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Matt Martin, Roman Polak, and the fourth line lead Maple Leafs to win over Drew Doughty’s Kings

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Seriously!

NHL: Florida Panthers at Toronto Maple Leafs
Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Maple Leafs forward Matt Martin (15) and goaltender Frederik Andersen (31) and defenseman Roman Polak (right) celebrate a win over the Florida Panthers at the Air Canada Centre.
John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

The Toronto Maple Leafs played a full 60 minutes of hockey, got solid nights from all four lines and three defense pairs, and ultimately beat the top team in the Western Conference, the Los Angeles Kings, by a score of 3-2.

Matt Martin looked to have had the game of his life. He scored goals, drew penalties, fought some guys, and was strong around the net. Roman Polak was solid in front of Freddy Andersen, and had a relatively quiet game which allowed Andreas Borgman to be a little more dynamic. Last, when James van Riemsdyk, Tyler Bozak, and Mitch Marner were on the ice together, they looked dynamic, confident, and fun to watch.

Here is a running log of my thoughts during each period.

First Period

Two minutes in, Dominic Moore gets hit by #26, and Matt Martin goes after someone on the Kings and tries to fight them. The hit was clean, Moore was not injured or looked hurt in any way, and Martin didn’t take any extra penalties. No harm, no foul. On to some 4-on-4 hockey!

1-0

Dear readers, I know you won’t believe me, but I must tell you because it actually happened. MATT MARTIN scores his first of the year. He tips home a point-shot blast from offensive juggernaut ROMAN POLAK, who officially is a point-per-game player. The secondary assist (lol who cares about secondary assists, anyway) went to fourth liner and general plug, Mitch Marner. I repeat, Matt Martin from Roman Polak and Mitch Marner. What a world.

Polak looks good, eh! The goal was a great addition but he’s really here for his penalty killing ability. What do you mean he took a slashing penalty? Isn’t that ironic. The penalty killers, best among them being Frederik Andersen, do a valiant job and kill off the infraction. The Nazem Kadri line bursts onto the ice and gets the team a scoring chance as well as a penalty! I hope they throw Polak on the power play, he needs the special teams time.

Marner feeds James van Riemsdyk, who is wide open, for a gimme, but JVR is unable to bury it. As he leaves the ice after his shift, James is visibly angry at himself. It’s okay, JVR, the other big, offensive left-winger on the team already has a goal tonight.

Meanwhile, Auston Matthews is a Toronto Maple Leaf.

The Kings have predominantly used the point shot as their primary offensive strategy. The Leafs’ defenders have done a good job at closing the gap between themselves and the shooter. Also, the defenders have been much better at clearing the front of the net, giving Andersen a chance to stop it. The problem comes when the rebound is sitting in front of the crease and the Leafs have to scramble to get it away; that is a place where missed assignments could occur. So far, so good. (I just know I’m speaking too soon, I’m very sorry.)

With a little under three minutes to go in the first, Zach Hyman is working very hard in front of the net, trying to find a rebound that went though Jonathan Quick’s legs. As he spins around, Hyman accidentally shoulder bumps Quick in the head. The goalie is show to get up, but after a Quick breather, he’s ready for the faceoff.

1:11 left to go in the first, Quick is told by the referees that he has to leave the ice in order to undergo NHL concussion protocol. Quick leaves the ice for a solid two seconds before he comes back out and stands in his crease. As the crowd boos, the referees tell Kings Head Coach Darryl Sutter John Stevens that Quick must leave the ice. He obliges. Once play resume, Leo Komarov takes an interference penalty, and Jon Quick comes back on the ice, after never leaving for a quiet room? Okay, then. Bob McKenzie explains in the intermission that the protocol only requires Quick to be off the playing surface for one whistle and going into the quiet room is not mandatory.

Second Period

On the penalty kill, Hyman is hard on the forecheck, killing some time in the offensive zone. He rubs shoulders with ‘forever to be rumoured to be a leaf’ Drew Doughty who grabs him back, and the two players tackle each other to the ice. Hyman is sent to the box for holding, and Doughty goes off for roughing. The coincidental minors keep the teams at 5v4.

