Randy Carlyle

Leafs coach liked what he saw in the second period against the Bruins

There seems to be a contingent of Maple Leafs fans that get its hackles up whenever the fact is raised that Toronto gets outshot in almost every single game it plays.

This is understandable, given the Leafs are 11-6-0 and tied for second in the Eastern Conference. Hockey games are won by scoring the most goals, not by getting the most shots.

But shot totals are often a reflection of how much a team has the puck. After all, you can’t shoot the puck unless you possess it first.

Also, puck possession is something that Leafs coach Randy Carlyle has said he wants more of. So if it’s important to the coach, it’s probably worth mentioning.

Specifically, Carlyle would love his team to have the kind of possession it enjoyed during the second period of Saturday’s game in Boston when the Leafs outshot the Bruins, 18-10, and outscored them, 1-0.

“I think every coach would like their team to play that way,” Carlyle said, per the Globe and Mail. “That’s more the type of hockey that we’re going to ask the hockey club to play. A little bit more of a cycle game, a little bit more of a puck-possession game, you know, instead of the up and down, trading chances.”

Writes the Globe and Mail’s James Mirtle:

The analysis of the Leafs’ shots-on-goal problems has been beaten to death over the past 10 months, but the real issue in the long term is one of zone time, not simply putting meaningless rubber on goal.

By any measure, Toronto spends a disproportionate amount of time in its own end, with new statistics estimating their offensive versus defensive zone time at 41.4 per cent, the second-worst rating in the league.

At the end of the day, there’s no right way to win hockey games. The Leafs have overcome their lack of puck possession with great goaltending, good special teams, and a high shooting percentage. For the team’s fans, it must be frustrating for critics to keep saying the collapse is coming. But it’s not personal; it’s mostly just an interesting narrative, particularly for those who are interested in hockey’s so-called advanced statistics.

By the way, Toronto is in Minnesota on Wednesday to play a Wild team whose possession stats have improved dramatically this season.

The Leafs have lost two of their last three, including Saturday’s 3-1 defeat to the B’s.

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    Don Cherry: Leafs threw Reimer ‘to the wolves’ against Bruins

    Boston Bruins v Toronto Maple Leafs - Game Six
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    Don Cherry weighed in on the fact James Reimer was the Toronto Maple Leafs’ starting goaltender Saturday night.

    “What we call what they do with Reimer is throwing him to the wolves,” said Cherry during his Coach’s Corner segment on Hockey Night in Canada.

    “You play him in Vancouver … you’re not going to win in Vancouver, they were not going to win that game. There’s no way. You put him in Boston, going to be pretty tough to win in Boston.

    “So what you do is protect (Jonathan Bernier).”

    So, there is that theory. The “wolves” got the best of Reimer. The Bruins defeated the Leafs 3-1, thanks to a pair of third-period goal from Patrice Bergeron.

    However, Reimer played well, making 31 saves. He was particularly good in the first period, the Leafs were outshot 14-7.

    But playing the Bruins also has something of personal significance for Reimer, who was in goal for the Leafs during their third-period meltdown in Boston in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference quarter-final.

    “It means something, but I don’t think it’s as big a deal as I’m sure people are making it out to be,” Reimer said Friday, as per an article in Metro.

    “If we win there (Saturday) it doesn’t reverse what happened last year. If we play them in the first round of the playoffs again, then maybe you can say there’s more of a story there. But it’s a regular-season game.”

    Bruins’ blue liner McQuaid hurt against Leafs (Updated)

    Washington Capitals v Boston Bruins
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    Boston Bruins defenseman Adam McQuaid was taken to the dressing room after appearing to suffer an injury in the first period of Saturday’s game against the Toronto Maple Leafs.

    McQuaid was playing the puck behind his own net, when he suddenly stopped skating and fell to the ice. He couldn’t put much, if any, pressure on his right leg as he was helped off the ice by his teammates.

    Prior to getting hurt, McQuaid was involved in a spirited scrap with Frazer McLaren just before the two-minute mark of the first period.

    Updated: McQuaid will not return to tonight’s game, according to the Bruins’ official Twitter account.

    Morgan Rielly scratched against Bruins

    Colorado Avalanche v Toronto Maple Leafs
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    Rookie defenseman Morgan Rielly is a healthy scratch for the Toronto Maple Leafs in tonight’s game against the Boston Bruins.

    Rielly, 19, and the Leafs’ first-round pick, fifth overall from the 2012 NHL Draft, has five assists in 14 games. However, in Friday’s shootout win over New Jersey, Rielly had a season-low 12 minutes and 55 seconds of ice time.

    With Rielly out of the lineup, the Leafs are going with Paul Ranger and Mark Fraser as the third defence pairing, according to Paul Hendrick of Leafs TV.

    Thomas appreciates Bruins fans’ standing ovation

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    Even after he left them with a season remaining on his contract, Boston Bruins fans still love Tim Thomas. At least that’s the message those at the TD Garden sent when they gave him a standing ovation during last night’s 4-1 victory over the Florida Panthers.

    Of course, Thomas wasn’t in goal for Florida to counter Tuukka Rask. Although the 39-year-old goaltender is close to returning from a lower-body injury, he needed a bit more time.

    Still, he was happy to be back in Boston.

    “I was hoping for that kind of reaction from the fans,” Thomas told the Miami Herald. “I loved playing here. I loved Boston. It was nice to see that response.”

    Thomas is expected to be available on Saturday. He hasn’t been his old self so far this season, but the Panthers certainly need all the help they can get.

    If you want to see the standing ovation and the game’s highlights, you can view them below: