Troy Brodie was integral in helping the Maple Leafs strike first against the Philadelphia Flyers on Saturday, writes Mike Brophy. He had two assists in the game as Toronto recovered from surrendering a two-goal to win 4-3 in overtime.
For days...weeks...months...Toronto Maple Leafs coach Randy Carlyle has been preaching defence.
Even when his team was 10-5 out of the gate, an impressive start, Carlyle questioned its chances for success if the defence didn't tighten up.
"I thought we had as much energy as we have displayed all year early in the hockey game and then we just flattened right out...but we did get it back late in the game," Carlyle said. "We did get out game going in the third period."
The Bodie impact
Aggressive right-winger Troy Bodie has been very impressive despite getting limited ice time since his last recall from the AHL Marlies and was integral in helping the Maple Leafs take a 1-0 lead at 2:21 of the first period. He jumped on a loose puck in the offensive zone and forced his way to the slot where he got a good shot on goal. The rebound went to defenceman Jake Gardiner who took his time in the high slot until he found an opening and snapped a shot past Flyers goalie Steve Mason.
Bodie, who had two assists in the game, gets third- and fourth-line ice time, but might be a good fit on a line with Nazem Kadri and Joffrey Lupul. He is big, tough and has decent hands. Bodie could open a little space for the two skilled forwards.
He was thrilled with his offensive output, but even happier that he was on the ice late in the game with the outcome on the line. Bodie's line was out late in the third period and he was thankful.
"Yeah, it is quite the compliment to get those opportunities and he (Carlyle) trusts you to be out there at that time," Bodie said. "You want to be responsible and do what you can."
Carlyle has been very complimentary about the grinder in the past few weeks.
"He is very noticeable," the coach said. "He is strong on the fore-check and is a big, hard-working, honest hockey player."
Toronto defenceman Jake Gardiner was impressed with his teammate.
"He was great out there tonight," Gardiner said. "He was working his butt off out there tonight and it's great to see hikm get rewarded for that."
Gardiner also gave credit to his teammates for setting a screen that allowed him to strike in the first period.
"The puck just popped out to me and I knew I had a lot of time," he said. "They weren't rushing out to me at all and I just tried to get it past the first guy. It was a great screen by our forwards and it went in."
Just 1:17 later Kadri found himself in tight with the puck and made the most of it snapping a shot past Mason high to the stick side. It was his 17th goal of the year.
Timonen ends drought
With his team trailing 2-0, Philadelphia defenceman Kimmo Timonen notched two in a row to get the Flyers back in the game. He hadn't scored a goal in 30 games. He has been one of the hottest scorers in the league since the Olympic break.
Mason R beats S Mason
Mason Raymond of the Leafs shot the home team into the lead at 13:34 of the third period beat his namesake, sort of, Steve Mason. It was Raymond's second goal in three games.
For no reason whatsoever, Philadelphia's Jay Rosehill (a former Maple Leaf) and Toronto's Frazer McLaren fought on their fifth shift of the game in the second period. It was an engaging bout and seemingly the fans enjoyed it. Not sure if the night would have been a failure without the staged fight, however.
At the end of the day, they were both basically justifying their existence in the NHL. And being handsomely paid at the same time.
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.