Connect with us


Game in 10: Ilya Samsonov and Morgan Rielly shine in sleepy shootout loss to Avalanche



Ilya Samsonov made 28 saves as a sleepy Maple Leafs vs. Avalanche game ended in a 2-1 Colorado shootout victory.

There were plenty of penalties between the two teams, but the glut of PP time didn’t lead to many real scoring chances in a game that was generally tilted toward Colorado. Morgan Rielly scored a goal and produced a strong two-way effort in the biggest performance by a Leaf skater this evening.

Your game in 10:

1.   The night got off to a hot start for the Maple Leafs, which wasn’t really an indication of things to come. Morgan Rielly had a look against Alexandar Georgiev and rang the shot off the crossbar within the first couple of minutes, and it didn’t take long before Rielly got another chance.

Mitch Marner and Calle Järnkrok worked hard to break up an Avalanche attack in the Leaf end, skated up ice, and Marner found Rielly on a cross-zone pass. #44 walked in and fired the shot under the glove of Georgiev:


This was Rielly’s best game I have seen in some time at both ends of the ice from an eye-test perspective. He was shooting the puck more and inserting himself into opportune situations offensively, and his defensive stick was sharp at the other end.

The analytics say he was on the ice for a number of scoring chances against, but I’d argue that he did a good job of stemming the tide defensively on a night when Colorado often had the upper hand against the Leafs. Rielly announced his presence early on with a goal less than five minutes in and continued his strong effort throughout.

2.    The first period continued along without a ton of events to note until the Avalanche went to the game’s first power play coming off a Mark Giordano slashing call.

The puck kicked to the corner, where three Leafs went after it, but Colorado recovered, went low to high, and had a 2-on-1 numerical advantage down low on the far side of the ice. Mikko Rantanen wound up for what would be a shot-fake pass intended for Val Nichushkin and fired the puck.

Jake McCabe, the lone Leaf with a chance to break it up, went down to take away the pass (as he should). The puck struck the toe of McCabe, who seemed to intend to kick it aside, but instead, the puck ricocheted at an angle that slid right through Ilya Samsonov‘s five-hole:

There is not much to say here beyond that it was unlucky. The Leafs needed to recover the puck when three went after it, putting them in an inopportune situation, but for McCabe and Samsonov, both played this correctly and got a bad break.

3.    As the first period came to a close and the second period got underway, the Maple Leafs went to a pair of power-play opportunities of their own. The first one didn’t see the first unit create much, but the second unit set up a chance for Sam Lafferty in the slot, where he blew the shot over the top of the net.

The second opportunity arrived in the second period and began in an inauspicious fashion. Val Nichushkin went on a breakaway right off the jump, but Samsonov made a massive save to keep the game tied at 1-1.

The main takeaway from this power play wasn’t anything Toronto created in the way of scoring chances but a decision made by Sheldon Keefe. At the halfway point of the PP, rather than going with the second unit, Keefe decided to take Morgan Rielly off the ice and replace him with Erik Gustafsson while leaving the Core Four out there.

I don’t know if Gustafsson will dress in the playoffs, but it did make me wonder if this could be a sneak peek at something Keefe considers in the postseason, where the star forwards log far more PP time than they would in the regular season (i.e. switching just the D but leaving everyone else in place). Something to munch on.

Alas, the Leafs’ PP ended prematurely when they took a delay-of-game call following a sloppy change near the very end of the man advantage.

4.    The second period continued with each team getting some more time with the PP, n addition to a bit of 4v4 play, but there wasn’t much created. Want some statistical evidence? In 12:32 of 5v5 play in the second period, Natural Stat Trick counted *two* total high-danger chances between the two teams combined.

Mitch Marner and Calle Järnkrok went on a 2v1 rush chance, with Marner slipping a great pass ahead to Järnkrok, who knifed it off the shoulder of Georgiev and out in what may well have been Toronto’s one 5v5 chance of the period. The two teams created a grand total of 0.8 combined expected goals between them in that 5v5 time, and the special-teams time wasn’t much more eventful.

This game was a bit of a snoozer at this juncture especially. Through two periods, the Leafs generated 11 total shots, one of their lowest outputs of the season. The Avalanche were doing an excellent job suppressing transitional play for the Leafs through the neutral zone and taking away the middle lane of the ice, too.

To Toronto’s credit, while they were generally creating fewer chances than Colorado, it’s not like the Avs were skating circles around them and peppering Samsonov. Toronto mustered just eight 5v5 shots through the first two periods, while Colorado had 14. Welcome back to the Dead Puck Era, everybody?!

