Knee Jerk Reaction: Ryan Reaves scored and they still lost

Photo credit:Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports
Alex Hobson
7 months ago
I was so ready to come into this article finally giving Ryan Reaves credit for positively contributing to a Toronto Maple Leafs win. It looked like a sure thing after he scored an insurance goal to make it 3-1. 
But, as the Leafs have shown in the past, the concept of maintaining a lead is something they still battle with a little too frequently. And, it especially hurts when it happens against a team gunning for another draft lottery in the Chicago Blackhawks.
With Calle Jarnkrok heading into tonight’s tilt a game-time decision, Ryan Reaves was skating on the fourth line with Bobby McMann and David Kampf today. But, when Jarnkrok was deemed good to go ahead of puck drop, it was McMann who was scratched rather than Reaves. A bit of a puzzling decision at the time considering the Leafs’ undefeated record since the former started skating on the fourth line with the latter on the bench. 
But, to be completely honest, Reaves made me eat my words, He obviously scored his goal, but the fourth line itself looked playable with him on it for the first time this season. They weren’t dominated on the ice as they usually are, and regardless of where you think the bar should be, it was more than I came to expect from him after sitting for two weeks straight. The line was on for the second goal against, but that one was more on William Lagesson for his giveaway right out front and Ilya Samsonov for not reacting to the puck in time. 
Either way, the point about Reaves’ goal is moot now. The Leafs had a 3-1 lead, and for one reason or another, couldn’t seal the deal. The best way I can describe it is that if you missed the game, it’s probably easier just to cut your losses and accept that you missed it because realistically there were too many stupid occurrences to count. 
Between the team’s 5000th bench minor of the season (I don’t know the exact number, but that’s what it feels like), the Blackhawks getting a power play after Noah Gregor responded to Boris Katchouk putting the puck in the Leafs’ net after the whistle, William Nylander going post-crossbar-post (how does that happen?) in overtime to miss out on extending his season-opening point streak to eight games, and a Blackhawks overtime winner caused by a puck bouncing off the glass, on top of the net, and right into Kevin Korchinski’s lap, it was truly a comedy of errors both brought on by the team themselves and dumb luck in general. 

Other thoughts: 

  • Max Domi is doing pretty much everything except scoring goals at this point. His two assists tonight bring him up to 11 in 18 games on the season, and he showed off his talents with a filthy saucer pass to Nick Robertson to open the scoring. He also channelled his Dad’s mean streak again, taking matters into his own hands against 6-foot-4 Katchouk after taking a hit from him behind the net. The goals will come once he gets the monkey off his back 
  • It was disappointing to see Samsonov struggle the way he did tonight. He’s had flashes of the goaltender he was last season, as seen in his last two starts, and while not every goal was directly his fault, each one was stoppable. If the Leafs get a couple of extra saves there, the game probably ends much differently. 
  • Matthews and Marner weren’t good enough tonight, and frankly haven’t been lately. It seems like every year, the two of them struggle to find consistency together before Keefe swaps Marner with Nylander. Then, each player finds their game again and they eventually go back to the original combinations. It might be time to consider making this swap soon.

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