LGD: Take It Outside, Boys

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Photo Credit: Tom Szczerbowski/USA TODAY SPORTS

Look, I’m really excited for this game. Outdoor games might be losing their league-wide lustre as far as TV ratings go, but they’re a cool draw for the local fanbases and I’ve been waiting for Toronto to host their own forever. Now that I’m not worried about the grass being destroyed (throws bitter side eye at the Argos), it’s a pleasure to be able to step into BMO Field once again, this time to watch some hockey.

With that said, I know how this ends. We don’t even have to play the game. I’ve seen the visions already.

Toronto Maple Leafs 0 (4), Detroit Red Wings 0 (5), 2017 Centennial Classic Recap

In the past few weeks, goaltenders across the National Hockey league have struggled to keep Toronto Maple Leafs forward Auston Matthews off the scoresheet.

Detroit Red Wings rookie Jared Coreau – who has never played a meaningful NHL game in his life – stoned Matthews with a spectacular save in 3-on-3 overtime during the Centennial Classic 2017 at BMO Field, keeping the shutout and allowing the Red Wings to earn the extra point after a shootout (5-4).

When James Van Riemsdyk’s high rocket caught the crossbar, it put Andreas Athanasiou at centre ice with a chance to clinch. His backhand-forehand was apt, and crushed the hopes of a Leafs record attendance of 36,045; a fanbase who was chasing the same dream, in just their first home outdoor game after originally taking on Detroit in Ann Arbour in 2014.

An energetic and frenetic, though scoreless, regulation featured the Toronto Maple Leafs pushing forward for odd-man rushes, with Matthews, Mitch Marner, and William Nylander leading give-and-go plays for their lines en route to peppering a team record 65 shots at Coreau. Detroit was content to pick their spots on the counter, otherwise prodding laterally without finding enough space to take a single shot on goal.

Toronto created a pair of particularly great chances in the late stages of the game, fittingly from Marner midway through the third period and then Matthews just before the overtime buzzer. Marner’s shot in the 49th minute appeared to beat the Detroit goaltender but found the side of the net. After the Red Wings conceded a giveaway in the first minute of overtime, Matthews’ attempt at a diving mid-air redirection was disrupted by a sprawling Coreau.

Marner was taken off after his first shift in overtime due to an apparent injury. His replacement, Canadian product Connor Brown, fired a near winner in the 61st – a wrister missed inches wide – before saucering a pass toward Matthews, who’s baseball swing hung just long enough for Coreau to get his glove on it at full extension and keep the shutout.

The Leafs

Toronto Maple Leafs lines courtesy of Daily Faceoff

Only five Leafs are expected to play today that played in the 2014 Winter Classic: Jake Gardiner, Morgan Rielly, Nazem Kadri, James van Riemsdyk, and Tyler Bozak. Time moves fast, doesn’t it?

The Red Wings

Detroit Red Wings lines courtesy of Daily Faceoff

Well, it does for some teams. Half the Red Wings were in that game and the other half are bad.

Starting Goaltenders

My crystal ball says Jared Coreau is going to dress for the Red Wings, but we don’t actually know who it’ll be for sure. He’d be the wise pick, though; not that he’s been mindblowing in his first three NHL games (2-1-0, 0.908), but Jimmy Howard is injured and Petr Mrazek has gone from Vezina finalist Andrew Raycroft to Toronto Maple Leafs starter Andrew Raycroft in the past few months. Mrazek could get the nod out of seniority, though; either way, Detroit’s going to be hoping a goalie has a standout night.

Frederik Andersen is in the Leafs’ net again. No question, locked in, duh. He’s the guy and he’s been absolutely unbelievable for the past two months. I’m assuming the Dane has been in his fair share of soccer fields over the years, so this won’t be totally new to him.

What To Look Out For

Me, running into Section 119, Row 3, seat 1 and 2, regardless of whether somebody actually has those seats or not, screaming “THIS WAS SUPPOSED TO BE THE YEAR!”, crying for 30 seconds, cursing Stefan Frei, and going back to my actual seat while remembering that the Leafs are #ActuallyGood, building up a new reserve of optimism to be crushed.

Puck drop is at some time around 3:00 PM. See you then!

  • Stan Smith

    Look at that Jeff. You managed to run though a scenario, in fact write a complete article, without once roasting Hunlack. i knew you could do it. i’m even hopeful that you have made a News Years resolution to go easier on them, but we all know what happens to most New Years resolutions.

    Enjoy the game. If the weather is a nice there as it is here, it should be a great day for it. I will be watching it from the comfort of my easy chair.

    Happy New Year! Go Leafs Go!

  • Albertan Leaf Fan!

    The Toronto Maple Leafs will win the Stanley Cup in 2017 is something I have been preaching sense I was ten. Obviously I wasn’t an analytical genius, not was I a hockey veteran. I was however I big hcokey hsitory fan. I read every old hockey book our library had and it wasn’t long till I realised the state slinger in 2017. 50 years ago the leafs one their last cup(sadness). In 1942 75 years ago the leafs came back from a 3-0 series deficit to win the cup. In 1917/18 the Toronto Arenas one the the frnachise first Stanley cup. On Easter 1917 Canda took Vimy Ridge. The leafs were named after the shoulder patches worn by the Canadian soldiers in ww1. Vimy was their greatest moment. Heck it’s even the 150th aniversy of the country. Now things arnt looking great.
    But since theirs no risk, I am gonna make a non analiytcal hot take
    The Leafs will win the Cup in 2017!!!!!!

  • old hockey fan

    Jeff you have just put me in a quandary. You have just written an article completely fictitious with such believability that I could without knowledge not distinguish it from truth. How do you expect me to believe anything that you might write in the future. Oh and just waiting for your next(real) article. Happy New Year to you.

  • Harte of a Lion

    Jeff you deserve a smack on the head for this. Yeah, it’s all in fun but as Leaf fans, we want ‘good’ Leaf stories not “Marner was removed after being injured”. Did Simmons or Fishtruck put you up to this?
    I hope your ass gets frozen to seat 1, row 3, section 119.

    • Jeff Veillette

      It was a subtle reference to the MLS Cup Final, which was at BMO. Those paragraphs are basically the game recap from the MLS website reworded to be a Leafs/Wings game. Marner was Giovinco, since he’s “the small guy”.

      I’m happier with the real result.

      • Harte of a Lion

        Jeff, thanks for the clarification however NEVER EVER EVER, even in satire or jest talk about Magic Mitch getting hurt. As a Leaf fan, you can understand how Leafs Nation can’t believe we have 2 potential superstars (the Leafs have never had 1 never mind 2) and most are waiting for the shoe to drop and discover it’s all been a dream.