The Leafs took on the Boston Bruins tonight in a re-invigoration of a long-lasting rivalry between the two Original Six teams. Boston and Toronto have been in lockstep for the last couple years, as the Leafs soar up from the basement-dwelling years, and the Bruins slowly deflate after their 2011 Stanley Cup winning team ages.
Speed, speed, speed!
Both teams tonight absolutely flew through this game. The time was flying by as each team made solid rushes from their zone to the other, got a chance, and then everyone rushed back to do the same at the other end. This kind of excitement is what drives coaches crazy, but for fans like us, it’s primo entertainment.
With the skating talent on both sides, perhaps this result is no surprise, but regardless, it was exciting to see.
Since the Leafs are obviously the team we care more about, I should say that I found the Leafs were putting on an absolute clinic in transition hockey. The defense and forwards were all one unit, moving the puck swiftly from the defensive zone to offensive, which was a huge contributing factor to the fast pace of the game.
No Tavares Shuffle
The Leafs moved their lines around a fair bit to cover for the loss of John Tavares to injury. While this shuffle isn’t as good as the Kansas City shuffle, it worked out pretty well.
Mitch Marner got new linemates in the absence, obviously, primarily getting the previously 3rd line combo of Alexander Kerfoot and Ilya Mikheyev on his line in this game. However, he also swapped around with Nylander to join Matthews and Andreas Johnsson for points of the game, to moderate success.
The third line became the recently signed Jason Spezza with speedy wingers Trevor Moore and Kasperi Kapanen, who were mostly unnoticeable in the game, but perhaps that’s better than being noticeable in a bad way. It was disappointing to see Spezza struggle in an elevated role, but hopefully he’ll get an opportunity to settle into it and prove he belongs on the team.
Finally, the fourth line was the familiar combination of Frederik Gauthier with Nick Shore and Dmytro Timashov, who seem to be inseparable at this point early in the season.
Each line did its job in this game, and obviously got the win, but there’s no question the lineup will make more sense when Tavares returns.
Welcome to the Timashow!
Dmytro Timashov has been a new addition to the Maple Leafs’ roster this season after graduating from the Toronto Marlies. He made the team out of camp and has been a good depth offensive player for Toronto on the 4th line, with surprising energy and strength to hold his place in the NHL.
Tonight, he got his first goal of his young career in just his sixth NHL game. Here’s the highlight:
What a shot!
Timashov with his first career NHL goal! pic.twitter.com/TJkvN69qDJ
— The Leafs Nation (@TLNdc) October 19, 2019
Bad Refereeing? Not Quite…
This game saw the Bruins continue to have apparent unfair advantages in the refereeing, with Toronto not seeing a single powerplay in this game to Boston’s three chances on the advantage. Zdeno Chara continues to get away with interfering with everyone that skates in front of him, and Boston continues to “accidentally” make contact with Frederik Andersen any time someone skates in front of him.
There was also a more brazen incident with David Backes running directly into Andersen that Marincin tried to police himself, to the end of earning the Leafs a coincidental minor penalty. As frustrating as that is, the coincidental penalty for retaliation has been around as long as I’ve been watching hockey, which is about as long as Marincin has been playing it. He should know better by now that that’s going to even things out and negate the powerplay. And if I have to stand alone in saying that’s a good thing, then I will. Eliminating the dick measuring contests that men’s hockey can turn into is for the best, so we can focus on the beautiful game that hockey can be (see: women’s hockey).
Backes takes a run at Freddy and Marincin was having none of it. Somehow we get a penalty out of this. pic.twitter.com/m4K2tWfbvK
— Leafs ALL Day (@LeafsAllDayy) October 20, 2019
It’s hard not to have a conniption watching the Bruins get away with numerous interference incidents that don’t lead to a penalty. It’s not a new problem that the Leafs have dealt with, given the events of the previous two years of first round playoff exits against Boston. Fans like us are inevitably going to be increasingly cognizant of it as we continue to face the Bruins. What we tend to miss as this scrutiny increases is that the Leafs may be just as likely to receive favourable calls. Human error, and all.
One example was a call early in the game, where Mikheyev is called for a clear holding penalty, but right beside that is Alexander Kerfoot boarding Jake DeBrusk. This should have led to a 5-on-3 against Toronto, but the refs either missed it, or consciously made the decision not to doubly penalize Toronto at one time. Either way, Toronto saw a benefit from that.
Also, there was this clear incident of… holding? I’m not sure what you call it, but an penalize-able incident nonetheless, with Frederik Gauthier having a quick sit:
Frédérik Gauthier: "Bitch I will straight up sit on you." 🐐 pic.twitter.com/x2W0zzd9aA
— Flintor (@TheFlintor) October 20, 2019
This isn’t to say that the refs are any better at calling Boston on the same tricks they’ve been using since 2011. I’m just saying, sometimes intentional ignorance, or human error if you choose to view it that way, might also go in the way of Toronto to the same degree.
As only a contest this exciting could, this game ended in a beautiful overtime, one timer goal by the Leafs’ star, Mitch Marner.
MITCH MARNER WINS IT IN OT! 🚨 pic.twitter.com/59M4BRktI3
— Flintor (@TheFlintor) October 20, 2019
Overtime is always exciting, but Toronto had complete control of the overtime frame, and just as it looked like the pressure wouldn’t come to fruition, Marner had that dagger to end the game. As a side note, on closer inspection, the shot deflects off of Morgan Rielly’s shinpad in front of the net before it goes in, so this goal may eventually get credited to him.
Toronto plays next on Monday against the Blue Jackets, and then they will play Boston once again on Tuesday.