The Toronto Maple Leafs capped off Doom Week with a 3-1 win over the visiting Montreal Canadiens. An eight day stretch that saw the Leafs face the top five teams in the Eastern Conference certainly had me wondering what the state of affairs would look like at its conclusion. The win last night move the Leafs to 3-2 and I believe had to exceed the expectations of most Leafs fans. After two straight flops against Pennsylvannia-based teams some fans were not pleased with a 2-2-0 record.
The Leafs started with a strong first period. I wonder if there is a way to convince the team that Ron Wilson's job is on the line every game. The team came out flying, saw scoring droughts for Phil Kessel and Tomas Kaberle end, and rode the momentum of an amped up crowd the rest of the way. The team's defensive effort was top-notch. They held the Habs to 8 shots fewer than their season average. Jean-Sebastien Giguere moved to 3-0-0 as the Leafs' goalie against the Habs. That's probably why Wilson decided to go with him. Interestingly enough, it was apparently his sixth straight win against the Habs. I guess that's why they alwas draft guys with French names. Good to see this kind of thing happen to someone besides us.
This sequence, like Mike Brown's against Tampa Bay, epitomises what this Leafs team needs to do to be successful. Fredrik Sjostrom, rather than making the soft shot block attempt that allowed Tampa to tie late, got down low and made himself as big as he could to block P.K. Subban's shot. After what was likely an extremely painful shotblock, he got up and slapped the puck into open ice where Kris Versteeg raced on to it to ice the win.
Odds and Sods
- Dion Phaneuf played 25 minutes, the vast majority with Francois Beauchemin, and helped shut down Mike Cammalleri. His goal came when Luke Schenn and Tomas Kaberle were on the ice.
- Colton Orr only played 3:20. In a game against a soft team like Montreal the Leafs don't need to dress someone that could beat up three Habs at a time even if they were standing on each other's shoulders.
- The Habs didn't want this matchup but Wilson was able to get the Colby Armstrong - Tyler Bozak - Phil Kessel line out against the overmatched defensive pairing of P.K. Subban and Alex Picard which led to the team's first two goals.
An example of how you can use the advanced stats to see the coaches' strategy
The head-to-head ice-time shows that Mike Cammalleri played most of his time with Tomas Plekanec and Andrei Kostitsyn. You can see that Phaneuf and Beauchemin were most often put out against Cammelleri and that their Corsi was pretty negative. It seems like it was a case of those two struggling to contain the Canadiens. And to a certain extent, it was, however if you take a look at the ZoneStarts (EV Face-offs) you'll see part of an explanation. Jacques Martin was giving those players as many offensive starts as possible while Ron Wilson was countering with his top defensive pairing. Update from Slava Duris:
Interesting: Phaneuf had a Corsi rating of -8, yet his scoring chance differential was +4; Beauchemin's Corsi was -12 but SC +/- was +5.