net. This could potentially be one reason for the discrepancy between the Leafs success and their FF%, not that ff% explains a lot anyway, but this is just a little food for thought.

  • STAN

    A win is a win, but as we enter crunch time the Leafs are 28th in goals against, a tad better than only the Islanders and Oilers. That’s worrying.

    So not only are the Buds giving up more shots on goal and scoring chances than any team in the league, they’re magical winning record is based solely on crack shooting.

    I suppose they can continue that trend (taking advantage of their chances and creating odd-man rushes with their speed, but…

    If Kadri, Raymond and Lupul can stay warm/hot, the Leafs have a good chance of scoring 4-5 goals a game and winning.

  • STAN

    As a a leafs fan I enjoy the wins, who would not if you are a fan of the team. However what I would enjoy even more then the rollercoaster ride would be a formula for sustainable success. Upon request I can post links but in the last couple decades or so usually good possession teams do well season after season and go further in the playoffs than negative possession teams. The leafs are not a good possession team and I think a big part of that is Carlyles system . I rather the leafs be built on a formula thats worked for a long time than try to be the team that has found a formula that no team in decades has. I am sure most of the writers on this site feel the same way. However if the leafs acn win the cup based on a dump chase system where a 4th liner pk specialist gets 18-20 mins a night than no one is gonna complain.

  • STAN


    Towering, speedy, annoying pest Troy Bodie has 6 points (2g, 4a) in 21 games playing 7 minutes a game… and is PLUS 4.

    The much smaller, slower, less pesky David Clarkson? 8 points (3g, 5a) in 36 games logging 16 minutes a game…and is MINUS 5.

    How on Earth can Dave Nonis justify this signing? I’d sure respect him more if he either moved him or at least admitted his blunder.

    • STAN

      Any signing done based more on hometown and is that long term for a player hsi age is not that great of a signing. However I think its premature to judge a 7 year contract in which the guy has barely played a half-season yet as a failure. Lets look at it 2-3 years in.

    • Cam Thornton

      So you want Nonis to come out and admit that the Clarkson signing was a mistake? I bet that would do real well with Clarkson’s already low confidence. Its his first year in a new organization, it a different role, new teammates, and he’s been plagued with injury and had to deal with suspensions. You’ve got this guy locked up to 6 more years, so the best thing to do is to have his back and get him back into the swing of things. Yes he has underperformed (so far), but knocking him down a few pegs isn’t going to make things better.

      Even if Nonis did want to trade Clarkson and get rid of this contract, coming out and admitting signing him was a mistake, how can you sell others teams on taking him and his contract.

      • STAN

        If analytics community come out and say that their corsi analysis was a mistake for the leafs then maybe they have the emotional integrity to ask for Nonis to admit the Clarkson signing mistake.

  • MaxPower417

    No need to provide. The Leafs have proved over past 100+ games that it is sustainable. We now know that there is more to measuring possession than a simple proxy like shot attempts, it really doesn’t say much when it comes to the Leafs. Now we need to start looking at why this is, and not just resorting to lazy conclusions like look and goaltending. There are lots of legitimate reasons.
    Also, where are you finding this “decades” of data you speak of? I gotta call bs on that.

  • Leaf Fan in Mexico

    My understanding of the Leafs is premised on the undeniable fact that they have 1 awfully talented second line and 2 pretty good second lines. This said, given the addition of the guy to the team, they could have four or five guys that could play on a damn good first line.

    What is missing and why we cannot always expect from the leafs what they could potentially deliver given their talent, is that missing ingredient some call culture, magic, in sync coaching, but i call leadership.

    Leadership is the drive to want the puck in any zone, to want to make the play, to shoot to block to do whatever it takes. Remember Dougie?

    Kadri has flashes of that. In the Florida game after he missed a check and a goal was scored he banged the boards with his stick, pissed with himself…. i like that attitude many guys just hang their heads… when the other team scores you get mad you don’t pout.

    Talent we got, consistent fire not so much.