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Leafs vs. Flyers Recap: Toronto Gets Philled In

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A tough night for Andersen and Bozak ends in a 4-2 loss.

NHL: Philadelphia Flyers at Toronto Maple Leafs John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

The orange hellions known as the Broad Street Bullies came to the Air Canada Centre tonight to face our hometown heroes. It didn’t turn out well.

First Period

The Flyers have a hell of a top line. Sean Couturier is a very underrated player. They have some early zone time, but they don’t manage a really dangerous chance.

The Matthews line has an extended o-zone shift after Philadelphia iced the puck twice, but they too are unable to generate a really good chance.

The long-awaited new fourth line gets a decent chance, as Dominic Moore throws to Josh Leivo on the left wing, who managed a sharp shot at the dot. The Flyers’ third line comes back, and Travis Konecny damn near wrapps around a goal, but hit the post.

The Kadri line follows up with a chance at the other end that Naz can’t quite bury. Things are loosening up a bit; Philly has the most dangerous chances but also seemed to struggle with icing the puck.

Auston Matthews gets a close-range shot. This is a recording. No goal this time.

Leafs have a ludicrously poor shift in their own zone, including a Leaf pass directly to Shayne Gostisbehere. That guy can score, dudes. Toronto survives, and shortly after, goes to the power play after Couturier trips Connor Brown.

Josh Leivo powerplay sighting! Leivo gets the JVR role on the Matthews unit, whacking at a rebound that Brian Elliott handled. The best chance comes from the second unit; Nazem Kadri passes to Marleau in the slot, but Elliott has the save. Toronto continues to threaten, but the Flyers’ goalie was equal to it...

...but seconds after Couturier stepps back on, Josh Leivo makes a nice little zone entry to put the puck on the left wing at the blue line for Auston. Matthews blasts down the left wing and throws a Royal Road pass through the slot to Nazem Kadri, who makes no mistake wiring it past Elliott. 1-0 Leafs.

Second assist on that goal: Josh Leivo. :)

Lots of action, now. The Konecny line and the Marner line (yes, I’m naming them based on their zippy little scoring wingers) trade chances, with Marner firing a shot wide from the right flank.

Unfortunately, the next goal goes to the bad guys. Scott Laughton goes across the Leafs’ zone on the rush to find Brandon Manning streaking in. Manning scores. 1-1.

My view of standard defence is that Polak a) should not have gone for the hit at the line and b) shouldn’t have gone over to Borgman’s side, though that’s more arguable considering there were two Flyers to cover. I recognize the Leafs coach their defencemen to be aggressive and that I’m predisposed to not trust Roman Polak, but yeeeeeesh, this looks bad to me.

The Kadri line comes back with a strong shift, but we appear to be running into Good Brian Elliott tonight. Good Brian Elliott is a scary force. Nylander does some magic moves but fires a puck high.

Sigh. Leo Komarov gets brutally interfered with by Radko Gudas, taking him out of the play, but no call; Jacob Voracek charges up the right wing unencumbered and puts the puck past Andersen. 2-1 Flyers. Bullshit goal.

Despite some Leaf efforts, that’s it for the period.

Just a sloppy, sloppy period all around. You can say the Leafs didn’t deserve to be down, but they also didn’t deserve to be up, and sometimes things happen. Roman Polak had a bad experience on the goal, but I am trying to keep an open mind about him, so...[inhales]...okay. The Matthews line looked great; Travis Konecny really stood out for me on the Flyers, though he didn’t score. Leafs had some fun chances, the Flyers did too. Very typical middling Leaf period.

Second Period

Leivo and Kapanen have the first really good chance of the period, Leivo with a smooth pass to Kappy as he streaks into the slot. Elliott with a good (as well as lucky) save. Fun to see your fourth line do that.

Matthews and co. start a strong shift; Zach Hyman looks close to scoring on a step around play, but Shayne Gostisbehere slashes his hands, possibly saving a goal. Leafs to the PP.

Flyers are aggressive on the PK; it’s initially effective in causing the Leafs some trouble gaining the zone, but it gets them into trouble and Robert Hagg winds up taking a holding penalty on Nazem Kadri. Toronto has a thirty-second 5-on-3.

Couturier wins the faceoff and then Leo Komarov (?) gives the puck away when the Leafs bring it back. 5-on-3 killed.

Gardiner with an awkward giveaway that leads to a shorthanded shot against. The Flyers’ aggression got them into trouble but is now getting them out of it. Toronto’s PP had chances but for one of the deadliest PPs in the league, this was not great.

Konecny and friends give the Borgak pairing hell in their own zone for a while, which leads to a Leaf icing, and then another icing—the second one was very questionable, as William Nylander seemed clearly positioned to get to the puck first (and he did, after the whistle.) Finally Andersen is able to smother it and Borgak escapes.

According to the broadcast, shots after seven-and-a-half minutes, shots in the second are 7-3 Philadelphia. Reminder: the Leafs had two overlapping powerplays in that time. This is not going especially well!

