So the Leafs…
Well. It’s a rebuild. Guys, it’s game two and already, there are only so many different ways that I can tell you that the team looks like this by design.
(Either that, or Mike Babcock is still secretly rooting for his old team to win, in which case there’s literally nothing we could do tonight.)
For the second game in a row, there’s not too much analysis to give; the Leafs were outmatched but gave a pretty solid effort, considering.
The Detroit Red Wings are missing literally four players who would regularly be in their lineup – including Pavel Datsyuk, whose ability to play without ever aging seems to be directly linked to his need to play under Babcock – and they still managed to outscore the Leafs 4-0, but the Leafs themselves once again played a solid possession game given their talent level. Tyler Bozak actually managed to drive some possession (unlike Game One), Jake Gardiner and Mark Arcobello once again sat towards the top of the team’s possession charts (making them the only two carryovers from the game before in the possession category who didn’t drop significantly possession-wise in this particular game) and the entire club managed to keep pace with the Red Wings for shots on goal.
Given the makeup of the Red Wings – who had an extremely excellent Dylan Larkin and the team’s nice, healthy supporting cast for an unREAL Abdelkader – and the makeup for the Leafs, the final score is about what fans should have expected. The game looked better than it did last year, though, and that’s all we can ask for.
You know what? Matt Hunwick gets a giant, aggressive stick tap.
Do I consider Matt Hunwick particularly stand-out in the talent department on the Leafs right now? No. He’s, at best, a bottom pairing guy at the NHL level – on most teams, I’d put him in the AHL and call him up when needed. Maybe make him an extra defenseman… but certainly not a guy who gets 18-20 minutes a night.
Despite that, though, he went out and busted his butt in a game where the Leafs were outmatched from pretty much the first Justin Abdelkader goal on; the Leafs are going to be painful to watch for a bit, but not for lack of effort from the depth pieces brought in to ease the rebuild along. I wouldn’t say that Hunwick was a game-changer, but he worked a lot harder than some of the pieces who fans saw returning from last season.
Senatorial Sadness Up Next
The Leafs will face off next against the Ottawa Senators, who earned a decent victory over the Buffalo Sabres on opening night; the only player they allowed to score against them was Jack Eichel, and the Leafs don’t exactly have an Eichel in their lineup right now.
Expect another loss with decent possession and *hopefully* plenty of energy. Two down, eighty to go.