Leafs Post-game: Back On Track

The result of tonight’s game was likely going to do a lot to influence people’s perceptions of this team.  If they lost they would be losers in 3 of 4 and back on the tailspin.  If they won, they’d be winners of 2 straight and back on the right path.  Well, the Leafs were able to roll to a 4-1 victory at home tonight against the Detroit Red Wings.


It was a pretty good first period for the Leafs.  The shots were 12-8 but it seemed to me like the Leafs carried a good portion of the play.  It did help that they had 3 powerplays in the first while Detroit had just 1.  The Leafs were rewarded for their efforts when Leo Komarov carried the puck to the net off the rush and potted one home.

In the second period Detroit had an edge but not by a large margin.  It was largely a flat 20 minutes of hockey on both sides of the puck.  About midway through the frame, Xavier Ouellet dished out a really nice pass to Tomas Tatar to tie the game up.  Roman Polak was injured on the play and did not return to the game.

The third was pretty evenly played but the Leafs were able to break free.  Tyler Bozak scored on a pretty nice shorthanded breakaway early and Peter Holland was able to seal the deal late in the period with a great shot off the rush.  Tyler Bozak also got an empty-netter.

All in all it was a pretty solid game from the Leafs.  It could have gone either way, but they were on the right side of the scoreboard tonight and are now back to their winning ways.


Stopping 26 of 27 shots, Jonathan Bernier is tonight’s Blue Warrior.


  • A few notes from Elliot Friedman and Damien Cox during the second intermission: the NHL’s Chief Operating Officer John Collins was apparently in the running to replace Tim Leiweke as President and CEO of MLSE, but he took his name out of the ballot.  Leafs top prospect William Nylander was injured today after being kicked in the back of the head by a skate but the injury isn’t believed to be serious.  David Booth is likely to return to the Leafs lineup Wednesday after his two-game conditioning stint with the Marlies ends tomorrow.  Lastly and most interestingly, Cox claims that the Leafs salute snub on Thursday was not a planned routine change as the players have claimed but rather a conscious decision made by the players against the fans.  The Leafs did salute the crowd tonight.  I’d imagine that someone within the organization told them they have to in order to settle the storm.
  • With Booth coming back Wednesday and Joffrey Lupul and Brandon Kozun not far behind him, I’d expect Josh Leivo to be the first but perhaps not the only player sent down by the Leafs.  He’s played alright for the Leafs but isn’t getting a lot of ice-time in a fourth-line role.
  • By the way, tonight’s fancy stats: Detroit 56.79 CF%, Toronto 43.21
    CF%.  Tonight’s Toronto Corsi King: Josh Leivo himself at 77.78%.
  • As TSN’s Mark Masters notes, Korbinian Holzer might be the logical replacement for Roman Polak if he misses any games because he’s a right-handed shot (the Leafs have emphasized a left-right balance on defense this season), plays a similar style to Roman Polak, and can eat up some of his penalty kill minutes.  Stuart Percy would presumably also be in the mix.  UPDATE: Randy Carlyle expects Roman Polak to be out awhile.
  • Cody Franson was unable to extend his point streak to 10 games.  Tom Kurvers’ franchise record of 10 straight for a defenseman lives on.


The Leafs will look to extend their winning streak to 3 games hosting the Pittsburgh Penguins at 7:30PM Eastern on Sportsnet this Wednesday.

  • Jeremy Ian

    Carlyle outcoached and outclassed Babcock tonight. The wings had no answer for the leafs high work ethic effort tonight.

    And too many people are talking up how Bozak is some kind of 1C because he got two goals tonight. But the only reason he gets any points is that Kessel is dragging his sorry butt offensively as was the case tonight.

    • TGT23

      Depends on how you rank #1 and #3, really.

      I’d like to see Kadri on the top line and Bozak on the 3rd with Komarov and Santa with Holland centering Clarkson and Winnik/Lupul. And ideally all three lines would get compatible playing time because all three could be insanely effective.

      Anyway, nice game tonight. Bernier stood tall once again. Nice couple wins to wash the bad taste out of the mouth from the previous two.

      • TGT23

        Depends on how you rank #1 and #3, really.

        I think Holland is really our most consistently productive center. And he is not a defensive liability.
        Bozak is our best special teams center and best faceoff man-and has a special relationship with Kessel.

