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miaowang123 Aug 12
TORONTO – It was the kind of save that can change the course of a game and Jonathan Bernier made it in the early moments of an eventual rout of the Canucks. Vlade Divac Jersey . Bernier stopped a season-high 44 shots on Saturday night, but it was the point-blank save on Radim Vrbata with zeroes still on the board in the first frame that propelled the Leafs to their fifth win in seven games (5-1-1). Scoring first is all-important to Toronto – still a perfect 11-0-0 when they manage the games first goal – and thats precisely why the early stop was so critical. The Leafs were stumbling around some in those first moments; they needed a big save and got it. Bernier added another such stop just a minute or so later, turning down Alex Edlers trip from the point into a wide-open slot. Randy Carlyle observed that Bernier saved our butts with the two stops, allowing Torontos second-ranked offensive attack to get in gear en route to a 5-2 win. We found a way to get our offence going, Carlyle said, but I think Bernie was the catalyst for sure. It was one of the finer starts of a season thats been not nearly as impressive as the one that preceded it. Berniers numbers are down across the board in his second season as the Leafs tentative no. 1. Hes not been near the force of last season, nor has he needed to be quite as often. Hes had some early season woes, Carlyle acknowledged. I think he would be the first one to say that he wasnt as sharp as he needed to be. The 26-year-old entered the night with an .897 save percentage in the seven starts that preceded Saturdays sterling effort, yielding five goals for the second time this season in a loss to the Devils on Thursday. But he was locked in against the Canucks, holding them at bay amid a furious pushback in the final 40 minutes, which included a litany of Vancouver power-plays. I think he was the difference, said Korbinian Holzer. …he made the big stops that kept us in [the game] and give us a chance to build up the lead. At the end he was huge again and played an overall great game. Amongst the league-leaders with a .933 save percentage at even-strength last season, Bernier entered Saturdays play with a .921 mark, his effectiveness also dipping slightly on the penalty kill despite fewer shots against. Overall, he boasts a .916 save percentage this season, dipping from the mighty .923 mark he set a year ago. And yet Carlyle has run with him for the better part of two months, allowing the former first round pick to cement himself as the Leafs top dog in goal. Saturday marked his eight consecutive start, matching a career-high. We just felt that we were going to give him the ball here to run with, Carlyle said, noting a light schedule with a majority of home games. That faith was rewarded against Vancouver. Tonight I felt really good, said Bernier. I was seeing the puck well and obviously Ive played these guys quite a bit … I was trying to stay patient tonight and stay on my feet as much as possible. Five Points 1. Four-Line Depth That the Leafs could score five on yet another quiet night for the top line is wholly representative of the improved offensive depth they boast this season. It was the trio of Peter Holland, David Clarkson and Joffrey Lupul supplying much of the attack for Toronto, the fourth line additionally chipping in with a goal from Richard Panik. The 23-year-old Panik was actually late in jumping on the ice just before his goal, the gleeful celebration that followed his beating Ryan Miller indicative of that. I dont know if he was day-dreaming or what he was doing, Carlyle said with a grin, [but] I think thats why he was a little excited, because he was a little embarrassed by what happened. Panik has scored five times now, despite garnering less than nine minutes per game – none of which comes with the man advantage. Hes made a strong bid for more ice-time, doing what he can at this point to earn Carlyles trust. Thats the thing, said Panik. I think the coach doesnt know me that well. But each game Ive got to play a hard game and earn a spot. Everyone earned it in training camp, [but] I didnt have that opportunity. Even if I play five minutes Ive got to play hard and earn that spot in the top-nine. Carlyle called that fourth unit – which also included David Booth and Trevor Smith – difference makers against the Canucks. They werent hemmed in our end, he said. And interestingly enough, he noted his growing comfort with the line, feeling no fear in situations where they might be stuck on the ice versus an opposing teams top line – such as on an icing. Thats where, at this stage with those players, we dont really have to worry as we had to before, Carlyle said. The Leafs boast 11 players with at least four goals. 2. Stepping Up Torontos penalty kill has taken a couple of key personnel hits in the past couple weeks, first losing Roman Polak to a knee injury and then Leo Komarov to a concussion. Their absence had been felt prior a perfect showing against the Canucks. The Leafs had allowed a power-play goal in three of the previous four games, but on Saturday they stuffed Vancouver entirely in six attempts. Daniel Winnik played more than eight minutes in such duty, Dion Phaneuf and Cody Franson adding more than seven minutes apiece on the blue-line. Bernier, meanwhile, was perfect with the 10 shots he faced. Our PK guys did a heck of a job for us and our goalie was outstanding, Carlyle said. 3. Surge The luck factor has certainly changed for Joffrey Lupul since he returned from a broken right hand late last month. Despite strong underlying numbers, Lupul had just a pair of goals and three points in the nine games before he was hurt, dubbing it one of the toughest stretches of luck hed ever had. I think I was hitting posts or cross-bars every game, he said. Lupul has conversely managed four goals and seven points in five games upon