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Maple Leafs let John Tavares down in 4-0 loss to New York Islanders

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It was an important night for John Tavares but the Leafs didn’t seem to care.

New York Islanders v Toronto Maple Leafs
TORONTO, ON - DECEMBER 29: Josh Ho-Sang #26 of the New York Islanders celebrates a goal by teammate Mathew Barzal #13 against the Toronto Maple Leafs during an NHL game at Scotiabank Arena on December 29, 2018 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images

So the John Tavares-having Toronto Maple Leafs officially lost the Tavares and Eamon McAdam for Leo Komarov and Matt Martin free agency trade with an embarrassing 4-0 loss to the New York Islanders on Saturday night’s Hockey Night in Canada. Don Cherry complained about hockey players having fun. It was a cheery night all-around.

Going quickly through the goals, starting goaltender Garret Sparks probably should’ve had three of the four. I wanted to rag on the fourth line — whom after having a great pair of games before and after Christmas put forth a stinker — but every player on the Leafs was a -1, save for Patrick Marleau, Nazem Kadri, and Connor Brown.

I don’t want to blame those players for the goals against — players make mistakes, and it’s the goalie’s job to make a god-damn occasional save — I fully blame them for their complete lack of effort in the third period. What part of this game did they not feel like caring about? Did they not care about John Tavares, who clearly has a deep emotional respect for Long Island, and his return to the team that drafted and developed him into the player and person he is today? Did they not care about the last Saturday night game of 2018 during the holidays? Please, just tell me.

After such a depressing night, how about we try and do some good. If anyone watches Steve Dangle’s LFR’s, Steve’s “Marner Jar” proceeds are going to charity, so if you yelled about Marner’s future contract or are feeling generous, please give to Sick Kids.

First Period

Not much happened in the first five minutes, apart from Matt Martin and Leo Komarov taking an icing against Maple Leaf John Tavares on the first shift. But in the first TV timeout the Leafs played a very nice video tribute to the two former members of the Blue and White. I really appreciated the fact that all the clips from Leo and Matt’s time with the Leafs were with respect to their work in the community, their family (including Mitch and Naz), and their highlight goals. No fighting. No hitting. Just smiles after scoring. To me, that says a lot about the Kyle Dubas/Brendan Shanahan Leafs. I think those three things are exactly what they want their culture to be about, and I’m all for it.

0-1

Oh, boo. And did it have to be Valtteri Filppula?? My first reaction was: dammit Sparks! But after careful consideration, I was right, but also Travis Dermott and Igor Ozhiganov were atrocious on 1-on-2. Both went for the body and missed, allowing Filppula to have an unimpeded breakaway.

Are we sure we want Dermott in the top-4 this season? Will he even be ready next year? It’s certainly become a question.

Or maybe it’s Sparks...

After One

I don’t really know how the New York Islanders were able to out-play the Leafs in the first period, but they found a way to be ahead in every shot-metric at even-strength.

Shot attempts: 16-17

Shots: 7-8

Scoring chances: 7-11

Second Period

0-2

Umm, what? Johnny Boychuk threw a puck in net from the point, and Mat Barzal was able to sneak in behind Ron Hainsey and tip it between the legs of Sparks.

0-3

OH MY GOD! IT’S THE ISLANDERS! WHAT IS GOING ON!?! With Andreas Johnsson in the box for holding, Brock Nelson teed up Barzal for his second goal of the game. This goal also was deflected; the puck hit Zaitsev in the knee before bouncing over Sparks’ pad.

0-4

.................Mat Barzal scored a second-period hat-trick in less than eight minutes, and this goal was definitely one Sparks should’ve had. Jake Gardiner tried to pinch up at his own blueline, but a weird bounce allowed Barzal and Anthony Beauvillier go get away on a 2-on-1.

Near the end of the period, Sparks bobbled a glove save and Komarov — almost cheekily — threw the puck in the net. He celebrated, but it was clearly a no-goal. Oh, Uncle Leo, we miss you.

After Two

Third Period

The third period was literally event-less. Everyone turned off the game and started watching the World Juniors instead. The PPP chatroom went dead. Twitter fell silent. On behalf of the Maple Leafs, I would like to apologize to every single fan who paid money in any way to watch that game. That garbage was not worth your money. I hope Mike Babcock has fun bag-skating this team.


In roster news announced right at the end of the game, the Leafs returned Trevor Moore and backup-for-a-day Kasimir Kaskisuo to the Marlies from their emergency recalls. The Leafs don’t play again until Thursday, whereas the Marlies are on the ice on New Year’s Eve at Coca-Cola Coliseum. It will be interesting with Michael Hutchinson in the fold (and assigned to the Marlies) who gets the call-up (and start) if necessary on that Thursday night game against the Minnesota Wild.