For the first time this year, the Toronto Maple Leafs will play a game with their
Fully Operational Battle Station best possible lineup. Why? Oh, maybe you hadn’t heard that WILLIAM NYLANDER SIGNED WITH THE LEAFS AND WILL PLAY HIS FIRST GAME TONIGHT!
Willy’s excited and the fans are excited and the coach is excited and Dubas is excited and his teammates are excited and Fulemin and Arvind are Back to Excited.
Maybe Willy can help Sparks take this lineup to even greater heights.
Let’s do this.
We were treated with an epic game intro... sorry did I say game intro? I mean an epic NYLANDER intro. Play with my William-based emotions, Sportsnet. I am here for it!
[20:00 to 15:00]
Nylander watches as the Leafs start with the Tavares line, and we’re off! Nothing happens in the shift, and HERE WE GO WILLY JUMPS ON THE ICE! He got a bit of cheering and no booing that I heard, so that’s nice. And just like that they’re back off.... Babs you tease :(
Nylander watches not much going in this game early. I don’t think Nylander has seen a shot on net yet this game, and it’s more than 3 minutes into the game. Willy watches as the fourth line gets a decent chance from Lindholm, but his shot attempt was partially blocked and it went wide.
With the Tavares line jumping on, Nylander gets to see a good scoring chance and our first shot on net before the four minute mark. Then he jumps on and we get some vintage Willy: carrying the puck for a clean zone entry, circle the zone, and make a crisp cross-ice pass to the point for a shot.
Nylander hops back off for the third line, and he gets to watch a tic-tac-toe play from Kadri to Johnsson to Gardiner to Kapanen for the tap in. 1-0 Leafs!
[15:00 to 10:00]
Right after Nylander sees the game cross the 15 minute mark, the Curse of Fulemin hurts the Leafs. After making a joke earlier today about Jonathan Ericsson scoring a hat trick, GUESS WHO SCORED TO TIE IT UP? Ericsson got a clean point shot that got by a partially screened Sparks. Nylander is shaking his head right now.... 1-1 tie game.
Proof of Fulemin’s perfidy:
so i have to apologize, because this is my fault pic.twitter.com/bwC9w1UJZO— Acting the Fulemin (@ATFulemin) December 7, 2018
Maybe a minute after that, the Wings get a rush up ice and Glendening, the fourth man for the Wings, gets the puck on a bit of a broken play.... Mitch Marner seemed to be the Leaf that was supposed to pick him up. On the replay it looks like he got trapped on the boards earlier in the play by Glendening, which lead to him being late back up the ice. 2-1 Wings.
Not long after the Leafs get a power play opportunity. PP1 couldn’t get anything going, in fact they were pretty butt. Not to be outdone, PP2 comes on and is promptly mega butt. Their best chance came on a Nylander zone entry and saucer pass across ice to Ennis for a point shot.
[10:00 to 5:00]
Nylander’s starting to get his legs under him, except when he trips into a Wings player with the two of them crashing into a ref and taking him out with them.
Marner does his magic moves through the neutral zone, creating a 3 on 2. You’ll be shocked to hear that he passed to Tavares, who took a slap shot from the circle for an easy Bernier save. One of these days Marner’s going to take that shot and half of the GTA will have a heart attack.
Oof, Leafs almost give up another goal. Ozzie had this weird pass/clearing that turnstiled Matthews. The Wings got the point shot and in the ensuing scramble Sparks made two nice saves. The fourth line jumped on after and got hemmed in their own end.
Leafs look like they’ve fallen asleep for the last while.
[5:00 to Fin]
The third line hops on and THEY ARE WOKE! Kappy generates a shot off the rush, and in the ensuing scramble Kadri rang it off the crossbar. Poor Naz... he’s in his snake-bit phase again.
With the Nylander line on, he makes a hard, sharp pass to Matthews, who gets tripped by Jensen as he cut back into the middle of the ice to draw a tripping penalty. Leafs back to the PP with a chance to tie it up. The PP1 unit managed to get some zone time, but had no quality chances. After a minute, the Nylander Unit jumped on the ice to... the same lack of success.
