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1 For, 1 Against: Shooting Stars

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Three young stars feature, scoring awesome goals

NHL: Toronto Maple Leafs at Buffalo Sabres Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports

That was a fun game against Buffalo. You know what was super fun? This goal.

Holy shit, that was pretty. Lets break it down a little more, and see where Buffalo went wrong.

Hey, this doesn’t seem like a bad situation. William Nylander has the puck, going away from the net, and is being forced towards the blueline by Jack Eichel (15). There’s another Sabres forward there to cut off his escape route too.

Auston Matthews exits the zone and re-enters, to confuse the primitive Sabres AI. Nylander seems sort of cornered here, however. Maybe he can dump it in?

Nylander tucks the puck behind this poor Sabres forward, who no longer has a name, since Willie took it along with his pride, dignity, and all earthly belongings. Meanwhile, we can see Matthews’ cloaking strategy is working perfectly. Eichel has seemingly forgotten about Matthews’, evidently distracted by the murder Nylander has just committed in front of him.

Hey, Sam Reinhart! Glad you showed up to the party. You’re a little late, have you met Auston?

Nylander shows his impressive vision (I can’t believe they downgraded this feature on the 3.0 version), while the Sabres collectively try to figure out who to blame for leaving the Leafs’ best scorer all alone in the slot.

Yeah, not much to say here. Josh Gorges was slow the whole time to recognize that Eichel had cut off Nylander’s skating option to the net, and Reinhart is so far out of the play to start (he flew the zone to try and take advantage of a Gardiner shot hitting a body in front). Matthews is given all the time in the world to flash that beautiful shot of his. Predictably, he makes no mistake. Eichel could have also not gone with Nylander after he pantsed that dude as well. That opened up a lane for Matthews. That’s part of the beauty of the play Nylander made. If you upset a team’s defensive structure in one area, the way they react to cover it may lead to an even bigger opportunity.

Now, it goes without saying, but the Sabres kind of got stunted on here. At the start of this sequence, they have four players in the zone to the Leafs’ three. And both Nylander and Matthews aren’t in a dangerous position at all. But that’s the awesome thing about having players as talented as these. They can see ways to create opportunities where none were there before. More than that, they have the courage and the talent to both try and complete it.

The Sabres have an uber-talented young superstar on their team too, and he also made his mark, late in the game.

But seriously, who gives a shit. It’s Buffalo. Let’s watch Willie and Auston torment some poor souls again.