Nice move from Dom Moore at the tail end of the power play there! Who told the fourth line that they were allowed to be this dynamic? Babcock better bag-skate them.

Zero hyperbole: Halfway through the game, the Martin-Moore-Marner line has been the most offensively dynamic line of the—oh look Matt Martin is fighting Christian Folin, who fell on top of a scrambling Marner after he lost his stick trying to clear the puck. Solid tilt. Personally, I don’t think Marner needed saving there, Frolin didn’t hurt Mitch in any way, but I like the pro-activeness!

2-0

Tyler Bozak, with Matt Martin in the box, buries a rebound chance created by JVR and Marner, who got a brief promotion back to his old line. Marner’s aggressiveness, JVR’s quick hands, and Bozak’s strength to stay upright long enough to shovel the puck in is all on display on this goal. The goal is a good reminder of what this line can be when all three members are clicking.

2-1

Andersen lets in a pretty weak goal from Adrian Kempe, his first mistake of the night after an otherwise stellar performance. Nylander was the player who lost Trevor Lewis, leaving Jake Gardiner to try and cover both he and Kempe. The defense should have been more solid, but Freddy should have had that 10 times out of 10. In other news, Matt Martin has left the ice, so that should be the last goal the Leafs let in.

Third Period

The final period begins with the Maple Leafs on the power play. The JVR-Bozak-Marner line finally looks like they have hit their stride tonight. Their passes between each other are crisp, they move and space out so that they are always there to support the player with the puck, and Mitch Marner finally looks like the dynamic, tenacious, and dangerous player we all know he can be.

3-1

A minute later, Martin gets tangled up with Frolin again and Martin falls into Quick. Marner, who has the puck the entire time, sees the play and moves towards the net. Quick is able to get up and overreact to Marner’s move. Marner’s deke leaves Quick well out of the net as he pots the puck in the net. Hopefully the GIFs below can give a better idea of what happened than I can.

2-1

The goal is immediately waived off for goaltender interference. The call is questionable because it appears that Quick had plenty of time to recover from falling down. After a review, the play is still deemed illegal and the goal is taken off the scoreboard.

What do you think of the call? Let me know in the comments!

3-1

This time, Patrick Marleau tips in a shot from Morgan Rielly, giving the Leafs back the two-goal lead only one shift later than they originally thought. The play was reviewed for a high stick, as is tradition, but the referees used their imaginary measuring stick and confirmed that the goal should count.

SWEET MOTHER OF SAINT JAMES REIMER, JAMES VAN REIMSDYK GOES DOWN AWKWARDLY. JVR seems to do the splits as he falls awkwardly from a hit by Trevor Lewis. He is able to get up on his own but immediately goes to the trainer for evaluation.

Crisis averted as JVR comes back on the ice without missing a shift. Phew.

3-2

Dustin Brown takes a high-sticking penalty, sending the Leafs to the power play. They play this one conservatively, sending out two defensemen out instead of the usual one. That doesn't stop Trevor Lewis, who has been around the ice all game, from jumping on a puck that bounces by Rielly at the blueline. Lewis races down the ice and scores on Freddy.

Five minutes left in the game slowly tick down to two minutes left in the game when something amazing happened. As Komarov was cruising by the offensive zone, Jon Quick blockers him in the “upper body”, causing Leo to fall down. The whistle goes and Quick gets called for a roughing penalty. The Leafs are on the power play for pretty much the rest of the game. Some say it was a soft call but Quick didn't need to make such a bone-headed play.

The Kings pull their goalie, evening up the skaters on the ice to five aside. They try to even up the score but can never get any real time in the Leafs’ zone. The clock winds down and the Maple Leafs win!

Conclusion

There is only one way to put it:

Statistically, the Buds were all over the front of the net, whereas the Kings tried to create their offense via point shots and chaos in front of the net. LA won the shots battle (38-34) and the Corsi battle (64-59) but the scoring chances definitely belonged to the Leafs, winning by six (44-38).