TORONTO – To get himself acclimated with the talents and potential of James van Riemsdyk, Randy Carlyle went to the tape. He looked back at the 2011 playoffs when the then-sophomore winger made the hockey world take notice with seven goals in 11 games for the Flyers, including three in the second round against Boston. "We saw that again last year in the playoffs for us," said Carlyle of the 24-year-old, who scored twice in a wild 6-5 win against Edmonton on Saturday night. "He made it difficult for himself because now were going to expect it every game." van Riemsdyk is showing definite star potential in his second season with the Leafs, now with five goals in the first six games this season. He is quickly raising his game to yet another level after an explosive 2013 which saw him tally 18 goals in 48 games before notching seven points in a first round loss to the Bruins. Improvements to his craft are noticeable, the first of which lies with a powerful set of wheels. "Big guys, a lot of times they dont look like theyre covering a lot of ground, but if he gets a step on anybody, hes big and strong enough in his body position that not many people catch him," Carlyle observed. Registered at an imposing 6-foot-3 and a sturdy 200 pounds, van Riemsdyk manages to chug along quite well for a big man. Thats due in part to the work hes put in with Leafs skating consultant Barb Underhill. Just this past summer, Underhill traveled to Connecticut to work with van Riemsdyk and fellow training partners Colton Orr and Martin St. Louis. Viewing video clips of van Riemsdyk alongside Underhill, it was St. Louis, the 2013 scoring champ, who noticed the hitch, one that both agreed required fixing. The adjustment "helped me become a little bit more explosive of a skater out there". In addition to his efforts with Underhill, van Riemsdyk also credited offseason training with Ben Prentiss, with whom hes worked alongside since the summer after his first NHL season with the Flyers. "Hes done a tremendous job with me every year since as far as just getting me more athletic, more explosive and more dynamic out there," said van Riemsdyk. Such explosiveness was evident when he charged hard around the Oilers net for the fourth Toronto goal, beating Devan Dubnyk with a wrap-around which proved akin to the one he scored two nights previous in Nashville. Earlier in the evening, it was a striking presence around the net that would yield results. Parked around the blue paint of the Edmonton goal, van Riemsdyk would deftly redirect the point shot of Cody Franson, his second marker on the power-play this season. "Hes very good at tracking pucks," Franson said of van Riemsdyk. "You see a guy like him coming across and you just try and put it in an area where he can get a stick on it. Thats one of his major talents is to be able to do that." "Hes good around that tight area of the net," Carlyle added. "For a big man, hes got soft hands." It was Carlyle who prodded the more consistent use of such skills in the early days of the 2013 calendar, the coach and player just becoming acquainted upon their landing in Toronto. "Obviously Im always a guy who likes to be around the net and thats where I have to get to if Im going to score goals," van Riemsdyk said. "Thats a place I like going. I know its not necessarily the easiest part of the rink to play on, but its fun getting in there and just digging at pucks and trying to bang them in." Consistent run on the man advantage, van Riemsdyk added, has proved beneficial not only toward developing chemistry with members of the top unit, but also to the "little nuances about being in front and positioning your body and being in a good spot to be able to get those rebounds". Running shotgun on a first line that includes Phil Kessel and Tyler Bozak, van Riemsdyk is getting plenty of opportunity for the Leafs, the kind he envisioned upon his disappointing exit from Philadelphia. van Riemsdyk is averaging nearly 22 minutes per game this season, adding increased responsibility on the penalty kill early on. The array of tools which made him so attractive to the organization in the summer of 2012, when they first acquired him from Philadelphia in exchange for Luke Schenn, are being realized in rapid order. van Riemsdyk is evolving into a star. Five Points 1. Incomplete victory The efforts have been neither pretty nor complete and yet the Leafs are 5-1-0 after six games, all this without David Clarkson from the outset (suspension) and regulars Nik Kulemin and Mark Fraser (injuries) more recently. A game of shinny with the Oilers on Saturday nearly ended in defeat. Instead, as they have throughout the first two weeks of the season, the Leafs managed to grind out a win, albeit it barely on this night. With just 31 ticks left in regulation and the home side down 5-4, it was Joffrey Lupul playing hero, the 30-year-old scoring his second of the game and fifth this season. Breaking loose for a 3-on-1 rush minutes later, Dave Bolland would bury his second game-winner of the season in overtime. "My teeth are going to be ground down by the 20-game mark if we continue to play the way we did tonight as far as exchanging chances and mistakes," Carlyle smirked afterward. As they have been at various points in the early stages this season, the Leafs were sloppy and error-prone against the Oilers, yielding a number of high-quality opportunities