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Knee Jerk Reaction: Leafs fall at the hands of the Torts-propelled Flyers

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Alex Hobson
30 days ago
If John Tortorella was trying to send a message to the Philadelphia Flyers by scratching his captain, a middle-six winger, a fourth-line winger, and a veteran defenceman, it worked on Tuesday night.
In the season finale against the Flyers, and five days after the Leafs laid a beating on them in their own barn, they saw their ongoing nine-game winning streak against them come to an end. The Flyers dominated the media circle for most of the day after it was announced that Sean Couturier, who was named captain of the team a little over a month ago, along with forwards Cam Atkinson and Denis Gurianov and defenceman Marc Staal would all be healthy scratches. For a team in the thick of a playoff race, it was definitely quite the choice and one that could have backfired as easily as it worked in their favour. But, credit to the Flyers, they came out flying in the third period and held a level of momentum that kept the Leafs from pulling off a comeback late in the game.
After a game like this, the usual tendency is to throw out the narratives like “they didn’t start on time” or “they weren’t ready to play”. While you can argue both of these to be true, oftentimes people forget that even the worst NHL team playing at their best can be a headache for the best teams. Sure, the Leafs made their fair share of mistakes early on (allowing a goal 19 seconds into the game doesn’t help) but I wouldn’t say they were caught off guard by their opponent. The Flyers simply just came ready to play, and whatever message the mass-scratching was intended to send appeared to work.
I really hate to use the term “bad luck” when talking about the Leafs because bad luck happens to every team, and I’m a firm believer that good teams find a way to “make their own luck” and surmount an unlucky hand when they’re dealt one. That said, they hit six goalposts and had probably three or four other golden opportunities, so I don’t know what else they’re expected to do here without at least some luck heading in their direction. They made things close at the end and looked like they had a silver-platter opportunity to tie things up late in the third after a pair of goals from William Nylander and Tyler Bertuzzi, but a couple of mindless passes from the second power play unit and an ill-timed giveaway in the direction of the penalty box right as Scott Laughton was stepping out pretty much iced the game for them.
Overall, it wasn’t a great night for T.J. Brodie, Joel Edmundson, and Ilya Samsonov among other names, but I would hardly deem this game one of their worst of the season – it probably feels worse than it is on paper because they’re coming off that late-game blown lead to the Hurricanes. Still, it was a frustrating loss considering the circumstances around the Flyers going into that game. But, then again, if you felt a little extra optimistic about the opposing team missing some typically-important players, are you actually a Leafs fan?
They’re back at it again on Wednesday against the Washington Capitals. Let’s try this again.

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