5.     The early third period was dominated by whistles, particularly more PP time for the Avalanche. Michael Bunting committed a high-sticking infraction in front of the Avalanche net, a tough penalty to take in the offensive zone. The Avs created a couple of decent looks off of it, but there was not too much to note.

Shortly after the game returned to 5v5, David Kämpf got his stick caught in the skates of Nathan MacKinnon and was sent to the box for tripping. This was a much cleaner kill, with Alex Kerfoot standing out, in particular, for getting it done for the Maple Leafs.

Sheldon Keefe’s team was 4/5 on the PK overall, and the one goal allowed was a tough bounce. It was not a bad evening for the shorthanded units, even if they were on the ice too often.

6.     Before we get back to the game narrative, let’s talk about Timothy Liljegren. His play has come under a little scrutiny for taking a step back recently — something discussed by our own Anthony Petrielli in his weekly notebook today — but I thought he had a very strong game tonight.

Liljegren was regularly disruptive with his stick and his play shone as a rush defender, which has always been a strength of his game and is particularly pertinent against a team like the Colorado Avalanche. His defensive stick here was a goal-saver:

Liljegren didn’t generate a ton in the way of offense, but he did a superb job of keeping the game in front of him, positioning himself well to defend the rush, and using his stick to snuff out chances.

On a night where the numbers are largely unfavorable for his team, Liljegren came out looking just fine. Natural Stat Trick tallied the scoring chances 4-4 with Liljegren on the ice and 1-1 in the high-danger category, which was good relative to the rest of the team.

After a brutal evening against Buffalo on Monday, this was a nice bounce-back showing for the young Swede.

7.     As the game rolled along into the late third period, after a long lull offensively, Toronto began to create some looks.

Michael Bunting sent a great pass to William Nylander for a rush chance, but Willy couldn’t finish on what was a quiet night for him. Auston Matthews strung a couple of excellent shifts together on the cycle, but he couldn’t get one by Georgiev. Erik Gustafsson was caught in the offensive zone at one point, creating a 2v1 rush against that Morgan Rielly shut down.

Perhaps the biggest moment of the period was an extrasensory pass from Mikko Rantanen that found Evan Rodrigues all alone in tight, but Ilya Samsonov rose to the occasion yet again to keep the score even at one apiece.

Not long after that, there was some debate about an odd clear from Nylander that ended up in the Leaf bench. The referees conferred and the video showed that the puck traveled over the glass, over the stands, and landed on the Leaf bench. The referees opted not to give Toronto a penalty, which was a major relief with under four minutes to play.

The game stayed at 5v5 and not a ton happened in the final minutes except for one great look for Jake McCabe. McCabe — who has looked much more mobile and eager to jump up into the play than I anticipated when he was acquired — joined the rush to create a 3v2, receive a pass, and put the shot below the glove and above the goalie’s pad, but Georgiev just got enough of it to direct it wide.

8.     With McCabe’s chance unsuccessful, the game went into OT. Sheldon Keefe started with Mitch MarnerDavid Kämpf, and Timothy Liljegren.

The Leafs took possession quickly, but surprisingly, Kämpf and Liljegren stayed on. Liljegren then coughed it up, creating a high-danger look for Colorado, but a diving Mitch Marner broke up the shot.

At that point, #64 and #37 went off the ice, and once the horses were out there, the play picked up. Morgan Rielly was next out for Toronto, interestingly followed by Jake McCabe and not Erik Gustafsson, who is the more offensively-inclined defenseman.

Gustafsson got his shift after McCabe went off, and Marner set up the Swede for a breakaway, which Gustafsson put off the bar. That was Gustafsson’s first shift in many minutes as the defenseman had been stapled to the bench late in regulation with Toronto dressing seven defensemen.

The story in overtime was ultimately one of poor finishing luck for both sides. Georgiev and Samsonov continued to be sharp, but both teams had possible goals hop over their sticks (and as mentioned earlier, Gustafsson struck the iron). Despite spirited efforts from both teams, the five minutes of 3v3 expired and we were headed to just the second shootout of the season for the Leafs.

9.    I have little in the way of actual analysis for the shootout. Ilya Samsonov stopped Evan Rodrigues but allowed a goal to Nathan MacKinnon on a change-of-pace shot that slipped under his glove.

