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Knee Jerk Reaction: Ryan O’Reilly scored twice, because of course he did

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Photo credit:Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports
Alex Hobson
8 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! 
The Toronto Maple Leafs’ final game of the road trip against the Nashville Predators went particularly predictably. They played what I think was some of their best hockey of the road trip, outshooting the Predators 36-24, but got the hot version of Juuse Saros in net and couldn’t have their penalty kill bail them out for the volume of penalties they took. Oh yeah, former Leaf and noted disliker of attention Ryan O’Reilly scored both regulation goals for Nashville, because of course they did. 
O’Reilly was in the headlines once again today, because it seems like we can’t go more than a month without bringing up the “why did Ryan O’Reilly leave Toronto?” discussion. The answer remains plain and simple – he doesn’t like the spotlight. Some guys can handle it, others can’t. It’s as cut-and-dry as it sounds. 
I don’t really understand why there’s been such a hyper-fixation on his decision to leave the team in free agency compared to others. He was a Leaf for a grand total of 24 games in total, between the post-deadline regular season and the playoffs, and he hails from Clinton, a town about three hours east of Toronto, a little far to tab him with the “Tronna boy” tag. Be that as it may, he rose to the occasion against his former team and scored two goals, both on the power play. Tonight’s game brings him to four goals on the season and six points in eight games so far. 
Anyway, this is supposed to be an article about the game, so let’s talk about that. As I said, the Leafs didn’t really have a bad game from an effort standpoint. But, taking five penalties and allowing two power play goals is never a sustainable strategy when it comes to winning games. And, while they killed off both penalties, taking two too-many-men penalties in the same period is a mistake that just can’t happen.
The Leafs also had some pretty brutal puck luck tonight, with Max Domi, Noah Gregor, and T.J. Brodie all running into issues with the iron. Sounds like an average day on the golf course for me. 
If I can take away one positive from the game, it’s that Ilya Samsonov looked strong in what I’m sure he was hoping would be a bounce-back game for him, following a three-goal, one-save outing against Tampa Bay last Saturday. His .875 save percentage won’t look good on paper, but outside of a weak first goal, he looked much calmer between the pipes. The stat sheet won’t reflect it, but tonight’s game was a steadfast improvement from what he’s delivered so far this year. 
All things considered, a 3-1-1 record on the road trip isn’t the worst outcome, and they’ve seemed to figure things out as a unit quicker than they have in years past, with tonight’s loser point giving them a record of 5-2-1 on the season. They’ll return home on Tuesday to take on the Los Angeles Kings at Scotiabank Arena, no doubt hoping for better fortunes than the last time they played there. 
What’s your knee jerk reaction to tonight’s game? Let us know in the comments below.

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