        Kadri I think would be best suited to be on the wing,
        beside Holland and Lupul.
        I’d be happy for now with switching someone like
        Santorelli to center.

  • TGT23

    A fun night for Toronto sports fans as those who have ambidextrous eyeballs got to see both the Raptors and Leafs win their 11th game of the year. The leafs accomplished this feat in 21 games while it took the Raptors just 11 contests.

    So the roller ride continues as the leafs play one of their better games of the year against their old 6 team rival, the Wings.

    Nice to see the speed of Bozak and Holland score those clutch goals.

    Very compassionate of the leaf players to only give their loyal, fanatical, obsessed fans just one game in purgatory as the lads circled center ice serenading their wallet empty fans.

    Four days off, plenty of time for the ink stain wretches of the media to create the latest tempest in a tea pot story.

  • TGT23

    Man I hate Bozak fans chirping on how he has more points then Grabbo or Kadri. And talking about how Bozak keeps proving fancy stats wrong.

    Bozak is a puck possession black hole who should be playing on the 4th line but keeps benefiting from puck luck. And Bozak is a flawed and incomplete player who does not back check and cannot play defence. Like the leafs last year, when Bozak luck runs out, everyone will see that he is just an awful player that plays for terrible puck possession coach.

  • BubbaLou

    Some thoughts:


    -The Komarov-Kadri-Santo line was the best possession line on the ice relative to the team average. That should surprise nobody, even if you aren’t statistically-inclined – they were dominating their opposing line all game. They also placed 30% across the board in Ozone starts and performed this way (outfought the RC effects!).

    -Is Tyler Bozak just money in the bank on a clean break or what? Shootouts, sprung by passes, clean breaks, I think Bozak is the best SH% on golden chances on the team, maybe better than Kessel. By the way, scoring on clean breaks, empty nets, and tip-ins really crank your SH%, more on that in a bit.

    -It’s exactly as Shanahan said – the team is inconsistent, but when they play as a 5 man unit instead of cheating the play or acting individually, we do actually have the guns to convert chances. It’s not just turnover and shoot – we have credible scoring threats in the lineup on the rush.I especially like how the third period went – positive possession(we played to the end of the game – no turtle), positive chances, positive goals. We Babcock’d the Detroit Babcocks(for one period)

    Now for the bad news:

    -Overall, we were crushed by Detroit in possession. Even the ‘traditional’ Shots For/Against part of SOG hints we started off worse than Det, and improved as the game went on. The underlying “chances” stats – Corsi and Fenwick – were not nearly so nice. We only did 34% of the offense at evens in the first period! That’s not very healthy for more success – it very well could be a sign of the underlying inconsistency ahead. We still start games pretty mediocre.

    -Tyler Bozak scored a breakaway goal and an empty netter. Looking at how people reacted to Tyler Bozak having a good game, there’s a couple of biases to be aware of.

    Sample Size – one game is all games: “Did you see tonight’s game? I would make Tyler Bozak the 1C forever!”

    Von Restorff(confirmation bias) – you clearly remember the highlights and lowlights, but forget the proceedings: “But I watched him score two goals tonight poking the puck free in neutral ice, he is a good two-way player and good on defence.” (see also Jake “Many good decisions and one terrible” Gardiner)

    Outcome Bias – the result was good, so the decision was logical: “You should credit RC for going Bozak at 1C and Kadri on the 3rd line, look how well it paid off. Holland for 2C!” (see also “Neglect of Probability”)

    Bandwagon Effect – self explainatory “you’re wrong Bubba, me and my friends on Twitter think he’s the best (and are also sheep)”.

    I’m not taking away the fact that Bozak played a good game tonight. I personally would keep him on the team, special teams he is good indeed, on a fast break he’s tops, but if two individual events – a breakaway goal and an empty netter – in one game has you “gushing” about Bozak at 1C, you are HIGHLY simplifying the position and the performance of Tyler Bozak in this and previous seasons. Do not forget…


    …Kessel makes mediocre people look good. To permanently lock up 1C also stagnates growth in Kadri and Holland – if it’s a done deal, then there’s no need to compete for it.