At the other end, Alexandar Georgiev stopped all three of William NylanderAuston Matthews, and Mitch Marner, none of whom produced terribly good looks on their shootout attempts. Colorado won the shootout 1-0 and the game 2-1. Meh.

The result did not feel undeserved for the Leafs, who were not the better team tonight, but it was an odd game in that I also didn’t feel that Colorado played incredibly well. They were very good defensively, but on the offensive end, it’s not like the Avs were generating much, either.

In over 44 minutes of 5v5 time, Colorado generated 1.87 expected goals and the Leafs generated 1.27. On the power play, the Leafs generated 0.46 and the Avalanche generated 0.6. Those numbers underscore an extraordinarily sleepy game between two elite teams known for their high-end offensive talent.

It may feel like the Leafs are in a bit of a funk right now, but there are a lot of factors to account for. The team acquired a bunch of new bodies right before the trade deadline, which was just over two weeks ago. The team has still only played so many games with the likes of McCabe, Lafferty, Gustafsson, Schenn, and Acciari in the lineup.

Moreover, the Leafs were on a long road trip, went on a long recovery break, and are now trying to find their rhythm again. There’s little to play for over these final 15 games — just home-ice advantage in a series against Tampa that has been set for months (and even home ice is only so important) — and that may lead to a higher dose of these sorts of sleepy games.

I’d like to see the team find a bit more of a groove, but even when the team feels like they aren’t playing “well,” they are 2-1-1 in the last four games against arguably the four fastest teams in the league. It’s nothing to be furious about if you ask me.

10.    Let’s end on something a bit more hopeful and positive for Leafs fans: the play of Ilya Samsonov.  Tonight was a very strong effort for the Russian goaltender with 28 saves on 29 shots. Again, the lone goal didn’t really “beat” him so much as it deflected where he wasn’t.

He showed that he can make huge high-danger saves against a team with elite offensive talent, the types that are necessary to win a playoff-style game. While I’ve praised Liljegren and Rielly in this piece, Samsonov was the best Leaf on the ice tonight.

Now up through 34 games of Samsonov this season, the numbers are sparkling: 23-8-3 record, .916 SV% (9th among qualified goalies), and 2.36 GAA (4th). In the advanced numbers, Evolving Hockey has Samsonov saving 15.58 goals above expected this season (also top 10) and Hockey Reference has down for 22 “quality starts” in 33 starts this season, a QS% of .667.

Among goalies with at least 30 starts, the only ones with a better QS% at the time of this writing are Linus Ullmark, Cam Talbot, and Ilya Sorokin, while Samsonov is tied with Connor Hellebuyck. The totality of the numbers suggests that there are about 5-6 definitely goalies better than Samsonov (Ullmark, Sorokin, Hellebuyck, Oettinger, Saros, Vasilevskiy), but among that next group, Samsonov absolutely has an argument — along with a couple of other netminders (Georgiev included) — for next up on the list of best goalies in the league this season. Filip Gustavsson of Minnesota is probably the best of that group, but Samsonov has played very, very well just as the numbers bear out.

Which leads to probably the biggest storyline before the playoffs… whose net is it? If you ask me, I’m not sure this should be a question at all. It’s Samsonov’s. He has been much better than Matt Murray this season and more consistently available for duty. That ought to be rewarded.

I get the intangibles argument with Murray’s experience, but if there’s one position on the ice where there is oodles of evidence throughout NHL history that no experience is needed to succeed in the playoffs, it’s goaltender. Just ask Murray himself, who won two Cups in his first two playoffs. Or Patrick Roy. Or Ken Dryden. The last two goalies to win the Smythe without winning the Cup (JS Giguere and Ron Hextall) were both in their first career playoffs.

In the abstract, an experienced, Cup-winning goalie is better than one who isn’t, but we can’t pretend that “intangibles” like this should make up a gap between two goalies who are not close in their calibre of play.

I’m not sure if Kyle Dubas and Sheldon Keefe agree, but if they don’t, I’m not sure what else Samsonov is meant to do. We’ve seen him best Igor Shesterkin and Ilya Sorokin head-to-head and stay calm and composed against Colorado tonight. I get that they’ll let the final 15 games play out — and perhaps Murray gets red-hot (or Samsonov craters) — but if those events don’t happen, should they tab Murray as the starter in the playoffs, they will be making the riskiest decision of their NHL careers based on what we know today.

