That was a fun hockey game.
The Leafs came into tonight’s game big winners of their last two, big losers of the previous two, and big question marks so far this season. Pittsburgh provided a good test for a team looking to establish an identity. A win wasn’t as required as was a good effort. The Leafs got one of those.
The above image does a very good job describing the first period – and by the “above image” I am of course referring to Sportsnet’s attempt at “analytics”, which includes a sample size of one period. It is also worth noting that it includes hits and doesn’t break down which shots were on the powerplay vs which ones were at even-strength. Good try, good effort.
This, on the other hand, shows the real first period and entire game really. Pittsburgh absolutely dominated at even-strength, and it started early – Blake Comeau scored a weird one 26 seconds in, the fourth time Jonathan Bernier has allowed a goal in the first two minutes this season. That’s a worrying trend.
Pittsburgh dominated from then on – other than when the Kadri line was on the ice – eventually adding another one on the powerplay via a rocket by Evgeni Malkin.
The Leafs played a bit better in the second, as has been the case all season. As has been noted, the speed that the Leafs have allows them to counter attack and transition dangerously with the long change. This was demonstrated on Leo Komarov’s first goal of the game.
Holzer calmly breaks up a two-on-one (although it was basically passed to him by the Pens), they Leafs transition quickly, Kadri takes a hit to make a play, taps it to Santo Claus, and it’s finished off by the Uncle. What’s not to like?
Just over two minutes later, Leo strikes again with an absolutely insane tip off a nice Dion Phaneuf wrister.
After Blake Comeau scored his second goal of the night, Tyler Bozak scored another breakaway goal on the penalty kill.
As much as I harp on the guy, he is a man in possession of a bizarre set of skills. The read on Crosby’s pass, the speed, and the finish. Maybe I don’t hate him? I don’t know anymore. #Yeszak
The Leafs went into the third tied, which was a win in itself. The third period solved nothing – although it was a pretty exciting period, capped off by an insane scramble in front of Bernier with 30 seconds left.
OT started immediately because there was no dry scrape (yayyyyy!). Three minutes later, this happened:
Despite Phaneuf’s strong play on Crosby, the puck ends up on Comeau’s stick and he not only wins the game for the Pens, but gets the hat trick too.
Uncle Leo is the easy choice: two goals, and as always was a pest to his opponent and a joy to watch as a fan. Honourable mention: Cody Franson, who had a heck of a game up against Crosby’s line. Finished with a 62% 5v5 CF.
- Komarov is on pace for 59 points. 59.
- Cody Franson is going to get paid. He rules. He’s the best defenseman on the team.
- Kadri was fantastic again, as he has been all season. The points aren’t there, but he’s sticking with the process and that is commendable because the organization doesn’t always care about the process.
- Santo Claus rules.
- The PP is a mess – Phaneuf-Franson is not a good first powerplay pairing. Split them up with Rielly-Gardiner. It’ll be a lot better.
- Robidas-Holzer was absolutely destroyed tonight.
- The Kessel line was also destroyed at 5v5, Bozak especially.
- The 4th line played about 10 minutes tonight, which is okay I guess. The line had Lupul and Booth on it so it’s not exactly a typical 4th line.
See You Saturday
The Capitals come to Toronto on Saturday for Hockey Night in Canada.