The futures of James van Riemsdyk and Luke Schenn will be tied together forever thanks to last June's trade that saw the two swap places.
They met last night for the first time, and we know how the game went. The Flyers were embarrassed, 5-1, and on one play in particular, JvR blew past Schenn and made him look downright silly en route to a goal. But there's more to a game than just one GIF-able play and a lopsided scoreboard.
By virtue of playing on the top defensive pairing and the top line, respectively, the two spent a lot of time on the ice together on Monday night. Let's go shift-by-shift and look at the head-to-head matchup between the two.
First, some general notes:
* Luke Schenn took 28 shifts in the game. All but four were at even strength.
* 15 of those shifts were at least partially head-to-head against van Riemsdyk and the Leafs top line. 12 of them were not, including two of the three shifts on the penalty kill.
* For much of the first half of the game, it appeared as though Peter Laviolette was trying to match up the pairing of Schenn and Kimmo Timonen against JvR, Phil Kessel and Tyler Bozak. When the Leafs' top line would step on the ice, Schenn and Kimmo would follow almost every single time.
* This trend seemed to change a bit after van Riemsdyk's third period goal. Maybe Lavi was swayed by the ugly play of Schenn on the goal, but he only clearly opted for the matchup once following the goal. In total, Schenn played nine even strength shifts after the goal and only three of them were against JvR's line.
Alright, let's get to the shift-by-shift breakdown. We'll judge each shift as even, a negative or a positive.
Shift 1: The Leafs spent much of this shift in the Flyers end of the ice. van Riemsdyk got one scoring chance, but it was from below the goal line when he tried to stuff it in front. Max Talbot took him on and pushed him out of danger. JvR and Schenn were both positioned in front of the goal for much of the time spent in the offensive zone. The Flyers iced the puck, van Riemsdyk left the ice and Schenn left as soon as the Flyers got control off the following faceoff. Even.
Shift 2: Randy Carlyle put his top line on the ice for an offensive zone draw. Peter Laviolette put out a pairing up Kurtis Foster and Braydon Coburn. The Flyers cleared the puck and quickly opted for the better matchup on the fly with Schenn and Kimmo. The Leafs carried the puck back in, Reemer dumped it deep, Schenn played it behind the goal. His attempt to get it back up the boards was picked off by JvR and the Leafs got it back to the point.
A point shot was blocked off by Schenn before it could get to the net, it came to Wayne Simmonds. Simmonds gave it up by Toronto gave it right back and the Flyers cleared. Tough to say with the turnover here, but since Schenn also blocked the shot, we'll call it even.
Shift 3: Just a quick icing. Schenn beat JvR to the puck then left the ice for the Flyers' offensive zone draw. Carlyle left the JvR line on the ice, Schenn left. Even.
*one 19-second shift for Schenn here that wasn't head-to-head*
Shift 4: Again, the Leafs got their top line out against Gervais and Coburn, and as soon as Laviolette could, he switched them off for Schenn and Timonen. Bozak pushed the puck through the neutral zone looking for Kessel, who got in behind the defense, but Schenn cut off the breakout. Luke held the puck for way too long and Reemer was right on him, but Brayden Schenn came in and helped his brother out of trouble by picking up the loose puck.
Kimmo Timonen almost put the puck in his own net when he played it across the defensive end and it hit a cutting Bozak, then the teams battled for it in the corner. Schenn got it and played it off the glass. Couldn't clear. Schenn blocked another shot off from the opposite point and ultimately the Flyers were able to get it out of the zone.
Going to call this one a negative because the Leafs maintained possession the entire shift and wouldn't have without Schenn's flub in the neutral zone to start things off.
*one PK shift for Schenn here, not head-to-head*
*one even strength shift, Schenn vs. Leafs' second line. Dion Phaneuf scored, wasn't Schenn's fault*
Shift 5: Not much head-to-head action here. It was a quick PK shift with the Flyers down a man. Claude Giroux boarded Phil Kessel to end the shift when the Leafs went up two men. Even.
* another PK shift for Schenn; not head-to-head*
Shift 6: A 30-second shift in which literally nothing of consequence happened. Schenn held the puck in the defensive zone while JvR pressured. He then played it up the boards. Lots of neutral zone play. Boring shift. Even.
*one Schenn shift not-head-to-head; Schenn/Kimmo go out after Matt Frattin's goal; TOR puts out second line*
Shift 7: It's still technically the same shift for Schenn, but when the Flyers get the puck in the offensive zone for a faceoff and the Leafs' second line comes off, Laviolette takes a time out. He leaves Schenn and Timonen out to face the JvR line after the timeout.
Going to call this sequence a positive for the Flyers and Schenn. They controlled the puck, get a few chances, force the Leafs to ice the puck and Schenn ends the shift with a big hit on JvR along the boards.
Of course, that hit was forgotten because the whistle blew play dead immediately afterwards because James Reimer was injured in the Toronto crease.
*quick eight-second shift for Schenn against the second line; d-zone draw, Flyers won the faceoff and Schenn played it off the glass and out before heading to the bench*
Shift 8: Both the Schenn-Kimmo pairing and the JvR-Kessel-Bozak line hit the ice after Clarke MacArthur's goal made the score 4-1. van Riemsdyk went offside while Kessel was carrying the puck over the blue line, negating a Leafs chance. Eh, we'll call that a positive.
*Schenn out for d-zone draw vs. Leafs' third line*
Shift 9: It was a Schenn breakout pass (while under heavy pressure from Kessel) on this shift that led to a great chance at the other end. Schenn then did a great job to pinch, get the puck deep and keep the play alive at the other end.
Ultimately, the Leafs got possession and JvR tried to take Schenn on one-on-one. Schenn forced him off, then when the puck was left alone in the corner, he came out of nowhere to beat a Leaf to the puck before flipping to center and eliminating the threat. A positive, to be sure. This one requires video.
*Schenn's out briefly before Tye McGinn gets drilled into the boards; doesn't hit the ice during long major PP*
Shift 11: The two spend half a shift against each other at the end of the period. Nothing happened.
Shift 12: First shift of the third period for both Schenn and JvR. Ugh. Sadly, this one also requires video. Negative.(Also, somebody definitely says something to Reemer as he skates by the bench after the goal. Watch him look back.)
As mentioned above, there were only three even strength shifts after the goal where the Schenn and Timonen faced the van Riemsdyk line head-to-head. Was that because of the goal? Who knows, really. Maybe, down 5-1, Laviolette decided to just roll his defense more evenly regardless of matchup. Maybe the Leafs just didn't put their top line out with as much frequency. None of it really mattered anyway, of course.
Let's get this over with.
Shift 13: The most uneventful penalty kill shift in history. Even.
Shift 14: Puck comes back to Schenn off an o-zone draw, he tries to push it back along the boards, gives it right to JvR. Kessel goes the other way, gets a shot off that's blocked by Timonen. Negative.
Shift 15: Very brief head-to-head. Schenn jumped on while the Flyers were moving up ice. He got a shot on goal, the puck left the zone, JvR left. Even.
It's pretty obvious that James van Riemsdyk and the Leafs won the first head-to-head battle against both Luke Schenn and the Flyers. One goal against could have shown you that. But when we break it down shift-by-shift, it's clear that the two weren't that far apart from each other throughout the night. They played a tight game against one another, head-to-head for much of the night, with ebbs and flows in each direction.
Unfortunately for the Flyers, one of those ebbs stuck out in a big way on the scoreboard.