Leafs Postgame: Career Starters & Closure

Some losses come harder than others. A three-goal collapse ranks right up there, but you know what? This is a very young team, and they’ll be able to take the defeat as a learning experience. Maybe, in a few years from now, they’ll be the type of team that puts their foot down, catches themselves slipping, and gets the job anyway.

Wait, did I say years? Minutes was the term I was looking for. After a mind-numbing collapse over the span of ten hockey minutes, the Leafs pulled together an insane 6-5 overtime victory.

 ducksleafs

The game started with rookie fan favourite Zach Hyman breaking character and taking a seat in the penalty box, a situation which put the Leafs in a tough place. So tough, in fact, that Jamie McGinn was able to pick up a juicy rebound in front of the net and beat a sprawling Garret Sparks, who’s stick was just barely out of position.

The Leafs tied it up quickly, however, and the goal from a familiar yet distant face. Tyler Bozak, who was making his return from an extended concussion-caused absence, made the most of the opportunity by ripping a wrist shot from the right-side faceoff dot. Three minutes later, wit the Leafs on the powerplay, Nazem Kadri gave Toronto the lead by shovelling home a loose puck in front of the net while Nick Ritchie sat in horror.

The good vibes continued for the two centres, as Kadri found Bozak on a rare collaboration to extend the lead on another powerplay in the second period. With three minutes to go, Frank Corrado made a surprising punch and slid a backhand past Frederik Andersen to give the Leafs a 4-1 lead. Insurmountable, right?

Well, you all know how these things go. McGinn picked up a second powerplay goal a few minutes later, and nine seconds after that, Andrew Cogliano added bolted down the ice and grabbed another. That was as close as Anaheim got at the intermission, but thanks to a gaffe by Jake Gardiner early in the third, Ryan Garbutt was able to tie it up despite the Ducks being short-handed, stripping Gardiner of the puck and roofing a wicked, one knee backhand past Sparks.

Brandon Pirri three minutes later, putting Anaheim in the lead, and all hope appeared to be lost. But on yet another Leafs powerplay, Connor Brown tied the game on the juiciest of rebounds to put the Leafs in their own rally mode. This sent the game to overtime, and, well, we’ll let Nazem Kadri take care of the rest:

Blue Warrior

Concussions are rough, traumatic injuries, that in many cases don’t get taken seriously enough. It’s a good thing that Tyler Bozak took his time to recover, and it showed tonight as he made an immediate impact on the score sheet. Everyone’s favourite “young” centre led the team with five shots on goal, scored two of them, won 53% of his faceoffs, and looked very solid in a little under 13 sheltered minutes. He was also the team’s second-best possession player, with the Leafs attempting 65% of the shots with him on the ice.

See You Next Time

Speaking of 4-1 collapses… the Leafs play their next game against the Boston Bruins. That’ll come on Saturday night, and it might be the perfect storm for those cheering on the tank. The Leafs are hot, the Bruins are cold, and something is going to have to give on at least one side.

On the other hand.. it’s the Bruins, so maybe riding the wave for one more game isn’t a bad thing. Puck drop is at 7:00. See you then!

  • Gary Empey

    The Ducks Done like a Dogs Dinner!!!! They looked stunned at the end of the game.

    After many years of following hockey, one thing I have noticed. Teams with a mostly young lineup, that come on strong in the second half of the season, go on to be a top team, soon after. This change to youth, with the Leafs has only been in the last quarter of the season (trade deadline). Does anyone else feel this is the very beggining of the rocky road to the top of the league? Or is it just an end of season unfathomable discrepancy?

  • Gary Empey

    Gary, it appears the leafs are performing their traditional late season winning streak that removes the strong possibility of drafting one of the three top studs available in this year’s draft.

    The name of the game from game one this season was to freaking tank. Oh sure its exciting for the fans, but the bottom line is when you got a solid chance of drafting either one of the Fins, Matthews or Chychrun you don’t blow it by winning meaningless games unless the leafs are looking for the next Luke Schenn to draft.

    • Gary Empey

      About the draft lottery….

      Rumor has it, after buying a map from a guy in a big white cowboy hat, The Mad Hatter of TANKVILLE is currently in Manhattan looking for the secret entrance to the NHL’s lottery office.

      ………….. Don’t Worry – Be Happy

      • Gary Empey

        Gary I love your picture, Classic. I have fond memories of Manhattan as I was on a tourist double decker bus and Gino from Jersey handed me the microphone to give the tour talk even though I never had been to the big apple before. As we passed M.S.G. I noticed a 5th level roof restaurant had a party of Ranger fans decked out in their finest Ranger jerseys. Naturally I had my leaf sweater on and I proceeded to give those fans the proper Canadian salute.

    • Gary Empey

      Over the past number of years it was the same players that had played all season that went on a winning streak or someone they had gotten(Gerber. This year it is different, they moved out the old guard and went with prospects and these guys came to play. Last night they did not shrink from the comeback by Anaheim and came back to score the goal to tie it and then the winner in OT. These guys are competitors and you can not ask them to not put out. You put that kind of mindset into them and you have the same old all over again.

  • Gary Empey

    Some guy on twitter was going on and on about how Kadri played a poor puck possession game tonight as shown by his corsi shot differential. I know you guys talked about corsi before but was Kadri really dominated possession wise?

    PS I would have given the blue warrior to Brown.

    • Gary Empey

      Kadri did have a poor results as measured by puck possession but that is not the fully story.

      Anyone who watched the game would have seen that Kadri brought a grit, shot quality and other intangibles that are not fully captured with this stat. The best way to use these types of stats is to eliminate them as false positive when they don’t agree with your view of a player.

  • FlareKnight

    In the end so much is going to ride on Hunter. The team can enjoy its wins, but he’s the one who has a tougher job now. Pretty unlikely we finish bottom 5 and at this rate top 10 isn’t guaranteed. Good for the kids, good for confidence, bad for the draft. It’s not even that first pick but getting bumped down in each round of the draft.

    If nothing else things aren’t going to be boring.

    If Bernier is back in next game then it should be an easy win against Boston. I honestly don’t think anything less than Washington or Dallas is a threat to this group and we don’t play them again.

    Is a shame for anyone hoping for a top 5 pick this year, but such is how it goes. Will just have to rally around whoever we pick up and hope he was underrated by those who pick ahead of us.