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  • July 15, 2019
    TORONTO – It became clear pretty quickly that James Reimer was at the top of his game yet again at the Air Canada Centre on Saturday evening. [b]Cheap Adidas NHL Jerseys[/b] . "Im not sure how many people were here tonight, maybe 20,000, I think they could all tell," said Morgan Rielly, following the 2-1 shootout victory. "The guys on his game." Reimer stopped 49 of 50 Washington shots in regulation, with Alex Ovechkin being the lone Capital scorer. He would then stop three of four in the shootout. The 25-year-old now leads the NHL with a sparkling .947 save percentage this season, stealing victory for his club once more on this night. "When you get into situations like tonight, it was one where we needed the save and he continued to make them," said Randy Carlyle of Reimer, who remains a perfect 4-0-0 at home this season. "What can you say?" said Rielly, "the guy was unbelievable. "I think the whole team is just playing a lot more comfortable and playing with a lot of confidence because hes back there and hes kicking and hes playing great. Hes unbelievable." Reimer turned shot after shot aside amid a Capitals onslaught that picked up steam at the outset of the second period. With a pair of power plays to start the frame, Washington managed to fire 10 shots unanswered at Reimer, none of which eluded the Leafs netminder. Only an Ovechkin rifle with less than five minutes to go in the third period found the back of the net. "Obviously its piling up a bit," said Reimer of the one-sided shot clock, "but honestly it was more of them just throwing pucks to the net from everywhere." Wholly impressive last season when he posted the leagues seventh-best save percentage, Reimer appears to be even better at the outset this season, looming as one half of the Leafs dominant netminding duo. "I feel like Im the best I am in my career," said Reimer, asked if this was the best stretch of his career. "The best Ive played? I dont know. I think in the playoffs last year I felt like I was playing well every game there, too. "I feel good about how Im playing right now and I think Im the best Ive ever been, but the best Ive ever played? I dont know how to answer that." Five Points 1. Ovechkins Brilliance Alex Ovechkin entered the ACC with a league-leading 19 goals, including eight on the power play. Hed scored at least once for the Capitals in 14 of 21 games. His career numbers against the Leafs were devastating: 25 goals and 46 points in 30 games. And though he was kept quiet for the better part of the evening, the Washington captain managed to stun the home crowd late with his 20th goal this season. Tracking a lofting pass from Mike Green into the offensive zone, Ovechkin snapped a laser beyond Reimer. Cody Franson explained what made the three-time Hart Trophy winner so unique. "He kind of picks his spots a little bit," Franson told the Leaf Report prior to the game. "You see him just watching the game, watching the game, and then hell see something develop and hell just explode. Hes one of those guys that has that gift to be able to see something happen before it does. With his skill-set hes able to jump into those holes very quickly and make those tough plays in tight areas that allow offensive scoring chances to happen." Asked where Ovechkin, who won his third Hart Trophy last season, sat amongst the leagues elite, Franson said, "Top of the list. Hes in there with Crosby, Malkin and all those guys. Hes evidently one of the top guys in the league. All those guys that are in that top class you can argue whos better at what, but hes definitely in that mix." 2. Finding a Comfort Zone David Clarkson hit the score-sheet for the fourth time in the past five games, scoring the lone Leaf goal in the opening period. Parked in front of Braden Holtby on a Toronto power play, Clarkson redirected a Jake Gardiner point shot for his second goal this season. Now 13 games into his career with the Leafs – he missed the first 10 games due to suspension – Clarkson is beginning to feel at home. "Im starting to feel more comfortable, 100 per cent," said Clarkson, especially effective alongside Nazem Kadri and Joffrey Lupul in the first frame. "Starting to feel better, like myself. But when youre behind the eight-ball or when youre coming into a new situation its always tough." While acknowledging the players improvement in recent days, Carlyle said hed like to see Clarkson limit some of the on-ice antics, which included a feisty back-and-forth with the Capitals. "I think thats part of his make-up," said Carlyle, "but Id like to see that toned down. I dont think we need that with our group. We have enough fuel to give the officials opportunity to put us in the box so lets not enhance that." 3. Point Shots James van Riemsdyk scored a pair of goals against Buffalo last week when he parked himself in front of Jhonas Enroth and redirected a pair of Cody Franson point shots. Clarksons goal, as noted, came off a similar attempt from Gardiner, who simply flung the puck at the crease of Holtby. Its something Carlyle would like to see more of from his defence and group as a whole. "Weve been preaching and weve been pleading with our players, just direct pucks toward the net and drive the middle lane," Carlyle said. "Were far, far too cute. We just refuse continually to direct pucks and were not getting that second and third opportunity, that flurry of shots. And the opposition that we play against are doing it to us. They take one shot on net and they get two or three whacks at it where we seemed to be one and out. Were very selective on when we want to shoot the puck. Weve got to simplify, put the pucks toward the net. I would say we have some thick heads." 