Before we get to the game there’s an issue of lying we need to discuss.
The Maple Leafs always tell us that the game is at 7:00.
The game is never at 7:00.
7:15 maybe at the earliest.
Stop lying to us. Just tell us when the puck drop is.
Even the players have to find ways to busy themselves.
The game begins rather slow, there’s some skating back and forth but no big moments. Lots of turnovers and zone exits and entries, but no huge shots, no big saves. The Maple Leafs don’t even get an official shot on net until three minutes in, but when they do....
It’s not even a real shot.
Morgan Rielly tries to just toss the puck on net and it deflects off Patrick Marleau’s stick and into the net. Just a wacky goal.
The New York Rangers are not a good hockey team. Not bad, exactly. Bad is something that can lead to fun chances for the Leafs, and people falling over. The Rangers are just, bleh and getting in the Leafs way.
The Maple Leafs know this and are able to keep the puck in the Rangers end for a large part of the first period. They’re unable to get any solid chances off against Rangers back up Alexandar Georgiev. The Rangers are down and blocking shots, and every once in a while get a turn down in the Leafs zone, but most of the time it’s down in the Rangers end.
John Tavares and Mitch Marner still have their great chemistry but the Rangers aren’t letting up on anybody, just shadowing each player on the ice keeping any wild stuff from going on.
Second verse, same as the first
The Leafs come out quick to start the second, but end up with a holding penalty after Patrick Marleau gets tangled with Brett Howden. The Leafs killed off the penalty with ease, keeping the Rangers to just one shot.
When the Leafs are in the Rangers end they draw a penalty but keep the puck away from the Rangers, playing 6 on 5 for several minutes with Andersen on the bench. Some excellent puck moving and passing by the Leafs around the hapless Rangers, as New York couldn’t touch the puck without ending the play.
When the puck is finally in New York’s possession, a scrum ensues after Kadri is pushed into Georgiev and Georigiev takes a swing at the trouble making centre.
Adam McQuaid got the original penalty for holding, and then gets another one for cross checking Kadri after he Marc Staal shoves Kadri into Georgiev, The Maple Leafs now get a four minute power play.
The Leafs aren’t able to have their usual power play happen, the Rangers get a lot of chances to dump it out, and the holding penalty passes without a goal.
The second half of the power play has the Leafs passing back to the point a bit, giving Rielly chances to add a second goal to his stat sheet. After a few good chances the Rangers will dump it down the ice to change their penalty killers. Mitch Marner is the focus of the defenders, as he can’t get a good chance off. The cross checking penalty is killed.
The Maple Leafs are picking up steam and the tanking Rangers are letting the game go a bit more and the Leafs are getting more chances because of it. Though as I say that, the Rangers get some alone time in the Leafs zone, and the Rangers tie the game.
After the goal there’s a questionable icing call against the Leafs, but it’s fine nothing happens in their zone after the face off. John Tavares gets called for holding, which is the penalty of the game it seems. The Rangers don’t get any real chances this time either, as the two minutes pass without much notice.
After the penalty expires there’s some action down by the Leafs net and Andersen loses his stick. The Rangers almost score on an open net, but Andersen does a twisting belly flop to block the puck and it keeps the Rangers from taking the lead.
Each team got to score in a period of their own as we head into the third tied at one each.
The third period begins with Auston Matthews trying to set up Patrick Marleau, but Mike Zibanejad puts and end to that but rubbing Marleau into the boards.
With a face off in the Rangers zone, Jake Gardiner shoots from the point and the puck is tipped by Tavares, rebounds off Georgiev’s leg to Mitch Marner who scores as Andreas Johnsson distracts the defenders.
Later on in the game the goal is changed to Andreas Johnsson who touched the puck as it went in.
Connor Brown tries to make to 3-1, but is denied by Georgiev. The Leafs start to up the pressure on the Rangers in this period, taking the puck into the Rangers end more, getting more chances to set things up while in the zone.
The Leafs have the puck in the Rangers end, and Johnsson passes up to Morgan Rielly who comes deep into the zone, shoots to the close side of the net and scores, putting the Leafs up by 2.
As Fulemin would say:
Morgan Rielly Norris Watch in effect— Acting the Fulemin (@ATFulemin) December 23, 2018
And it’s a good thing Rielly scored, as the Rangers come into the Leafs zone, Chytil gets the puck to bounce off Andersens pads to Kevin Hayes, who scores and closes the gap to one.
The Rangers perk up after scoring, and keep going after the Leafs net, but the Leafs aren’t having it and do some attacking of their own. This goes back and forth for a few minutes, but each team keeps cutting the other off at the right time to prevent anything of quality from happening.
There’s a stretch pass out of the Leafs zone to Andreas Johnsson who gets the puck right to John Tavares, who passes to Marner and tucks the puck right between Georgiev’s skate and the post for the Leafs fourth goal of the night.
When play resumes Nazem Kadri comes into the Rangers zone and tries to trick the goalie with his puck handling but he just misses out on getting that fifth goal for the Leafs.
That would have been useful because when the Rangers get into the Leafs end, Marc Staal takes a shot from the point, and after some deflections it goes high glove side past Andersen to bring them once again within one.
The Rangers put the pressure on the Leafs, not letting the puck leave the Leafs zone for two minutes after the goal, putting constant pressure on the team to try and tie the game. Once the Leafs clear, Patrick Marleau chases down the puck to prevent an icing, but can’t score into the Rangers empty net.
The Rangers come back into the Leafs zone hard to try again, but the Leafs won't let them score. This time the puck gets out and Mitch Marner scores what fans in the arena thinks hat trick goal into the empty net.
Once again Leafs fans are tricked into tossing their hats. Hopefully they can get them back.
The Leafs win this game 5-3, and now have a day to rest as they take on the Detroit Red Wings ahead of the holiday break.