Game Flow: 5v5 Shot Attempts

Heat Map: 5v5 Shot Attempts



Source link

Continue Reading


Need to Know: Bruins vs. Senators



BOSTON – The Bruins will be back on home ice on Tuesday night as they return from a lengthy five-game road trip to host the Ottawa Senators at TD Garden. Boston has bounced back to win three straight after a brief lull in its record-breaking season produced a stretch of three losses in four games.

“Hold ourselves accountable,” Matt Grzelcyk said of how the Bruins have rebounded quickly from the downturn. “And I feel like that Winnipeg game, we got a huge goal second shift, I think that just kind of starts getting things going the right way – and having that more attacking mentality offensively, defensively, taking time and space away from them. And I think it was a good transition and that’s when we could kind of overwhelm teams.”


Here’s everything else you need to know ahead of the 7 p.m. ET puck drop on NESN and 98.5 The Sports Hub:


On the Injury Front

Derek Forbort did not take part in the morning skate and is unlikely to play again before the postseason, per coach Jim Montgomery. The blue liner suffered a lower-body injury after blocking a shot on March 16 in Winnipeg.

“We do not expect him back before the end of the regular season,” said Montgomery, who added that Forbort does not require surgery.

Taylor Hall and Nick Foligno, both of whom have been out for nearly a month with lower-body injuries of their own, have resumed skating. Foligno took the ice on his own ahead of Tuesday’s morning skate, while Hall joined his teammates donning a maroon non-contact jersey.

“They’re checking boxes and are progressing well, but there’s no timeline for them yet,” said Montgomery. “I still think they are a ways away. It’s not at the point where I’m starting to think about lines and stuff.”

When they do return, however, Montgomery is eager to have plenty of options up front.

“I don’t think it’s a problem. It’s a great situation,” he said. “You’ll get to see when they get back who plays with who, and a deep lineup is going to get even deeper. So, it’s a great problem to have.”

After sitting out Sunday’s game in Buffalo, David Krejci (soreness) and Dmitry Orlov (defense rotation) will be back in the lineup. A.J. Greer and Jakub Zboril will be the healthy scratches.

Opposing View

The Senators, on the second end of a back-to-back, snapped a five-game losing streak on Monday night with a 2-1 win over Pittsburgh. The recent downturn has pushed Ottawa (34-31-5, 73 points) six points behind Florida for the second wild card spot in the Eastern Conference.

After winning the first two games against the Bruins this season – both on home ice – the Senators fell to Boston, 3-1, on Feb. 20 at TD Garden.

“I think they won [on Monday night], so they’re probably feeling pretty good about themselves,” said Grzelcyk. “Every game probably feels pretty close to a playoff game and they haven’t been there in a few years. They’ve got a lot to prove and they’ve got a lot of young talent…a good power play.

“We’ve got to stay disciplined, something we’ve lacked in a little bit recently. I’ve got to be mindful of that and I don’t want to give them any easy opportunities. And they played last night, so get on them early and make them work for it.”

Ottawa is paced by Tim Stutzle, who leads the club with 35 goals and 78 points in 66 games. Brady Tkachuk (30-42-72) has also hit the 30-goal, 70-point plateau, while Claude Giroux (28-30-68), Alex DeBrincat (21-35-56), and Drake Batherson (21-34-55) have reached the 20-goal mark.


Tuesday’s Projected Lineup


Brad MarchandPatrice BergeronJake DeBrusk

Pavel Zacha – David Krejci – David Pastrnak

Tyler BertuzziCharlie CoyleTrent Frederic

Jakub LaukoTomas NosekGarnet Hathaway


Matt Grzelcyk – Charlie McAvoy

Hampus LindholmBrandon Carlo

Dmitry Orlov – Connor Clifton


Linus Ullmark/Jeremy Swayman


Source link

Continue Reading


Canada’s women rebound vs. New Zealand after curling worlds loss to unbeaten Swiss



It was mixed results for Canada on Tuesday at the world women’s curling championship with a narrow loss to undefeated Switzerland and a comfortable victory over winless New Zealand.

Kerri Einarson’s squad from Gimli, Man., opened its day with a 7-6 defeat at the hands of three-time defending champion Silvana Tirinzoni before rebounding with a 10-4 win over New Zealand’s Bridget Becker.

The results left Canada tied for second place at 5-2 through 11 draws heading into games Wednesday against Germany and South Korea.

“It’s a little challenging out there and it’s taking a little longer to buy into and adapt to the changes in the game,” Canada lead Brianne Harris said. “We had a better day yesterday and then today was just a little off again. Hopefully we can build tomorrow and have our best day yet.”