  • TGT23

    I would put Kadri on the first line but often times when he enters the offensive zone with possession, he makes really bad decisions. Often times he takes a shot that will either easily be stopped or is just blocked. Also, he doesn’t really have the finish that Bozak does. Granted, I think he is a much better two way player and is a better defensive player than people (including Randy Carlyle) give him credit for. For me, these would be the perfect lines with everyone healthy.


    You can mix up the bottom six if necessary (that second line doesn’t look that great) but I definitely think that first line is good and I think Bozak would benefit from playing with good possession players so he can use his shot more often.

    • BubbaLou

      Kadri’s kind of a beast when he enters the zone with the puck – he can really wheel and deal, it’s one of his defining strengths.

      Nor am I so sure the player with the name “Nifty Mittens” has no finish. Yes, Bozak can score on breakaways, but so can a lot of NHL players. Bozak does not, however, have what you and I would call a beastly shot. There was a good, fair-to-all study on him done last year here (Ironically named “Shooting Tyler Bozak” on account of his wild SH% and what drives the first line’s play):


      The Winnik-Kadri-Kessel line was money earlier this season, I’d love to see it return. You can still go JVR-Bozak-X(maybe Panik or Komarov) in the 2 slot, leaving Clarkson-Holland-Santo Claus. That’s not bad at all IMO – I think it’s kind of a waste to just “lock up” the 1C with Bozak, when he’s only kind-of-one thanks to Kessel and JVR, and you’re trying to groom centers specifically for that role.

      • BubbaLou

        quote. Kadri’s kind of a beast when he enters the zone with the puck

        First of all Carlyle was sheltering Kadri’s line
        so they didn’t get crushed against Zetterberg,so they were not playing against top opposition-which is a must for a first line center.

        And though Kadri last night had a decent night last night a occasionally throw a big hit-no other Leafs
        shows the inconsistency that epitomizes Leafs inconsistency more than Kadri.
        as well Kadri is poor in the faceoff circle.

        I remember a game Kadri must of be the cause of 12 off sides going into the offensive zone.

        Holland plays against top opposition, on the penalty kill and sometime (no enough -on the PP)
        as well though he is no a noted physical player
        I think he is harder to play against than Bozak or

        Kadri has skill but he never for a long period displays special “chemistry” with other players.
        I get the feeling Kadri is one of those players that would get the same production on the 1st or 3rd lines.

        Kadri also takes a lot of low percentage shots.

        Kadri has skill there is no doubt but he is not a 1st line center….I continue to believe he is better suited for a wing position.

        Kadri turns the puck over -often on the rush (which is a bad time to turn the puck over

        • BubbaLou

          “No leaf epitomizes inconsistency like Kadri” – not only is this false (we have plenty of inconsistent players that Kadri puts to shame), Kadri has not had consistent linemates for years! Is it any surprise?

          “I remember a game…” Confirmation bias. First of all how do you verify what you’re saying, second of all one game is not all games – if you want to go that route, trade bozak for his play against BUF and NSH he’s garbage (doing that makes about as much sense – please, leafs, don’t do that).

          Holland has been buried in both minutes and players under Carlyle. He does not play against top opposition – QoC is bottom-middle of the Leafs’ roster. So that’s false.

          Kadri’s line changes from game to game. That’s the coach.

          Then there’s a lot of opinion here – and it may be fact – but from what I can tell, most of this is false and circumstantial. It is a negative influence to change your wingers every single night. We’ve already established our 1W’s make people look better than they are.

        • Jeremy Ian

          Yeah, I am agreeing that Kadri’s problem is not his skillset as much as the line. Pairing him with Clarkson is a bad idea, and RC let that go on too long.

          But I am with you that he’s not ready for 1C role without other changes to that first line. I think what we are all dreaming about is the Kadri-Kessel pairing if only because Kadri’s got more mobility and 2-way strengths than Bozak. Kadri does best with at least one other linemate that draws traffic. That’s why having Koma and Santo worked well for him.

          The bigger problem is RC’s imagination for how 4 lines ought to run GIVEN THE ROSTER HE HAS.

          It would not help to try to force Kadri to play a role he’s not (yet) suited for. But he needs a role that exploits his strengths and addresses his weaknesses.

    • BubbaLou

      I think this year Kadri’s taking those shots instead of looking for a play because he’s anxious to get on the scoreboard. Last year I would have said he looked for the pass too often.

