Leafs Postgame: Grand Opening

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Photo Credit: Dan Hamilton/USA TODAY SPORTS

The Toronto Maple Leafs honoured history in a big way today, paying homage to 100 years of history while retiring the numbers of everybody who was merely “in the rafters” beforehand. But with the past comes the present, and the present delivered a loud and clear message to the league that had been opened by Auston Matthews on Friday.

The Leafs are here, they’re eager, and the days of the basement are extremely numbered. Toronto made that evident tonight in a 4-1 victory. 

The Leafs struck first and did so extremely early. A point shot from Matt Hunwick didn’t quite make its way through traffic, and Connor Brown feasted on the opportunity in the slot, dropping to one knee to snap the loose puck past Anton Khudobin to put Toronto up 1-0 very early.

Ten minutes later, it was Mitch Marner’s turn. A breakout pass from Nikita Zaitsev sent the puck over to the 19-year-old, who corraled it with ease and fired a wrister that turned into his first career NHL goal, in front of the fans he grew up dreaming of being in front of. A little over a minute and a half later, James van Riemsdyk showed that his new #25 had just as much mojo attached to it as his defunct 21, roofing a backhand that really sent Toronto off to the races.

The period didn’t end perfectly, though. Former Leaf John-Michael Liles set up David “Friend of William Nylander” Pastrnak on Bruins powerplay, breaking what was already looking like a much-improved night for Frederik Andersen. But he bounced right back from that shortly after, meeting every shot with ease while waiting for the next Leafs goal.

Enter Milan Michalek. While the second was silent from both sides, the Czech forward redirected a Morgan Rielly shot in front of Khudobins territory to re-extend Toronto’s lead to 4-1.

In the third period. Against the Bruins. This time, though, they held on, ending the game without any swing.

Why The Leafs Won

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Pressure, pressure, pressure. Toronto got their feet moving early, they kept them moving often, and most importantly, they moved the puck to the front of the net a bunch. It was super obvious, of course, with the Brown and Michalek goals, but the Leafs seem to be all-in on having a net presence wreak some havoc and when you have a blue line like Boston’s tonight that’s a mixture of inexperienced and a little rusty without much in between, it’s killer.

Blue Warrior


I don’t need to add much here. Naz did, though; on top of the above, he was Toronto’s third best possession player with a 58% ratio of even-strength shot attempts in the team’s favour while on the ice. He also had a shot on goal and three hits.

See You Next Time

Let’s do this again soon, eh? Comprehensive Leafs wins are the easiest work. Toronto’s next game will be on Wednesday night at the MTS Centre. Matthews vs. Laine, if you need a narrative. We’ll see you then!

  • FlareKnight

    Good on Kadri. His line did a great job shutting down the most dangerous line for Boston.

    Though credit all around. The Leafs won a ton of faceoffs, kept control of the puck for a lot of the game, and brought the offense. Congrats to Marner and Brown for getting their first goals.

    The feeling in watching games this year is night and day compared to last season. This team is fun to watch, works hard out there, and can put the puck in the net. They will have some good times and tough times, but they are fun to watch. Gives you a lot of hope for the future.

    • FlareKnight

      Basically the goal on his part was not to die…he managed that.

      Wasn’t really a fight with that size mismatch. The best you can say is that Chara chasing after him drew the instigator and also took their top D out for 5 minutes with less than 10 remaining in the third.

      Probably not a fun moment for Martin though.

    • DukesRocks

      Basically Martin hit Krug hard will a clean bodycheck. Chara chased Martin down the ice and caught him. Martin didn’t want to fight but Chara dropped the gloves and started throwing. Martin basically wasn’t engaged to fight but threw a few back. Overall wasn’t much off a fight, both players fell to the ice with Chara on top. Chara thanked Martin and off to the penalty box. So basically you missed nothing. The Kadri fight on the other hand was more exciting.

  • DukesRocks

    Props to Zaitsev, Marner, Hyman, Brown and Martin. The shock to me was Kadri with just over 12 min of ice time. Especially when I thought he was a leader out there shutting down the Backes line and held his own in the fight. Kadri for me set the tone in this game (fight) and although he didn’t figure on the Michalek tip in, he was the guy in front of the net with the screen. The ice time I think had more to do with the 3 goal lead, PPK and rolling 4 lines… and nothing to do with Kadri’s performance because he was damn good. Which goes to show you Babs strategy is there is no #1 line, so people have to stop labeling lines as such.

    Lastly you score 4 goals and the focus will be on you. The Mathews line didn’t seem as dangerious in this game due to the Bruins focus but they didn’t lose their defensive assignments and that was pleasing to see. They held their own on the physical side but I would like to see more.

    • LukeDaDrifter

      Some guys dropped over and we all got into the beer, rum and Videoke, So I missed the game. What I did notice on the highlights was, after after Boston scored their goal, their celebration looked like they knew they could win the game.

  • Stan Smith

    I cannot name a single player I thought had a bad game against Boston. While you can see why Martin has as few a points as he does, he was at least visible, and dished out some nice hits. I wasn’t impressed with Brown in the first game, but was in this one. It is also great to have a goalie who does not make me cringe when he handles the puck.