4. The Ovechkin Strategy Just as he did with success against John Tavares earlier in the week, Carlyle employed the trio of Jay McClement, Nikolai Kulemin and Mason Raymond – in addition to the top pair of Carl Gunnarsson and Dion Phaneuf – opposite Ovechkin and the Capitals top line. Most interesting in the Toronto strategy was their approach in defending the Capitals captain on the power play. Shadowing Ovechkin, the Leafs were content to allow one-time after one-time from John Carlson in the middle of the ice. Carlson fired seven shots on goal, including five on the man advantage. "It didnt look very good, but consciously we felt it would be more of an advantage for us to let our goalie see the one-time shot from the other players other than Ovechkin," Carlyle said. "You see what he can do with it." Yielding a pair of power play goals to Nashville two nights earlier, the Leaf penalty kill ultimately bounced back with a perfect 3-for-3 effort against Washington. The Caps entered the night with the leagues second-ranked power play. 5. Grabovskis Return Mikhail Grabovski was quiet in his return to the ACC on Saturday. The 29-year-old made most of his noise in scary fashion during the middle frame. Looking to keep a puck in near the Toronto blue-line, Grabovski fell to the ice, his face then sliced by the skate of Clarkson. Bloodied and down on the ice, he departed for the Washington dressing room as soon as play was whistled down, returning for the second period with 20 stitches in two separate places. "Im really happy to be here," said Grabovski prior to the game. "Im happy to be around my friends who love me before and I love them, family, friends. Like home ice, my old home ice. Im just very excited and very happy." Grabovski finished with two shots in 16 minutes. Bonus Point – Sharp on the Draw Added to the roster amid growing trouble at centre ice, Jerred Smithson has proven valuable for the Leafs, particularly in the faceoff circle. In just eight games, Smithson has already taken 134 draws, now up to 61.2 per cent on the season. The 34-year-old has, in Tyler Bozaks absence, assumed the bulk of key defensive zone faceoffs, be it at even-strength or on the penalty kill. Date Opponent Percentage Total Nov. 8 NJ 89% 8-9 Nov. 9 BOS 50% 9-18 Nov. 13 MIN 53% 16-30 Nov. 15 BUF 49% 11-23 Nov. 16 BUF 47% 8-17 Nov. 19 NYI 81% 13-16 Nov. 21 NAS 89% 8-9 Nov. 23 WAS 75% 9-12 Bozak missed his 12th consecutive game against the Capitals on Saturday. The 27-year-old is still recovering from a hamstring injury which has kept him out since Oct. 25. "Were surprised that hes not available to us," said Carlyle prior to the game. "We fully counted on him being able to play..." Stat-Pack .947 – Save percentage for James Reimer, tops in the NHL. 4 – Points in the past five games for David Clarkson, who scored his second goal this season against the Capitals. 62% – Leafs on the draw against the Capitals. 134 – Face-offs for Jerred Smithson in eight games as a Leaf. 10 – Shots for Washington on three power plays. 9-3-0 – Home record for the Leafs this season. 23:02 – Ice-time for Jake Gardiner against the Capitals, including 22:05 at even-strength. Special Teams Capsule PP: 1-1 Season: 24.7% PK: 3-3 Season: 83% Quote of the Night "No [expletive]." - Randy Carlyle, reminded that Mikhail Grabovski had some unflattering things to say upon his exit from Toronto. Up Next The Leafs host the Columbus Blue Jackets at the ACC on Monday night [b]Cheap Jerseys[/b] . The Braves optioned outfielder Jose Constanza to Triple-A Gwinnett. As expected, the Braves also called up right-hander Julio Teheran from Gwinnett to start Sundays game and optioned backup catcher J. [b]Jerseys NFL Cheap[/b] . - Bryan Price sat down in the cushy chair.BARCELONA, Spain -- Goalkeeper Victor Valdes has bid farewell to Barcelona after 12 trophy-filled seasons. Valdes says in an open letter released by the Catalan club that "the moment has arrived to say goodbye." Valdes announced in January that he would be leaving his boyhood club come season end. He hasnt played since March when he suffered a season-ending ligament tear in his right knee that requiired surgery. [b]Jerseys NFL Wholesale[/b]. . The 32-year-old Spanish international thanked several members of the club, with special mentions for former coaches Louis Van Gaal, Frank Rijkaard, Pep Guardiola, and Tito Vilanova. Valdes helped Barcelona win three Champions League crowns among various other trophies. 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