Leafs third period push isn’t enough to get them the win tonight against the Sabres. Every pre-game Babcock says the same thing, “We have to start on time here”, and they don’t. Leafs go down 3 goals in the first period and then decide to start playing later on but too little too late. With the milestone of JVR’s 500th career game, I was hoping he’d get the game winner but I guess we can’t have our TV show ending to games. He got in a “nice” tussle with Ristolainen though, that’s still good right? Maybe next time some fists will connect. Anyway, these are the games that the Leafs need to have as the standings get tighter.
Evander Kane had his offence going for him putting two in the back of the net for the Sabres (his 16th and 17th). Good for him to get his team the lead as with the tightness of the standings, Buffalo is probably looking to make a push for the playoffs. Lehner had a stellar performance as well despite the juicy eye opening rebounds he was letting out. Made some key saves for his team to keep the play going in the third period. There was that one moment where Lehner got driven into the net and there were some opportunities but save for that nothing else went in. Just a side note, was the review really necessary there?
Who honestly thought that Marner was going to be this good? We all (or most of us) know of how well he played in London last year but it’s amazing that his game translated to this level. Size is defiantly not a factor for Marner. His play the entire game was not just driving his line but the entire team. His PP wrap around goal sparked the club to start picking up the pace (thanks for the assist there Ristolainen).
It took the Leafs almost 10 minutes to get their first shot on net. How? Honestly how? At this point of the game I as well as many Leafs fans know what this team is. We know they can play better and we know they can start better. Hmm starting to sound like Babcock there. I’m sitting watching the game and as I think to myself, “They’ve been playing so well lately”, Kane decides to throw that statement out the window. A face-off win by Eichel leads to Kane’s first of two in the game triggering the beginning of the end for the Leafs in this game.
All these potential injuries are starting to freak me out. Marner gets hit by a shot in the Islander game and has a mini pain spasm on the bench. In this game, Rielly gets hit by a shot off the hand and I stand up and scream, “NO”! After that 6 game stretch of Rielly not being in the lineup, I’d rather not have to experience that again. If that happens again then I guess Marchenko can make his debut with the Leafs. Only Marchenko. There should be no other option. What’s that? We have another left shot in the press box? What are you talking about?! There is no one else there.
The Leafs have made history again. Marner’s powerplay goal assisted by Zaitsev puts the grand total of points by a rookie at 208. That’s insane. This speaks to the importance of these players on the team. I think we need to stop looking at them as rookies. It’s because of these them (Matthews, Marner, Nylander, Brown, Hyman, Carrick, Zaitsev, and briefly Freddie “The Goat” Gauthier) that we are in the position that we are in now (Ya Andersen too I know). If only they play a full 60 consistently…and stop losing to divisional rivals…especially rivals that we should beat…all will be fine and dandy.