  • TGT23

    I was never really a huge Bozak fan but he’s really proving me wrong. playing an average of 18 mins a night and on pace for 74 pts, nice. it’s crazy to me when people still chirp him, when he couldn’t crack 50 pts and was playing 20 mins a night i was chirping too (yes i know he hasn’t cracked 50 yet) but scoring 49 pts in 59 games last season and now on pace for 74 is pretty damn good.

    • TGT23

      I think the issue is that he’s awful defensively and his points are more a byproduct of his proximity to Kessel and less his talents. Most fans feel other C’s, more talented C’s who were also defensively responsible could match those point totals and make the team better, too.

  • TGT23

    Great game, but let’s not get to overexcited,,,remember this happens alot…..

    Bernier and the team all hve to play and compete every game win or loose….they have yet to coast through with more then a couple wins, they need to put something more together…

    Lets hope they have finally come together and will actually compete game after game……..

  • BubbaLou

    Statistically, looking at that first line JVR is having a bad year. He has poorer puck possession metrics this year compared to Bozak. And Bozak is producing more offensively. Kessel needs better linemates but currently it is hard to make the case that this season, the weakest link is not Bozak.

    Bozak is nearly a ppg center this year and on track to have his statistically best offensive year. Offensively Bozak is performing to his level this season. And like Kunitz playing on the first line, Bozak is benefiting from his linemates. So what. There is always going to be players that are better and worse on a given line.

    Defensively that leaf first line is train wreck. That should be the central reason why that line (or Bozak) needs to be changed. But knocking Bozak for his offensive production is also a bias. A Framing bias of putting everything in a negative context.

    • BubbaLou

      Looking at his stats, I guess I agree with this. Actually, in the aforementioned study, this is brought up – his chemistry. It’s pretty good(because he’s not this player without it – Kunitz-style) because he passes a lot – 87th in the NHL for shots taken. That’s bizarre from a 1C, but it helps because his usual wingers are the type that have all the skill in the world and just NEED pucks their way. His SH% is further bolstered by that – Tyler Bozak does not shoot unless he’s supposed to (off a sick feed, goalie swimming, breakaway, empty netter) and I admit that “look for my wingers first” mentality gels well with who his wingers are.

      The things that hold him back the most – his shot will not blow you away (most of his goals are near the crease), his defence in special teams -structured play- is good but his decision making at 5v5 is pretty mediocre for 1C play…

      …and look at his game-by-game stats. Tyler Bozak’s Point-Per-Game performance rides almost lock-step with the Leafs’ fortunes on the ice. Only when this team wins, he’s on the board. When the Leafs lose, Tyler Bozak is all bagels and minus – he does nothing if his linemates aren’t. I think this is just another sign that it’s the quality of his wingers that drive Tyler Bozak – not the other way around – and you want your 1C to be a force by himself too regardless of linemates. That’s why I want to see a more talented 1C.

      • Jeremy Ian

        I think a majority of fans agree. Anyone looks good between Kessel and JvR.


        (1) where’s that magical 1C going to come from?

        (2) my back of the envelope calculations on output:salary makes Bozak a good deal financially for a team that has to be careful with its cap.

        The solution to (1) is move Kadri up. The majority will dwindle into a minority. I don’t think Kadri is ready unless someone else moves up to winger to replace JvR, someone who can draw traffic away from Kadri (like Winnik). That would move JvR-Holland-Lupul; Koma-Bozak-Santo (or something like that; but the 3rd line is not as strong then as the current version). In effect, move more pieces around and it gets kind of pixie-sticks out there.

        On (2) Stasny (29 yrs old) makes $7m/year with 5 points in 12 games and -6 rating. On St Louis! Bozak (28 yrs old) has 19 pts in 21 games with a +1 rating at $4.2m. Stasny’s a good comp because he was one of the candidates fans were drooling over.

        If the Leafs are trying to optimize their payroll, Bozak helps.

        Besides, things could be worse; he does not drag his line down. (That used to be the charge — I don’t hear that many people making that claim any more).

        I am not going to the ramparts to defend Bozak. But he’s not the priority problem here. I actually think the forward selection is good, if not properly calibrated under Carlyle. The Leafs, conceptually, could run 3 well balanced lines 2-4 with one high power offense line 1. At least it’s a concept that builds on the assets the team has. If the coach could only see it that way….

