Photo Credit: Jean-Yves Ahern/USA TODAY SPORTS
For many members of the Toronto Maple Leafs, tonight might be the end of the line. A solid half of tonight’s roster has been speculated to be on the move heading into Monday’s trade deadline, and most of the others are recent call-ups filling in the holes of the already depleted roster. It’s firesale season, and the end result of tonight’s game confirmed why. Despite the struggles that the Montreal Canadiens have had lately, the Leafs still couldn’t muster up much more than a 4-1 defeat to their archrivals.
Toronto’s lone goal in this game was actually the first of the contest. Matt Hunwick, who has been oft-maligned by chunks of the fanbase, made a wise decision to pinch from the defensive zone and join Brandon Leipsic on an odd-man rush. Leipsic’s shot bounced off of Mike Condon, which gave Hunwick a perfect opportunity to bury his second goal of the season. Those cheering for the tank had little to fear, though; Alex Galchenyuk picked a corner from the right wing to tie the game, even as Mike Babcock unsuccessfully argued that Lars Eller had interfered with Jonathan Bernier on the play.
Devante Smith-Pelly put the Habs up midway through the second period, tapping in a loose puck to give Michael McCarron his first NHL point. It was the only goal of the frame though the Habs could have realistically done more damage with the 19 shots taken during the 20-minute stretch. Captain Max Pacioretty stepped in and removed all doubt in the third period, netting two goals a minute and a half apart through a one-timer and a rebound.
This goes to anybody who is speculated to be “in the mix” this weekend. The likes of Daniel Winnik, Matt Hunwick, Michael Grabner, Jonathan Bernier, Brad Boyes, Mark Arcobello, Colin Greening, PA Parenteau… that’s a long list, but it’s one filled with good soldiers. Stay or go, they’ve all put in their best efforts despite an unlikeliness that any of them are seen as major future pieces.
Hey, it’s a bit of a cop out, but what else would you like to hear after a 4-1 loss to an archrival on deadline eve-eve?
See You Next Time
The shelled out, fire-sold Leafs still have a season to finish after the trade deadline and that life after death will begin on Monday night. They’ll be taking on the Tampa Bay Lightning, who appear to be prepared to ride Steven Stamkos into the eleventh hour. Puck drop is at 7:30.