return, chasing Miller with the fourth Toronto goal on Saturday. Earlier in the year I had some really tough luck, Lupul said Saturday morning. I thought I had a lot of opportunities that normally wouldve went in. So I was quite happy with the way I was playing earlier in the year and now Ive come back and I think Ive gotten better each game. Two constant keys for the 31-year-old: playing physically and driving hard to the net. Those are the two things I lean on when Im not having success and I cant really figure out why, he said. But the head coach would like to see Lupul simplify things, relying less on individual tactics and the turnovers they tend to cause. When he does that his effectiveness drops, Carlyle said. Wed like to see him be more of a straight line shooter, one who creates offence off the cycle from time to time. Lupul played only 13 minutes against the Canucks, scoring on his only shot while also managing a helper on David Clarksons empty-netter. 4. Rising Stock Indicative of his growing faith in the 24-year-old, Carlyle turned to Nazem Kadri – and linemates, Daniel Winnik and Mike Santorelli – to oppose Vancouvers sturdy top trio of the Sedin twins and Radim Vrbata. And the strategy proved mostly effective. Kadri had a 40 per cent Corsi mark against the Canucks, which looks better when held in view against Vancouvers 91-47 advantage for the game. I thought Nazzie was good defensively, said Carlyle. He didnt play high-risk, high-reward … I thought [that line] did a good job. 5. Concussed Missing his third straight game Saturday, Leo Komarov is no closer to returning from a concussion. Komarov has skated just once since he was hit by Alex Ovechkin one week ago, remaining off the ice entirely otherwise. Given the unpredictability of the injury its unclear when exactly hell return, but next weekend would appear the earliest possible date. Komarov hasnt practiced once since he was concussed and Monday is the earliest he could participate in that first one. One practice wont be enough though in light of the long layoff and since the Leafs play back-to-back on Tuesday and Wednesday, Saturday at home versus Detroit is the most optimistic bet for his return to the lineup. Thats assuming all goes well. Komarov managed to skate briefly on Thursday, but then remained off the ice the following two days. Its entirely possible that he misses another full week, a definite hit for the Leafs given his array of offerings. Bonus Point James Reimer continues to wait for that next start meanwhile. He hasnt made an appearance since Nov. 18 when the Leafs were blasted at home by Nashville. Obviously you want to play right, said Reimer earlier this week. Were born to play and youre born to want to be a difference-maker out there so yeah obviously Im looking forward to my next start and you want to get in there. But at the same time [Berniers] been playing really well and the teams been playing really well so right now my job is to support them and be a great teammate and work hard in practice. Thats what Im trying to do. Reimer will likely draw two of the next four starts. The Leafs play a pair of back-to-backs in the upcoming week, beginning with a Calgary-Detroit set on Tuesday and Wednesday. Stats-Pack .908% – Save percentage for Jonathan Bernier in his last eight starts. 8:47 – Average ice-time for Richard Panik, who has five goals this season. 8:28 – Shorthanded ice-time for Daniel Winnik against Vancouver. 1 – Point in the previous nine games for Peter Holland, who had a pair against the Canucks. 14:13 – Ice-time for Phil Kessel on Saturday. Special Teams Capsule PP: 0-3 Season: 20.6% PK: 6-6 Season: 83.9% Quote of the Night I dont know if he was day-dreaming or what he was doing. I called Smiths line and it was 10 seconds or 5 seconds and he was late. -Randy Carlyle, on Richard Paniks late entry onto the ice, just moments before he scored the Leafs second goal. Up Next The Leafs conclude their five-game home-stand against Calgary on Tuesday. Magic Johnson Jersey . -- The Oakland Athletics and free agent right-hander Bartolo Colon have agreed to terms on a US$2 million, one-year contract, bolstering their depleted starting rotation. James Worthy Jersey . - Andre Drummond had his best night on the boards.ATZENBRUGG, Austria - Englands Adam Gee and Swedens Mikael Lundberg shot 5-under 67 to share a one-stroke lead on a windy and cloudy opening day of the Lyoness Open on Thursday. Starting on the back nine, Gee eagled the par-4 14th hole but bogeyed the 18th before carding three birdies on the front nine. Lundberg hit six birdies and lost a stroke on the par-3 second. The Swede, who came through the European Tour Qualifying School for a third straight year, is looking for his first title since winning the Russian Open for a second time in 2008. Lundberg said hes improved since working with new coach Neil Jordan: "I am more solid from the tee onto the green. You have to be careful out there, and dont take unnecessary chances." The pair led a group of four which finished at 4 under, including Wales Rhys Davies, Englands Richard Finch and Mattew BBaldwin, and American Berry Henson. Kobe Bryant Lakers Jersey. Defending champion Joost Luiten from the Netherlands hit three birdies in his opening four holes. Later, however, he struggled to hit the fairways and dropped to 1 over before finishing his round level par with his fourth birdie on the 17th. Miguel Angel Jimenez overcame three bogeys in the first eight holes to card a 2-under 70. The 50-year-old Spaniard, who resides in Vienna since marrying an Austrian in May, is seeking his third win of the season. Starting on the back nine, he bogeyed the par-4 11th and 17th and the par-3 14th but recovered with four birdies. "Its OK, its under par," Jimenez said. "Its not easy because of the wind." Former champions Jeev Milkha Singh of India, Kenneth Ferrie of England, and Bernd Wiesberger of Austria each shot a 71. ' ' '