Knee Jerk Reaction: Leafs surrender nine goals for the first time in nine years

Photo credit:Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports
Alex Hobson
6 months ago
The Buffalo Sabres do this cool thing where they allow their players to pick their own goal songs. Tonight, the Leafs were treated to a performance consisting of Waka Flocka Flame, Kanye West, Troy Bolton & Gabriella Montez of High School Musical, Kendrick Lamar, Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, Drake, and Post Malone. Pretty stacked lineup until you consider that it was the result of the Leafs allowing nine goals for the first time since a 9-2 beating to the Nashville Predators in November 2014.
The game started off in the worst possible way for Ilya Samsonov, who desperately needed to rebound after what’s been unquestionably his worst stretch of an already bad season. He allowed what might have been his softest goal of the season on the third shot of the game. He wound up getting pulled after allowing five goals on 19 shots, and his counterpart in Martin Jones was no better, allowing four goals on 15 shots himself. Auston Matthews called the effort “probably the worst game” since he’s been here. It felt a lot like a scheduled loss in a lot of ways, given the Leafs are 2-6-0 against the Sabres in their last eight matchups and have been outscored 39-26 in that span.
Here’s where I stand on the outcome of the game. When you lose 9-3 to the Buffalo Sabres, you’re not pinning the loss on one guy. The entire team seemed to mail it in as soon as the Sabres extended their lead to 6-3, which you can’t have considering the way they’ve been able to come back from deficits this season.
But, for me, it’s hard to overlook the possibility that they don’t let the game fall apart if they get a save or two at the start of the game. You can make arguments against the defence on some of the later goals, but the fact of the matter is, Samsonov can’t keep the puck out of the net right now. The Leafs absolutely have the ability to mount comebacks and bail out their goaltenders, but when you’re allowing 4+ goals every night, you can’t expect your offence to carry the load every single time. 
I understand why Keefe went with Samsonov to start the game. With Woll still out for a couple of weeks at least, you need to keep both of your goalies fresh. And, if you ride Jones into the ground, you’re asking Samsonov to come in completely cold on top of having to deal with the struggles he’s had all season. That said, it’s at the point where the Leafs are going to have a really tough decision to make about him once Woll is healthy. 
Other thoughts:
  • Auston Matthews is still Auston Matthews. In the season they finished last place and drafted him, P.A. Parenteau led the team in scoring with 20 goals. It’s not even Christmas yet and Matthews has 26 goals on the season.
  • Despite what some out there might say, Max Domi is a fit. He’s playing with a little more spark to his game with the goal monkey off his back; his snipe on the power play was one that only a player with confidence can deliver. 
What’s your knee jerk reaction to tonight’s game? Let us know below.

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