– After watching years past, it is hard to completely criticize the defensive posture of this team. Toronto still does from time to time exhibit traits that make you want to pull your hair out. Initiating a line change without confirming that the puck has gone deep is one of those traits. If you look at both goals, they directly resulted from a poor line change. When five players are on the ice, possession numbers may not be fantastic, but the play seems to be under control. The play is typically contained to the wall and coverage has far less often been dropped. (Mea Culpa; this was written prior to the third period, which was horrendous)
– In the offensive zone, especially on the road, this team needs to push the play more and drive a cycle. The line that has been surprisingly good at this is the Kessel group (really sounds like a Midwest law firm when used that way). Kessel, JVR, and Bozak appear to embrace playing on the wall and waiting out chances. Mikhail Grabovski does not look to play this way as favorably. His ice time, while some seem to consider it a conflict of interest with Randy Carlyle, has much more to do with his unwillingness to play the game in the fashion the other line is getting praise for. Even the meatheads are trying to get the puck deep and grind from there.
-Does Rick Nash look like he is keeping a gear in storage? He seems hesitant, even when playing well, to fully utilize his size and skill. The other night he did so twice, but he is a player that should be able to do it far more often. The two goals on Monday were good, but watching his body language outside of those plays makes you wonder. He was very much the same tonight, often frustrated by the shadow cast by Dion Phaneuf and the constant jabs to the ribs given by Leo Komarov.
-Speaking of Leo Komarov, the Leafs have not had anybody play this type of game for them so effectively since the departure of Darcy Tucker and Gary Roberts (minus the offense). It’s a shame they can’t find two more of him that don’t have the last name Orr and McLaren.
– Not sure how Leafs are going to solve this shootout problem in the playoffs, oh wait…..
– For tonight’s Maddies Mark player of the game, this was a difficult decision, have to go with James Reimer. The only reason Toronto was in this game were the three alarm saves he made in the third period and overtime, making it one of his his best days ever. For information on how you can provide many more “best days ever”, visit http://www.maddiesmark.org/