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Recap: Maple Leafs are merciless in a 5-0 rollover of the Islanders

Two rookie defenders score, as the Leafs show off organizational depth in the best possible way.

NHL: New York Islanders at Toronto Maple Leafs Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

The revolving door is getting a workout with the defence as Ron Hainsey and Roman Polak are sick — Polak is so sick he’s on IR — and Justin Holl is making his NHL debut to fill in.

Nikita Zaitsev is back, and, Leafs, maybe just don’t take any penalties. They have Zaitsev for PK, we’ll see who else plays.

This game could be a disaster, or it could be a chance for the forwards to take ownership of the ice. Score early, score often!

First Period

In the Sportsnet opener, it seems the word is not out on Justin “sounds like Hall” Holl. It will be interesting to see if the broadcast team manages to get it right. It’s a minor thing, but if you’re on the ice in the NHL, you deserve that respect.

In 31 thoughts, Elliotte Friedman asked is Kasperi Kapanen is on display to be traded or are they looking at him as a player, and he’s decided it’s that second thing. Maybe it’s those rumours about the Leafs shopping Matt Martin that’s pushed the needle on that opinion. Me? I figured they were keeping him when they taught him PK.

Awww. Justin Holl sitting with Jake Gardiner, his old high school teammate, on the bench.

Game on.

I was about to say Babcock is boldly starting with his third pair, but no, Borgman and Carrick is pair number two. This is one of those opportunities, guys. Take it and run with it. Please?

The Dermott and Holl pairing get bailed out by Frederik Andersen early, and just give that man a big bucket tonight.

New look fourth line with a SOG, and some good zone time. The Islanders are weak on the bottom, we might see this crew do well.

Oh, man. Bozak line and the new second pair stuck in the defensive zone. Matty Barzal is just working them like an eighties aerobics instructor.

Speed, my, my, the speed out here. Seeing the Kadri line be super fast is still weird to me.

Fourth line goal!!!!! Yeah, baby. Kappppppy!

1-0 Leafs.

The fourth line are tough, fast, and they all know how to go to the net. I like this group.

OMG, Andersen bailing hard on a rush that victimized the Matthews line. How did he keep that out while he was flailing around? Nylander made a good defensive play while the defencemen were at Tim’s.

This game is, uh, six minutes old and I’m already terrified it’s going to be a 20 goal game.

I don’t actually hate Holl in this game, he’s not trying to do too much. It’s Carrick and Borgman who make me wish I wasn’t recapping so I could open a big bottle of tequila.

Honestly, the fourth line is the best line on the ice. They get a shift with the top pair of the defenders, and get some zone time.

The Matthews line gets the Barzal workout, and at least it’s good cardio.

Dermott with a nice shot while the Bozak line tries the left side of the ice.

Fourth line means zone exit, but they go offside at the zone entry. Kapanen looks fantastic so far, over and above the goal.

Matthews and Hyman in close controlling the puck, and the Islanders ice it. Right this minute, the ice is tilted to the Leafs after the Barzal show tilted it the other way.

Hyman gets a breakaway courtesy of Gardiner, and Greiss uses the poke check and leaves the puck out loose, and have you heard of Hyman’s linemate? Auston Matthews? He’s good at hockey.

2-0 Leafs.

Bozak initiated Holl with a grenade of a pass in the D-zone and the Islanders guy barely even checked Holl. Lucky.

Fourth line! Yes it is weird to me how much I like this fourth line. They’d be a third line on a lot of teams, and this is the argument against the roll four lines thing. Usually this is hard to pull off on a cap team, and Leo Komarov is as about as elite a fourth liner as you can get and paid like one. Enjoy it while it’s here.

Zaitsev with a though-guy shift in the corner versus Tavares.

I’ll give Dermott this: he’s figured out Andersen’s puck playing really fast. Remember last year when the entire team was confused for two months by that? Maybe Dermott’s smart enough to watch video.

Oh, wow. Beautiful give and go with Matthews and Nylander. Beautiful.

Marner gets a point blank shot as the period is almost over, and the Islanders genuinely have a defence worse that what the Leafs have on the ice in this game. Amazing.

The Numbers

Bit of a weird heatmap for the Leafs. That’s a lot of shooting from the circles for them. Conceding the slot, like they are here to the Islanders, is business as usual unfortunately.

However, unlike usual, the Leafs have blocked 10 of the Islanders’ 17 shots, and own the blocked shot differential with a 71% Fenwick. Borgman is responsible for three of those blocks, and his pairing with Carrick is not working out so very well, but he’s working to mitigate it, so A+ for effort.

Second Period

Andersen seems to have a handle on the Barzal experience, even if the Leafs defenders don’t quite.

Borgman plays some forward with the fourth line, and he looks really good at that. He’s got some skill we haven’t really seen realize itself in points yet.

I was really prepared to be horrified by Holl, but he keeps keeping it simple and he’s doing okay. He has the footspeed to play at this level as well.

The bad and good of Zaitsev all in one play: he fails to deny a zone entry and then he actually defends the guy in the slot effectively. The Leafs take the puck up ice for some fun time in front of Greiss.

Nice defensive play by Borgman, and then suddenly the Leafs ice it. I feel like I’ve said that before, but that was dumb. They had the puck under control.

