Meet the new team, same as the old team.
Look, obviously it’s only the second game of the season. Obviously it’s the second half of a back-to-back with travel. Obviously they’re still without Matthews. Obviously they’re still figuring out things and shaking off that start of the season rust. Obviously Ottawa’s first goal should’ve been waived off and the other two were bad bounces. Obviously the refs didn’t help their case either.
There are plenty of excuses for the team’s performance, but at the same time, this is still supposed to be one of the best teams in the league playing against one of the worst teams in the league. They didn’t show up to start the game, and while it’s not entirely their fault for any of the goals they allowed, they still gave up a plethora of chances that probably would’ve ended up in goals anyways.
It’s only the second game of the season, so it’s hard to truly freak out at this team, but this is also similar to performances that we’ve seen from this team plenty of times in the past, and after not making any significant changes in the offseason, there’s a somewhat justifiable reason to be mad.
The Leafs managed to make it interesting in the third, but like the many times they’ve done this before, it wasn’t quite enough to come all the way back, losing it 3-2.
3rd Star: Jason Spezza
Admittedly, Spezza wasn’t all that good in the game, as he was the second worst on the team in shot attempt share, and the worst in expected goals share, but the bar is low enough that scoring the goal to get the team back into the game gets him the third star. It was reminiscent of the Leafs-Habs series where he was one of the few players putting up points.
2nd Star: The goalies
Even though Petr Mrazek allowed three goals, you can’t fault him for any of them, and there were still plenty of great scoring chances that he saved to keep it from becoming a blowout. Unfortunately, he got hurt and a tired Jack Campbell had to come in, and he did the same thing for the third, keeping the Leafs in the game as they attempted to rally.
1st Star: William Nylander
While last night Nylander was the best at driving play on a team doing a good job of driving play, tonight he was one of the few people actually driving play. He was second in both shot attempt share (54.09%) and expected goals share (61.63%) at even strength, and played so well that he ended up having to move up to the Tavares-Marner line (which was 34.48% and 36.07% in that regard) to help them out (that line finished the night with 78.57% of the shot attempt share and 97.06% of the expected goal share). He also scored another goal, his second in as many games and seventh in nine going all the way back to the start of the playoffs.
40th Star: The refs
The Leafs shot themselves in the foot a lot tonight, but the refs did not help the cause either. The missed kicked goal call, the numerous phantom calls to even up the penalties. There was some hope that the Tim Peel controversy last season would maybe force the leagues hand, but it doesn’t look like it has so far.
By the Numbers
Tweet of the Night
When I find myself in times of trouble, Acting the Fulemin comes to me, speaking words of wisdom…
— Acting the Fulemin (@ATFulemin) October 15, 2021
It’s a bit premature to get super angry about tonight’s game, but I won’t blame you if you’re worried about the same problems this team always seemed to show.
The Leafs will get a chance to prove us wrong on Saturday, as they’ll face off against the Sens at home to finish off this home and home series (which feels a lot more normal after last season). You can catch the game on CBC at 7pm.
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