        The priority right now is defense.


        • BubbaLou

          I would love for the coach to see it that way. He’s all over the map, though, so it might just as easily fluke into that line combo and change it mid game. Like I said and you alluded to, Winnik-Kadri-Kessel was grooving well. Then, after a win no less, the coach switched it up again.

          I never really had problems signing Bozak for 4.2M money, if this is his current role. The GM has bigger bloopers on the payroll to be held accountable for.

          The problem is Bozak is he’s not nearly the same player centering other lines. This is a shame because his locked-in-for-life presence at 1C is an impediment to developing a “proper” one. If you want an upgrade at 1C, these days you either sell the whole farm for one player, or draft and develop – Nylander will be here next year, Gauthier is in the wings, Holland is capable and showed he’s good at the AHL level, Kadri seems on the verge all the time.

          • Jeremy Ian

            Agreed that Bozak’s value depreciates on any other line. As does anyone else’s (which is why Kessel, in particular, is such a valuable asset). But one could say that’s the reason not to move him, depending on what you gain.

            It’s about the opportunity costs. Do you get more value by moving Kadri to 1C than you lose by moving Bozak to 3C?

            The question then is how to optimize Kadri-Holland-Bozak. Of that trio, Holland and Kadri in the longer run have more potential to create multipliers around them than Bozak does. I think you get more marginal gain by getting the right complements around Kadri and Holland right now. The pieces are there; RC has to have the right vision.

            Moving Bozak down the lineup creates a weaker 3rd line with only slight gains on the 1st.

          • BubbaLou

            There it is.

            The most frustrating thing about it is keeping Bozak, age 28, as 1C is there’s no room for our developing players to take a crack at the role. By moving Bozak you can get a small boost by putting Kadri at 1C – at both ends of the ice, I’m pretty sure – but at the same time, you expose Tyler Bozak’s play with lesser players, and your depth is actually weakened overall. Thanks, Bozak, for being such an enigma to deal with.

            More on line pairings: Clarkson is moving all over the line, and he’s… better this year, but still not top 6 material. I know we have some injuries but why not revive the Clarkson-Santo-Komarov line and move Panik to 2W.

            Panik was a former first rounder that’s played for deep, deep rosters in the NHL as a scorer, but didn’t crack those top 6 on said deep rosters. Based on how he’s played and produced – with practically 3 minutes a night – I would be okay in shuffling him into a scoring role and seeing how he does with the minutes. RC moved him straight to first line winger – and that’s definitely not correct at all – but maybe 2W until Lupul returns?

  • Jeremy Ian

    RC is a very conservative coach, and it is his style to keep everything as is unless forced by poor play or injury into a change-
    but I get a sense that with the 2 assistants being former head coaches
    we are getting more creativity in the line combos.

    With Lupul, Booth set to come back and Kozun not far off there will be some decisions to be made.

    Santorelli is a natural center and I don’t thonk that that should stay out of our calculations.

    Bozak is our only good faceoff option. And though
    we have no true #1 center , the Leafs have depth at forward which we should perhaps consider trading a
    depth forward for a depth defenseman.

    With Polak injured for a while we will have to make
    up his significant mins. (as lately he has been the leader behind Phaneuf in defenseman mins)
    Percy is the first choice -but I’m not completely sold on Robidas as he seems like the week link sometimes.

    I like Panik higher in the lineup as he has a nice toolset of physicality and scoring prowess.

    One thought should be kept in mind and that if the Leafs do make the playoffs -more physicality and size higher in the lineup is an advantage.

  • BubbaLou

    I think eventually -probably in 2 years
    William Nylander will displace Bozak as 1st line center
    until then I think Bozak will remain our #1 center.

    Kadri works well with Komorov and can be inspired by his work ethic and everyone knows Kadri plays his best games when he hits.

    Lupul Kadri Komorov I predict will be tried at some point.

    Holland and Clarkson seem to work-add JVR and that looks like a strong unit.

    Kessel Bozak and I would like to try Leivo.

    Santo Winnik and Panik make 4 balanced lines.

    • BubbaLou

      No on Leivo – he is not 1W material yet. Try not to gimp the 1 line.

      Lupul Kadri Komarov 2line sounds sick though. Clarkson-Holland-Leivo/panik 3rd, I guess I can live with Santo in a reduced role.

