Leafs Postgame: What the Actual Hell Was That?

Ok, so, a lot of stuff happened there. Like, lots of stuff. So, let’s get right to it then.

I missed most of the first period, and by the sounds of it, it was a good thing that I did. The Leafs tested Sparks well in the early going, by letting the Blackhawks walk all over them, and going down 2-0 quickly.

But, just as quickly as they dug themselves into a 2-0 hole, they got out of it by scoring a couple quick ones, thanks to the surprise duo of Matthews and Kapanen.

First, Matthews makes a great stretch lob pass to Kapanen to spring him on a partial breakaway, and Kappy finally capitalizes on a chance, and pots his first of the season.

Not a minute later, and Kasperi set up Matthews and already the Leafs have the game tied (also, Cam Ward does Cam Ward things).

The second period saw a much, much better performance. The Leafs didn’t dominate by any means, but they kept the pace going, and it was a relatively back and forth period. The Leafs got the first goal of the period, as John Tavares is up in front and buries the rebound, giving the Leafs a 3-2 lead, and his second as a Leaf.

The lead didn’t last too long as the Hawks tied it up with a goal from John Hayden right in front that snuck through Sparks’ pads and over the line. Dermott tried his best to clear it out, but was a second too late.

Not to worry though, we have John Tavares, who pots his second of the night on the power play, in what felt like a matter of seconds for that unit. JT won the faceoff, and went from Rielly to Marner, who shot it and Tavares deflected it in.

It seemed like the Leafs tried their best to let the Blackhawks tie the game, between the four minute power play, and an interesting play from Gardiner. But they managed to hold the lead going into the third period.

Seriously though, I defended this guy through many Thanksgiving conversations, and this is how he rewards me.

And then, that third period happened.

First, Brandon Manning scored to tie the game at four a piece. But then midway through the third Tavares scored again to give the Leafs the lead (and also get his ninth career hat trick, and first with the Leafs).

That hand eye coordination though.

Things were looking fine until the Blackhawks pulled their goalie, and the pressure was on. The Leafs held it off for a little bit, but with a minute and a half left, the Leafs left Kane wide open for some reason, and he had all the time in the world to wire one past Sparks and tie the game.

Well, looks like we’re going to overti- no wait, Matthews scored again to give the Leafs the lead again with a minute left. Surely we can hold this one.

*Narrator voice* they didn’t.

Yup, Kane got another shot off, and got it past Sparks again, and the game was tied at 6-6. There’s still 29 seconds left in the game to win (or lose) it though.

Nope, they actually went to overtime this time.

But, like the home opener, it didn’t take them long to win it. Rielly got his opportunity to fire a shot on Cam Ward, and odds are, it’s going to go in, and it did. This time, the Leafs win for sure, 7-6.

Well, that was a messy one. It seemed like the Leafs were out of it early in the game, but thankfully Cam Ward exists, and is very easy to score on, so the Leafs did that a lot this game. Unfortunately, Sparks also let lots of goals in, and none of them were very good ones either. But, this was also his first NHL game in more than two years, and the defense didn’t exactly do him any favours.

The Leafs got off to a bad start, but they seemed to have a couple of dominant stretches of their own in an otherwise even game between these two.

It was plagued with some good and bad games. Matthews had two goals and two assists, Tavares had a hat trick, Rielly had a goal and two assists. Kapanen looked really good, especially when he got put on the top line. Marincin was quietly solid in his first game in the lineup. While the offense hasn’t come from him yet, Johnsson has been one of the best Leafs forwards possession wise in both this game, and the season so far.

And then there was the flip side. Sparks had a weak first showing. That Gardiner-Zaitsev pair didn’t look great tonight. Ennis basically played himself off the first line. The Kadri line was horrendous. Hainsey looked like a mess again, although his possession numbers were good tonight (he can thank Rielly for that, he had a 0% CF% without him in three minutes without him).

Lots of positives. Lots of negatives. But, the Leafs showed they can win themselves out of bad games. And we’re only three games into the season, so there’s lots of time to work on the negatives.

But please, for the love of god, stop it with the stretch passes Babs.

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