Leafs Postgame: Sacrebleu


It’s a matchup that never gets old. Once about being the face of English
Canada vs. the face of French Canada, the Leafs and Habs rivalry is
still about two powerhouse organizations. Tons of money. Tons of fans.
Tons of history. Two pretty good teams, as well. It’s always a fun night
to watch, and it was going to get even better with a Sochi Semifinal
rematch. James van Riemsdyk and Phil Kessel vs Carey… what? Peter
Budaj started? Whatever. It’s still a rivalry game with lots of points
implications, and it landed in the favour of the Bleu, Blanc, et Rouge, by a score of 4-3.

The Rundown

game started with an early Leafs penalty kill, as Dion Phaneuf took a
lazy tripping call. It didn’t turn into a goal, but the Habs had
consistent control of the game, not even giving up a non-wide shot for
the first 11 minutes of the game. Eventually, the Leafs’ perpetual
penalty kill strategy came to haunt them, as Alex Galchenyuk spun
around, used Morgan Rielly as a screen, and fired a wrist shot past
Jonathan Bernier to open the scoring. Just a minute and a half
afterwards, the process was repeated, with Peter Holland playing screen
and Max Pacioretty playing shooter. The Leafs started to build up some
quality pressure and scoring chances in the following minutes, however,
with Joffrey Lupul hitting the post on a strong takeaway and James van Riemsdyk tipping in a Phil Kessel shot to keep Toronto in the game after twenty.

second period was largely uneventful for the bulk of the time. Toronto
earned themselves an early powerplay courtesy of a David Desharnais
trip, but it didn’t really turn into anything. Toronto closed up the shot differential a bit, Montreal opened it back up, and time was largely just spent being existent.

A Leafs powerplay was the opening statement of the third period, though nothing came out of it that could translate to the score sheet. An ingenious between-the-legs pass by van Riemsdyk turned into a gimme one timer for Kessel, but Peter Budaj jumped in just in time to make the save. Both soon got chances at redemption, though, and capitalized. Van Riemsdyk’s effort was a shorthanded breakaway where he went backhand and beat Budaj, and Kessel’s was another one of his perfect wrist shots, bringing them to 26 and 33 goals on the year respectively. The lead didn’t last all that long though, as PK Subban fired one of his trademark slapshots past Bernier to tie the game back up. A puck-over-glass whoopsie by The Phil gave the Habs a strong opportunity to end the game in regulation, but they ran out of time.

In overtime, both teams traded scoring chances, with two of the best coming to Montreal’s Daniel Briere on partial breaks. though in both cases he was unsuccessful. He did indirectly draw a penalty though, as his second break saw Bernier smother the puck while sliding into the hashmarks. Just seconds later, Pacioretty potted his second of the night to give his team the win.

Why The Leafs Lost

On one hand, I could point fingers at Jonathan Bernier’s overtime mistake. He really should have gotten rid of the puck after getting it from Briere, though 20/20 hindsight is at play here. Maybe he didn’t see anybody, but that’s still a cut and dry penalty that lead to the winning goal.

On the other hand, the Leafs bled shots against (what else is new) tonight and the Habs controlled the ice for large chunks of the game, so maybe it’s a bit much to point fingers at him.

On the third hand that I’ve grown for some reason, an 0.866 performance isn’t exactly mind-blowing. You know what? Bernier has been great for the Leafs this year, but since “getting outshot” is a boring trope, I’ll say that this wasn’t his best night and that a standard performance would have won the Leafs the game.

Blue Warriors

Can I give it to two people? I’m going to give it to two people. Unsurprisingly, Phil Kessel and James van Riemsdyk are the best forwards on this team, and showed that off tonight. Their ability to change a game in a heartbeat is something that we’re going to look back at in a couple of years and regret not appreciating as much. Kessel’s snapshot? Even more under appreciated. It may be the most technically and utterly perfect version of the shot in the history of this league, and that’s saying a lot. A stellar night for them both and the only reasons this game was even close.

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  • Jeremy Ian

    “Two pretty good teams, as well”

    Whaaaaaaaaaa? And here I was taking you for an advanced stats proponent 😉

    No notes on Phaneuf? He played a whopping 30:41 minutes tonight. 39% 5v5 CF%. Ugly numbers and looked ugly by the eye test too. On that last Briere rush, he managed to not take the man OR the puck. It was painfully obvious how useless he was on that play.

    I’m beginning to feel pretty alarmed by his contract. I get that the Leafs didn’t really have a choice if they wanted to stay in contention for THIS year, but I feel this contract starts to look terrible 2 years from now. His footspeed and mobility is already going to sh*t.

  • Jeremy Ian

    I think the Leafs deserved this one. They seemed to control much of the play throughout the game, especially in the third. Very questionable officiating tonight. 3 chintzy calls went against the Leafs. I know Bernier was far away from his crease but I’ve seen that play not get called forever, and all of a sudden it gets called in o. t. I think the puck over glass call on Phil was poor too (hit glass).
    Kessel, JVR, and Bozak are playing great. Bozak made a beautiful pass to Kessel on his goal, and had a number of other excellent plays. Lupul really needs to get his game together though, he hasn’t been good lately, especially on the breakout.

    • Ella A

      2 of the calls actually were good (although unfortunate) calls – the Bernier play should have been called because he didn’t attempt to make the save or play the puck before covering it. Rule seems to differentiate based on goalie intent. CBC also replayed the Kessel delay of game and it was pretty clear that it was the Habs player (I think Emelin) who hit the glass and the puck cleared it. I think the Leafs could have won, but made a couple of mistakes at inopportune moments.

      Also, whether or not he is the back-up, why does Carlyle seem to refuse to play Reimer ever, even against teams where he has a great record? I get hometown crowd factors for last night, but in general, I feel like Reimer gets shafted way more than I expected. He’s not going to be reliable if he never plays, and I feel like every single backup plays more than Reimer.

