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The excitement of this game was all because of the war between the two men guarding the net. Frederick Andersen and Henrik Lundqvist had a game tonight. The Leafs lose the game in the shootout as Andersen lets both shootout goals in. Can’t hang this game on him though. The Rangers dominated most of the game and Andersen kept them in it. For the brief periods that the Leafs started to pick up some steam, Lundqvist kept them in it. Unfortunate to leave a point on the table however, everything matters. Although the Leafs blew the 1-0 lead they had the majority of the game in the third period, the only thing to have a problem with is the same problem they’ve had all season.
Marchenko was very steady in his first game with the Leafs. Whenever Gardnier would move jump up in the zone to generate offence, Marchenko would be parked right at the blue line as support. If there was such thing as a third assist in the NHL, he would’ve gotten it from Brown’s goal. After maintaining possession in the offensive zone, he sends a rocket of a pass to Gardnier who shoots it on net. Lundqvist initially saves the tip by Bozak (the only meaningful thing Bozak did all game, at least JVR was better) but can’t stop Brown’s shot off the rebound. Marchenko was responsible enough all game to get some penalty kill time from Babcock. He knows how and when to make a first pass to a forward, is responsible on the blue line, and blocks shots. Connor Carrick should be sweating a bit, he may have lost his defence partner.
The Goat has been more noticeable ever since his call up earlier this week. Not just because of his size on the ice, but due to the plays that he was making. In the second period, Gauthier breaks out of the defensive zone and gets through 2 Rangers players in the neutral zone. Soshnikov may have made it 2-0 after the feed the Goat sends him but he whiffed on the shot. Later in the period, Gauthier generated another scoring chance by driving towards the net knocking down Lundqvist in the process. The Goat is a young player and still has much to improve on, but to witness his progress in the NHL when so many had him written off as a bust is beneficial for the team.
After scoring his goal in the first period, Connor Brown became the fourth Leaf rookie with at least 15 goals this season. The play of these younger players has been impressive to say the least. Most teams would kill to have younger players contribute as much as these rookies do. Now if Hyman is able to get 7 more goals the Leafs we’ll have 5.
Did the Leafs actually have a power play this game? Every man advantage the Leafs have had led to turnovers in the defensive zone and Rangers pressure. New York had at least four quality scoring chances short-handed, two of them by Michael Grabner (ironic I know). Some would say that it is due to the speed of the Rangers’ power play, and they would be right. However, the Leafs were also having a lot of mental lapses. The power play is one of the reasons why the Leafs’ are in the position they are in now. It has to be better down the stretch as the games get tougher. Speaking of slumping power plays, did you know the Rangers have just one power play goal in their last twenty-two chances? Yikes, maybe criticizing the Leafs’ struggles in this game is a little premature.
Although they were down the majority of the game, Lundqvist on the other side of the ice was able to keep his team in it as well making 32 saves. Some of those beauties included the Komorov and Matthews breakaways. In this game, Freddie was nothing short of excellent. Every scoring chance that came his way was stopped keeping the game at 1-0. Grabner had an automatic goal shorthanded in the first period, and Andersen came across making the left pad save. In the second, a streaking Brandon Piri was able to send a shot in on the backhand and Andersen was able to stop that. His strong play continued in OT as the Leafs continued to make defensive mistakes and turn the puck over. Would you have liked him to make some of those saves in the shootout? Sure, but the Leafs get no where near to that point in the game if it wasn’t for Andersen.
What do you think?
Did Marchenko play well enough to solidify a spot on the team? If so, what do the Leafs do with Connor Carrick? Are you deadest on the idea of Andersen being a number one goaltender in the league? Leave a comment down below and let me know what you think.