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They Don't All Come Easy: Leafs Top Rangers, 5-4


It was a wild game in Toronto tonight, as the Leafs took a 3-1 lead in the first, and would see it tied up 4-4 with 10 minutes left to play in the third. Check out the game in six, and keep a special eye out for Komarov and Holland connecting for a great shorty.

A few thoughts about the game, the players, and the teams:

What a game from Komarov. Offensive production, effective penalty kill, and a drawn penalty? Here's hoping he can keep bringing that on a consistent basis over the next few years.

On the Rangers' side of things, Chris Kreider took advantage of some soft offensive zone starts to try and avenge Boston College's public loss against Boston University, and ended up putting up a reasonable two-point night. More interesting, though, was how much trouble the Rangers got in by leaving the Leafs' point-men open. I think it was most evident on Polak's goal, but Franson and Phaneuf had significant space to work at the blue line.

Speaking of which, Franson had a good game. Yes, there was a notable giveaway in the third, but he had a nice shot to set up Panik's goal and a nice cross pass to JVR on the 5-on-3, who then set Kessel up for the Leafs' opening goal.

I think the Gardiner-from-Robidas turnover is going to bring undeserved flak down on Gardiner. People will point to it for two reasons: one, because Gardiner ran into similar trouble a few games ago, when Holland rotated the puck without much awareness, but two because it turned out to be a high-impact error. The Big Mistake is a memorable mistake, and all that. Robidas' pass was right into Gardiner's feet, and I'm not sure you expect Gardiner to handle that every time (if you click that link, you may struggle to find Hagelin - he's right on top of Robidas, I don't think it's an indictment of Robidas to say he couldn't get a good pass off). Gardiner would later play a huge role in the game winning goal, with a nice pinch and a heads-up pass to Komarov.

Bozak was back with Kessel and JVR tonight, while Kadri played with Panik and Clarkson. The line-shifting experiment was short-lived, apparently. I wonder if Carlyle went back as a result of the Winnik injury, or if the safety blanket's back. Maybe we'll see tomorrow.

With two hard-earned points in the books, the Leafs will play the Ottawa Senators tomorrow night. You can expect Reimer to get the start, but it'll be interesting to see if some relatively low-ice time players tonight get a little more tomorrow night. Kadri played a little over 15 minutes, Kessel a little under 17:30, and the fourth line barely broke 6 minutes. Then again, that's all pretty consistent with Carlyle's history, so the safe money is on a similar spread - we'll see tomorrow at 6 Eastern!