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Leafs Postgame: Dominance Unrequited

Tonight, the Leafs took on the New York Rangers at home in Toronto, broadcast on the classic Hockey Night in Canada.

It was an exciting contest of youth, as the Leafs are in the early stages of their rebuilt dynastic team, and the Rangers are just in the first steps of putting theirs together.

Via rosterreresource.com, the average age of the Rangers is only 25.9 years old, compared to the Leafs who are at 27 years old.

After the trade deadline, the Rangers are just patiently waiting for this tear-down season to end so that they can start the most fun stage of the rebuild, putting the early building blocks in place.

Tonight, though, most of those building blocks were either not there yet, or were in the very early stages of their own development into NHL players. As such, it’s the Toronto Maple Leafs who came into tonight as heavy favourites, with -340 betting odds or an implied 77.27% chance of winning.

1st period

In the premier frame of the contest, the teams were showcasing their speed beautifully in the early goings. Both sides were flying and the Leafs especially were displaying their creativity in the offensive zone while the Rangers displayed their desperation in scrambling to cover.

There were numerous powerplay chances for each team but neither side could capitalize.

Auston Matthews in particular had a number of chances on seemingly sure chances, that ultimately went astray.

The period ended with the score just as we began the night with, tied at 0-0.

2nd period

The second period began with the Rangers’ goalie Georgiev holding off the Leafs as he did in the first, including this incredible save on Zach Hyman.

Both the Matthews line and the Tavares line looked incredibly dangerous, cycling and creating dangerous passing plays, but none were put into the cage, and the 2nd period ended 0-0 just as the first did.

3rd period

Finally, we have some offense, but it’s for the bad guys. A goal for the Rangers comes out of what seemed like a harmless scramble for Pavel Buchnevich:

But the Leafs were able to rally back in this one, as they were dominating the entire game, and Zach Hyman finished off the chance in front to tie the game up at 1’s:

A terrific and exciting 3rd period ultimately ended tied, and this game headed into overtime.

Overtime

The Rangers were in complete control, somehow, in the overtime period. Despite being outplayed for most of the contest, it was the Rangers who took the puck into the Leafs’ zone and held it there for the first minute or so of this period.

A couple chances back the other way, and the Leafs go for a change allowing the Rangers in on a 2-on-1. Zaitsev dove in desperation to stop the pass, which he did not, but Andersen came up with an incredible save. An ultimately moot save, however, as the Rangers picked up the loose puck off of the rebound and buried it in the scramble to win the game 2-1.

Final Thoughts

Who wore the Crown?

After every Leaf game, we’re recognizing one Leaf player who best exemplified what it means to play hockey the “Toronto Way”: with heart and soul, above all else. Who wore the Crown is brought to you by Crown Royal, passionate fans of the Toronto Maple Leafs. 

Tonight’s crown goes to Morgan Rielly, who was here, there, and everywhere in the game. He contributed offensively with some great playmaking (though he was credited with 0 points, unfortunately) and had some stellar efforts in the defensive zone to move the play the other way.

Other Thoughts

This was certainly a disappointing finish, losing to a team as maligned as the Rangers are at this point in the season. It was clear that the Leafs were dominating the game, but the Rangers’ desperation on defense kept the potent Leafs offense to just the one goal.

The Leafs earn the loser point tonight, which they’ve not done very often this season. One of the major reasons for the gap between the Bruins and the Leafs in the standings is simply that the Bruins have been gifted the loser point, while the Leafs have taken their losses in regulation.

The Leafs will be back in action on Monday against the Florida Panthers, at 7pm at the Scotiabank Arena and broadcast on TSN4. Hope to see you then, and go Leafs go!

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