in critical areas. Jonathan Bernier rescued some of those miscues with terrific play in his previous four games – .971 save percentage – but he could not erase them once more on Saturday, yielding five goals on 31 shots. "It was a game of mistakes and each team seemed to capitalize on one anothers mistakes," Carlyle said. "The fortunate part for us is we were on the right end of it." 2. Bollands way A ready-made favourite of the head coach, Bolland added to his resume with another game-winner on Saturday. "To get the true read on Dave Bolland is when you come to practice," Carlyle preached shortly after the game. "He does every drill at the highest possible speed. He practices like a pro. Hes trying to make himself better every day. Some of our younger players could take notice to that." Carlyle said such a message has been imparted to the Leafs youth. "We have a motto," he continued, "that if your skill level is at one level and if your will or your ability to work doesnt match that skill level or exceed it, youre not going to get any better. Its guys like Dave Bolland that sell your program and help coaches in leading by example and showing the way." 3. Franson/Rielly Saturday proved a difficult night for the Leafs second pair of Cody Franson and Morgan Rielly. The duo was caught on the ice for four of the five Oilers goals. "It was just one of those nights where thats the way it was going," Franson said afterward. The 26-year-old made good on a rough night in some respect in overtime though, outmuscling Ryan Nugent-Hopkins for the puck in the defensive zone before springing the odd-man rush which would ultimately result in Bollands game-winner. 4. Eakins return A seventh round selection in 2007, Carl Gunnarsson first met Dallas Eakins when he was in charge of player development for the Leafs. Eakins had traveled to Sweden to watch Gunnarsson while he was still in the Swedish Elite League, offering tips and advice to the late round pick after games. The now 26-year-old would then play for Eakins when he moved to the bench for the organization as Marlies head coach in 2009. "He was a fair guy and thats all Ive heard from the guys thats been down there too," Gunnarsson told the Leaf Report. "If youve got that reputation I guess its just a matter of time before you get that job in the big league." Gunnarsson would play only 12 games for Eakins in the AHL that fall before joining the Leafs and never looking back. Upon his exit, the now Oilers coach had a simple message. "He told me he didnt want to see me again," Gunnarsson recalled. "And Dallas can keep a straight face too. I knew it was a joke, but still hes looking at me, Gunnar, get out of here I dont want to see you again. Just looking back at that, I take it as a good thing." Eakins spent eight seasons in the Leafs organization before landing the top job in Edmonton. He was an assistant coach at the AHL and NHL levels, the director player of development and finally the head coach with the Marlies. Saturday marked his return to Toronto. 5. Eakins return Pt. 2 Like countless others who played for him in Toronto, Eakins made an impact in just 16 games on Troy Bodie. The now 28-year-old was a Marlie late in the 2009-2010 season. "He made you want to play for him and want to win for him," Bodie told the Leaf Report. "And if you lost you felt bad; you honestly felt bad that you let him down. He just had that way about him. Its not a coaching style you see very often." "Whatever the players wanted he gave them rather than some coaches thinking I think this is what they need," Bodie continued. "He was really good at reading his players and seeing what they needed and catering to it." Stat-Pack 22 – Goals for the Leafs after six games, good for an average of 3.67, fourth-best in the league after Saturday. 21:59 – Ice-time for Paul Ranger on Saturday, a season-high. 1 – Career point for rookie David Broll, who helped set up Joffrey Lupuls first goal of the game. 8 – Points for Joffrey Lupul, who sits second in NHL scoring behind only Sidney Crosby. 6 – Points for Mason Raymond, including a pair of assists on Saturday. 6 – Points for Nazem Kadri in six games this season, including a goal and an assist on Saturday. .946 – Save percentage for Jonathan Bernier after yielding five goals on 31 shots against Edmonton. Special Teams Capsule PP: 1-3 PK: 3-4 Quote of the Night "My teeth are going to be ground down by the 20-game mark if we continue to play the way we did tonight as far as exchanging chances and mistakes." -Randy Carlyle following Saturdays 6-5 victory. Up Next The Leafs host the Wild at the ACC on Tuesday. Rafael Marquez Jersey
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. Next up is another showdown with Michigan. Payne scored 18 points, Branden Dawson had 14 and No. 22 Michigan State beat No. 12 Wisconsin 83-75 on Saturday to reach the Big Ten tournament championship. Andres Guardado Jersey
