With just 17 games left until golf season, the Leafs hosted the Blues tonight at the ACC, playing against Jokinen for the first time since he was traded. Zach Sill threw a couple of good punches, but in the end it was Toronto that took home the bruises, losing 6-1. Let’s all say it together now: there’s always next year.
There was no shooting from the Leafs until the 11-minute mark in the first. Compare that to the nine shots taken by the Blues in the first half of the opening period and you can see where this really set the tone for the game. While Toronto ended up taking 24 total shots on Elliot, with a return of just one, the Blues understood the relationship between shooting and scoring, kept the puck moving, and came away with a game total of 44 shots.
The gloves came off as Sill got into his first fight wearing a Leafs’ jersey at 11 minutes into the game, hitting Ott in the face. Both did time for fighting, making it four-on-four and leaving the Leafs vulnerable to a team with both great penalty killing and power play skills. Although they technically weren’t short-handed, it must have felt like it as the first goal of the night slipped past Bernier at 14:49. The goal was the 22 of the season for Blues’ forward Jaden Schwartz. Two more goals, at 16:30 and 19:45, rounded out the period 3-0 for St. Louis.
Horachek started the second by switching out Bernier for Reimer, but it didn’t have the effect he was looking for and period two became a replay of the first with no scoring action, and very little shooting from the Leafs, until 11:07 into the period when the Blues put one past him. The Blues’ fifth goal came with just over six minutes left, and they started the third 5-0.
I can be kind of hard on Reimer. This season hasn’t been his best and I’m not his biggest fan, but tonight he made 24 saves, with what seemed like very little help. While the Leafs have been scrappy lately, they aren’t playing a good defensive game, and on nights like tonight it feels like they have lead in their skates. They just aren’t passing the way they should, and unfortunately for Toronto fans, it showed.
Booth made the only Leafs’ play worth noting to open the third, scoring at 2:59. It was never going to be enough to hold off the Blues, but deserves an A for effort. Backes scored the last goal of the evening at 10:36, sealing the deal at 6-1 for the Blues.
I could give it to Reimer for holding down the fort as best he could, or Booth for scoring the only Leafs’ goal of the game, but no, this one’s gotta’ go to Zach Sill. He popped his fighting cherry with the Leafs and did a really good job of it too. Nice uppercut there Zach; at least we know that if you ever leave hockey, you can become a boxer.
SEE YOU ON MONDAY
The Leafs are playing the Islanders at home on Monday night. The puck drops at 7:30 p.m. This will be their 16th game until G-day.