On 2:00PM, December 19th, 1917 The Toronto Arenas faced off against the Montreal Wanderers. It was the first game for the new NHL franchise awarded to the Toronto Arena Company, and the first game in the fledgling National Hockey League, the team was allowed to enter NHL as a temporary franchise, holding a spot for the Quebec Bulldogs.
On 2:00PM, December 19th, 2017 the Toronto Arenas, renamed the Maple Leaf in 1927, faced off against the Carolina Hurricanes. 100 years later the “temporary” franchise is now worth over $1,000,000,000, has won 13 Stanley Cups, and has fans filling all 31 arenas over the North American continent, and you’ll be hard pressed to find a major hockey game around the world without seeing one blue and white maple leaf.
What could have been just another Tuesday game against the Carolina Hurricanes has become a celebration of the Maple Leafs, players past and present, and fans old and new. Sixteen Toronto schools were in attendance to allow a new generation of fans celebrate the beginning of the next 100 years of Maple Leafs history.
Some people question the opponent. Why the Hurricanes? Why not the Montreal Canadiens, the only other original NHL team still playing? A team like the Canadiens, or Bruins, or Blackhawks, would bring their own attention to the game. With the Hurricanes, a team most casual fans wouldn’t be able to pick out of a line up, you get a blank canvas to tell the story of the Maple Leafs history. No distractions, no extra pressure.
Early on in the game, Matt Martin would bear hug and drag down Josh Jooris to take a penalty. The official call is holding, but to me it looked like he hadn’t seen Jooris in years and had to great him in the most enthusiastic way possible. On the penalty kill the Leafs would get a 2 on 1 with Komarov and Hyman, and Komarov would score to make it 1-0.
As the Hurricanes powerplay ended, Roman Polak would hit Marcus Kruger at the blueline, and Josh Jooris would jump right on Polak, this would end up with Polak sitting on top of Jooris delivering some punches
Polak and Jooris would be given penalties, Polak gets two minutes for roughing, and Jooris gets two roughing penalties, so Justin Williams sits in the box to serve the second one. as the Leafs were on the on 3 powerplay Mitchell Marner would break his 15 game goalless drought, and put the Leafs up 2-0.
Halfway through the first Leo Komarov and Justin Williams would get in a spat, and the two would end up on the ice. This game has seen more fighting than any Leafs game in a while.
While Komarov and Williams are off for fighting, Jeff SKinner would take advantage of a Leafs change and put a wrister past Andersen to make it 2-1.
In front of the Leafs net, Brett Pesce would smack the stick out of Dominic Moore’s and and take a slashing penalty. On the PP the Leafs would execute an excellent tic tac toe, letting JVR take up residence beside Scott Darling After Tyler Bozak took the shot, Darling thought he had the puck but it slipped out from under him and JVR popped it in for goal #3, and #20,000 in Maple Leafs history.
As the Leafs play in the Hurricanes end, Mitch Marner skates around with the puck near the net, and as the puck is knocked away from him, Bozak is right there and scores the Maple Leafs fourth goal.
JVR and Marner come screaming into the Hurricanes end, and JVR would be set up perfectly by Marner, but the puck would miss. JVR would then be called for slashing when he breaks his stick of victor Rasks stick. It’s a game for penalties, as near the end of the period, Kadri would be called for high sticking Justin Faulk. The Hurricanes would get their third PP of the period, failing to score on the first two, and they failed on this one as well.
It would be a less eventful period than the first, no goals, no penalties, but some good hockey. Good chances for Kadri/Komarov. Good chances for the Hurricanes.
Carrick and Kruger get into a shoving match behind the Leafs net, but nothing comes of it. They all seem to have gotten their hits in during the first.
Midway through the period, Frederik Anderson just robs Jeff Skinner of a goal.
Probably wouldn't have counted, but Frederik Andersen throws the paddle out to rob Jeff Skinner pic.twitter.com/U2ri4QAjVO— Richard Lee-Sam (@RLeesam) December 19, 2017
The third period would be more of the same as the second. The Leafs need a win, and they played it pretty safe for the final 20.
Elias Lindholm would slide hard into the Leafs net while the Hurricanes were on the powerplay, and would need assistance from the trainer to get off the ice. The Hurricanes were on the PP after JVR cross checked Sebastian Aho, but they wouldn’t score with the advantage,.
The Maple Leafs would break the lull that settled over the audience, with Patrick Marleau scoring after a set up by Bozak and Marner. Marner would get his fourth point of the night with his third assist, and set a new career high.
Before the goal could be announced, six seconds later Kasperi Kapanen would score the sixth goal of the game.
Minutes later the William Nylander would make it 7-1.
As the period nears the 19 minute mark, Connor Carrick would score the eighth goal of the game.
The final score would be Maple Leafs 8 - Hurricanes 1
The question was asked about why the Leafs seem to slow down in the second period. Katya suggested the long change impacts their speed in the neutral zone, and it’s not as much an advantage. It could be, that as most of the action came in periods one and three. Now, one game doesn’t explain everything, but it could be one reason.
But, long or short change this was one of the most fun Leafs games in a while, for sure in December. Lots of goals helps, but they weren’t playing catch up or playing behind in this game. It’s great to see. They held their own, albeit against the Hurricanes, and came out on top.
Also, keep Marleau, Bozak, and Marner together. Damn that lines was fun today.
The Maple Leafs next game is tomorrow night, back at 7:30PM, against the Columbus Blue Jackets. I’ll have your preview, and nafio will be recapping for you. The Leafs started the Next 100 off with a win. Here’s to more than 13 cups in the next century.