The Toronto Maple Leafs played well, but met a brick wall in Ryan Miller.
Ryan Miller. He hasn't been the picture of consistency, but he regularly manages to bring his A-game when it comes to the Toronto Maple Leafs. The Leafs had 35 shots on goal with 16 of them on the power play, and the Sabres scored a goal that bounced off Cody Hodgson's chest and beat Ben Scrivens five-hole. Enjoy the game in six highlights:
First of all, if this is the kind of play we can count on from the Toronto Maple Leafs going forwards, I'm excited to watch the rest of the season. The Leafs really looked like they outposessed the Sabres. It was a game that felt like they should have won rather than a game we expected to lose.
I thought Phil Kessel had a good game as usual, and Joffrey Lupul looked threatening but failed to generate many shots on goal. Tyler Bozak had a great game in the face-off dot, going 22 for 26 (85%) but looked pretty poor with the puck in play.
I thought the MGK line played "okay," but were on ice for both the Sabres' goals against. Both of those goals were opportunities because the Sabres got the puck on the rush and had a man open behind the defense.
Leo Komarov looks like he's a little behind the play, but Kadri looks like he can't get enough ice time. Kadri played 15 minutes tonight, a deserved upgrade over his first game, had one goal on one shot, and had a great pass. He drew penalties and generated chances, but the 15 minute upgrade in ice time probably isn't enough. James van Riemsdyk is catching a little flack for a quiet night besides from some shots that went wide, but he generated a couple good chances and had some jam-work in front of the net. He didn't have any huge defensive lapses, and I wonder if he won't "click" better with a scorer on his opposite wing.
Mike Kostka played 27 minutes tonight (and Dion Phaneuf 29). He did well, but not as well as against Montreal, and probably shouldn't be considered a top-pairing, 27 minute kind of guy. This game was a little more in-line with his billing as he came in to the league, and I expect he'd be able to stick as a 2nd/3rd pairing kind of guy. Fraser had a nasty giveaway, but worse, stopped play with a fight as the Leafs were on the rush down ice. Korbinian Holzer was quiet with one poor pass picked off, but Carlyle thought he was just a little nervous.
Scrivens looked bad. Fundamentally bad. The first goal wasn't his fault - a bad bounce, "shit happens" territory, but the second goal happened because Scrivens couldn't keep his butterfly tight. There were a couple other saves that involved massive holes, and it seems like he will not be the savior of the franchise. Whether or not we're satisfied with a "backup" level goaltender who lets by just one "lucky' goal and one "earned" goal, are we that upset? Watching Scrivens may become a matter of expectations, but at this point I don't think I'd be concerned if he were claimed off waivers.
Reminder: Patrick Kaleta is a dirty player. He'll hit you when you can't see him, run when you want to fight, and dive when a stick is near him. Also of note, he didn't seem scared by Colton Orr as he was riding Kessel down to the ice from behind, as a coward would do.
The Leafs are faced with their biggest challenge of the young season on Wednesday, when they play the Pittsburgh Penguins. Let's hope Carlyle has figured out which defensemen belong where by then. It'll be interesting to see whether Carlyle continues to spread his defensive talent, with Carl Gunnarsson on the second pairing, or reunites the shutdown pair of Gunnarsson-Phaneuf.