We’re only nine games into the season, but we already have a pretty good idea of how the remaining 73 will go. The Toronto Maple Leafs will play some decent hockey, but they won’t score many goals and get many wins. It certainly doesn’t help when you’re up against one of the best teams in the Eastern Conference either.
Toronto looked good, but not good enough to contain the New York Rangers.
Jonathan Bernier hasn’t been playing his best hockey lately, specifically during the opening minutes of the game and on the first or second or third shots on goal. Too many times this year, the Leafs have been down a goal before a good number of fans even reached their seats. The good news tonight was that Bernier looked good from the get-go. You couldn’t even fault Bernier for the Mats Zuccarello marker just nine minutes into the game, as a number of Leafs were already leaving the defensive zone when a turnover gave the Rangers an excellent odd-man, tic-tac-toe goal.
Despite the ugly turnover, the Leafs actually looked pretty good throughout the game. In the second period particularly, Toronto’s penalty killing until came through big on three separate occasions to keep the game at 1-0.
Early in the third period Toronto thought they’d tied the game up when a Matt Hunwick shot bounced it’s way past Henrik Lundqvist, but the very slightest of goaltender interference from Joffrey Lupul was enough to have the goal called back. A coach’s challenge wouldn’t be able to overturn the call, even though most fans at home were unable to see where the definitive interference took place.
The Rangers would capitalize soon after, with Zuccarello notching another goal off another odd-man rush. The breakdown took place back at the New York blueline when Hunwick pinched deep and Leo Komarov didn’t come back far enough to cover for him. Like I said before, the Leafs played pretty well tonight, but the Rangers capitalized in a big way on each of Toronto’s mistakes.
Joffrey Lupul would make up for his goaltending interference call with a last-minute tip to make it a 2-1 game, but another odd-man rush and another Zuccarello goal into an empty net (his first career hat trick) would cap off a 3-1 Rangers win.
He gave up two goals in a losing effort, but Jonathan Bernier was very good tonight. So good, in fact, that he earned some high praise from the head coach…
Babcock feels Bernier had his best game of the year. Says Bernier will start again tomorrow.
— Jonas Siegel (@jonasTSN1050) October 31, 2015
Tomorrow is Hockey Night
Go take a nap and head right back – the Leafs are back in action tomorrow night when they host the Pittsburgh Penguins in Toronto. That’s right. It’s Phil Kessel’s return to the ACC. Bring tissues.