Maple Leafs 4 - Bruins 3 (OT): Call Ripley's!

The Toronto Maple Leafs triumphed over 4-3 over the Boston Bruins in Luca Caputi's home debut. The local boy started out slow, along with the rest of the team, but settled down as the game went on he grew into his expected role. He also tallied his first goal as a Leaf in front of about 40 family and friends to knot the game for the third time. After a scrambled ending to the third period the game headed towards overtime. 

The first period did not give an indication of the kind of game that we would be witness to with it's dire play and lackluster effort. However, something happened during the intermission because for the rest of the game the Leafs' young forwards (only one over 30 in Wayne Primeau) used their speed to harrass a Bruins defence shorn of its steadiest member. The end result was an increase in up ice pressure and the creation of many more scoring chances off of the rush, the cycle, and from turnovers. Unfortunately, no words were able to improve the Leafs' finishing.

Wayne Primeau opened the scoring for the home team after Luke Schenn forced Milan Lucic into a turnover at the Leafs' blueline. He quickly pushed the puck up to Primeau who went down on a 2-on-1 with Colton Orr (yes, that Colton Orr). He fired five-hole and tied the game up. After a Bruins' powerplay marker gave them a second lead Carl Gunnarsson long-range effort finished off some excellent puck pursuit by Nikolai Kulemin. Patrice Bergeron's third period goal then set the stage for Caputi's equaliser. Phil Kessel turned two amazing plays by Kulemin and Tyler Bozak into partial breakaways but his luck against Tim Thomas, who was incredible all night, continued to be poor.

The overtime was fast-paced and the Leafs created a number of chances but Thomas continued to stymie them. It looked like the Leafs were headed to yet another shootout. And then just when you think you have seen everything in sports (DO NOT CLICK IF SQUEAMISH) the Leafs scored the game winning goal. Dennis Wideman hilariously face planted in the corner of the Leafs' zone and Grabovski muscled and hustled his way into a 2-on-1. As he passed the puck to Kulemin Michael Ryder continued the Keystone Kops routine by sliding past the puck and into Tim Thomas leaving a patient Kulemin with a yawning cage in which to pot the Leafs' first overtime winner of the year.

That gives the Leafs five points since Chemmy famously bet that they would not pick up more than ten of their final 40 points. Next up: Tampa Bay Thursday night. The Leafs are now six points back of the New York Islanders in 28th and seven back of Columbus and Carolina in 27th and 26th. There's a lot of ground to make up but...well, we can still dream.

Corsi and Fenwick | Head-to-Head TOI | EV Face-Offs | Shift Charts
Game Summary | Event Summary | Stanley Cup of Chowder Game Recap


A few observations:

  1. One game after winning 8 of 9 draws Christian Hanson got dummied in going 1 for 8. The Bruins' opening goal came after a lost face-off and they held a 61% - 39% edge.
  2. Francois Beauchemin and Dion Phaneuf both logged over 27 minutes of ice-time tonight. Both were even. Beauchemin blocked five shots to Phaneuf's one while Phaneuf laid six hits to Beauchemin's lone bodycheck.
  3. Beauchemin and Phaneuf played fourteen minutes together at even strength. The vast majority of both of their time on ice was against the line of Mark Recchi - Marco Sturm - Patrice Bergeron.
  4. That trio combined for eight points and were a combined + 6 as they were the only line for the Bruins that had any sustained success against the Leafs. Interestingly enough, they were also heavily outshot at even strength.
  5. Luke Schenn picked up two assists and was + 2 in over 21 minutes of playing time. He's matched his points from last year in 10 fewer games while also improving his + / - by 13.
  6. Carl Gunnarsson had a hell of a game. He was + 3, scored a goal, almost had another, and moved the puck very well. At $800K including bonuses next year he highlights the value of kids on their entry level deals. He's the kind of bargain that allows the team to shift assets to fill other holes
  7. Mikhail Grabovski played 16 minutes in his return, was + 2, and used his speed to help create the game-winning goal. He was clearly rusty but just as Ron Wilson hoped he had some incredible chemistry with Nikolai Kulemin.
  8. Speaking of my newest Russian best friend, the guy is really coming into his own. The winning goal showed a tonne of patience and awareness as did his excellent defensive play and his puck moving. The loss of Ponikarovsky is going to be mitigated in large part (if not completely) next year by this guy.
  9. The Leafs powerplay has only allowed four goals in their past 10 games and two have been on 5-on-3s. While the Leafs improved their discipline coming off of the Flyers game but they still managed to parlay their only two penalties against into a goal against.
  10. The Leafs dominated the Bruins in Corsi. This led to a huge edge in offensive zone draws. In the absence of Zdeno Chara the Bruins leaned heavily on Dennis Wideman and Mark Stuart who was the last Boston Bruin drafted by the team using a Toronto Maple Leafs' first round draft pick.
  11. When the Leafs had offensive draws Ron Wilson was making sure that Dion Phaneuf was getting the start. He took six more offensize draws than defensive.
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