Knee Jerk Reaction: The Leafs are a roller coaster you can’t get off

Photo credit:Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports
Alex Hobson
5 months ago
Welcome to “Knee Jerk Reaction”, a new series at The Leafs Nation where we take everything we saw in the past 60 minutes and throw it onto a Word document the minute the final buzzer goes. If you have a knee jerk reaction to tonight’s game, leave it in the comments!
Did anybody have Calle Jarnkrok as the hero tonight? 
Forget having Jarnkrok as the overtime winner, did anybody have them coming back from being down 4-1 after arguably the most disastrous period of the entire season? Did have a Leafs and Lightning game that would be scripted pretty much the same way as the previous meeting between the two teams? 
Once again, Ilya Samsonov got peppered early. It wasn’t quite .250 SV% bad, but it was still four goals against on 12 shots bad. In his defence, the team couldn’t stay out of the box in the first period and somehow didn’t learn their lesson when it came to leaving Nikita Kucherov open. He came into the game a man-possessed, coming off a five-point performance against the Ottawa Senators, and left the first period with an additional four points on the stat sheet.
Thankfully, the Leafs didn’t let it get past that point. 
The Auston Matthews line was advertised as something to watch heading into tonight’s game, and it delivered. With Matthew Knies finally getting a well-deserved bump up onto Matthews’ left side, he scored his first goal since the last game against Tampa and set his fellow statesman up with a beautiful pass for his second of three points on the night. Matthews finished the game with two goals and an assist, and Marner’s goal and three assists gave him four points in back-to-back games. Ten points for that top line. Almost like that switch should have been made right from the start. 
Another intriguing storyline going into the game was the debut of Nick Robertson, who every year proves that he’s mastered the AHL but suffers some sort of catastrophic injury right as he’s starting to get going. He slid onto a speedy, offence-first third line alongside Max Domi and Jarnkrok, and tallied an assist on the game-tying goal to kick off the third period. Eight seconds later came Marner’s goal to take the lead, and although Brandon Hagel thought it would be cute to make things interesting with two minutes left, Jarnkrok had other ideas. 
Oh, and how about another shoutout for Joseph Woll? Much like the last game between these two teams, he stepped up and shut the door when it mattered for the Leafs, stopping 17 of 18 shots. Samsonov made the battle for the crease a little interesting with his performance against Boston in between two of Woll’s worst starts of the season, but tonight’s not going to do much for his case.
The main takeaway from tonight’s game, outside of the constant chaos that follows this team, is that the Leafs’ depth finally showed up. Before tonight’s game, the last Leaf goal to come from someone outside of the core four was in the third period against Dallas a week and a half ago, the last game they won before the losing streak. Tonight, they got two goals from the third line, and one from Knies. Even though he’s on the top line, it’s still somebody outside of the ones who have been doing all of the heavy lifting. 
Oh, and just for good measure from a content standpoint, Nylander added a cheeky secondary assist on the overtime winner to keep his season-opening point streak alive at 12 games. 
What’s your Knee Jerk Reaction to tonight’s game? Let us know below.

Check out these posts...