Every time the Leafs and Flyers meet, a few things come to
mind. One, the whole Luke Schenn/James van Riemsdyk dynamic (Schenn was a
minus-1 . . . sucker). Two, fights. With David Clarkson injuring himself in
Friday’s practice, Frazer McLaren found himself back in the lineup, which meant
a physical game against the Broadstreet Bullies was inevitable.
Slowing down the red-hot Flyers was going to be a tough task
for the Leafs though, with Philly being 8-2 in their last ten and coming into
tonight’s game on a three-game winning streak.
But the Leafs had to put on a good show tonight, with plenty
of Olympians in the stands, including Canadian royalty Tessa Virtue and Scott
Moir (Unless Kessel and JVR are still better).
For the game itself, it was pretty even throughout, as both
teams had times they dominated the play. It went to overtime, the Leafs fourth time
in OT in five games since the Olympic break.
Toronto opened the game on fire, going up 1-0 just 2:21 into
the first period. A scrum in front of
the Flyers net caused the puck to squirt out to Jake Gardiner’s stick, where he
fired a wrist shot through a barrage of players to give Toronto the lead.
And that lead was increased just over a minute later, as
Nazem Kadri took a pass from Joffrey Lupul as the Leafs streaked down the ice,
putting it top corner on Flyers goalie Steve Mason. The Leafs stayed consistent
for the rest of the period, keeping up the pressure on Philadelphia, and they
entered the first intermission up 2-0.
The second period saw both the Leafs and Flyers with great
scoring chances, with Philadelphia getting a goal waved off because the whistle
was blown. A fight broke out about halfway through the period, with McLaren and
former Leaf Jay Rosehill dropping the glove for a staged fight right off the
faceoff. It was a good fight, as both players got great punches in, with
Rosehill taking McLaren to the ice.
The second half of the period was where Philadelphia finally
started controlling the play. They were putting all the pressure on Toronto,
culminating in a goal by Kimmo Timonen through Bernier’s fivehole.
Philadelphia continued their strong play in the third, playing
most of the first half in Toronto’s zone. They finally tied the game after
Voracek won a battle behind the net, feeding Timonen for his second of the
But with just over six minutes remaining, the fourth line
continued their strong game. Mason Raymond found himself on the ice with Troy
Bodie and Jay Mclement, and took a cross-ice pass from Mclement to put it
behind Mason to give the Leafs a 3-2 lead.
The lead didn’t last long though, as Brayden Coburn blasted
a slap shot past a screened Bernier with 2:32 left in the third, pushing the
game into overtime.
But the Leafs held on in overtime, as Kadri
brought the puck into the zone with patience, and then a tic-tac-toe passing play
from Gunnarson to Phanuef to Lupul. Lupul’s goal gave the Leafs a much needed
two points, and solidified a great game for him and the entire Leafs second
Why The Leafs Won
Secondary scoring. The first line has been cold of late and
when that happens, you need your other skilled players to perform. Tonight,
Kadri scored his 17th of the season, and Lupul scored his 19th,
along with two goals from the fourth line. Finally taking the heat off Kessel
and van Riemsdyk is huge because they’ve been carrying this team for the better
part of the year. If both the first line and the secondary scoring can get hot
at the same time, the Leafs will be a much, much better team. And no so reliant
on Kessel, JVR and Bernier.
The entire fourth line. It seemed like every time they were
on the ice tonight, they were producing scoring chances and had the Flyers
chasing them. Troy Bodie gives them so much energy and tonight he had two
assists. When the first line is cold, someone needs to step up, and tonight it
was clear who did. If Toronto can continue to get this kid of production and
energy out of their fourth line for the rest of the season, it will go a really
long way towards keeping the team fresh as they continue their playoff push.
Numbers and Notes
Fenwick chart via extraskater.com:
- The only major blip in this game for Toronto was the middle of he second period. After a decent start to the period, they were dominated for the remainder. They’re lucky Philly only scored one goal during that time of play
The Leafs powerplay continued to look stagnant
since the Olympic break. The Flyers produced a few short-handed chances, and
lately it’s looked like they give up more chances than they get on the
fourth line played an amazing game. They were on the ice for the game’s first
goal, and produced a handful of scoring opportunities throughout the game.
Mclement and McLaren had fenwick’s of plus 6 and 7, which is pretty impressive.
Timonen now has seven points in four games since
the Olympic break and scored his first goal since December 9th. Finland’s
bronze medal must’ve had a big impact on him.