McClement Gives Best Performance in Game 5

With their backs against the wall after a heartbreaking overtime loss on home ice, the Toronto Maple Leafs had to come into Boston and steal one from the Bruins in Game 5, and that’s exactly what they did. James Reimer stood on his head in Game 5 and was the biggest reason for the Leafs being able to schedule another game at the ACC, but lost in the hype and excitement of Game 5 was Jay McClement’s best performance as a member of the blue and white.

After the catastrophe that was the late season 2011-12 collapse, Toronto fans were hopeful that there would be a big shakeup or move heading into free agency. All Brian Burke did that first week of July was pick up Jay McClement, a move that really flew under the radar as fans across the league had their eyes on the possible destination of Zach Parise and Ryan Suter.

McClement has cemented his spot as the team’s fourth line center usually between the big boys Frazer McLaren and Colton Orr. McClement played a huge role in reversing the Leafs well documented struggles on the penalty kill to the second best in the league at 87.9 % success rate.

McClement has 17 points in 48 games this season tying his point total from 80 games in 2011-12 with Colorado.

It may seem weird that after going scoreless in 5 games this post season and being a -3 in the series that McClement is touted for having his best game all season, but his importance to the Maple Leafs far exceeds the score sheet.

One of the Bruins strengths is their success in the faceoff circle, led by Patrice Bergeron who led the league with a 62.1% success rate during the regular season, teammate David Krejci was 15th in the league with a 55.2 % success rate.

Toronto’s best faceoff man, Tyler Bozak (25th in regular season faceoff %) was struggling in the dot during Game 5 going 7 for 24. Jay McClement stepped up going 9 for 15 for a 60% success rate, alongside Mikhail Grabovksi who went 8 for 10. McClement and Grabovski stepping up in the faceoff dot helped offset the struggles of Tyler Bozak and Nazem Kadri, especially in the third period when the Leafs spent the majority of the final 15 minutes in their own end.

McClement struggled early on in the series and played 11:45 in the Game 2 victory before playing a playoff low 8:49 in Game 3. Under head coach Randy Carlyle every player earns their ice time and McClement was rewarded in Game 5 playing 19:47 while registering 4 hits and alongside Grabovski was the Leafs best skater.

There is no doubt the Maple Leafs still face an uphill battle in winning this series as they head back to Toronto for Game 6, but if they show the effort and desperation that they played with in Game 5 no one should be surprised that this series goes to 7 games.