If Saturday night against Philadelphia was a heart-warming night for the Toronto Maple Leafs and their fans, tonight against the Boston Bruins was a good test for our blood pressure. The Leafs and Bruins seemingly went back and forth all night, but the Leafs never gave up the lead, and after 60 minutes, walked away with a 4-2 victory at home.
Mitchell Marner was massive for the Leafs. He led the team in scoring on the night in classic Mitch fashion: three assists, two primaries. Kyle Dubas’ defensive third pair of Travis Dermott and Igor Ozhiganov each got their first goals of the season. Oz with his first career NHL goal! But the game-winner came off the stick of Josh Leivo after a tremendous drive to the net by partner Tyler Ennis.
A poll right off the top, because we can’t ever just have anything nice, and it was a big topic of conversation during the second intermission. Bonus question for the comments, who leaves the 23-man roster to make space for the Leafs’ two young superstars? I didn’t put it in the poll, but should the Leafs consider moving Par Lindholm to the wing and playing him with Goat?
Who comes out of the lineup when Matthews and Nylander return?
This poll is closed
Gauthier and Ennis
Gauthier and Leivo
Gauthier and Brown
Gauthier and Johnsson
Lindholm and Ennis
Lindholm and Leivo
Lindholm and Brown
Lindholm and Johnsson
Some early period thoughts:
Wow, David Backes only has one goal this year and is playing on the fourth line for a team with several players injured? Who could’ve ever predicted this. Nevertheless, he got the first scoring chance of the game, chipping the puck off the crossbar from in tight. Boston voodoo is alive and strong.
Zach Hyman got a broken stick to the face on his first or second shift so Mr. 1600 Game Man Patrick Marleau took a shift with Marner and John Tavares. Those three looked really good together in their shift against the Bruins first line of David Pastrnak, Brad Marchand, and John F Kennedy. Marner and Tavares basically played keep away in the offensive zone the entire time and Marleau was keeping right up. Maybe that new line is something to think about when Auston Matthews and William Nylander return?
Kasperi Kapanen really is starting to play the style Babcock wants; the Hyman style. I’ve been really impressed with Kapanen this year. He made two great plays off the left wing to body his man off the puck and push the play to the middle of the ice. Especially in this period e’s been integral for Kadri’s game. Beyond the breakaway below, Kapanen has used his ability to make plays quickly with the puck to set up Kadri at least two times so far.
The Bruins defence was starting to fray in the second half of the period. Kapanen got a good chance from the left wing that Jaroslav Halak parried away with the glove, Marner had a big chance at the side of the net off an odd-man rush but hit the side of the net while falling, and Nazem Kadri had the biggest chance for the Leafs when Travis Dermott sent him a perfect stretch pass for a breakaway. Kadri deked to the backhand but didn’t get enough on it and banged the puck off the post.
DERMOTT! The sophomore finally got his first goal of the season on the heels of yet another amazing shift from the Tavares line. JT nearly scored from the slot right at the beginning of the shift, but there were too many bodies in the way. The trio has always been really good at puck retrieval and they used that skill to full effect. They eventually were able to get the puck to the point for Dermott while crowding the front of the net so he could step right into the slot for his shot. It worked to great effect.
As good as the Leafs looked in the first period, the shots were very even. The two has 19 shot attempts each, with Boston leading 9-11 in shots, and the Leafs taking the scoring chance battle 11-10.
Right at the beginning of the second period, we learned that Kevan Miller of the Bruins took a puck to the neck and was sent to the hospital for further evaluations. Beyond Torey Krug, that’s the entire Bruins top-four injured.
Par Lindholm took the first penalty against the leafs in over 120 minutes of play at home, and after a long stint on the kill, Pastrnak found a hole on the short side between Frederik Andersen and the post, tying the game. I will say, despite giving up the goal, I really liked Dermott’s poise and heaviness on the kill. Much better than his performance vs. Carolina.
A few shifts later, Leivo was seen with Kapanen and Kadri, and that line got caught not supporting the defense after a giveaway at the offensive blue line. Freddy had to come up with a massive glove save to keep his team even against their divisional rivals. It must be said, apart from Dermott, the Leafs looked much less jumpy than in the first. Then again, Leivo has never been a dynamic skater in my eyes and that bias is just affecting my analysis.
Freddy flashes the glove on DeBrusk pic.twitter.com/a5qTrs2ic0— Flintor (@TheFlintor) November 27, 2018
Just as the buds started to really get going offensively (by that, I mean get their first shot on goal in 12 minutes), but they took it one step too far by getting caught with too many men on the ice.
DID ZAITSEV JUST PLAY THE PUCK BETWEEN HIS LEGS RIGHT INTO THE SLOT??? WHO TOLD HIM THAT’S OKAY. Good for him for slapping the puck down the ice with vigor the next chance he got, at least.
From Russia, with love, Igor Ozhiganov got his first NHL goal for the Toronto Maple Leafs off an incredible play from behind the net from Marner. This goal came one shift after a hairy penalty kill that saw the Leafs nearly get scored one twice. The crowd at this point was going nuts. Great celly from Oz, too, get that monkey off your back!
You know, I’d really have preferred Pastrnak play in the Czech Republic for a couple hundred bucks a month just so he’d stop scoring on the Leafs! William Nylander’s best friend scored his second of the period just over a minute after Ozhiganov’s goal.
With Anders Bjork in the box for tripping Tyler Ennis, Kapanen nearly scored twice, if not three times, on the power play. Tavares also had a massive chance in front of the net, but it was the second unit that got the job done. Ennis stepped up after getting tripped and dive-bombed down the slot with some amazing dangles and set up Josh Leivo for an exhilarating go-ahead goal for the Leafs.
The Bruins took control of the second period by going 2/2 on the power play, both goals by Pastrnak. At even-strength, the Bruins had more shots (7-11) and attempts (18-20) than the Leafs, but the Leafs continued to lead in scoring chances (10-7). Mitchy was a big part of that.
Mitch Marner just casually ending Chris Wagner pic.twitter.com/KUupOsLVqG— Flintor (@TheFlintor) November 27, 2018
And now, a Public Service Announcement from Omar:
The vast majority of the third period ended up being a whole lot of almosts. Freddy and Halak both had to come up huge on some saves off the wings and while battling in front of the net. Andreas Johnsson made a huge diving block after an intense shift from the Bruins sending the Leafs the other way for a big scoring chance. After a quiet second period, Kadri was alive again. He, Kapanen, and Jake Gardiner combined well for some great puck movement in the offensive zone.
Both sides were definitely playing at the...edge.
With 2:30 left in regulation, the Bruins pulled their goalie. After a brief moment where I had a heart attack because Pastrnak was facing a wide open net but broke his stick on the one-timer, Marner got away with only one man back and....WHAT DO YOU MEAN HE DIDN’T SHOOT? UGh, typical Mitch.
God bless Zach Hyman. Man knows how to put the puck in an empty net like no one I’ve ever seen before.