Friday, March 02, 2007


Postgame: Toronto 4 - Devils 3, SO

Tonight, the Toronto Maple Leafs prevailed in a shootout to win the game by a score of 4-3. As always, has the official score sheet and official super stats from the game, linked respectively.

The Devils pretty much gave this game away, that's the short summary of this game. The Devils did things right for the first 47 minutes or so. Martin Brodeur made saves on all of the Maple Leafs' shots, the Devils pushed into the Leafs zone and by the end of the first started generating decent scoring chances. The Devils even scored on the power play, Jamie Langenbrunner pounding it in on a carry over penalty by Bates Battaglia early in the second period. The Goal Scoring Machine that IS Jay Pandolfo and John Madden worked hard in the corner late in the period and they were rewarded when it's kicked out to Colin White on the point and Pandolfo tips the puck for a second goal. Even in the first 7 minutes of the third period were fine. There were only two things I would criticize. The first would be the power play. Yes, Langenbrunner did score a power play goal; but the Devils had five power plays until this point and squandered some of them instead of driving the proverbial knife into the Leafs' chances.

The second would be Cam Janssen. He hit Tomas Kaberle a little bit late hard. Really hard. Hard enough to knock him off center into the boards head first, which then collided with his shoulder. Kaberle had to be stretchered off and went to the hospital. I truly hope whatever injury he does sustain will be minor. It was a scary scene and there wasn't any call. The timing of the hit was borderline, but everything else was legal. I thought Cam left his feet, but the refs thought otherwise. Ultimately, it was a case of a hit just hitting a player at an unfortunate position at an unfortunate time which led to unfortunate results. Needless to say, head coach Claude Julien did the decent thing and didn't give Janssen a second of ice time to avoid future problems like that. Good on the Leafs to not go head-hunting as a result.

Now, I said until 7 minutes into the third period. Yanic Perreault takes down John Madden with his stick in the most obvious way he could have done it from his position. Power play number six for the Devils, good times, right? No, Mike Rupp felt tripping Chad Kilger would be a good idea; so it becomes a four-on-four. Alex Steen and Carlo Colaiacovo catches the Devils in a change and Steen fakes the shot, but not the funk; dishes it to Carlo who then drives in and beats Brodeur to give the Leafs some life. Instead of a man advantage, the extra space and the mistiming in defense by NJ allowed the Leafs to get a lifeline. Less than two minutes later, Brad Lukowich holds down a Leaf (I forget who, sorry) so he'll sit two minutes for obvious reasons. Ian White gets the puck at the point and Nik Antropov, screening Brodeur, is not touched at all. No Devil knocking him on his bottom. Antropov was in perfect position to tip the puck in and he did just that to tie it up. Now the Leafs are flying.

A minute after that, the Leafs take what was once a 2-0 deficit and turned it into a 3-2 lead. Matt Stajan took a Brodeur rebound and drilled a shot that hit Paul Martin and went into the net. Fortunately, after some initial panicky play by NJ, the Devils capitalize on the power play late in the game. Bryan McCabe committs the cardinal sin of clearing the puck by trying to put it up the middle. It hits a Devil, Brylin picks up the loose puck, and puts it home with the extra skater to tie it up. Overtime was a bit of a sticking point, with John Madden opening overtime with a trip. We go to a shootout where we see a lot. We see Zach Parise deke the hell out of Andrew Raycroft. We see Brodeur come out way too far and sprawled on the ice, allowing Yanic Perreault to tie up the shootout. We see Alex Steen literally push a puck through Brodeur. We see Jamie Langenbrunner give a nifty move to beat Raycroft. And we see Martin Brodeur blink first against Jeff O'Neill, who eventually scores the winner in the shootout. Why did I detail all of this?

All of this could have been easily avoided. The two penalties, the ones Rupp and Lukowich took, eventually led to goals that gave the Leafs life in this one. I'm not going to say a thing about the third Leafs goal, as it hit Martin's arm and went past the goalie. The Devils could have gotten something going in OT, but really shot themselves in the foot with the early Madden penalty. In the shootout, Brodeur was not good save for the Sundin, er, save. You want to kill Elias on not scoring in the shootout; if Brodeur stayed in his net against Perreault, we wouldn't be talking about a shootout loss. Even then, poor discipline ultimately led to breakdowns where Toronto capitalized.

And that's how the Devils lost a game they should have won, given they had a 2 goal lead going into the third period. I know you can't win them all, but it still doesn't feel too good - especially when the game was really in hand. The four minutes or so of penalties, coincidentally when the Leafs tied it up and took the lead, really killed NJ here. Looking ahead, the Devils will have a chance to rebound against Boston on Sunday.


I am in accord with you on the Janssen hit. Absolutely wrong of him to hit Kaberle, but not illegal according to the rules.

As for the game, I am going to chalk it up more to the Leafs outplaying the Devils in the third than anything else.

By the way, did you notice the Leafs' lovely defensive scheme they threw out there with the 1-goal lead for the seven minutes it was 3-2?! Looked like a 1-2-2 Devils style to me!
And just like I mentioned in my response to Brophy (the previous post), the Leafs didn't perform the 1-2-2 all that well.

I wouldn't say the Leafs outplayed NJ at any point, just that NJ really got sloppy and paid for it in that 4 minute sequence - but that's a minor quibble.
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