Hockey’s a funny sport, ain’t it? What a funny game for the Leafs, as they lost their eighth straight, bringing Peter Horachek to a .200 winning percentage in his ten games behind the Leafs bench.
Phil Kessel got it going 16:33 into the first, his first even strength goal in 18 games, sneaking through the wickets of Mike Smith. Through 40, it remained the only goal, and though the Leafs were outshot 30-15 through 2, they’ve defintely won games in the past few years while playing worse.
Enter Oliver Ekman-Larsson’s 114 foot goal. I’m not going to link the video- it’ll be played hundreds of times on the lowlights over the next week, month, even few seasons. Full credit to OEL on taking the chance, though.
Martin Hanzal then snuck one in between a post-hugging Bernier and, well, the post.
Bernier was having a good game up to this point. His numbers still ended up being pretty solid, stopping 42 of 45.
Ontario boy Sam Gagner got fired up in front of his childhood favourite team to ice the game with 3:30 to go on a tipped shot.
Mike Smith’s an easy target for criticism- but went ahead and played a fairly solid game. Besides the one weak goal, he made 24 stops.
There wasn’t much to get excited about in this game on either side. Two teams that appear to be non-playoff locks at this point produced three of four goals that were a direct result of bad/unlucky goaltending.
Phil Kessel, why not. He scored his 20th goal of the season on a night where few Leafs looked overly impressive. He’ll look good in Arizona when he gets traded for Max Domi.
- 147 days until the NHL draft.
- The Kessel-JVR-Bozak line was played at 85% starts in the offensive zone, resulting in a 56-57% Corsi for the three players at even strength. Though it’s never been great defensively and weren’t exactly playing the best opponent, it’s a moral victory of sorts and probably the best way to use those three players together.
- Why can’t the Leafs score? PDO is killing the Leafs’ chances of re-signing Horachek long term. Post your hot and cold takes below, since I’m rather dumbfounded.
The Leafs travel to Philadelphia on Saturday night.