Toronto Maple Leafs Weekly Report: Trending in the Right Direction

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3-2 Win over the Chicago Blackhawks

Nov 1, 2014; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Maple Leafs forward James van Riemsdyk (21) scores a goal on a shot as Chicago Blackhawks forward Jonathan Toews (19) looks on during the second period at the Air Canada Centre. Mandatory Credit: John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

Whoever schedules games for the NHL did a good job to make sure the Leafs had the toughest opponents to play on Saturday nights. The Pittsburgh Penguins, Detroit Red Wings and  Chicago Blackhawks are not exactly a good sign for Leafs fans who cannot wait to watch the Leafs on Hockey Night in Canada. Going into their game against the Blackhawks, the Leafs were 0-2-1 on Saturday night, being outscored 10-3 in those games.

The Leafs advanced stats numbers from the game were not great even though the Leafs played pretty well in the first and second periods. Through the first  two periods they only allowed 21 shots and were on pace to allow 30 shots on goal, while having thirty shots on goal themselves. The Leafs PDO for the game was 106.86 which is good, but their Corsi percentage was 33.6% and their Fenwick percentage was 33.33%, which is not so good.

Nov 1, 2014; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Maple Leafs forward Nazem Kadri (43) and forward Peter Holland (24) and Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson (4) head up ice at the Air Canada Centre. Toronto defeated Chicago 3-2. Mandatory Credit: John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

It was not pretty, but the Leafs were able to get the job don,e winning one of their biggest games so far this season. For the first 40 minutes of the game the Leafs and Blackhawks kept it close on the shot clock. The Leafs got goals from Kadri, who scored a similar goal that he scored against Columbus, but it Daniel Winnik setting him up this time. Then van Riemsdyk got an early Christmas gift from an errant pass which landed right on his stick, giving him a breakaway which he buried past Corey Crawford.

The Leafs got the lead early into the third period when Peter Holland (better known now as the Blackhawks killer) was left open in the slot and makes no mistake on a pass from Komarov (his seventh assist this season). After that it became the James Reimer show.

There are many words to explain the way Reimer played in the third period, but simply put he was magnificent. I cannot remember the last time a Leafs goalie had to stop 26 shots in one period. The Blackhawks had six power play opportunities in the third period which led to six shots on goal on, they had 15 shots on goal at even strength, two shots on goal shorthanded and three shots when four on four.

Basically, the Blackhawks had a whole game’s worth of opportunities in just one period, meaning Reimer’s workload was two games worth. He had to make big saves against Chicago’s best players. There was a scary moment when Brad Richard’s shot on the powerplay hit the crossbar which ended up on Brent Seabrook‘s stick, forcing Reimer to make an incredible glove save (even though Glenn Healy said that Reimer’s glove hand was weak). Reimer also made an amazing pad save on Patrick Kane in front of the net. This was probably one of Reimer’s best games as a Leaf and hopefully he can continue to perform like this, but hopefully he won’t be put in this type of situation again.

Skip to around the ten minute mark to see some of Reimer’s saves in the third period.

Here is Steve Dangle’s reaction to the game, where he basically said what most Leafs fans had on their minds in that game

Quick Game Notes

Dion Phaneuf played 8:22 TOI (time on ice) and Polak played 8:06 TOI in the third period.

Kane played 9:29 TOI and Seabrook played 9:07 in the third period.

Phaneuf led the Leafs with 24:41 minutes in the game. Him and Stephane Robidas led the team with four hits each. Polak led the team with three blocked shots.