Latest posts by Omar White (see all)
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Are we all ok after that? Good, because we have a game to talk about. Let’s just establish this now. The Leafs have had a knack of riding defensive roller coasters this season. Sometimes they play strong, sometimes times they don’t. Tonight’s rollercoaster was a tad different. Not only were there defensive lapses, but there were also lead changes. And I’m not talking about one or two, there were several. Leafs get the lead, Jets tie it. Jets get the lead, Leafs tie it. Watching the game was entertaining and at the same time stressful. It had it all: fights, plays, goals, stars, particular stars, Matthews and Laine, 3 assists and 2 goals respectively. The Leafs are now back in the Atlantic Division spot with this win. The atmosphere is there, the team is buzzing, let’s get the next one.
A couple of good things happened in this game. Leafs were on the other side of the “ugly early goal”. Leivo grabs a loose puck picked up by Komorov who sends it to the net which squeezes through Hellebuyck. Josh Leivo also held the puck off the half boards and send it to streaking Kadri to the net. With the hands of a surgeon, he send it off his backhand into the net for his 25th of the season. After being called up this morning, The Goat had a decent game as well. Babcock was using him on the PK and for critical defensive zone face-offs. At one point in the second, he and Soshnikov were generating some energy down low. He almost scored by taking the puck behind the net and going for the wrap around. I know Babcock said that Smith is just getting a breather.
Nkolaj Ehlers gets himself back on the score board for his 20th of the season. Ironically, this started all the hoopla that continued for the rest of the game. Ok it was actually the Kadri hit on Chris Thorburn minutes before. Not only are we provided with a goal scoring roller coaster, but we have a WWE style main event. Ladies and gentlemen: Matt Martin vs Dustin Byfuglien. The grit and intensity of the game was at a next level after all of this.
Rielly and Zaitsev got lit up tonight to say the least. The first Winnipeg goal might have been prevented if Zaitsev was a little closer to the shooter. Zaitsev again fails to clear the puck on the penalty kill allowing the Jets to rush the puck to the net to make it 2-1. On the Ehler’s goal, the distance between Rielly and Zaitsev was massive. Because of this, Ehler was left uncovered in front of the net and was able to tip in the puck for the 3-2 lead. Of course, they alone are not to blame for all of the Leafs defensive issues. However, as the team’s top pairing, they must be more aware of what is going on around them.
There were so many penalties in this game. By the end of it all, there were 12 in total. This includes the hooking penalty that Matthews took in the final 25 seconds of the game (yikes). When you think about it, it’s not that surprising. Last year, the Winnipeg Jets were one of the most penalized teams in the league. The Leafs haven’t taken too many penalties lately, however they did go on a stretch of games taking 4+ penalties in each. It was more beneficial for the Leafs who have the top power play in the league being able to convert on 2 of their 5 opportunities. As entertaining as it was to watch all these shorthanded opportunities, management must not have liked it at all.
Among all the energy of the game, there was as injury. The Leafs were running 5 defencemen as Connor Carrick left in the first period due to an upper body injury. The fact that he didn’t return may indicate that he may miss sometime.
The Finnish Ovechkin/ 2nd coming of Teemu Selanne had a game tonight. He completely embodies the Ovechkin comparison, not just because of the goal scoring, but because of how he is treated around the league. How many goals has Ovi scored alone at the top of the circle? It’s like every team forgets that Ovechkin is on the ice. Now Laine had 2 goals tonight (one of which was his 30th). Both of which he was left alone for. Sure Zaitsev was with him for the first but wasn’t close enough to stop it. He is an unbelievable player. Winnipeg got just what they needed in Laine. An elite goal scorer to play with their number 1 centre in Schieffle.
Auston Matthews to Nylander was alive again. Nylander had a solid game tonight save for his turnover in the third period. His skating ability is off the charts, running wild in the offensive zone on the power play to send a beauty of a pass to Komorov for his second of the game. Matthews sets up Nylander’s power play goal with a feed off the boards. Let’s just say he did that on purpose ok? Then at the end of the third period, Leafs fans grab their chairs as Matthews takes a penalty that stretches into OT. After a huge kill, a neutral zone turn over leads to an Auston Matthews feed to Gardnier. And what happens next? He shoots, he scores. Leafs get the W. Auston Matthews gets 3 apples. Autson Matthews cannot be stopped.
What did you think?
How did you feel watching this game? What should the Leafs do with Leivo once Marner is back? Most importantly, how great is it for the Leafs to finally be playing meaningful games again? Let me know with a comment down below.