Kadri line with some heavy threats to score.

Oh! Holl with a nice shot/pass across the Islanders’ net, but there’s no one in front of the net. He’s doing good here.

The Islanders top line has been very quiet.

A perfect pass from Kapanen back to Dermott, and he got off a very quick point shot.

Maaarrrrrner! Oh, that’s pretty. He goes to the net, into a hole big enough for 12 guys his size, and Kadri gives him the perfect pass.

3-0 Leafs.

Okay, guys, don’t take your foot of their throat, keep scoring. No mercy.

Borgman gets a penalty for shooting the puck over the glass, and we get a PK that starts with Gardiner and Zaitsev.

Gardiner fails to play an Andersen puck clear very well, and the eventual result is a flurry around the net that Andersen has to scramble to save.

Dermott takes over for Gardiner while the Leafs are deep in the Islanders zone for a long period of time, and he just has to watch. Zaitsev played the full two minutes, I believe. shows a tiny bit of Holl on the ice, with Zaitsev right back out, but I think that might be a phantom.

Marner and Marleau on a rush, and they are each as fast as the other. Imagine.

Nylander with a beauty of a setup that doesn’t go in for Matthews.

Tavares gets a chance back the other way.

Tavares is in the box for high-sticking, but the Islanders get a short-handed chance as the Leafs struggle to set up the power play. Back a few years ago, the Islanders made the aggressive PK their calling card. They are good at it still.

With the power play set up, Matthews has a hell of a chance, just off the side of the net.

Carrick is doing better on the power play in this try than he has in a few recent games. The entire Leafs team has never looked this engaged and on fire after a break before.

This game is fun!

Long, long, long fourth line cycle with Zaitsev and Dermott behind them. Holy cow, they are clicking. It occurs to me that no one on the ice knows Dermott and Holl like Kapanen does.

Dermott does a sweet deke with puck in the neutral zone, and carries it to the offensive zone, and then it almost seems like they lose the puck, and Nylander, well... watch it. Dermott with his first NHL goal. I’ve never been so happy to be wrong about a guy as I am right now (he’s still a little iffy at times, which just means he’ll get better). What a moment. What a goal.

(With his dad watching, too!)

4-0 Leafs.

This game is fun, did I mention that!!!

Matt Barzal is still playing like the Islanders are in the game, and he gets a chance that Andersen handles with some help from a timely stick lift from Zaitsev.

And one more Andersen save, and it’s time for the second intermission, and some more shots of Dermott senior up in the crowd with the fathers’ trip.

The Numbers

Another 10 shots blocked in this period. The Leafs usually don’t win the Fenwick race like they do the Corsi. This is a very lopsided game if you look at unblocked shots: 69% to the Leafs.

Matthews is getting the heavy matchup against the Barzal line, and they are playing them about even, which is likely all you can ask given how on Barzal himself is.

Third Period

No mercy rule is still in effect, guys. Get some more goals.

Bozak heard me and he sets up a good chance, but Greiss does not give up a rebound.

The Leafs seem like they are using the point shot a lot, but the heatmap says they aren’t. They are concentrating their fire much more in the slot. The point shots are memorable because they’re getting through is my guess on the eyetest vs numbers discrepancy.

The Leafs let the Islanders get some chances and Andersen has to make some tough saves.

And again. Andersen has to make a save on the Tavares line. We don’t want that line to wake up.

Dermott and Holl can’t get the puck out of the defensive zone, and their rookie status is showing strongly. They sort it out, though.

Brown with another chance. He’s had a few in close to the net. I’d flip him and Kapanen, if I were in charge, but alas, I am not an NHL coach.

OMG! One of the commentators has learned how to say Holl’s name!

Oh, and he scored too. Have a look at this play, he goes 5-hole.

5-0 Leafs.

This game is FUN!

Fourth line means shots on goal. Komarov has a chance he can’t get a handle on.

Bozak has a wide-open chance at a wraparound that Greiss just gets to.

Matthews tries the wraparound. No dice.

Andersen has to make a tough save. And he’s made these rookie D look plausible at times, and the team needs to get this shutout for him.

Matthews springs Nylander with a great pass, and they keep it in play after Greiss makes a save. There’s only 10 minutes left now.

Leafs get a power play and they struggle to get set up a little. Dermott is backstopping this one with some help from Carrick.

Gardiner and Zaitsev come out for the second unit, and they’ve worked very hard tonight, have been solid gold, and they deserve a little credit while the rookies looked so good.

Borgman is so good at getting point shots through traffic. I want him shooting more and Carrick less, and then it’s about perfect.

The comentators think Barzal has been good in this game. They’re watching some other game. Barzal has been the best Islander in the game and his line has contained Matthews decently well. Or vice versa.

Andersen has to make a save after the top line gets some uninterrupted zone time against the Leafs.

Marner with a chance the other way. There is no sign of any turtles here tonight.

Leafs just need to play this out now.

Fourth line gets the last shift because they deserve to.

Whoo Hooo! Fun game, good win, and tomorrow the Leafs take on the Rangers, they need to remember how to play this fast and hard and give Curtis McElhinney some help tomorrow.