Hello out there; we're on the air. It's recap time tonight.
Surprisingly, a blog that follows a team in the Eastern time zone largely consists of individuals who live in said time zone. As the lone west coaster on the masthead, you are unfortunately stuck with my garbled thoughts for a game recap. I plan on adopting the Arvind-Fulemin school of recapping, where I present my rapid fire thoughts in real time and turning it somehow into a coherent recap. So, let's do this!
-The Leafs visit the Edmonton Oilers for the first time in Rogers Place, their new arena. For those who did not know Rexall Place, it was a decrepit old donut-shaped building that was still somehow very easy to get lost in. Its crumbling infrastructure and lack of updates since the 1980s is reminiscent of Edmonton as a whole. Rogers Place, while appearing state-of-the-art, costs taxpayer dollars out the wazoo and is serviced by public transit that takes way too long to get anywhere. It is actually quite emblematic of the Oilers rebuild.
-For those of you not in the Leafs region, I hope you watch this game on TSN4. The Oilers play-by-play man is a human insomnia cure in stark contrast to the always-excellent TSN crew, but that's not the only reason. You may have gathered Rogers- which owns Sportsnet- has the naming rights to Edmonton's new arena. It therefore is no surprise that all Oilers home broadcasts (which are on Sportsnet West) serve as an hours-long infomercial for the new arena.
-The Leafs won their last matchup against Edmonton, a 3-2 OT victory in Toronto. Nazem Kadri's coverage of Connor McDavid was a big reason for that win, but I have to wonder if he can be equally as effective tonight. The Leafs are 8-3-0 at home, but only 1-5-4 on the road. There are many reasons for that- randomness, back-to-backs, and early season goaltending among them- but one that sticks out is Babcock's ability to line-match with last change. Kadri has been most effective at home, where incessant line-matching has allowed him to prevent the other team's best players from being their best players. If McDavid has a good night, it's because the Oilers could get him away from Kadri's line long enough to do some damage.
-Auston Matthews gets a penalty on McDavid. Ironically, it started with McDavid using the exact same shove on Matthews before the penalty that Kadri used on him to score the OT winner in the last game.
-Milan Lucic takes a comically bad penalty, interfering with Roman Polak because any time you have to get Polak out of a play....you do it?
-RNH wide open shot and....ping! Still 0-0.
-GOOOOOOOOOOOALLLLL! Auston Matthews on a beautiful pass from Nylander. Nylander threaded it past two Oilers and it's a perfect setup play. Leafs lead 1-0.
-This, by the way, is the third road game in which Matthews has opened the scoring. The last two? Well......look, it's not important, okay?!
-Jake Gardiner and Connor Carrick getting just a little bit embarrassed by the fourth line, but luckily for them, it doesn't burn them.
-Connor McDavid draws a penalty on Nazem Kadri....*coughs* make up call *coughs*.
-The Leafs bench chirping McDavid, presumably reminding him that one ping pong ball bounces a different way and he could play for a team of winners.
-Somehow the Leafs kill the penalty despite spending a full 1:20 of the kill in full "Yakety Sax" shooting gallery mode. This is what happens when you have Matt Hunwick and Ben Smith as half your skaters, I guess.
-Dudes....seriously? How do you keep letting the Oilers fourth line make bacon and eggs in your kitchen?
-Leafs struggle on 4-on-4 and Andersen straight up robs the Oilers with his glove.
-Leafs outplayed for broad swaths of the 1st, but they're ahead where it counts: on the scoreboard. Also, our hearts. But mainly the scoreboard. 1-0 after 1.
-Leafs goal! This time Jesse Puljujarvi turns over the puck on a 1-on-4, and the Leafs get it to James van Riemsdyk in all alone in the crease. He's stopped once by Cam Talbot, but cashes in his own rebound. 2-0 good guys.
-Oilers get one back as noted offensive dynamo Andrej Sekera blasts a point shot on an assist from other offensive dynamo Kris Russell. 2-1 Leafs now.
