Leafs Postgame: Leafs Win. Wait, What Just Happened?

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Billy Hurst-USA TODAY Sports

In the pregame, I was pretty certain the Leafs would lose tonight. I mean, one of the worst teams in the league going up one of the Western Conference’s finest? Yeah, I put money on that any day. 

But hey, I was wrong, and it was very fun to be wrong tonight. Toronto wins 4-1 off a two-goal performance from Nazem Kadri and a great bounceback effort from Garret Sparks.

Why The Leafs Won

I mean, I have no damn clue, but I’ll try and work out a better answer than that.

This looked really bad in the first few minutes of the game – a real “ugh, this again?” start. A result of a bad pinch at the Blues’ blueline by Dion Phaneuf gave St. Louis a two-on-one that Vladimir Tarasenko capitalized on less than two minutes in.

But after that? All Leafs. The Blues somehow had no answers.

Toronto came alive, lead by the Peter Holland-Nazem Kadri-Leo Komarov line. Kadri would score late in the first period to tie things up. In the second period, Brad Boyes would tip home a Roman Polak shot, and P.A. Parenteau would follow that up soon after to make it a 3-1 game. In the final frame, Kadri would score his second of the night – the proverbial icing on the cake.

Why did the Leafs really win, though? I mean, Kadri’s goals are huge, but let’s not forget Garret Sparks. After allowing six goals just a few nights ago against the Winnipeg Jets, Sparks quickly composed himself after an early and ugly goal and stopped the next 27 shots to hold the Blues to only one. Full marks for Garret – he should get the next start, without a doubt.

Numbers Game

Yup, the numbers and the eye test pretty much tell the same story. The Leafs came alive in the second period and didn’t look back. I picked out War-on-Ice’s all-situations scoring chance chart just to show that St. Louis second period. See that long, straight yellow line? That’s not good. Toronto piled up a number of scoring chances in quick succession and chased Jake Allen right out of the net (then right back in – that was weird).

leafsblueschart

Let’s also take a look at this War-on-Ice matchup chart and admire the work that the Matt Hunwick-Morgan Rielly pairing put in against the Blues’ top line? It’s not easy to shut down Tarasenko, but they certainly did.

leafsbluesmatchupchart

Blue Warrior

Nazem Kadri, no questions asked. Two goals, four shots and a fight with David Backes? Yeah, that’ll do. Just the fact that Kadri survived Backes (who has a three inch and 33-pound advantage here) is incredible, and deserves recognition.

Come Back Tuesday

The Leafs are back in action this Tuesday when they host the New Jersey Devils in Toronto. Tune into TSN4 at 7:30 pm.

  • TGT23

    You know, for all the complaining about Dion, and sometimes rightfully so, I thought he has played really good this year.

    This game, yeah, bad pinch. Outside of that, he was very good. Chased down Steen to stop what could have been a breakaway with the game still in reach. He was playing very good behind the net sealing off the Blues cycle.

    Given a more appropriate role this year I’ve liked what I’ve seen.

    Kadri-Holland-Uncle Leo was a nice line combo. I like it. Wonder if CM will say anything good about Kadri after this one… lol

    • Jeremy Ian

      lol wow I forgot he was even on the team and he’s one of my favourite players… that says something. seems like he always get a free pass when he disappears…

        • Jeremy Ian

          agreed he was the best leaf player who never scored that much until last night. I bet he scores hat tricks and multiple goal games from now on out to even out his regression.

        • Jeremy Ian

          wrong. kadri has by far been the best player all year. the puck was going in for jvr all year while kadri was snakebitten. kadri has the back luck not jvr. he doesn’t have nearly the amount of shots or strong forechecking abilities that kadri has consistently had all year. kadri has produced defensively, on the strong forehek, cycle and penalty differentials while jvr is either dominant or invisible on a regular basis. he doesn’t have the consistency kadri has has all year. jvr has been invisible for a while now and it’s clear kadri was driving the play all along on that line. komarov played a large part defensively and getting in front of the puck.

  • MatsSundin#13

    Nice finish to the Toronto sports teams performances tonight as a certain other team I won’t mention the name in order not to cause a hissy fit but who got a moral victory tonight, yeah chalk that up in the win column NOT. Garrett showing he simply put the previous game in the garbage can and comes up with a solid performance tonight , 2 wins out of 3 for the youngster and he has played 8 solid periods with one bad period.

    Now that was the Kadri that we know can play that way. Forget the two goals it was his tenacious effort while taking a physical pounding that impressed me. Obviously he was pressing the stick into saw dust but appears ready to take up some of the goal scoring this team truly needs.

    Justin my friend, my comrade, good column. See I’m all bark no bite.

    • TGT23

      No one had a hiss fit (maybe Jake Allen)… the issue is that in every thread you talk about how much better the Raps are. But, you conveniently ignore that the Raps are like… 6 years further ahead in their rebuild. Of course they’re better. You also forget they almost traded Kyle Lowrie and if not for a stroke of luck and a veto’d trade don’t even become this Raps team. So 5-6 extra years and some luck and they are better than a rebuilding team in Y1…. awesome…..

      Also… basketball is a sport that proves one great player takes you to the playoffs, two great players wins you a title. Hockey isn’t like that… Can’t compare a sport where teams run 8 men to one where they play 20 guys.

      And Kadri has been playing like this all year. The only difference, the puck went in the net so people like him more. Same game. Same player. Just with more accurate results.

  • MatsSundin#13

    I thought this was a blowout waiting to happen. maybe the blues were tired from the ot game they played last night. either way, well deserved win for sparks and great game by kadri! even polak looked good!

    • Jeremy Ian

      The parity is striking. But the gap will open up after January.

      All good for the Leafs. Marked improvement in every way without coughing their top-5 draft pick.

  • Jeremy Ian

    Pollack should shoot more from the point,
    who knew he has a killer shot!

    Kadri looks stronger this year .
    He plays better when he plays physical.
    I wish he would shoot harder instead of directing the puck.

    Every game it looks like a different Leaf team.
    Sparks looked good after he settled down,
    a lot of good Leaf news lately.