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Leafs Terrible Roster Embarrasses Canucks Terrible Management - Game Recap

The Leafs played a dominating game against a team that is ostensibly trying to win.

Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports

Welcome to the game recap. For those who haven't seen one of my recaps, I tend to just write down notes as the game progresses, and publish them here. I've gotten good feedback on it (please continue to suggest improvements, by the way), and it lets me be lazy, so really, it's a win-win. So without further ado, lets get into it

First Period

  • The pregame had Nick Kypreos teaching Charles Barkley how to shoot a hockey puck. He did better than I thought he would, to be honest. Especially for a guy who's spent most of his life in the South, and probably had never held a hockey stick until that moment.
  • Tonight,  the Leafs are playing the only team that could manage to have the Sedins and still be incredibly hate-able.
  • This is the first game recap I'm doing with my fancy new dual monitor setup. Unfortunately, my keyboard is horrendous, so this is going to be really annoying.
  • The Canucks are wearing one of the 35 hideous jerseys from their past.
  • The Canucks are also honouring their 95/96 team, which I'm not really going to snark on, because as a Leafs fan, I'm used to honouring teams that didn't end up winning anything.
  • Trevor Linden gets the loudest cheers, as the crowd is apparently unaware he hired Jim Benning.
  • Sending Matt Hunwick out for ceremonial draws says a lot about the state of the Leafs roster.
  • I love it when crowds sing the anthems.
  • The sound on my TV cut out here. I'm not complaining.
  • Pretty sizable Leafs contingent in the crowd.
  • Early on, Rielly blows an easy pass and gives up an icing. For a skilled guy, he's a surprisingly mediocre passer.
  • Dan Hamhuis is recently making a return from a broken jaw. That seems like a disgustingly painful injury.
  • By the way, I blew off dinner plans with a friend to recap this game - not sure how smart a decision that was.
  • Brendan Leipsic is making his debut today.
  • Derek Dorsett takes a penalty for starting a scrum after Reimer had frozen the puck. Kind of a soft call, IMO, but the refs might just be trying to establish a line early.
  • Komarov hits everything but the back of the net after coming off the bench, and it leads to a 2 on 1 the other way. Rielly with a nice defensive play to deflect the shot from Burrows.
  • I'm generally not a fan of saying (good AHL team) would beat (bad NHL team), but I don't think it's a question that the Marlies PP has more skilled forwards than the Leafs PP.
  • Power play expires with little incident.
  • On the shift after the PP, Polak pokes the puck directly into the slot, and Reimer is forced to make an excellent save against Vrbata.
  • Another penalty against the Canucks, as Matt Bartowski interferes with Parenteau.
  • A Corrado point shot leads to a couple rebound opportunities for Leipsic and Komarov. Miller stands tall and keeps it out.
  • Not that it should be surprising, as the Leafs are a decent possession team and Vancouver is garbage, but the Leafs have started well.
  • That disgusting Chevrolet commercial lionizing grart and character for the future of Team Canada is everything that's wrong with attitudes about hockey here.
  • Jake Virtanen is a microcosm of how bad Vancouver's scouting/drafting is. He's a perfectly fine player, but taking him that early, with the talent that was still on the board was bizarre.
  • The Sedins work their magic and Polak takes a penalty.
  • The Leafs are protecting their blueline well on this penalty kill. The Canucks are basically just passing it about in the neutral zone, and they eventually have to dump the puck in.
  • Vancouver finally gets set up, and some good puck and player movement has the Leafs scrambling. They're unable to take advantage though, due to some good shot blocks.
  • Dueling Leafs and Canucks chants in the crowd.
  • Marincin makes one of those quietly effective plays to dance around a forechecker and move the puck out of the zone, with about 2 minutes left in the first. I might be the biggest Marincin fanboy in the world. I'm telling you, he's legitimately good.
  • As an aside, I feel like I missed the meeting where we decided to refer to Rich Clune as 'Clube'. He's playing, by the way.
  • Toronto's 4th line dominates Vancouver, with a solid 30 seconds of zone time, culminating in a great chance by Winnik that Miller saves. He's turning back the clock to 2010.
  • Great first period by the Leafs. Winning the battle everywhere but on the scoreboard.
  • Seriously, Babcock is a goddamn wizard. This team is GARBAGE, and they're carrying play against a real, legit, trying-to-win NHL team. Leipsic was also quite active, and Arcobello is playing like he never wants to see Ricoh again. Greening has been fairly active too.
Second Period

