Toronto Maple Leafs Blow Past the New York Islanders 5-2
Oct 21, 2014; Uniondale, NY, USA; Toronto Maple Leafs right wing David Clarkson (71) celebrates his goal with Toronto Maple Leafs defenseman Jake Gardiner (51) and Toronto Maple Leafs right wing Richard Panik (18) and Toronto Maple Leafs defenseman Stephane Robidas (12) in front of New York Islanders left wing Cory Conacher (89) during the second period at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
There was a lot of talk heading into the season about the Toronto Maple Leafs opponents Tuesday night – the revamped New York Islanders and the various changes made to their hockey club. However that did not stop the Leafs from taking advantage of the Islanders. especially Jaroslav Halak. The Leafs needed to get some production from their top line after a poor showing against the Detroit Red Wings and they got it.
James van Riemsdyk got the Leafs on the board after the puck took a weird bounce off the boards, and the winger was able to bury it past Halak.
Unfortunately for the Leafs, the Islanders got their own lucky bounce on the powerplay, when John Tavares received a pass off the boards and placed a perfect shot past Bernier.
The third Leafs goal came off a bizarre play, where Daniel Winnik took a shot on net after Roman Polak was forechecking against Johnny Boychuk. While Polak was going back to the point, he found the puck, turned, and fired it blocker side on Halak on a nice shot in front of the net.
The fourth Leafs goal was the one that sucked the air out of the Islanders. However for Leafs fans it was all about who scored it and how. The fourth line has been going through a tough time, but a nice effort from Peter Holland helped set up David Clarkson, who made a nice effort to get free and put a wrister past Halak. It was a nice goal, but even nicer that Clarkson scored it with the fourth line on the ice.
Then, as an added bonus, Phil Kessel scored his signature goal, skating down the right wing and getting a nice shot past Halak, who allowed all five goals to go past him on his blocker side.
Oct 21, 2014; Uniondale, NY, USA; Toronto Maple Leafs goalie Jonathan Bernier (45) makes a glove save against the New York Islanders during the third period at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum. The Maple Leafs defeated the Islanders 5-2. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
Jonathan Bernier was able to bounce back after allowing two goals in the first period, to shut the door and get the job done against an Islanders team that is dangerous offensively. He was spectacular in the third period, even though the Leafs were well in control. He stopped 34 of 36 shots for his first win on the season. Jaroslav Halak did not finish the game, allowing five goals on 23 shots, with Chad Johnson stopping all five shots in relief.
Oct 21, 2014; Uniondale, NY, USA; New York Islanders center Frans Nielsen (51) plays the puck from the ice in front of Toronto Maple Leafs defenseman Roman Polak (46) and Toronto Maple Leafs right wing David Clarkson (71) during the third period at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum. The Maple Leafs defeated the Islanders 5-2. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
Roman Polak led all Leafs skaters in ice-time with 22:46 TOI (time on ice). He was especially important on the penalty kill, playing 5:29 TOI shorthanded. Travis Hamonic led the Islanders in ice-time with 22:33 TOI and was a -3 on the night, which is an indicator of how the Islanders were unable to shut down the Leafs top players.
The only criticism of the game is the lack of effort the Leafs had in the third period, with the Islanders dominating them 17-5 in shots. The Leafs have to play consistently throughout the game. It was the same problem against the New York Rangers, where they sat back after taking a commanding lead in the second period. Randy Carlyle took a timeout early into the third period to make his players aware of that and hopefully they got the message.
The Leafs opted to go with seven defencemen, considering the limited ice-time the fourth line was receiving. Peter Holland was able to get 11:42 TOI with 3:56 coming off on the penalty kill. It looks like Holland could get an increased role with the penalty kill and he was 67% in the faceoff circle which is pretty good as well.
Oct 21, 2014; Uniondale, NY, USA; New York Islanders goalie Jaroslav Halak (41) stops a shot by Toronto Maple Leafs defenseman Dion Phaneuf (3) in front of New York Islanders defenseman Calvin de Haan (44) and New York Islanders defenseman Brian Strait (37) and New York Islanders center Brock Nelson (29) during the second period at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
The powerplay needs to get better going – 0/4 on the night – but luckily the penalty kill was stellar, going 1/6, which is one of the reasons why the Leafs were outshot by the Islanders. The Leafs were undisciplined at times, but Cal Clutterbuck punked Dion Phaneuf and Roman Polak into taking a penalty. Polak’s was more frustrating because Clutterbuck looked to stick his leg out on Joffrey Lupul and when Polak challenged him he ducked like a coward.
A better effort for the Toronto Maple Leafs and hopefully they start to learn to work for the puck more at even strength, because that is where the offence has to improve. Defensively they need to avoid standing still and losing opposing players and allowing them to get a decent scoring chance.