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. They actually finished with a better record in ‘07 than they did in ‘06 but only marginally, going from 61 victories to 66.MONTREAL -- The notion that Henrik Lundqvist cant play at the Bell Centre has been officially dispelled. The goalie called King Henrik made 40 saves as the New York Rangers took control of the Eastern Conference final with a 3-1 victory over the desperate Montreal Canadiens on Monday night. The Rangers lead the best-of-seven Eastern Conference final 2-0 heading back to New York for Game 3 on Thursday and Game 4 on Sunday. The Canadiens, missing star goalie Carey Price to injury, came out blazing in a bid to avenge a listless 7-2 thumping in the series opener only to run into the Lundqvist wall. "I thought we played well, and the only reason we lost was Lundqvist," said Montreal coach Michel Therrien. "He stole that game." There was concern that Lundqvist may have a mental block about playing in Montreal as a string of weak outings at the Bell Centre had moved successive coaches John Tortorella and the current Alain Vigneault to not even play him there. He hadnt started a game in Montreal in more than two years. But the goalie who was bested by Price at the Sochi Olympics as Canada beat Sweden in the final has allowed only three goals on 63 shots in the series. The Canadiens got the opening goal 6:14 in from Max Pacioretty, but Ryan McDonagh tied it only 17 seconds later on a shot that went in off defenceman Josh Gorges and a goalpost. "We knew they were going to come hard, but we put ourselves in a tough spot there by not getting pucks out," said Lundqvist. "They were all over us. "But to tie it up quickly like that, I think that was important to kind of even out the momentum a little bit." Rick Nash and Martin St. Louis also scored on Dustin Tokarski, the surprise starter for Montreal ahead of regular backup Peter Budaj. Tokarski looked shaky at times, but had no chance on two of the three Rangers goals. The Canadiens had announced Monday morning that Price, the Olympic gold medallist who hurt his right knee in the series opener when he was crashed into by Chris Kreider, would miss the rest of the series. They hope to have him back if they reach the Stanley Cup final, but their situation looks bleak heading to New York. "It was a lot of fun," Tokarski said after his first NHL playoff start. "There was a lot of adrenaline. You grow up as a kid wanting to play in the playoffs, and I got the opportunity and just came up a bit short." Coach Michel Therrien said he opted for Tokarski over Budaj because of the youngsters record of winning championships at other levels. The 24-year-old from Humboldt, Sask., has a Memorial Cup, a world junior championship and an AHL title on his resume. "Hes a winner," said Therrien. "I thought he played well. We talked to Peter and he reacted as a pro. Hes a good teammate." A grinning New York coach Alain Vigneault said Montreals goalie choice was no surprise. "Somehoow, we had an inkling (Sunday) night that it was probably going to be that gentleman (Tokarski)," Vigneault said with a grin.dddddddddddd "Hockeys a small world." But in the end, he agreed that Lundqvist was the difference in the game. "Hes the only reason we were still in the game," he said. "They had total control of the pressure. "A lucky bounce changed the dynamics of the game." Montreal outshot New York 41-30. The high-paced action from the start between two of the leagues best skating teams had the 21,273 roaring in their seats for most of the game. Montreals worst fears were realized in the first period, which they dominated while still falling behind 2-1. A long period of sustained pressure produced the first goal as Lundqvists clearing attempt went off Pacioretty and into the net at 6:14. But only 17 seconds later, the hockey gods gave it back to New York as McDonagh swiped a puck toward the net from the point and saw it go in off Gorges leg and a goalpost. McDonagh had a goal and an assist to give the defenceman six points in the opening two games of the series. "The Canadiens were coming wave after wave in the first period," said St. Louis. "If it wasnt for Lundqvist, there might have been a different result after the first. "He gave us time to find our legs. The goal by Mac was a big one. It calmed everyone down and allowed us to regroup." The crowd was booing Kreider when he sent a pass across to the right side and Nashs one-time went in off the midsection of Tokarski, who was late getting across. It was the second in as many games and second of the playoffs for Nash. Tokarski had no chance as St. Louis wired a shot from the slot on a power play inside the post at 8:03 of the middle frame. The Rangers played a thorough defensive game in the third to prevent a comeback. St. Louis scored a day after he and his teammates attended the funeral of his mother, who died suddenly just before Mothers Day. The Rangers have rallied around the grieving veteran and have won five in a row since her death. "Its been an emotional weekend," said St. Louis. "Ill definitely never forget this weekend for many reasons, but I think the grieving process will still take a while. "But that stuff is behind me. Tonight, we wanted to make sure wed have the emotion wed need to win this game because we knew they would come out hard, especially rallying, losing their best player, so I thought we answered." Notes -- Montreals Alex Galchenyuk returned from an injury to see his first playoff action for Montreal, replacing Michael Bournival. He got 13:23 of ice time and looked rusty. . New York forward Derick Brassard, who suffered a suspected shoulder injury in Game 1, was replaced by grinder Dan Carcillo. . . Price was photographed at the Bell Centre with a brace on his right knee. . . Prime Minister Stephen Harper attended the game. ' ' '