  • Gardiner opens the period by noticing the Canucks employ Luca Sbisa, and immediately jumping into the rush and leading to some zone pressure for the Leafs.
  • Lines seem to be juggled slightly, at least among the forwards. It doesn't help that half the team is newly called up or acquired.
  • Daniel Sedin wires a wrister off the bar and in after a botched clearance from Grabner. Leafs down 1-0, against the run of play.
  • Mark Arcobello making me look good for saying he's a solid NHLer, as he pounces on a turnover and fires a shot by Miller (of a nice screen from PAP). 1-1.
  • The Leafs make it 2-1 immediately, and it's Arcobello again. Gardiner drives the net off a won faceoff, and Arcobello taps it into the yawning cage. Leafs fans in full force now.
  • I'm telling you guys, Arco is legit.
  • For all the time Rielly spent on Franson's defense pair, you'd think he'd have learned how to shoot. It's probably his biggest offensive weakness, where he's otherwise pretty phenomenal.
  • Hunwick falls down and is slow to get up. He looks quite woozy, and the Leafs need another defenseman injury like they need a hole in their head.
  • Clune suckers Dorsett into dropping the gloves, but doesn't do the same - smart play from him. Dorsett takes his second dumb penalty of the game.
  • Jannik Hansen takes an unnecessary penalty to put the Leafs on a 5 on 3.
  • The Leafs apparently haven't scored a 5 on 3 goal his season, which is pretty pathetic now that I think about it.
  • They don't do so either, but generate a ton of shots, including a post or two. Miller keeping the Canucks in it.
  • Both penalties expire without any change to the scoreline.
  • Seriously, the Canucks should be ashamed of this performance.
  • Leipsic gets a partial break, but as the play goes the other way, he slashes Bartowski. PP for the Canucks.
  • The Canucks have had no control on the PP, and when they manage to gain the zone, they compromise their position to do it, and allow the Leafs to clear the second they get the puck.
  • Gardiner has been masterful this game - has displayed a lot of poise and confidence with the puck.
  • Greening hasn't looked too bad to my eye this game. Granted, he's playing with good teammates (as far as Leafs go) - Parenteau and Arcobello.
  • Alex Burrows is being a POS as always, unnecessarily punching Corrado away from the play. Both go to the penalty box.
  • Gotta be honest - I haven't found the HNIC crew that grating tonight.
  • Leo Komarov does the impossible and gets Henrik Sedin to fight. God, Komarov must be so annoying to play against. This was preceded by the two of them wrestling for a good 10-15 seconds away from the play.
  • Everyone jumps in, but Sedin and Komarov are the only ones who go to the box. I'll make that trade any day.
  • Even when the Canucks have zone time, they only convert it to one or two shots. The Leafs are keeping them to the outside and pressuring every puck carrier, forcing Vancouver to scramble.
  • Meanwhile, the Leafs are generally able to reset the puck and give it to the point men, who are mobile enough to cause issues when given room (Gardiner and Rielly especially).
  • The Canucks get a couple solid shots in the last few minutes of the period, but Reimer stonewalls them.
  • The Leafs have another excellent period overall, and it's made even more interesting to me by the fact that the Leafs lines have been rotating all night. Aside from Grabner - Holland - Komarov, I feel like every other line has been tinkered with.
Third Period

  • Looks like Vrbata has moved to the Sedin line for the Canucks.
  • Polak takes a penalty after failing to keep the puck in the offensive zone. Vancouver's PP has been pretty toothless tonight, so I expect them to score now.
  • Nope, still toothless.
  • LEIPSIC SCORES!!!! And a great goal at that. Always good to see this. A Clune point shot hits Bartowski's back, and Leipsic channels Josh Donaldson to knock it into the net out of the air. If that didn't put a smile on your face as a Leafs fan, you need to get a heart.
  • That play arose from a botched breakout pass from Bartowski. Either the forward skated too low, or Bartowski just missed him.
  • Frank Corrado lays a nice hit into Linden Vey - that probably felt nice.
  • Nick Spaling shows signs of life and gets a free shot from the slot after a feed from Greening (after nice board work). Miller, who has been brilliant all night, saves it once again. Spaling immediately gets a tap in chance, but in true Spaling fashion, he doesn't convert.
  • Roman Polak saves a goal, as the Canucks capitalize on sloppy defensive zone play from the Leafs.
  • Healy harps on ridiculous things, but he's got a point at the lack of usage of the Sedins in critical offensive zone starts in today's game.
  • Right on cue, the Sedins are used for a faceoff in the Leafs zone after a TV timeout. Nothing comes of it.
  • Leafs are moving the puck out at the earliest opportunity for the most part. Their defensive structure has been really sound, and there hasn't been too much sloppiness on their end. Been a very good defensive zone display in that regard - it helps that the Canucks have rarely pinched and seem to be conceding a lot of these zone exits.
  • Leafs forecheck has also made it hard for the Canucks to leave their zone with speed, even when it doesn't cause a turnover. It indirectly leads to a lot of dump-ins and failed carries.
  • With the goaltender pulled, the Canucks get a goal from Sven Baertschi (hopefully I spelled that right). 1:47 for the Leafs to kill off to get a deserved win from a game they dominated.
  • Shortly after, Brad Boyes fires the puck into an empty net. 4-2 Leafs, this one is in the bag.
  • Leo Komarov pads his stats with another empty netter (which Holland hilariously tries to steal).

Some closing thoughts:

  • Jake Gardiner is phenomenal.
  • Basically every Leaf had a decent game. This was a dominant display, and the fact that the MarLeafs can do this to an NHL team (granted, a bad one) is stunning.
  • The Canucks should be totally ashamed - how they let a team with a better IR than top line come into their house and punk them like this is beyond me.
  • Arcobello had a great game, and Leipsic did too, even beyond his goal. Very exciting, and hopefully, he can become a useful piece for the Leafs going forward, most likely in a middle six role.
Overall, great game from the Leafs, and I don't regret blowing off my friend. Everyone wins (except Vancouver). Just the way it should be.