Matthews hits the crossbar, and the Leafs manage a dangerous o-zone shift after it. Do you ever feel like we’re a one-line team? Well, a one-line team plus Nazem Kadri.

The Flyers nearly score on a goalmouth scramble, with Andersen holding on admirably. But Nikita Zaitsev gets on the puck and...wires it out of the rink for a delay-of-game penalty. Sigh. Flyers to the PP.

Komarov makes an ugly hit on Gostisbehere, but no call. Look, this just is not okay.

The PP continues. Claude Giroux steps into a one-timer at an apparently open net, but Andersen springs over for a fantastic save that gets chants of “Freddie” going. Unfortunately, shortly after that, Konecny goes cross-zone to Valtteri Filppula, who rifles a beautiful shot past Andersen. 3-1 Flyers.

But wait: Morgan Rielly makes a fantastic hold at the line, sidestepping Jacob Voracek. Puck goes back to the point, it’s wired on net by Hainsey, Brown whacks at it, and Kadri makes a heroic diving shot into the net for his second of the night. 3-2.

Kadri developing from Leaf media whipping boy into relentless monster centre has been one of the best things about the Leafs in the last couple years. Love you, Naz. Also, Jim Hughson really botched that call, eh?

Aaaand just when we had some momentum, there goes Claude Giroux up the left wing from Voracek. Great wrister, but God, we need a save, Freddie! 4-2 Philadelphia.

No scoring the rest of the way, though the Flyers keep buzzing.

So, let’s get right to the point.

I don’t care if they’re perfectly placed shots—and they’ve been good—at some point, we need a fuckin’ save.

Okay. Anyway. The Leafs are not playing well and this was a bad period. Toronto (contra appearances) actually got quite a few shot attempts, and Matthews and Kadri looked dangerous, as well as some fun cameos from Leivo-Kappy.

But defence has been bad up and down (referring to the team as a whole, not just the defencemen.) The Bozak line has been invisible, and at time of writing, is the only line on the Leafs that’s getting out-attempted.

And Freddie...look, this can’t go on forever. Or it can. But if it does, we’re doomed.

Third Period

The Leafs, at least, have come out charging. Kadri with another strong shift. Also:

Bozak, interestingly, responds with his best shift of the night, some good offensive pressure with Kappy and Moore.

Nylander and Hyman run a gorgeous give and go and Hyman displays a nice move, but he hits the crossbar on a backhand.

Matthews and friends come close with another strong shift. Just unreal how good these guys are, as bad as some other things have gone.

Hainsey breaks up a dangerous play from Claude Giroux. Hainsey has been pretty good this year, really, I have to say.

The line of Weal, Filppula and Simmonds give the Matthews line some trouble and runs them around for a while in their own zone. The broadcast is on about turnovers, and I have to say, they’re right. The Leafs (he said, for the millionth time) have been sloppy.

Decent chance generated by Nylander, Hyman and Gardiner. You know, the Leafs could have won this game, but it feels pretty clear they’re not going to.

The Flyers are keeping enough heat on to waste time and clogging up the neutral zone well enough that they seem primed to hold this lead without too much difficulty. Simmonds in particular is giving us trouble; he broke up a Matthews line rush nicely. Sigh.

Leafs go for the early pull, with about 3:20 left; Josh Leivo tries a hard shot from the top of the circles but no dice. Matthews and Nylander do video game stuff with the extra man, but their magic isn’t enough tonight. However, we did get this great gif:

That’s the best you’ll get tonight, unfortunately. 4-2 Flyers is your final.

Thoughts

  • Man, that was a frustrating game. The Leafs weren’t terrible so much as they were sloppy, but man, were they sloppy.
  • The good: the Matthews line had another brilliant game and might have scored a bunch more than it did. Kadri was at his best, energetic and highly effective. Josh Leivo had a nice season debut, which I’m sure will do nothing to keep him in the lineup. Morgan Rielly made some very nice rushes and did particularly good work on the second goal.
  • The bad: the Bozak line was a disaster. They got butchered in shot attempts and (Bozak particularly) were utterly ineffective, leading to them being broken up in the third. Just bad action. Polak looked rough on the Flyers’ first goal but otherwise had an uneventful night and didn’t get outshot, so there’s that.
  • The ugly: Frederik Andersen put up .867. Yes, the team in front of him did not make it easy on him. You cannot win with a goaltender that consistently puts up sub-.900 save percentages. You just can’t. This has to get better and it has to get better soon.
  • The league would be justified in suspending Leo Komarov for that hit. If Gostisbehere is injured, I suspect they will. Ugly and unnecessary.
  • For the Flyers, Konecny really stood out to me as dangerous all night long, just a great offensive threat in a deep forward lineup. That Flyers’ first line is murderous, but Kadri did well against them notwithstanding the goals against.
  • Our top six is clearly as deadly as any in the league. But if Bozak is going to be as bad as this (and he missed JVR, of course) we have a real problem at 3C. Most of all...we need to get some goaltending. I know Freddie has it in him to be better than this, but man...it’s getting tough to stomach.