Tonight the San Jose Sharks made their only trip to Toronto for the season.
They were losing the game 2-0.
Then they won the game.
The score was 3-2 in a shoot out.
Leafs goal #1:
Leafs goal #2:
No one cares about the stupid Sharks goals.
Thank you for reading.
It’s what we all need more of. Not just as hockey fans but as people in general.
But especially as hockey fans.
Yes, the Toronto Maple Leafs are rebuilding, we all know that. I don’t think anyone is calling for a rush to the playoffs this year, but patience is the most important word we need to remember.
The Maple Leafs were taking on the Stanley Cup runners up, the San Jose Sharks. Joe Thornton, Patrick Marleau, Joe Pavelski, Brent Burns, Logan Couture, Martin Jones.
A team with two or more hall of famers, a team that challenged the Pittsburgh Penguins right into June, a team people are calling for to go deep this year as well.
A team the rebuilding Toronto Maple Leafs almost beat.
The Maple Leafs didn’t give the Sharks much room offensively for most of this game. A lot of the Sharks entries into the offensive zones were chip ins, dumps, or rushes along the boards. The Leafs kept the centre lane clear for a good chunk of this game. The defensive game from Toronto was working quite well.
One thing to remember is a large amount of this game was spent on special team. Six San Jose power plays. Logan Couture sneaking around the PK defenders a lot. The Penalty Kill for the Leafs was very, very good tonight. The Sharks power play was fast. Whipping the puck around in an attempt to play three card monty with the defenders, but for the majority of the time the Leafs were keeping up with the Sharknanigans.
To contrast, the Leafs had five power play opportunities and their PP was slow, methodical. Patient.
Holding the puck, passing to the open man. Pass. Hold. Pass. Hold. Pass-SHOOT. The method worked once, for Auston Matthews, as he scored the Leafs second goal of the night.
To give credit where credit is due, the San Jose Sharks are an amazing team. The tenacity and hockey knowledge on this team was well utilized in the final half of the third period this game. A fast passing fast shooting team who seemed to play possum for fifty minutes gave Leafs fans one hell of a show tonight.
The Sharks ability to change their style from period to period to find a way to play that works was their advantage, and one the Leafs new core will develop as they gain their NHL experience.
Morgan Rielly scored a goal against Martin Jones that was waved off, with Nazem Kadri getting the call for goaltender interference. Was this the right call though? Jones didn’t even flinch when Kadri supposedly bumped him. Were the Leafs screwed out of a win by this call? Was Kadri unfairly voted against because of his reputation? Did Babcock make a mistake by challenging the goal and not the penalty call?
Maybe yes to all of of that, but it’s out of our control.
A bright side to tonight's game was the play of Frederik Andersen. There to make a quick save, a dive across the crease, or hold tight to the post, Andersen was exactly where the Leafs needed him 40 times tonight. A weird backhand fake pass from Justin Braun, and a quick off the faceoff shot from Joe Pavelski on the PP in the last ten minutes of the game were all the Sharks needed however.
Another plus is the patience the Leafs young forwards use. They aren’t kids all hyped up to be in the NHL. On Morgan Riellys disallowed goal, Connor Brown comes into the Sharks zone and holds that puck, waits for the right moment before shooting it to his open man.
To contrast this Zach Hyman breaks out shorthanded and rushes to the net, but seems to panic and try to slide it five hole on Martin Jones.
Later on Nazem Kadri waits, and waits, and waits with that puck before passing to Leo Komarov who just misses on a game winning goal.
They’re a growing team, and yes they do love to give up leads this year, but there’s no rush to the cup this year. Build the core, find the gaps, find a way to plug them. These Maple Leafs know how to use patience to their advantage.
Now we need to keep remembering to use it ourselves.