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Leafs Postgame: Chicago Blackhawks at Toronto Maple Leafs

Tonight the Leafs were facing the aged Chicago Blackhawks, who while still spearheaded by Jonathan Toews, Duncan Keith, and Patrick Kane, have reshaped their team through a re-build/re-tooling effort.

Below are some thoughts on how the game went.

I’ll warn you – there’s no clips of the Leafs goals below because there wasn’t anything worth showing for Toronto. The story tonight is just how they ended up allowing 6 goals and looking like a mess.

Bad Breaks

Toronto suffered a slow and unlucky start to the game. They allowed a goal against just 21 seconds into the first period on a fast zone entry from Chicago:

Starting the game off on the wrong foot plagued the team consistently during Mike Babcock, and it’s a shame to see it return tonight. A bad early goal, somewhat unlucky, set a bad tone for the rest of the game.

Poor goaltending

This was not Frederik Andersen’s night.

Things got much worse after the Caggiula goal, first with Toews beating Adam Brooks (defending the blue line for unknown reasons) and beating Andersen in the five hole.

Shortly after that, Brandon Saad ended up with the puck on another fast break into the zone, and fired a great shot to the top corner.

Later in the game, Andersen had more misfortune come his way, with a few questionable goals against, such as this one from Toews, his second of the game:

 

All Star week blues

As the team heads into their bye week before the NHL All Star Game, they certainly weren’t looking like All Stars, and should probably put their finger and their thumb in the shape of an ‘L’ on their foreheads.

The lackadaisical play tonight was symptomatic of looking ahead, and not playing in the moment. As everyone was making their vacation plans for the week off, some members of the team seemed to forget that the vacation doesn’t start until tomorrow. We’ve all been guilty of being in “vacation mode” on your last day of work but…. this feels a bit less forgivable

7D experiment

For what seems like the first time in ages, the Leafs chose to dress seven defenders in this game to get Timothy Liljegren some ice time. He saw limited ice time and wasn’t on a regular shift until the 3rd period when the game felt all but lost.

In particular, this play was not so good from Liljegren, as he tried to make a rush on his own and lost the puck, creating an odd man break the other way for this Dominik Kubalik goal:

Goal of the Year

The highlight of the night for all hockey fans was this incredible baseball goal from Dominik Kubalik. The rookie showed incredible hand-eye co-ordination to hit this puck, let alone put it right into Andersen’s shoulder where he couldn’t fight it off.

I’ll be honest: I hadn’t even heard of Dominik Kubalik until now, but I’ll certainly remember the name after that goal.

Final Thoughts

This was a really rough night for Toronto. They weren’t really outplayed excessively — the Blackhawks were the better team but not by a mile as the score would suggest.

To simmer on this loss over the next week will be tough for the Leafs, and us fans, but hopefully there will be enough lessons to draw that they come back stronger.

The next game for Toronto is January 27th in Nashville against the Predators. Before then, you’ll get to see Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner and Frederik Andersen represent the Leafs in the 2020 NHL All-Star game on January 25th. Enjoy the show, and go Leafs!