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Let’s be honest here, there was a significant amount of doubt going into this game. However, all that doubt was for nothing because Leafs win 5-2! The Leafs have faced three solid playoff teams and have come out with five of six points. Incredible! The team has answered any and all challenges they’ve faced lately. That third spot in the Atlantic Division now belongs to them. Tomorrow has all signs of being a trap game but the team is continuing to show the fans why the should not give up. It’s not Fehr to doubt them now (sorry I had to). Keep on beleafing, they’re almost there.
Two words to describe this game: speed and physicality. The Leafs were using their speed all game to get to pucks before the Blue Jackets players could, and Columbus were laying on the hits heavy. In the beginning of the first period, a consequence of that speed occurred as Komorov and Foligno went hard into the boards. Absolute class act by Komorov as he signaled the ref over immediately to stop play. Thankfully, Foligno was okay returning to the game after some time in the dressing room. You could say that Komorov gets rewarded for this later. Weresnki loses the puck down low in his own zone and Kadri capitalizes. Kadri passes it along the front of the net to Komorov who taps it.
Aside from the awesome puns available to Leafs fans now, Fehr being in the line-up was great for the team. He forced a turnover in the first period that allowed Martin to get a shot and was part of another 4th line rush in the second period that went over the net. He along with Carrick were pushing back against the Blue Jackets with hits of their own this game. Carrick’s specifically was something else completely destroying Anderson. Hmm, that doesn’t sound right.
You couldn’t expect the Blue Jackets to sit back all game. The turning point for them came later in the first period. That penalty that they killed preventing the Leafs from getting a single shot changed the game. The Blue Jackets were flying and way more physical after that which continued to the second period. Opening face-off, Jenner lays a huge hit on Komorov to start things off. Back to Jenner again in the Leafs’ zone, he sends the puck down to Dubinsky. The Leafs are caught puck watching and Savard is left wide open and rings it off the cross bar. The second goal started with a hit as well as Werenski takes out Marner. Gagner gets the puck back to Werenski on the point who shoots it. Saad beats out Carrick for position in front of the net and tips the puck to tie it at two.
Polak made a major error in judgement. That hit on Bjorkstrand was huge but not ok. As Bjorkstrand was with the puck along the boards, Polak hit him right between the numbers against the glass. He was on the ice for some time and had to go to the dressing room. Polak got 5 and a game after, which was huge for the Blue Jackets. Torts didn’t seem too happy with it, the words, “You’ve got to give me better than that”, could be heard from the mics. Fortunately, the veterans were able to step up for the Leafs win puck battles and kill the penalty.
Most people are quick to say that William Nylander looks like Leonardo Di Caprio. Whether that’s true or not, Nylander deserves an Oscar for his performance tonight. It’s a foregone conclusion now. When the Leafs are on the power play, this is how they score. Nylander to Matthews and in. Gardnier ends up with the puck at the point and passes it Nylander, good idea. He passes the puck cleanly cross ice to Matthews on the other side who taps it in. Korpisalo initially saves it, but Matthews sticks with the play and puts it in for his 33rd, one goal away from tying the rookie record in goals.
Sure it’s fun to pass and make plays, but Nylander wanted to get in on the goal scoring as well. This goal was 100% hockey karma. Nylander initially heads to the blue line but Savard trips him up a bit and he falls over and then kind of forgets about him. Savard fires the puck in, but Bozak clears it off the back and it slides right in between the two point men. Savard gets caught and Nylander takes off and fires a laser upstairs over Korpisalo to make it 3-2. Four. The Leafs have four 20 goal scorers. On top of that, Nylander ties the rookie record for longest point streak at 9 games.
Here’s another number for you, Kadri has 30 goals. For the first time in his career, Kadri pickets 30 goals. The Leafs have two 30 goal scorers for the first time since the 2013-2014 season, and he only makes $4.5 million. Love this team!
Tweets of the Game
— Adam (@adamLSB) March 23, 2017
— Grant Young 🎸 (@thegrantyoung) March 22, 2017