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Recap: Couturier slices the Leafs down to size

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Leafs do not play good hockey, lose to the Flyers 4-2.

Kate Frese/SBNation

The Maple Leafs faced the Flyers tonight in Philadelphia, the second game of the year between these two teams. For the second game in a row, the Leafs were without Auston Matthews, while the Flyers lineup received a boost in both defense and general violence with the return of Radko Gudas from his ten-game suspension.

First Period

William Nylander carries it in off a nice move past Shayne Gostisbehere, starting off this game by reminding us all that at least one person on the Leafs can make a zone entry.

Borgman tries the long outlet pass to Martin but is...not successful. Try that again later, Andreas, preferably towards someone not named Matt Martin.

Sean Couturier takes the puck away from Morgan Rielly below the goal line, and the Flyers top line goes to work.

Nylander collects a great pass the length of the ice from Rielly, tries to center it for Komarov. Leo’s all alone but he’s just behind the pass, because Leo is not very fast.

Our first good Leaf chance is James van Riemsdyk from the doorstep, and Brian Elliott makes the save. It took longer than I thought for anyone to look remotely threatening.

At the other end of the ice, Jordan Weal curls around the net and tries a backhand on Andersen, and it slides just wide.

Gostisbehere tries the Leafs’ tried-and-true flipping the puck through the neutral zone breakout method, but it ends in Rielly collecting it.

Konecny comes off the bench, collects the puck, singlehandedly zips through the zone and flips it on net. The Flyers’ fourth line is really fun—all speedy energy.

Halfway through the first, there’s really not much happening in this game so far. Each team has put a couple decent shots on net, but no real sustained pressure. I have to say I was expecting to feel plenty of emotions tonight, but not “mildly bored.”

A long pass out of the zone goes to Nylander, who feeds Kadri cross-ice at the blue line. Kadri gets a shot off and misses the net. Nylander + Kadri > Nylander + Komarov.

Flyers score! Looks like a set play off a faceoff, Couturier wins the draw cleanly back to Giroux, who hammers it in. Marleau was kicked out, leaving Hyman to take the faceoff on his off hand, and he’s kind of screwed against Couturier. 1-0 Flyers.

Marleau gets his revenge very quickly. Brown forces Gudas to turn the puck over, Marleau collects it and rushes up the ice, and it trickles through Elliott. Not a great goal on Elliott’s part, but Marleau’s got his 1,100th point. 1-1.

Polak takes a tripping call on Konecny, who sells it by literally doing a full bellyflop onto the ice, and we’ve got our first penalty of the game.

Immediate chance for Simmonds to start off the power play, just to keep everyone interested. Flyers first unit continues to look good, but Andersen is also good. Leafs kill the penalty off without much stress.

After a Leivo attempt takes a bounce off Gudas and is easily handled by Elliott, Moore gets into it with Voracek, and dumps him to the ice. Friendly conversation but no call.

Neither team is managing to get in the zone and set up for any length of time, nor are they getting particularly dangerous chances. Even with two goals scored this period, it was boring.

Second Period

We start off with the Voracek line getting sustained pressure. They’re helped by Nylander breaking his stick, but the Flyers have the Leafs pinned in their own zone for over a minute until Hagg takes a shot and Andersen freezes the puck.

After a strong shift by the Patrick line, Patrick and Borgman get into it after the whistle. Borgman then starts mouthing off to Gudas. I would not try that, Andreas, I like you in one piece.

Easy stop for Andersen on a shot by Laughton. The Flyers are starting to pressure more now. Multiple attempts by the Marleau line to get the puck through the neutral zone are smothered before they finally manage it, and the puck almost immediately goes back the other way.

We’re a bit more than five minutes into the second, and the Leafs have not registered a shot on goal this period. That’s not good.

Zaitsev shoots from the blue line, Elliott makes the save. There, a real shot on goal.

After a chunk of time stuck in their zone, Leafs win the faceoff and Gardiner promptly ices it. Then after puck drop, the puck is iced again. That, in a microcosm, sums up how this period has gone so far.

Weise turns it over to Nylander in the Flyers zone (thanks, Dale!), slings it to Borgman, who nicely executes a drop pass to Kadri. Naz hits the post, but it’s a real live scoring chance, and a nifty play by Borgman.

Elliott gloves down a deflected slapshot from Gardiner. At least the Leafs are remembering that shooting the puck is something they’re allowed to do.

Nice pickoff by Brown at center ice, but even though he forces the puck back into the Flyers’ zone, he can’t make anything happen all by his lonesome.

