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Knee Jerk Reaction: Six goals, three broken sticks, and a win for the Leafs

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Photo credit:Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports
Alex Hobson
26 days ago
The Toronto Maple Leafs looked like a hockey team coming off of four days’ rest tonight.
With Mitch Marner out of the lineup, the Leafs were once again forced to run with some unconventional lines. Tyler Bertuzzi got another shot on the top line, this time with Calle Jarnkrok on the right side instead of William Nylander, who was bumped down to the second line with John Tavares and Max Domi. The third line of Bobby McMann, David Kampf, and Matthew Knies stuck together after a solid performance on Sunday against the Montreal Canadiens, and Pontus Holmberg continued to ride shotgun with former Minnesota Wild teammates Ryan Reaves and Connor Dewar.
When you throw the lines into the blender like this, forced to or not, it can go one of two ways – either nobody has any chemistry and the puck resembles a pinball more than a rubber disk, or the team bands together and finds a way to push through the adversity. Tonight, it was the latter.
While Bertuzzi only found his way onto the scoresheet twice, adding a goal and an assist, he probably deserved more than that. At bare minimum, he should have had three points. After opening the scoring for the Leafs, he scored what was probably the filthiest tip-in goal I’ve ever seen, only for it to be disallowed due to a hand pass that had taken place 30 seconds before the goal happened. Rules are rules, but damn, can they ever be lame sometimes.
The disallowed goal would prove to be a moot point for the Leafs, as they’d go on to kill off a penalty and immediately take the third goal back thanks to a long-range shot from Timothy Liljegren. Goal or no goal for Bertuzzi, he had a great game tonight that should leave the Leafs feeling inspired for the outlook of the rest of the season. He’s long been touted as a “playoff-type player”, and if he brings the same type of game in the postseason as he did tonight, it’ll be very easy to forgive his early season woes.
Perhaps the funniest and most chaotic moment of the game was the 15-second-or-so span leading up to Knies’ goal to give the Leafs six on the night. Somehow, three of the Flyers’ five skaters on the ice ended up without their sticks, essentially leaving the Leafs with a cakewalk to their final goal of the game. I don’t see myself being able to explain it any better than a video could, so see it for yourself if you missed it.
How does that even happen?
Unfortunately, the Leafs didn’t escape the game unscathed. Calle Jarnkrok, who missed about a month and a half due to a broken knuckle, went into the boards awkwardly and had to leave the game. While there’s no update as of now on his status, it looked like his shoulder took the brunt of the hit, and if he’s out long-term, it could spell some bad news for their penalty kill.
Nonetheless, the Leafs managed to pull it together for the win, and with some late-game fireworks between Sheldon Keefe and Flyers’ assistant coach Rocky Thompson after the former put his top power play unit on the ice for a late-game power play, it’s only fitting that the two teams will meet again next week, with John Tortorella back behind the bench no less. Stay tuned.

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