Leafs Postgame: Gostisbeaten

Much like front-office compensation got grossly misused and manipulated in its few months of existence, the coaches challenge appears to have become more of a strategy than it is a way of fixing the rare gross oversight. In this case, though, I like it a lot, because even the slightest correction can make a huge difference and it requires the coaches to think quick and take big risks. 

Tonight, that risk didn’t work out very much for the Leafs, as it cost them a goal. But you know how you get that back? With super-sniper Matt Hunwick, that’s how.

The Leafs actually started this game on a less-than-stellar note. After Dion Phaneuf kicked things off with his tradtion of punching a Schenn brother in the face, Joffrey Lupul joined him in the penalty box as a result of his hook on Evgeny Medvedev. Matt Read took advantage of this, sneaking behind all the Leafs penalty killers to be in perfect position to bury the setup from the vengeance-seeking Medvedev to open the scoring.

The Leafs weren’t down for long, though. In a very curious rush, Brad Boyes and Peter Holland carried the puck into the zone. Holland threw it on net, and when Boyes didn’t finish the play, an unlikely hero in Roman Polak swooped in and banged home the rebound for his first of the year, just two minutes after Read’s tally.


The goal instigated a major pushback by the Leafs to close the period, and while the second started off pretty even, an incident in front of the Toronto net got everybody’s blood flowing at the midway point. Pierre-Edouard Bellemare crashed into James Reimer, sending both teams into a pile which even saw Reimer throw a few punches. While the Leafs didn’t score on the powerplay Joffrey Lupul did snap his goal drought by potting his tenth of the season shortly afterward.

The two teams went back and forth throughout the third, with the Flyers pressuring hard in the closing moment. Somehow, the Leafs ended up with an offensive zone faceoff with eight seconds to go. Enter Matt Hunwick.

His first goal as a Leaf, and it couldn’t have come at a better time. He almost cancelled it out by icing the puck at the next faceoff, but the blue and white ultimately held on for their first win in five games.

Misplay of the Game

Ultimately, it’s hard to fault Dion for playing the 2-on-1 in a cautious manner, but Gotisbehere shouldn’t have anywhere near the space that he did.

Blue Warrior

This was probably Roman Polak’s best game of the season, if not as a Leaf. Dominated the possession game (63%, behind only Martin Marincin), scored his first goal of the year, punched Ryan White, and came back instantaneously from getting a puck to the face. We have a couple angles that we can use when we declare a blue warrior, but every angle points to Polak tonight. Hats off to him (though next time, maybe visors on?)

See You Next Time

The losing streak is over! Tank nation probably isn’t happy about that, but if this team is bad enough, there’s lots of time to free-fall still. The main goal should be consistent effort, which the Leafs definitely delivered tonight, and they’ll be expected to deliver on Thursday night when they take on the Carolina Hurricanes at home. The puck drops at 7:30.

  • Gary Empey

    A nice finish to a hard fought game with lots of hits, trips, slashes, a good fight and a major scrum in front of Reimer. Good to see Reimer not take the crap anymore as he did his Rocky immitation in the city of brotherly love. He out hextaled Hextal.

    Good to see the final winning goal have some velocity on it compared to some of the painfully slow shots from the point by Kadri and Gardiner. Now I get they are praying for a deflection. But please a howitzer once in while might keep some of the defenders a bit more honest out there.

    I will admit that both Kadri and Gardiner showed they can lay down a mean pass tonight but this power play has to get going and perhaps changing his game plan by having Rielly out there more often on the point might help this inept power play.

    The hurricanes and then Saturday night an epic 4 pointer as the Habs continue their majestic slide into oblivion with the leafs only fear that Hab management might soon be talking tanking. It was only a few years back when these two original six battled it out in the final game to see who would actually win by losing. The Habs thought they had won by losing as they got Galchenyuk. But in reality it appears the leafs won as they did win the final game with their 5th pick choosing Rielly.

    In summary it was indeed a win win situation for the leafs.

    • Gary Empey

      You are quite right there. Phaneuf somehow covered the other two guys (textbook defense) and let Reimer take the shooter. Reimer got beat on a pretty good wrist shot. I wondered if Gotisbehere caught Reimer glancing at the other two.

  • Jeremy Ian

    My son and I were at the game; in the middle of the second period, he turned to me and said “Polak’s having a pretty good game.” We were 14 rows back from Reimer’s net when we saw the puck ricochet off his face. The guy was amazing.

    Also liked Holland’s game. Yes, the goal was called back. But he was present all over the ice during his shifts.

  • Gary Empey

    i’m firmly on team tank but you can’t help but cheer for them when they win a game like that. hard fought, complete domination by the entire team from the forwards to defence to reimer and the trade chips all chipping in points! polak had a beast of a game, matthias was excellent and has excelled in the top 6 even with his granite hands, bozak, parenteau, hunwick! reimer was excellent. he must be resigned! we are still in 2nd last after last night and the pens remain close to a playoff spot as the habs were kicked out of the wild card spot! good job!