Andersen makes a save on Couturier. That Flyers top line is really something.

Strong shift by the Kadri line, and after a Zaitsev shot Kadri lands on top of Elliott and the net comes off, disrupting some actual Leafs pressure.

Konecny tries a similar drop pass move to Borgman, but Gardiner basically laughs at him and picks it off. The drop pass: tempting, yet perilous.

Josh Leivo gets a point-blank shot from the slot, right off the bench! And Elliot bats it away, but finally the Leafs seem to be showing life. This is a nice thing.

Patrick line immediately has a chance at the other end, Weal unable to bat in a puck sitting at the top of the crease. Andersen’s had a good game so far [this is a recording].

Kadri draws a penalty! Voracek goes off for tripping him right along the half-boards, and the Leafs get their first power play.

Power-play goal! Good play by the Leafs to keep the puck in and start the cycle, and it pays off when a Morgan Rielly wrist shot from the point is tipped by van Riemsdyk. 2-1, Leafs.

Utterly unimportant interjection: JvR did not grow up a Flyers fan, despite what Gord Miller says. He cheered for the Rangers. Fact-check your anecdotes.

Gostisbehere putting Kadri into the wall amuses me.

As time expires, Konecny yet again virtually engineers a chance on his own.

Third period

Andersen’s point-blank save on Giroux starts the period off with some excitement! Giroux is at the top of the crase and tries to lip it in, and Andersen makes an excellent pad save.

Leivo tries to deke out MacDonald, and he fails. I like Leivo just fine, but he really needs to take that one home and sit with it for a while.

Nylander and Kadri’s pretty give-and-go play is stymied when it rolls in on Eliott and he makes the save. The two of them have looked really fun together this game.

Filpulla gets a backhand all in alone on Andersen, but Andersen saves it. On a related note to this play, Komarov has looked bad tonight.

Another save on Giroux by Andersen, and then Zaitsev sweeps it out of danger. Giroux seems hell-bent on getting something, anything past Andersen—this is maybe the fourth great chance he’s had that Andersen has stopped.

Konecny picks off a clearing attempt by Andersen, and after his line sets up, Konecny curls up to the top of the slot and shoots it. It’s tipped by Taylor Leier, pinballs around and the Flyers tie it up, 2-2.

Shortly after, the Laughton line has another good shift, starting off with Konecny picking off the puck and carrying it in for another scoring chance.

A Nylander shot goes wide of the net, after a solid play by Komarov to set him up. Willie, you’ve got to hit the net there.

Gardiner’s attempt at a rink-length pass misses Hyman, and Elliott freezes the puck. This was very close to something that would have been successful.

Another close call by the Flyers fourth line, out there against the Bozak line. Win or lose, this team better be buying Andersen a whole-ass cow tonight.

Bozak line is again stuck in their own end for most of a shift. Andersen has to make a bunch of saves, including a stop on Provorov after he outmaneuvers Marner, who got a little too ambitious and was burned for it.

Sean Couturier gives the Flyers the lead. Couturier wins the faceoff back to Gostisbehere in the Leafs zone, Gostisbehere slides behind the net and passes it to Simmonds, who touches it forward to Giroux. A brilliant through-the-legs pass from Giroux to Couturier, and Couturier’s all alone on Andersen. 3-2 Flyers.

Wayne Simmonds fans on the puck before he can put it in the empty net, keeping the Leafs’ hopes alive! We’re clinging to optimism!

With the goalie pulled, the Leafs are able to get a few good chances, including Marner barely missing the net.

Alas, Nylander loses the puck, and Scott Laughton is able to fling it down the ice into the empty net. Leafs lose, 4-2.

Notes

  • My own loyalties aside, the Leafs deserved to lose this game. They were solidly outplayed and outshot (39 to 22!), and the score was this close because of Andersen. It seems like we’ve seen a couple games in a row where the Leafs pulled out a win by the skin of their teeth—this is the flip side of that.
  • Speaking of those wins, we’ve seen at least two games where the Leafs started off fine (ish) and then slipped into turtling in the second and third. The same dynamic played out tonight. It worked out badly for them this time.
  • The Marleau line did a good job hanging in there against the Flyers’ top line, if anyone wants a speck of optimism from tonight.
  • I am dead serious about that whole-ass cow comment re: Andersen. Either that, or a year’s supply of steaks from one of those meat delivery services.
  • I know this team is now 5-1 without Auston Matthews, but man, they suffer without him. That offense looked lackluster, to be polite about it. Please get better soon, Auston.