The Leafs and Washington Capitals played an enjoyable and entertaining hockey game tonight, eventually culminating in a 2-1 shootout win for the Buds that wasn’t really deserved. But of course the Leafs will take the two points as they fight to keep pace in the competitive Atlantic Division. Here are some key points I took from the game:
James Reimer made 49 saves on 50 shots during the game and saved three of four in the shootout to preserve the win. As per Jonas Siegel on Twitter, Reimer now leads the league with a .947 save percentage. There’s not really much else to say at this point, except maybe Randy Carlyle should give Reimer more starts? Does that make sense? Common sense?
Rielly’s Coming Out Party
Morgan Rielly started this game like a man possessed, firing four shot attempts in the first period alone, eventually ending the game with eight, the most on the team. He was also tied Dion Phaneuf for the team lead among defensemen in corsi-for percentage*. He looked especially dangerous jumping into the rush in the four-on-four overtime period.
*All shot attempt (otherwise known as corsi) data is exclusively in five-on-five situations.
Team Defense Needs More Work
The Leafs’ d-men actually played pretty well I thought, especially Phaneuf and Rielly. But after allowing 50 shots, the team defense clearly needs some more work. The Cody Franson and Jake Gardiner pairing was especially abysmal in limiting shot attempts, as Franson allowed 32 and Gardiner allowed 37. But the forwards also had a lot of trouble generating chances as well, as the team only had four shots in the third period.
Strong On The Rush
When the forwards did generate opportunities, they seemed to be almost exclusively off the rush. Many of these chances, although few, were high quality, and Capitals goaltender Braden Holtby made a few great saves. The top two lines especially were very strong off the rush, but those chances seemed to dry up late in the game. The team as a whole needs to figure out ways to vary their attack and simply get more time with the puck in the attacking zone so they can get more chances.