Leafs Postgame: Who’s Evan Rodrigues, Again?

Know that train of anger, determination, and long memories that the Buffalo Sabres always seem to hop on when they want to deliver a mercy killing to a team they have no business beating? 

Well, Evan Rodrigues decided to drive that train tonight. 

The Rundown

If you don’t know who Evan Rodrigues is, that’s totally fine. I only really know him because I’m a shameless BU apologist, and he did some nice things with Jack Eichel last year. 

Of course, the Leafs kinda set the tone for the entire game when they allowed not Jack Eichel, but Jack Eichel’s random college teammate (who a lot of people figured would either be a bona fide NHLer or a depth forward at the pro level) score on them multiple times in the game Tuesday night. That’s *almost* like getting scored on by Eichel twice… right? 

Just let us have this. 

For the second consecutive game, the Leafs were shut out by the opposition. Last time it was by the Montreal Canadiens, who are supposed to have pretty decent goaltending depth or something; this time, it was by Buffalo, their B-squad (because, really, does this team have an A-squad yet?), and Robin Lehner. 

The good news there is that any lingering doubts about Robin Lehner’s concussion last year, which he sustained when he ran into Clarke MacArthur during the regular season, are pretty much gone. The bad news, of course, is that the Leafs were both outshot and playing against a goalie who’s finally starting to live up to his hopeful reputation – bad news to watchable hockey, good news for the Leafs fans who REALLY want Auston Matthews this summer. Right? 

Overall, the Leafs were outshot 32-26, got outscored 4-0, and let some fresh-faced college kid score on them a bajillion times. Everything is fine. 

Good Takeaways

  • Joffrey Lupul lost his helmet mid-game and didn’t hurt himself very badly, so the Leafs didn’t manage to lose one of their vets doing something stupid in a stupid pre-season game. As much as we joke about Lupul’s ultimate worth on the team, I watched the Arizona Coyotes a lot last year – when your veteran core goes out with injury, even if they’ve been pretty much stinking the place up, things start to look actually rancid. So this is a good takeaway, I guess. 
  • James Reimer stopped 14 of the 15 shots he faced upon stepping in for Bernier, so that’s… nice. It’s about time the Leafs goaltending controversy really heated up again. 

Notable Numbers

4: the number of shots on goal James van Riemsdyk took on goal, which led the team. It’s seemed, this pre-season, like JVR is determined to try to inject some of Kessel’s lost offense back into the lineup single-handedly; we can’t fault him that. 

7: the number of PIM Rich Clune had. I like the guy, he seems very nice and he’s made it a point to tell players they’re still cool even if they don’t drink – but for the love of God, get him off NHL ice. 

3.25: the millions of dollars per season that Mike Babcock is accepting to coach this group instead of Buffalo. I need him to smile and appreciate it. 

0: the number of shots on goal that Tyler Bozak took. I would invent a drinking game that centres around his missed offensive chances, but HE DOESN’T HAVE ANY TO START WITH. 

Whatever, it’s pre-season.