Game 1: Leafs 2 Habs 0 or How A Team Deflates After 20 Minutes


Well with the excitement of the NHL season upon us, it sure didn't take long for the so original insults and stereotypes to start flying across the comment boards, did it? I could rant on the childish behavior of some of our Toronto Maple Leafs counterparts on a previous post this afternoon, but there's more important business to attend to.

Game One of the NHL season is in the books, and the Montreal Canadiens must have forgot about playing hockey after a three day trip in Collingwood. After closing out the preseason with a strong win against the Tampa Bay Lightning, one would have hoped they would keep the momentum going.

The Canadiens seemed to be in control through the first 20 minutes, and the Leafs appeared to be using some kind of dump and chase system, less the chase. The result of that tactic was a lot of icing calls and a 14-4 shot advantage for the Canadiens after the first period.

Then it just fell apart.

A Habs power play carried over into the second period and we saw how bad the loss of Andrei Markov is on the point. The Leafs force  a turnover, leaving Tomas Plekanec to play the odd-man rush. Clearly it's a situation that Plekanec is not used to. After missing his first attempt, Matthew Lombardi swung around the open side of the net and banked a rebound past Carey Price at 0:33.

The Lombardi goal was a bit of a feel good moment, considering the guy was a year removed from the game, and at one point even wondered if he would have a hockey career again.

It was all the Leafs would need, but they continued to press and thump the lost Canadiens. The score could easily have been 5-0 had it not been for Price who, despite only facing 18 shots, was forced to make some huge saves.

Leafs captain Dion Phaneuf blasted in a rocket to add insurance to the Leafs lead at 4:42 of the third period.

James Reimer held his ground in the third period, stopping another 14 Montreal shots en route to his 5th career shutout.

The Leafs and their fans get initial bragging rights to start the season. Meanwhile, the Canadiens will head to Manitoba for their Sunday meeting with the Winnipeg Jets.

 

Scoring Summary (from NHL.com)

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Three Stars: 1.James Reimer 2. Dion Phaneuf 3. Matthew Lombardi

 

Advanced Stats: Shift Charts / Head to Head / Corsi Fenwick

Game notes:

The Canadiens power play was 0 for 5, allowing the Lombardi shorty. Erik Cole, who many thought would be the big body in front, only played a minute on the man advantage. It seemed peculiar, but the winger was pretty much off the score sheet all night.

Only one game, but seeing David Desharnais eat five minutes of power play time is not a promising sign.

Chris Campoli left the game in the second period and did not return. He will be reevaluated Friday. He was spotted leaving the Air Canada Centre on crutches.

David Steckel was the Leafs go to man in the face off circle. He took 25 of the team's 61 face-offs, and won 18 (72%).

The Numbers Game

The winning side views from Pension Plan Puppets

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