Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Whose Province? Our Province


I can only assume that's how it felt to be an Ottawa Senator Saturday night. Unprepared, uninspired, unprofessional. Maybe not by their usual standards, but easily when compared to ours.

These new-look Leafs are all business right now. This team is better prepared to start the season then any that I can remember since the lockout. Back to back 2-0 leads within the first ten minutes clearly illustrate that point. Obviously last year's dreadful experience out of the gate is a lesson taken seriously and has given this team greater focus and commitment, and so far, it's giving them the edge. It'll be interesting to see how long it takes for other teams to catch up to full stride, but for now, the Leafs look like they've hit the ground running, like a team built exactly for that purpose.

No More BoOBbB.

Ya, I couldn't quite get myself to do another Battle of Ontario Blow-by-Blow post. I wonder if anyone is sad about that. I messed around with the idea of doing the series again and even took notes in my usual way, but interacting with my 3-year old daughter is insanely more complicated then when she was 2 and 1, and as such, I can't help but miss whole minutes of the game here and there. Also, I'm less inspired to do the BoOBbB again since they're not that interesting to read and take a lot of time to do.

So, sorry about that sports fans, that series is toast, but I can still give you a general breakdown of the game from the notes that I did take. We'll see how that goes. Maybe I'll make that a new series. I'll call it, borschevsky's Battle of Ontario Breakdown (belated).

borschevsky's Battle of Ontario Breakdown (belated); bBoOB(b) I

The crowd seems pumped. Just after the first minute, Go Leafs Go! chant fills the building.

Nikolai Kulemin's goal: (1:38)

Kulemin opens the scoring just a minute and 38 into the game, set up by MacArthur, but the key to this play is Grabovski's work hustling the lazy Spezza off the puck behind the Senators goal. No assist for Grabbo but he created the opportunity and deserves some credit.

At the five minute mark, Senators still don't have a shot on goal, Leafs have four.

Kessel's goal: (7:51)

Once again, speed and hustle create a scoring chance for the Leafs. Phillips shot from the point is blocked by Versteeg who then simply outskates the other Senators defender down the ice and drives the net for a shot on goal. Kessel goes to the net after the rebound and Phillips is unable to tie up his stick. Kessel's quick hands make no mistake and the Leafs lead 2-0.

At the 10 minute mark of the first, everything is going the Leafs way. They seem to be determined to control the tempo while the Sens seem disinterested.

The Leafs powerplay gets to go to work a couple times in the second half of the first and while they have great puck possession, they don't do enough to get shots on goal. Kessel continues to use his speed to create scoring opportunities and a flurry of action at the end of the period while the Leafs are on their second powerplay nearly puts them up 3-0. Final shots for the first 20 minutes of play are 16-6 in favour of Toronto. Kaberle on the ice for nearly half the period (9:39), leading all skaters.

Senators are lucky to only be down by 2.

Second Period

Leafs start the 2nd well, recording the first 2 shots on goal.

At 15:47, just when the Sens are getting a little momentum, Spezza gets called for a lazy, stupid hooking penalty. I used to hate Spezza, but I'm really beginning to like him. He makes me laugh a lot. I'm so glad he plays for Ottawa. He's gonna destroy that team.

The Leafs don't score on the powerplay but continue to dominate. The Grabbo-Kulemin-MacArthur line is all over the puck and Kessel's speed continues to create chances out of thin air. Shots are 25-10 for the Leafs and at this point I start thinking the Leafs can't let the Senators get the next goal.

MacArthur's Goal: (11:42)
Komisarek pokes the puck past Phillips at the Leafrs blue line and Grabbo is away to the races with Kulemin and MacArthur on a 3-on-2 while Philips tries to catch up. Pretty simple play; Grabbo passes it to MacArthur in the high slot and the wrister beats Leclair. Leafs lead 3-0 and grab the Senators by the neck. MacArthur's second goal of the season already and his second point of this game.

At 9:23 of the 2nd, Armstrong takes the first Leaf penalty. Gets his stick up on Carkner in the offensive zone which seemed especially unnecessary when Sjostrom was doing excellent forechecking on that shift. Leafs have no trouble killing the penalty off.

Bozak takes the next penalty for tripping, but sloppy play muddles the attack for the Senators and after the first minute they appear to give up on the powerplay. As the penalty expires, Go Leafs Go! chant begins.

With two minutes left in the 2nd, shots are 30-12 and the Leafs are up 3-0. Pretty sweet.

As the clock ticks down the final 20 seconds, Tim Brent carries the puck neatly through the neutral zone and makes sure the final seconds wind down in the Ottawa zone and not Toronto's. Little things like that, smoothly executed, make big differences.

This one feels over with 20 minutes to go. Not much of a fight from the Senators for two periods. Shots are 31-12.

3rd Period

Less then two minutes in, Senators take the first penalty of the period; Armstrong drawing Kelly into holding the stick. More good work by Armstrong and Sjostrom on that shift and this time it pays off with a powerplay.

37 seconds later, Gonchar is called for hooking and the Leafs get to enjoy a 2-man advantage.

The Leafs had a goal waved off at the end of that sequence when, as they held possession during the delayed-penalty to Gonchar, Kaberle backhands it into the goal but because Bozak is still in the net after being hauled down, the referee waves it off immediately.

It only takes the Leafs 26 seconds to put the puck in the net again.

Versteeg's goal: (2:44)
Phaneuf makes a great play to keep the puck in, allowing Bozak to control it, eventually sending it back to the Captain who transfers it along to Kaberle and then to Kessel. Kessel sets up in the high slot and then feeds Kaberle for the one-timer and the puck grazes Versteeg and goes in. 4-0. Feels like a romp.

Tim "Legend" Brent's goal: (5:39)
Not sure what Pascal Leclaire was thinking here. Great reaction by Brent. Referee won't make the call but Brent looks pretty convinced.

Replay shows Leclaire's glove with the puck in it all the way over the line in the net. This decision takes a ridiculous amount of time for something that's obvious to everyone. Lots of smile between Tim Brent and Kessel during all of this but the crowd is getting restless. Eventually they signal the goal, Tim Brent's second in two games, and I can't help wondering if it took that long only because it's the Leafs and if they gave in only because the score was already 4-0. Baffling.

The rest of the period features a few skirmishes and the lone Sens' goal. I don't really do breakdowns of either.

Brown vs. Neil (6:04)

Orr vs. Carkner (8:59)

Versteeg vs. Fisher (15:49)

Final score 5-1. Shots are 38-18. Leafs demolish the Sens. Kaberle and Phaneuf finish equal in ice-time at 23:39.
So there you have it, a very belated review of round one in this season's Battle of Ontario. Sorry it took so long, but at least now you have it fresh in your mind to take into our next game, Wednesday night, against Pittsburgh. Hopefully the Leafs can build on such a positive win and keep a steady focus without getting overconfident too quickly.

If the Leafs can duplicate the effort and performance given against the Sens, a three-and-oh start is easily achievable, even with the formidable Penguins up next.

Go Leafs Go.


kidkawartha said...

The BoOBbB's were great, don't tell yourself otherwise. It's unfortunate that child-time is shelving them, but we can't completely ignore our offspring for the Leafs. We can come pretty close, though.
I like that you didn't even bother to mention Karlsson's name, the 3rd-rate D that he is. Another great post.

general borschevsky said...

Cheers kidk! My daughter is awesome and a lot of fun. A real redheaded firecracker too. She's impossible to ignore, even on game night.

Another great win last night. Things are really positive right now in Leafs Nation.