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Photo Credit: © John E. Sokolowski - USA Today

Leafs Postgame: Better to be ready if you rattle Freddy’s cage

After returning from a quick trip out to Western Canada, the Leafs had three days off. They used their free time to visit children in the hospital(!) and prepare to “start on time” for this hockey game. One of those activities was definitely time well spent. The “starting on time” may have improved (it’s a win, after all), but it could still probably use some work.

Some Corsis

This game was a lot less exciting to watch than last week’s win in Calgary. Tempers were running a little high, but the officials mostly kept things under control. (Mostly, I said!)

1st Period

Yet another groggy start for the Leafs, which is becoming quite an unfortunate habit. Luckily this time it didn’t hurt them too badly. Although the Calgary PP did result in a Girodano goal to make it 1-0 on the first penalty of the game.

The Leafs also earned two powerplay opportunities this period, but despite a good effort, were not able to convert chances into a hockey goal.

Mitch Marner had his great night without a goal against the Flames last week, and tonight was William Nylander’s turn. Besides being all over the ice on the powerplay, he kept the fourth line contending (while he was on it, anyway).

2nd Period

At halfway through this period, I couldn’t believe we were 30 minutes in and Babcock still hadn’t switched up the lines. They’d perked up a bit since the first, and were playing better hockey, but the offence just wasn’t really there.

The Leafs got another powerplay, and all in all the PP wasn’t looking awful tonight, but first of all obviously they didn’t get a goal out of it, and second of all Leo Komarov was on the Matthews unit for some reason.

Like I pointed out earlier, William Nylander started out this game still on the fourth line, but the lack of offence early combined with his strong performance got him bumped back up (for now). He got put back on Auston’s wing and BAM! Morgan Rielly tied it up. Technically unassisted, but that was a nice shift from the gang.

Matthew Tkachuk alllllllmost started a brawl at in front of the net (so a typical Wednesday night for him). Luckily, his collision with Andersen didn’t injure the goalie, and luckily for Tkachuk, the officials intervened before Andersen could injure him.

Matthew Tkachuk also draws a whole lot of penalties. Very very many. We are also lucky that the one he got out of Jake Gardiner at the end of the second didn’t earn the Flames a goal.

3rd Period

It’s official, Babcock got the band back together! Komarov moved down with Martin and Moore on the fourth line as Nylander moved up to play with Matthews and Hyman again, and Connor Brown took Komarov’s spot with Kadri and Marleau. (This is pretty ideal, I think.) However, that didn’t last super long before Brown went back to Matthews and Nylander moved to Kadri’s line, which is also not a bad look.

Calgary almost got a go-ahead goal, but the net was knocked off before the puck went in, so the game stayed locked at one each.

This period looked more like the first than the second, which is a bummer because most of the second period was pretty decent for the Leafs. Oh well, on to overtime!

Bonus Hockey

Leafs OT is honestly always a good time. Especially when Frederik Andersen is feeling himself, which he continues to do after being named NHL’s second star of the month for November.

This overtime had everything. Breakaways, two-on-ones, flashy saves, backchecking superstars, no-calls, and actual calls.

Johnny Hockey took a penalty with 31 seconds left, but the Leafs couldn’t capitalize. And unfortunately, penalties don’t carry over into the shootout. (Yep, that’s where we ended up.)

Bonus “Hockey”

Matthews and Nylander score to win the shootout–which is fun to watch, if not the best way to decide a hockey game. Tkachuk was the only Flame to get past Andersen, who was just as sharp here as in regulation.

It’s fitting that Nylander got the winner, since he was buzzing all game.

Leafs win 2-1, and they’ve been graciously allowed another two days without a game so they can make the long trek to Pittsburgh for Saturday’s matchup against the Penguins. See you then!

 

  • lukewarmwater

    Good article Hayley. The most amazing stat this season from the WALL, the impenetrable type that Donald J. could only wish for, namely one Steady Freddy Andersen is the fact that he has completely reversed his form in o.t. and shoot outs as Freddy has only missed one point in the shoot outs and o.t’s that the leafs have played this season. A big reason why they are challenging for first over all in the east.
    Flames took it to the leafs as the buds seemed to be on the ropes or was it a little rope a dope and speaking of Dopes. What an embarrassment to the great Keith Tkachuk to have a punk as a kid. Yep must be frustrating to know your kid who does have hockey skill is trying to be the next Kenny Linesman, Sean Avery in the league. But as Timberlake sings, WHAT GOES AROUND COMES AROUND.
    The leafs take 3 out of 4 against the western teams and should have beaten the Canuckleheads. However speaking of the west coast, only the kid from God’s country has scored in the last two games. So some of these guys with gazillions of dollars in their dreams better step up the pace and yes I’m referring to the Calgary kid Willie and of course two goal Marner.
    Still the leafs are now 18 and 10 and similar to their cousins the Raptors are giving their home town fans win after win. In the Raptors case they have only lost once in 10 games at home.
    Yesiree exciting to be a Toronto sports fan these days, the Argos, the soccer team, heh Seattle you planning on taking a shot on goal this year, and of course the M.L.S.E. boys, the Leafs and the Raptors. Heh spring training is only a little over two months away and if the penny pinching Rogers can reciprocate for the 3.2 million fans who attended home games and the millions that travelled from Canada to visit U.S. cities, particularly Seattle, the Jays will be a contender again. Come on Rogers to make money you got to spend money.
    GO LEAFS GO.

    • lukewarmwater

      Just the rumour mill but fascinating to hear a Rogers executive state that the Jays owners are indeed seeing what the market value of the team is and what the possible benefits would be if the team decided to sell the team to new owners and invest the gazillions in something else.

    • leafdreamer

      I was wandering the same Glen – it appears they only look at goalie interference when someone challenges the goal and then, for some inexplicable reason, even when it’s determined that there was goalie interference on the play and the goal is disallowed, the penalty is never called. Weird.