-On further review, looks like Komarov's stick deflected it. Silly Oilers; need the Leafs to score goals *for* them.
-Nazem Kadri goal! Restores the two-goal lead by catching a Komarov pass wide open with tons of net to shoot at. Komarov redeems his earlier stickwork as McDavid's daddy makes it 3-1 Leafs.
-Tyler Bozak gets a penalty for......well, I'm not even sure what. I'm stuck watching SN West (I know) and they don't really show what caused the penalty. Leafs kill it in any event.
-Speaking of SN West, two Leaf goals in the period before a TV timeout and one Oilers goal. I'll let you guess which post-goal celebration they show. You'll never guess!
-The "Hunlak" pairing gets absolutely crushed in their own zone and Frederik Andersen has to make a five-alarm save to bail them out. This is a recording.
-Powerplay! Except Kadri decides to go full projectile and launch into Adam Larsson, which negates it. Appreciate the enthusiasm, but....
-And it's an Oilers 5-on-3 now. Hoo boy....
-Somehow the Leafs kill it off because of a save by Andersen I can only describe as "that time when you're playing a video game and blindly mashing buttons with your eyes closed, hoping for the best." Get that man a beer.
-Zach Hyman! the Thrill from Forest Hill catches a rebound and fires an absolute laser past Talbot for the 4-1 Leafs lead.
-It is 4-1. God help us all.
-Oh goody; Mark Spector is on this intermission panel.
-MONSTER TIME BABY! Jonas Gustavsson now in the net for the Oilers.
-Sigh....Connor McDavid is given enough space to do Connor McDavid things, and the Leafs lead is down to 4-2.
-Seriously, what a goal. Can't even be mad about that, even if it was at the Leafs' expense. It's a beautiful goal.
-Mitch Marner gets very much interfered with at the blue line, and Roman Polak gets hit in the face by Zack Kassian. Uhh, we gonna get a call in the third, or nah? Okay.
-McDavid.....got a penalty? Okay, fine; I take back everything mean I said about you zebras.
-Tyler Bozak with a wiiiiiiiide open net and he misses it. Gustavsson is totally gonna shut us out, isn't he?
-Oh good god, the fourth line is having a brutal night. Hemmed in the zone for a long shift.
-Yes, hello; we've had many icings and my blood pressure would appreciate it if you could have the clock run a lot without the Oilers scoring now.
-Zach Hyman, who is having himself a period, is foiled on an open net shot by Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, but a powerplay does come out of it.
-Leafs win 4-2! Never in doubt! *stops huffing into paper bag relentlessly*
-Frederik Andersen had an incredible night. He weathered some storms when he needed to, especially on the powerplay, and turned away 28 of 30. It's hard to blame him for the two goals he allowed; one was a fluke deflection, the other was just an incredible display of skill from Connor McDavid.
-Aside from Andersen, the Leaf that impressed me the most was Hyman. He had one bullet of a goal in the 2nd, but had three excellent scoring chances in the 3rd. It was without a doubt his best offensive performance of the season.
-A thing I noticed about Jake Gardiner early on in the season is that he would sometimes try to make risky plays with the puck when the situation really didn't warrant it. His puck management was absolutely excellent tonight; every time it was on his stick, he made a safe- but offensively beneficial- move.
-Our fourth line stunk. Absolutely stunk. I know people beat up on Ben Smith and Hunlak ad nauseam, but this was undoubtedly their worst game in my books.
-Aside from the obvious choice in McDavid, the Oiler that impressed me the most: Drake Caggiula. I've never seen him play before, but he had some absolutely amazing scoring chances tonight.
-The real winners tonight? NBCSN; one goal each from the two players that compelled the network to nationally broadcast a Toronto-Edmonton game in the United States.
-Second road win; didn't blow a lead. Feels good, man. Feels good.
Fun Fact of the Night
We might have been over this but imagine watching #4 on your team turn from Taylor Hall to Kris Russell.— Chemmy (@felixpotvin) November 30, 2016
First Chemmy, indeed.