      • Jeremy Ian

        Agreed. Plus Bernier’s record vs the Habs is undistinguished, to put it diplomatically. What ever happened to the 1A-1B model? Guess that’s officially done. Too bad, because we’re in a stretch where the Leafs are going to need rock solid goaltending; gaffes lose games.

      • Jeremy Ian

        I think the Bernier call seems like it is a judgement call by the Ref. Bernier said he had never been called on it before, and it seems weak to make that call in o.t. Kessel’s penalty apparently hit the glass on the way down, according to some sources, and JVR was pretty adamant it did. The Gleason call was just plain awful.

        I think Reimer needs to get in there. I understand Carlyle not wanting to change anything during the Leafs hot streak, but Bernier has just been ok recently. The Leafs have been keeping the scoring chances down too.

  • Ella A

    That’s 2 sub-par performances by Bernier, not good. But he will get 3rd start again on Monday.
    You mention JVR and Kessel being the best. I’m not a huge Bozak fan but he is a pretty big reason for their success. He fights hard. He wins face offs. And he sets them up.
    Phaneuf had large minutes. He was a little slow and sloppy today. The 1on1 break by Brier was bad. He was playing the pass…which didn’t exist. should have forced him wide.
    Gardiner was either sloppy or non existent. Reilly was consistent. The rest were just….meh!

    • Jeremy Ian

      Speaking of Bozak,Let’s all go back and look at this post from Cam Charron http://mapleleafsnation.com/2014/1/16/tyler-bozaks-having-a-productive-few-games

      Looks like a lot of the predictions are way under what Bozak has actually produced, including Cam. Bozak has actually improved his production since those “productive few games”. What are the chances that the first two guys in the comment thread actually own up to being wrong about Bozak? I say slim to none.

      • Jeremy Ian

        While I agree Bozak has certainly stepped up his game (he’s made some incredible plays recently),the first line will inevitably, and unfortunately not get two points each every game and that will hurt Bozak’s production a bit and the Leafs will be screwed considering they use the first line all of the time and they score all the goals. Need secondary scording!!!

        • Jeremy Ian

          No doubt the first line will have down games, but they will continue to put up points consistently. Don’t forget, we are only 2 games in post Olympics, and remember that Kadri’s line was quite hot prior to the Olympic break. The secondary scoring will come back. Carlyle will continue to give his big guns lots of ice at the expense of the 4th line, which is the right move. Although, I think Phaneuf needs to be closer to 20 minutes than 30 minutes.

          • Jeremy Ian

            I am a little worried about “will continue to put up points consistently.” Opposition coaches will prepare hard against the 1st line. They’d be stupid not to. That’s why the secondary scoring has to come back quickly.

          • Jeremy Ian

            Kessel and VanRiemsdyk could do it against the best at the Olympics and have done it for the year in the league, so I imagine the other coaches have had the opportunity to try to stop them already, Bozak has been better than you experts(talking heads) expected and my yet put up #1 center numbers.

      • Jeremy Ian

        Wow! These advanced stats suck a prediction. The best guess on that list was from bozie the clown who predicted 1 ppg. Everyone else prediction on their calculators, spreadsheets appear ridiculously poor

  • Jeremy Ian

    Bad habits are not easy to vanquish. A lazy opening 15 minutes, which left them skating uphill into the 3rd period (14:6 shots in the 1st); over-reliance on the 1st line; over-reliance on Dion (Jay: I am more worried about the guy’s premature senility at this rate than his contract; he played almost 20 mins in the first 2 periods); no clearing in front of the goalie.

    Some of this stuff is on Carlyle. Gardiner and Bernier’s mental cramps are on them.

    With the hair-losing first 15 minutes past, the game was actually pretty good.

    Rielly continues to impress.

    Lupul-Kadri-Kulemin is an interesting experiment.

    Raymond-Holland-Clarkson? The wingers would have to let Holland play his role as carrier.

    These 2 lines have to find their mojo or else…

  • Ella A

    JVR is a genius right in front or next to the net. The between the legs moves (all of them) that he does whether they work or not always provide amazing scoring chances. Love this guy.

  • Jeremy Ian

    Bernier is stinking it up there just like Reimer. And lately it is too bad whenever Carlyle gives Reimer a chance Reimer in net somehow plays worse then Bernier. Carlyle needs to trade both of them for a decent goalie like Luongo

  • It comes down to the same old thing REIMER is being punished for last year s game 7 lost agasint the Bruins, not only are they mad and continually blaming him, they as in the team, Carlye, Nonis have basically destroyed Reimer, they have thown him to the curb and his stats which in the beginning were tied for 3rd spot with Rask with….His team has turned on him favouring Bernier over hin, the fans have walked away from him…That’s why Reimer sits and sits and sits…if and when he gets to play again, what shape mentally will he be in??? to go from being the starter Goalie to not even a back-up because your right he hasn’t been even up there with other back=ups and its a shame to even talk about this because it never should have been this way…..
    I don’t know how Reimer is suppose to be any good to himself and this team wasting away on the bench, Randy has it out for Reimer and contines to favour his chosen Goalie….

    GOOD LUCK WITH THIS SEASON AND THE PLAYOFFS IF YOU GET THERE, because as I have said before Bernier is not your saviour, and with Reimer mentally drained and wasting away is going to be no good for anyone if this continues….Bernier continues to mess uo just like these last 2 games, yet he can do no wrong. everyone keeps making excuses for him…


  • safe to say the Olympic break was good for 81 and 21 because they were playing GAMES, not just practicing, and they’ve stayed hot?

    PS my dad was joking that the US women’s hockey team was missing a “jane van riemsdyk” 😛