Toronto Maple Leafs centre Tyler Bozak (42) celebrates after scoring the game-winning goal in the shootout of the 2014 Winter Classic against the Detroit Red Wings at Michigan Stadium on Wednesday. (Rick Osentoski/USA TODAY Sports/Reuters)
Tyler Bozak might not be a No. 1 centre by most people's standards, but with the Toronto Maple Leafs he's getting the job done, writes Mike Brophy. Bozak scored two goals including the shootout winner as the Leafs defeated the
Detroit Red Wings 3-2 at the Winter Classic on Wednesday.
Tyler Bozak might not be a No. 1 centre by most people's standards, but with the Toronto Maple Leafs he's getting the job done.
Bozak, who routinely skates on the team's top line between offensive forces Phil Kessel and James van Riemsdyk, missed 12 games with an oblique injury, but upon his return has been lightning it up as the Maple Leafs have won back-to-back games.
Bozak, who is supposed to be the defensive conscience on the line, now has points in six straight games.
Third time lucky
Toronto left-winger James van Riemsdyk has plenty of experience playing in outdoor NHL games; plenty of losing experience, that is. As a member of the Philadelphia Flyers, the 24-year-old Middletown, N.J., native played in the 2010 outdoor game at Fenway Park in Boston, losing 2-1 in overtime to the Bruins, and in the 2012 game at Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia losing 3-2 to the New York Rangers.
JVR finally got a win in an outdoor game in Ann Arbor, scoring Toronto's first goal of the game. He was a constant scoring threat throughout the contest registering four shots on goal.
Following the game the players who will compete for the United States at the 2014 Winter Olympics were announced. The final three players to be announced -- van Riemsdyk and Kessel of the Maple Leafs and goalie Jimmy Howard of the Red Wings --skated onto the ice wearing their Olympic jerseys.
Making his fourth consecutive start, Toronto goalie Jonathan Bernier wore special goalie pads designed to look like the old leather pads from days gone by.
Bernier was delighted to get the start in such a monumental game.
"That is going to stay in my memory for the rest of my life," he said.
Bernier said the ice was very slick and he often found himself, "over-pushing sometimes." He also said having the snow fly into his eyes was a challenge.
The Maple Leafs were working on a deal that would send defencemen John-Michael Liles and Dennis Patterson to Carolina for defenceman Tim Gleason. With the exception of six games with the Maple Leafs this season, the 33-year-old Liles has spent most of the season playing in the AHL with the Marlies in an effort to get part of his contract off the books. Patterson, 22, is a prospect playing for Brown University.
Gleason, 30, brings toughness to the table. He was drafted in the first round, 23rd overall, by Ottawa in 2001. In 616 NHL games with Los Angeles and Carolina Gleason has 15 goals and 128 points with 591 penalty minutes. He has 38 fighting majors to his credit.
There continues to be plenty of talk about the Maple Leafs possibly making centre Nazem Kadri available for trade.
One possible reason Kadri could be available is the solid play of centre Peter Holland who was acquired from the Anaheim Ducks along with Brad Staubitz for defenceman Jesse Blacker and draft picks Nov. 16. A first round draft pick in 2009, Holland had five goals and nine points in his first 19 games with Toronto. Kadri, by the way, entered the game with 11 goals and 23 points in 37 games and was minus-7.
Kadri had a glorious opportunity to open the scoring in the second period from directly in front of the Red Wings net, but was turned back by Howard.
Toronto's Joffrey Lupul was incensed when he was hammered to the ice by Detroit's Daniel Alfredsson in the first period and took his anger out on Patrick Eaves of the Red Wings by cross-checking him in the face. Lupul was lucky to only be assessed a minor penalty, though he could still face supplemental discipline. Eaves was injured on the play.
Alfredsson delivered a similar check to Lupul in the second period and then opened the scoring for the Red Wings converting on a two-on-one at 13:14.
Mike BrophyMike Brophy brings a wealth of hockey writing and broadcasting experience to CBC Sports, having covered junior hockey for 14 years before joining The Hockey News as its senior writer for 17 years starting in 1992. Most recently, the Burlington, Ont., native worked as a writer/commentator at Rogers Sportsnet and as co-host of The Power Play on SiriusXM. Mike has written four books, including My First Goal, featuring 50 players describing their first NHL goals.