Leafs Postgame: No Wins on the Buffaroad

As mentioned about eight hundred times on the broadcast, the Leafs have trouble playing at First Niagara Center. Their record at the arena heading into tonight was 1-16-1 since February 4th, 2009. It’s a shame that the Leafs are seemingly incapable of playing well in front of their away fans, who arguably show up in stronger numbers across the border than at the Air Canada Centre.

It’s good for the tank, though, and the very same tank got a boost tonight with a 4-1 loss to the Sabres.

leafssabres

It was another one of those “good effort, no result” nights for the Leafs, as the team stayed neck and neck with their opponents from the very start. The scoresheet begged to differ, though, as Johan Larsson ripped a wrist shot through the legs of Morgan Rielly and past Garret Sparks to give his team the lead. The gap was extended late in the period when, with Frank Corrado in the box, Ryan O’Reilly set up his brother Cal O’Reilly for his second of the year. 

Cal must have been inspired, because three minutes into the second period, he chased a loose puck down the ice and launched a massive slapshot past Sparks to wide the gap to three. Eventually, Toronto responded with an extremely rare goal from Brooks Laich, but even with 24 minutes left in the game, the team seemingly had hit the point of no return. In the dying moments of the game, Larsson picked up an empty netter, putting an exclamation point on the game. Nazem Kadri created some controversy to end the game off with by hitting Larsson into his own bench, 

The Only Stat That Matters

The pre-game narrative was centred around Jack Eichel and Nazem Kadri. Kadri was asked about Eichel and said that he was a great player even if he’s currently not amazing defensively. Eichel said he wasn’t sure if Kadri should be evaluating him but agreed that there were things to work on.

The media created these exchanges and spun them as a rivalry. That wasn’t the case, but what if there really was beef?

Well, they were both 33.3% possession players tonight. Needless to say, both would like to forget their two-way efforts from this one.

Blue Warrior

How about young Tobias Lindberg! The rookie played his first NHL game tonight, earning the look after some hard work with the Marlies since joining the team in February. He was Toronto’s third-best possession forward tonight (54.2%) and picked up his first career point on the Laich goal. Overall, a solid first impression.

See You Next Time

With that border clash behind the Leafs, it’s time for another! They’ll be taking on the Detroit Red Wings on Saturday night, though this game is at the Air Canada Centre. Puck drop is at 7:00 PM.

  • Gary Empey

    Kadri at 33% seems wrong based on me watching him play hockey. I think that Corsi stat is as useful as +- in this case.

    Why does everyone pick on kadri, don’t people realize he is playing against elite competition and has near ECHL level linemates.

  • MatsSundin#13

    I can’t agree that the Leafs stayed neck and neck with the Sabres tonight. Usually they put in a blue-collar, workmanlike effort but this was just a clunker…only their first since the deadline, which I guess is a good thing (?)

  • CMpuck

    Kadri’s comments just remind me that I’m part of a fanbase that has to play make belief about how good Nazem Kadri is while Buffalo fans live the reality of Jack Eichel being their line up.

    • TGT23

      You’re right. Look at all those people who have to pretend that he’s a 3rd Line Centre or LOWER on every other team in the league just to convince themselves that their hate, hate they post in every single thread, isn’t unfounded and pathetic.

      It’s truly ridiculous. Sad, even.

      People who can’t be realistic are just the worst. Can’t use things like facts and stats that compare the guy favourably to most 2nd Line C’s and above 3rd’s and instead use lazy narratives in every single thread to belittle a guy who is clearly a Top 6 guy just to make themselves feel better.

      I mean, no one is saying he’s an elite or Franchise C. But a 2nd Liner with upside isn’t bad. Fits right in with his skillset, especially now that he’s winning more FO’s and playing better defensively.

      But, call them on it and they’ll just attack you, instead of defending an opinion that can’t be defended with facts.

      Just… sad.

  • CMpuck

    A superb tank effort this evening as the leafs fortunately get back on the losing trail. The Canuckleheads are winning tonight.

    Oh sure the little man, a.k.a. the commissioner’s worst dream of Edmonton ruining another numero uno first round pick is a serious possibility. But the leafs could really help themselves by not winning another game this year. The Canuckleheads are likely to win a game against Edmonton and thus the goal of guaranteeing at worst a top four pick could be in reach.

    The leafs simply have to complete this tank. Tank leaf tank. Tank leafs tank.

  • Gary Empey

    It is simple. Sabres have chemistry and Leafs do not imo.

    Sabres have worked wonders this season and I wish them the best.

    Hope their picks will pan out as well.

    Leafs need more trades in the off season imo. They need more weight up front and not referring to Doug. 😉

  • CMpuck

    He’s definitely still very young, but I wish Sparks were showing a little more. He does not look confident out there. But sometimes he locks it down for stretches and makes great saves. I still think he could play in this league in a few years.

        • TGT23

          Or, alternatively, Kadri IS a good center. Perhaps not elite, but he measures favourably to most #2’s making him a #2. He might not be a top tier 2nd line C but that doesn’t mean he isn’t a #2, or not good, or not better than C’s on many good teams, or a bandaid. You’re ridiculous.

          • CMpuck

            You rebuild with the aim to have two elite or projecting to be elite centers in your top six. For instance the Avs might not be great but MacKinnon/Duchene is an anchor of building a legitimate contender.

            Kadri being a low end 2C makes him a bandaid, no one builds a team wanting Kadri in the 2 spot. Settling for Kadri long term is a useless contract like when the Flames extended Stajan or CBJ handed Dubinsky a long term deal, Zajac in NJ… not desirable deals, deal Kadri before you extend him and he becomes a sewer contract.

            Again, my point on Bozak, given he’ll be cheaper with less term is a better fit to transition with.

            Now be a good Kadri monkey and call me dumb and ignore reality.