Revitalizing the Leafs-Sens Ontarian rivalry, one upset at a time
Photo credit:Marc DesRosiers-USA TODAY Sports
By Ryan Hobart1 year ago
In the first Toronto versus Ottawa matchup of this rivalry hotbed, all Canadian division matchup season, we saw a frustrating battle against a pesky Senators team that is aiming to prove everyone they’re not going to lie down easily this season.
After the Leafs got out to a good start, pressuring the Senators well, they were able to capitalize on this incredible skill play from Zach Hyman to get on the board first:
The Senators were quick to respond, though, as Toronto went down two players short in a long 5-on-3 opportunity for Ottawa that they didn’t need long to make the most of:
Appearing to not be willing to let the Senators embarass them, Kerfoot takes this 200-IQ shot to put the Leafs back on top in this contest:
The lead didn’t last long for Toronto though as the third-best NHL Tkachuk is able to tip a Nikita Zaitsev shot past Andersen to make it a tie game again:
After that, the Senators added two more, making it 4-2 Ottawa, with goals from alleged domestic abuser Austin Watson, and this one from Chris Tierney on a mess in front of the net:
Heading into the third period, things looked desperate for Toronto, with a healthy lead for an opponent they should be dominating. It only got worse, as Brodie gives up an icing, then gives up the puck behind the net, and then a whiffed puck from Batherson is tucked in by Stepan at the side of the net:
But then, just as things couldn’t get any worse, whatever spirt possessed the team in Game 4 against Columbus in the play-ins of the 2020 playoffs, Tavares takes the captaincy on his shirt to its best with a great powerplay sniped goal:
We even brought the summoning circles out:
But it was to no avail, I’m afraid. The surge ended with John Tavares, and the Leafs walked away with a disappointing loss.
As I swallow the fact that the Leafs lost to the Senators, after narrowly defeating the Canadiens in overtime, there are certainly some kinks to work out here. In the early goings, with a healthy number of new faces on the ice and behind the bench, there’s a lot of potential for increased cohesion as the season goes on.
However, as the broadcast alluded to, this game highlighted (or lowlighted, as you may) a lot of similar issues the Leafs had last year: a lack of punch when the game was on the line. There’s no one around hockey that would doubt that Toronto has the talent to win this division, or even the Cup, but the urgency that they need they so obviously lack.
Most Valuable Leaf
It’s so hard to pick just one…. in seriousness, the team was terrible tonight in so many facets that it feels wrong to award this to anyone. Kicking off the comeback that went nowhere, I’ll award this night’s Most Valuable Leaf to John Tavares
Least Valuable Leaf
The obvious pick here is Frederik Andersen, and I’m not looking to surprise anyone here, so that’s the direction I’ll go. Frederik Andersen. Least valuable Leaf.
Tweet of the night
The tweet of the night tonight goes to the only positive thing to come out of tonight: Leafs Money on the Board. Put your pledges in and get donating. Charity generates dopamine and serotonin, which I’m sure we’re all lacking right now.
Well, we’re going for round 2 of 10 tomorrow night with a back-to-back contest against the Senators again. Ottawa has proven to be an actual NHL team, which has been in doubt in years past, but the Leafs will aim to prove that they’re the superior NHL team tomorrow.
Same time, same team. See you all there and go Leafs go!
Some fun things from Evolving Hockey and Natural Stat Trick, for your perusal, presented without further comment.
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