Canada bounces back at women’s curling worlds by defeating New Zealand


Canada’s Kerri Einarson beats New Zealand’s Bridget Becker 10-4 at the women’s world curling championship. The Canadian women have a 5-2 record and are tied for second place with Italy.

Tirinzoni had her squad ahead 6-4 following a three-point fifth end and a steal of one in the sixth.

After a blank seventh, Einarson scored one in the eighth and tied the match 6-6 with a steal in the ninth.

With the hammer in the final end, Tirinzoni scored one to cement the win and improve to 6-0.

Against New Zealand, Einarson and teammates Harris, Val Sweeting and Shannon Birchard broke open a 2-2 tie with three points in the third end.


Switzerland remains undefeated with win over Canada at women’s curling worlds


Canada’s Kerri Einarson falls to Switzerland’s Silvana Tirinzoni 7-6 at the women’s world curling championship. The Swiss team stays perfect with a 6-0 record while the Canadian squad drops into a four-way tie for second at 4-2.

Leading 6-4 after six ends, Canada scored two in the seventh, and the teams shook hands after a Canadian steal of two in the eighth.

New Zealand fell to 0-7.

“We were looking to string some shots together,” Harris said. “I still don’t think this was our best game, though. It’s nice to get a win anyway but we need to make a few more shots going forward.”

In other Draw 11 results, Sweden edged Japan 5-4, Italy beat Scotland 7-6 and the United States thumped Denmark 7-2.

Italy was tied with Canada at 5-2, with South Korea and Norway next at 4-2.

The top six teams in the 13-team field qualify for the playoff round. The final is scheduled for Sunday.

That Curling Show: Kerri Einarson ready to take on the curling world in Sweden


Fresh off her fourth straight Scotties title, the skip joins That Curling Show to talk about what makes her team so dominant, having her kids be able to watch the final and how she’s prepping for worlds.


Source link

Continue Reading


Son of Flyers GM Daniel Brière charged for pushing wheelchair down stairs



Three misdemeanour charges were filed Monday against the son of Philadelphia Flyers interim general manager Danny Brière after a video posted on social media showed him and another Mercyhurst University athlete pushing an unoccupied wheelchair down a staircase.

Police in Erie, Pennsylvania, filed charges of criminal mischief, criminal conspiracy to commit mischief and disorderly conduct against Carson Brière, who completed his third hockey season at Mercyhurst. Patrick Carrozzi, listed as a senior member of the school’s lacrosse team, faces the same three charges, according to documents filed with District Judge Sue Mack.

The two are scheduled to appear in court on May 22.

Brière and Carrozzi are seen on a surveillance video at the top of a staircase of a local bar, where they push the wheelchair down the steps on March 11. Police say their actions posed a potential danger to anyone coming up the stairs, while also creating a hazardous condition by blocking the staircase.

The wheelchair’s owner, identified as Sydney Benes, filed a complaint saying the fall down the stairs damaged the left brake handle, broke the right arm rest’s plastic molding, bent a rear handle and caused the wheels to drag when moving forward. Benes said the wheelchair was purchased a year ago, costing $2,000 US.


It’s unclear if Brière or Carrozzi have lawyers who can speak on their behalf.

Brière and two other athletes were placed on interim suspension, while the school investigated the matter.

A message seeking comment left with a Mercyhurst athletic department spokeswoman was not immediately returned.

Philadelphia Flyers interim general manager Daniel Brière departs from a news conference in Philadelphia Feb. 9, 2022. (Matt Rourke/The Associated Press)

Last week, the 23-year-old Brière apologized in a statement released through the NHL’s Flyers.

“I am deeply sorry for my behaviour on Saturday,” he said. “There is no excuse for my actions, and I will do whatever I can to make up for this serious lack of judgment.”

Danny Brière, who was promoted to run the Flyers after Chuck Fletcher was fired two weeks ago, said he was shocked to see his son’s actions and called them “inexcusable,” while saying his son “accepts full responsibility for his behaviour.”

Mercyhurst previously released a statement saying the actions displayed in the video fall short of the school’s “belief in the inherent dignity of each person,” adding the school’s “tradition also reminds us that students and all people who make poor choices deserve opportunities to learn, change behaviours and atone for harmful actions.”

Carson Brière previously was dismissed from Arizona State’s hockey club in 2019 for what the school called a violation of team rules.



Source link

Continue Reading