      We’re still just postponing a 1C decision.

      • BubbaLou

        No on Leivo – he is not 1W material yet.

        It would be good to get an idea of Leivo’s ceiling
        to see if he can play wth the big boys.

        An incremental step might be to put him with Holland and Clarkson.

        I like Winnik in terms of his size and cycle ability but he doesn’t really have strong scoring ability so it limits his value higher in the line up.

        Jvr Kessel Bozak passing ability is as strong as any I have seen throughout the league.

        It would be good to know who is stepping up in the Marlies in terms of defensive prospects…
        besides Percy.

        • Jeremy Ian

          The good news is that the Leafs have decent options.

          1. Bozak isn’t and shouldn’t go anywhere. 1C is the best fit given the current roster. Right now, he’s ahead of Getzlaf, Ovechkin, Pacioretty, Toews, Kane, Marleau, Spezza, Kunitz, Carter, Zetterberg, Perry, St Louis, Kesler…. I think we need to let Bozak be Bozak. For the money, Jesus, the Leafs are getting a deal.

          2. Kadri needs stable and the right linemates, not an upgrade to 1C (yet). Sure, Lupul-Kadri-Panik; Koma is a good option, too. But find something that gels. Let Kadri develop as a kingmaker on his own line. He’ll develop that way too. Nowadays, you need weaponry up and down your line up anyway. (Something that challenges RC)

          3. If there are moves coming, they need to be on D.

          If there’s blame, it’s RC; If you cannot bring the potential out in your players, you are not a good coach. And Nonis for so many no-trade clauses. Kessel, Lupul, JvR, Clarkson, Bozak, Phaneuf, Robidas all have NTC’s in their contracts. This means that all you have left that’s mobile are your up-and-comers or the role players which won’t get you much.

          • BubbaLou

            Bozak … Right now, he’s ahead of …

            Bozak has strengths
            faceoffs,passing, breakaways/shootouts

            but he doesn’t matchup well against top centers.

            Holland is who RC trusts the most and since leaving the forth line he has been RC go to center against top opposition.
            BubbaLou says this is wrong but to verify listen to Carlyles post game interview and he specifies this , and in a nice way says he kept Kadri away from Zetterburg.

            I think RC conservative approach while frustrating
            is a survival skill in Toronto. Look at Dallas Eakins in Edmonton, he already looks worn, if he had been hired instead of RC I think he would of had a stroke by now. Under the Toronto medias scrutiny even an experienced winning coach like Ron Wilson his short comings started to come apart at the seams.
            RC will finish the year out no matter what happens so Shanahan may have an option of Babcock if he doesn’t sign back with Detroit.

            I personally think Nonis has done a good job since he has been here considering realistic options available to him.

            The major decision on Franson in the off season
            will be pivotal. I ope they sign or trade him at the deadline and dont let him walk away for nothing.

        • BubbaLou

          Winnik, kind of like Leo, is an assist-o-matic. Here’s the thing: Winnik is smashing the team possession-wise and he’s doing it on pretty poor zone starts. But it’s his defensive responsibility that is so impressive. He’s responsible on the backcheck pretty much always, and he’s also a bit of a thief. His QoC is pretty high – you can tell randy leans on him. As a throw in, insofar as +/- is a thing, he leads all Leaf forwards, tied for 2nd with Franson with +8 (phaneuf leads at +10).

          Holzer is not bad, but he’s been kind of average 0G-2A. Percy, shockingly, is still point-less in the AHL. The hot hand du jour in the Marlies is Viktor Loov 2G 5A, but he shoots left and Polak shoots right.

          • BubbaLou

            I think the Leafs have the depth at forward to give different looks depending on their opposition.

            Against Pittsburgh Winnek should be put on a line that covers Crosbey, against slow or fast teams Kozun will be a good option.

            I dont really see a spot for Booth on this team,
            but he may play his way into the line up.

            I kind of like Smith and Carrik as well but it looks for the time being they will be Marlies bound.

            I read somewhere that Viktor Loov plays with an edge which I like .
            Holtzer was written off in preseason as too slow.

            Robidas plays with a lot of heart and enthusiasm ,
            but I can see him getting injured the way he plays.
            But perhaps he is still getting into game form and maybe he has another gear we have yet to see.