Leafs Postgame: Wild Wild Lost

The Toronto Maple Leafs hit the ice for the second time in as many nights, and the result was much the same at home against the Wild as it was in Washington against the Capitals, and as it was in Tampa Bay a few nights prior against the Lightning. The Leafs fought long and hard for a solid sixty minutes and once again just narrowly missed out on picking up a point in what ended up being a 2-1 loss.

The Leafs actually opened up the scoring in this one off of one of the most blistering rockets you’ll ever see Jake Gardiner unleash. He’ll obviously get the bulk of the credit for this play, but you need to give Colin Greening (who has been excellent since coming up) credit for the sweet feed as well.

The Wild weren’t going to let a perceived gimmie game slip away from them, though, especially with a playoff spot at stake for them. Mikko Koivu took advantage of a hooking call against Frank Corrado and tied the game, bouncing a shot off of Garret Sparks’ shoulder and into the back of the net. Within four minutes, the game had returned to the status quo and remained that way until the midway point of the third period.

Once again, the Leafs found themselves shorthanded. This time, Leo Komarov was in the box for a very questionable interference call, and Mikael Granlund took advantage of the opportunity that ensued. Once-a-sharpshooter Tomas Vanek opted to go for the pass to the wide-open young Finn, who find an opening in the top right corner and scored what, despite Toronto’s best efforts, became the game winner.

leafswildcorsi

Overall, it was another one of those results that Mike Babcock’s competitive spirit will take to heart but is ultimately the best case scenario for the team. Strong effort, close call, and all that fun stuff that leaves you wanting more once the talent arrives and/or ripens in a year or two.

Snoozebone

Much will be made of William Nylander’s third consecutive pointless game. Admittedly, it’s not a good look for him; nor is having his worst game yet at the faceoff dot (27%). Mike Babcock is starting to diminish Nylander’s minutes as a reminder that he won’t be gifted every opportunity, and that’s fair. He’s been far from the immediate impact player that fans thought he could be.

At the same time, all is not terrible. He’s beginning to get more involved physically and has landed seven shots on goal in that span. That, combined with the whole “playing with Michael Grabner at even strength” thing and the “teenager that’s three games into his career” thing are reasons to not be too worried just yet.

Blue Warrior

You have to go with Jake Gardiner here, as he once again tilted the ice in a big way at even strength. Gardiner led players on both teams with an obscene 82.1% CF, had Toronto’s only goal, logged 19:59 of even strength ice time, and made everybody surrounding him look fabulous. 

Honorable mention goes to Garret Sparks. OneT had another solid performance in between the pipes, stopping 20 of 22 and giving up no goals at even strength. He may not be ready to be a starter next season, but it’s getting harder and harder to rule him out as an NHL option.

See You Next Time

The Leafs will get tomorrow off before diving right back into the thick of things. They’ll be taking on the Ottawa Senators, who are armed with a familiar weapon in Dion Phaneuf. There’s still a chunk of the fanbase that will give up the tank for a win against the Senators, but now that the team doesn’t do tribute videos for returning soldiers, why not give him a couple of gimmes as a thank you? We’ll see what happens at 7:00 PM on Saturday night.

  • Gary Empey

    That interference call on Leo Komarov was more than questionable.

    That was one of the worst calls I ever remember seeing an official make.

    I can’t blame Babcock too much for getting angry. It turned out to be the difference in the game.

    Polak is missed on the PK and his ability to stop the opposition constantly cycling. Way too many stoppages in play killed any real flow/tempo to the game.

    • BarelyComments

      You obviously don’t watch any Canucks games, happens all the time out this way. Agreed that was terrible call. Officiating in the league has been mediocre at best, not sure why but in 3 games last night questionable calls in Toronto, Ottawa & Vancouver cost each team. Hmmmmm.

      • Gary Empey

        You are right. I only really watch the Leafs. I do follow the Canucks in the news though. I always liked the city of Vancouver and BC in general. I feel somewhat sorry for the undeserved bad press the Canucks often get. They have had a really good run at the Stanley Cup and now must rebuild. Good Luck.

  • Gary Empey

    It was indeed a fine tanking performance. Close but no cigar as it is that number one draft pick leaf fans want and no cheap cigar. At least the leafs were basically defeated on a cheap call, unlike the Habs who had that defenceman once again blow a tire which allowed the Kings to get the winning goal.

    No wonder Babcock refuses to use P.K. to much of defensive liability. He is becoming the new Phaneuf but at $9 million per year.

    • TGT23

      Except for P.K being probably the most offensively gifted D-man outside of Karlsson since… maybe Paul Coffey (I’m sure there are some more recent ones but that was the first in my head), sure. Exactly the same.

      I’m not sure how you mean “liability” though. I mean, Dion and P.K have gaffes, sure. No doubt. But when I think liability I think someone like T.J Brennan. Dion and P.K aren’t studs in their own end, but I’d hardly say they are useless.

      Babs got a lot out of Dion this year. Maybe the Canadiens need a better coach. Maybe someone who doesn’t think ruining kids and adding Mike Brown and John Scott (All-Star though he may be lol) is the answer to his teams issues.

  • TGT23

    Couple more games then we send the kids back so as not to burn a year needlessly on their contracts.

    So… who plays for the Leafs when those 5 kids go back? Who do we have floating around the minors that doesn’t need to be there?

    Frattin? Is Torres healthy? Ah, screw it, sign me, Dangle, CMPUNK, whats48moreyears, and STAN. We’ll make sure the team tanks.

    • BarelyComments

      Burning a year off of their entry level contracts won’t effect when the Leafs send anyone down and is likely a good thing. We are passed the point where RFA years are affected which is the significant number for teams. Burning a year on the entry for guys like Nylander and Kap only helps the team when they go to negotiations, plus it would stagger contract talks with someone like Marner or a potential top pick this year…

  • SEER

    Really like what I have been seeing from the Young Guns… Hyman and Soshnikov look NHL ready for next season, if they keep working hard all summer..

    New 2015-16 highlights montage, for Hyman..

    Have a great weekend, everyone..!

    Zach Hyman/
    Forward/ shoots R/
    Born Jun 9 1992/ *Toronto, ONT./
    23 yrs. ago/
    Height 6.01/ Weight 205

    RECENT STATS: (*Up to March 4th 2016)

    2015-16 Toronto Maple Leafs – NHL
    3 Games… 0 Goals… 0 Assists… 0 Points… 0
    ——————————
    2015-16 Toronto Marlies – AHL
    54 Games… 13 Goals… 20 Assists… 33 Points… +28

    Things Get Better: Zach Hyman 2015-16 Highlights – TML

    —> https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6vTQxfmwBxE