Yesterday was Hockey Day in Canada, a day in which people all over the True North watch CBC from Noon to Midnight watching nothing but all-Canada teams with the exception of Edmonton traveling to Detroit to play the Red Wings but Joe Louis Arena is only a half mile over the border so it basically counts right? Yet for those donning the old Red and Blue sweaters it wasn’t a day worth remembering as Toronto ran over Montreal 6-0.
This team is so confusing to me, sometimes they look incredible defensively totally shutting down the middle of the ice, other times they get absolutely torched, giving up numerous defensive breakdowns and failing to crash the net successfully at all leading to big losses. Last night unfortunately was the latter as Toronto easily gashed the Montreal Canadiens all night cruising to a big win.
The first goal came just a minute into the game as Kulemin poked the puck free from Markov, beating him down the ice, passing it over to Komarov for an easy put away and a 1-0 lead. The next goal would come just six minutes later as Cole lost the faceoff, leading to van Riemsdyk to fire one on net, only to have it bounce off Carey’s pads, right into Tyler Bozak’s stick for a wide open goal and a 2-0 lead.
The second period was kicked off early on with an easy goal by van Riemsdyk as he swung it behind the net to Kessel who fed him right in front of the goal for yet another easy put in. The breakdown on the play defensively was all on Gallagher who got caught puck watching, forgetting to cover his man leading to the goal. Montreal would have many good scoring chances throughout much of the second but Reimer was absolutely on, not allowing anything through. Then late in the second on a 5-4 PP opportunity Kessel ripped a wrister from the point which found the back of the net, assisted greatly by van Riemsdyk screening Carey Price well enough for him to lose sight of the puck.
Early on in the third, with the game already in hand, Toronto added insult to injury as Colton Orr broke out of the defensive zone with a terrific 2 on 1 chance, beat Boullion to the net where he would get stuffed by Carey Price only to have Holzer on the other of the net for an easy putback and a 5 goal lead. The 6th and final goal came by way of a 5 on 3 PP for the Leafs where Montreal failed to clear the puck out of the zone, as Phil Kessel set up Phaneuf perfectly for a one timer as he ripped it home. Thankfully that would end scoring for the Leafs as they coasted the rest of the way to a big win. Montreal out shot Toronto actually 37-28, with the 3 stars of the game being 3rd-Bozak 2nd-van Riemsdyk 1st-Reimer
I’m usually not on board when it comes to line changes but it needs to take place. I know everyone’s eyes are seeing it, but it’s showing up on the stat sheet as well. Consider that the 2nd line of Desharnais, Cole & Pacioretty has just a combined 15 points this season, Galchenyuk-Gallagher-Prust line has combined for 16 points this season with the 2nd liners averaging 16:07 of ice time per game and those 3rd liners averaging 11:21 of ice time per game. When 3 guys who are playing 5 less minutes A GAME are outscoring another three, something needs to be done. I know Max has only played 7 games but Cole has seemed slow and ineffective early and Desharnais has not been explosive either with just 5 points (3G/2A) but more alarmingly is a -5 this season while most of the team is around even or above. Also with how promising Eller has looked, no need for him to continue playing on that 4th line with wingers who have only scored a combined 1 point. I would go with these lines…
Shot chart courtesy of ESPN.com