Maple Leafs 5 v. Predators 4: Deo Gratias

A new PP combo?

For the first time since dinosaurs roamed the Earth (roughly) the Toronto Maple Leafs have emerged victorious as they triumphed over the Nashville Predators 5-4 in what will likely be the wildest game of the year. I don't think that it's out of line to give thanks to a higher power for tonight's win. I'd get specific but I'm not sure what god is in charge of making the fifth least penalised team (11.3 PIM/G) take their season average in one period. Hopefully the god of magical meltdowns can pull the same trick with the Devils on Thursday night.

I'm contractually obligated to remind everyone that there was one fan who had a special feeling tonight:

I think we’re going to win this game. Honestly.

Pension Plan Puppets*
* Blog contains less than 2% puppet content by weight.

by Chemmy on Nov 16, 2010 7:32 PM EST

 Corsi and Fenwick EV Face-Offs | H2H Time On Ice

Game Summary | Event Summary On The Forecheck Recap 

 Even Strength   Individual Totals Team Totals While Player Is On Ice
 Player Pos EV TOI Shots Shts Blkd Missed Shts Blocks SOG For SOG Ag SOG +/- Tot SF Tot SA Corsi
 Phil Kessel C 15:57 3 3 2 0 8 15 -7 16 20 -4
 Tyler Bozak C 15:56 1 0 0 2 5 10 -5 15 18 -3
 Nazem Kadri C 15:27 1 0 3 0 6 9 -3 16 17 -1
 Fredrik Sjostrom L 15:05 1 0 1 0 7 9 -2 15 18 -3
 John Mitchell C 14:20 2 1 1 0 6 6 0 14 12 +2
 Kris Versteeg R 13:55 1 1 0 0 7 8 -1 16 17 -1
 Nikolai Kulemin L 11:53 0 5 0 0 3 3 0 12 9 +3
 Mikhail Grabovski C 11:20 0 0 0 1 4 8 -4 11 11 0
 Clarke Macarthur L 10:52 1 1 1 0 4 7 -3 11 10 +1
 Mike Brown R 5:49 0 0 0 0 1 3 -2 1 5 -4
 Tim Brent C 5:44 2 0 0 1 3 4 -1 4 9 -5
 Colton Orr R 3:51 0 0 0 1 0 2 -2 0 4 -4
 Luke Schenn D 21:51 5 1 0 3 12 9 +3 29 20 +9
 Tomas Kaberle D 19:14 1 0 0 2 12 8 +4 26 18 +8
 Francois Beauchemin D 18:48 0 1 1 1 4 12 -8 11 21 -10
 Mike Komisarek D 17:02 0 2 0 2 4 12 -8 9 18 -9
 Keith Aulie D 9:30 0 0 1 3 2 8 -6 8 13 -5
 Brett Lebda D 7:12 0 1 0 0 2 7 -5 6 10 -4

The above table is courtesy of Dirk Hoag, the brilliant mind behind On The Forecheck. If you read one other recap, I suggest reading his which includes his rare exposure to the Sportsnet crew and his impressions. These are all figures at even strength.

  • Doesn't take much to see that Luke Schenn and Tomas Kaberle had great nights. To call Schenn's opening marker a goal would be akin to calling the Pietà a sculpture. It was poetry in motion. It was a young player exhibiting his growing offensive game at the most opportune moment. One might say that it was a player showcasing the benefits of being mentored.
  • The third line of Kris Versteeg, John Mitchell, and Fredrik Sjostrom combined to keep the Predators top line of Steve Sullivan, Patrick Hornqvist, and Cal O'Reilly off of the scoresheet.
  • Speaking of Versteeg, he now has seven points in his last seven games and is 4-5-9 in 16GP. That's just one point shy of Viktor Stalberg's 6-4-10 in 19GP.
  • His two powerplay goals in less than a minute gave hope back after Brett Lebda's atrocious error gifted the Predators a short-handed goal.
  • Nazem Kadri got his first career NHL point. Congrats kid!
  • When Ron Wilson called a timeout after two breakdowns led to two goals I cracked on Twitter:
Tootoo makes it two and Ron Wilson calls a time out. "Guys, do you WANT to get me fired? Wait, I take that back"
  • Apparently, Mikhail Grabovski didn't hear him because he promptly came out and made one of the worst giveaways I've seen a Leaf make since Todd Gill roamed the blueline. He of course made up for it by scoring the tying goal.
  • And how did the Leafs get back from 4-1? Lots of powerplays. Their hard work (weird how that happens) led to six straight penalties and three 5-on-3 powerplays and four powerplay goals. In addition to Versteeg's pair and Grabovski's marker Nikolai Kulemin scored to give the Leafs a 5-4 lead heading into the third.
  • Clarke MacArthur picked up three assists in the period which apparently tied a Leafs' record and gave him the team lead with 16 points. That's a good value contract right there!
  • Keith Aulie played 2:32 of SHTOI and had four blocked shots because he is a wookie on skates.

The special teams on the night made the difference but they came up against a team that shares some similar woes. Coming into the game the Predators had the 25th ranked powerplay and the 20th ranked penalty kill. Not to mention that it is pretty hard to kill penalties when you're down two men. While most fingers are crossed, I don't think anyone should be holding their breath to see Ron Wilson replaced. In the absence of any changes to the coaching staff I think we'll just have to hope that this team has just turned a corner and is not running straight into another brick wall.

One thing I did want to highlight from the post-game quotes that highlights just how different Jean-Sebastien Giguere is from Vesa Toskala. Aside from the fact that one is an NHL goalie and the other is the worst in the history of the butterfly, Giguere is a man because it takes one to take themselves out of the game:

"At that point, I think it would have been selfish of me to stay in and not be 100 per cent. You've got to make a decision. I've been around long enough to know that if something happens to me, goal is a big position, you can't play around with that. You've got Jonas on the bench that's ready to go and he's been working hard so I knew he was going to be ready to step in."

Jonas Gustavsson did well to clean up the game after Giguere pulled himself and made six big saves to preserve the win. He'll now likely get his chance to get a run of games since groin strains tend to be 7-10 days on the short side. And who might the Leafs call up? Well, Jussi Rynnas has a 1.83GAA and .943sv%.

Anyway, all in all, it was a good night to be a Leafs fan for a change. Here's hoping that this is the game where the percentages started turning around. And what's a win without copious amounts of highlights? Here's the game in six:

 

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