The fourth line came on after the PP ends and Connor Brown had a great chance, but couldn’t get a good enough shot that wound up being blocked. And right after the Leafs take a penalty. Actually, no they didn’t! Because on the delayed penalty Nyquist roofs it over Sparks, who was in a weird crouched position maybe anticipating a pass or near-side shot? Only 12 seconds left in the period too.... 3-1 Wings.
First Period Thoughts
- Outscored 3-1, and didn’t exactly look unlucky
- Willy did look like a guy that hasn’t been in a practice/training camp/NHL game this year, aside from a few nice little passes or zone entries
- The Leafs had a terrible period when it came to turnovers and poor defensive zone coverage, both of which heavily contributed to...
- 7 high danger scoring chances to the Wings at 5v5 to the Leafs’ 4, and it shows:
[20:00 to 15:00]
The Kadri line starts the period, and they have a decent shift thanks to the doggedness from Kapanen and Kadri. The Tavares line follows up with another good shift. The Matthews line comes on and after Nylander beats an icing and helps set up Marleau for a chance (that got blocked).
Right after that Athanasiou got sprung on a partial break that Sparks made a nice pad save on. The Leafs ice the puck after, twice, and Nylander got stuck out looking a bit gassed each time before he could finally get off the ice.
Athanasiou blows by Hainsey but Sparks makes a big toe save. pic.twitter.com/5GhH26fRnF— Flintor (@TheFlintor) December 7, 2018
[15:00 to 10:00]
The Leafs then get hemmed in for a long shift with Tavares and co on the ice. The Kadri line once again has a great shift, staying in the Wings’ zone and not letting them break out when they had a chance. They just couldn’t get a good scoring chance from it.
Then the Tavares line came on and created a few good chances. Mitch had the puck in the slot but his shot got blocked. Hainsey got to walk in with the puck but wired his wrist shot wide. They’re losing ground in the shots on net department, but they seem pretty equal on the attempts front to my eyes. Unfortunately Marner took a tripping penalty, but they at least didn’t scored on before they could touch the puck.
[10:00 to 5:00]
The Leafs killed the penalty off... that’s good! Mike Green scored on a floater shot from the point right after Marner got out of the box.... that’s bad. 4-1 Wings.
And the game goes from bad to worse, as noted piece of shit Niklas Kronwall laid a cheap shot boarding, knocking Matthews headfirst awkwardly into the boards in the corner. Absolutely disgraceful fucking hit. May all of his sleeps be plagued with rabid bedbugs until his last breath.
Kronwall gets a boarding penalty for hitting Matthews into the boards. Matthews shaken up. pic.twitter.com/q3hT7zm5nI— Flintor (@TheFlintor) December 7, 2018
Matthews thankfully seemed to be okay, hopping onto the ice with PP1 after the second unit started the power play. They get a good chance on the high tip from Kadri that Bernier stopped. Matthews got a good shot off the post that Bernier partially stopped. They don’t score, and right after the PP ends Kadri had a GLORIOUS chance in front that he couldn’t get a firm shot off as he was falling, but the net was wide open to him.
Kadri comes incredibly close to scoring but Bernier gets just enough of it with his glove. pic.twitter.com/1DniWLe2E5— Flintor (@TheFlintor) December 7, 2018
[5:00 to Fin]
Leafs look like they have some life now at least, thinking positive! Which makes it a PERFECT time for Lindholm to take a penalty.... sigh. They thankfully killed it off, but with a couple of minutes left in the period they haven’t really put together a concerted offensive effort.
Nylander gives them a chance after drawing a penalty from Kronwall. The period ends with the Leafs still down 4-1, but with more than a minute of PP time to start the third.
Second Period Thoughts
This game is butt. The Leafs look like butt. Their PP looks like butt. The Red Wings are butt but are still winning big. Kronwall is a butthead. It’s all butts here!
The Leafs had more shot attempts that period, but a) a lot of them were blocked (they actually only had 5 shots on goal in the period) b) those that weren’t blocked were poor quality scoring chances, and c) they still lost the scoring chances battle at 5v5.
[20:00 to 15:00]
We’re back, with the Leafs still on the PP. A goal here would be a nice sign that a comeback isn’t out of the question... just sayin’. Shame it couldn’t happen, as the Leafs never really got a good scoring chance. Their PP was been butt, or the Wings PK has been good (hahahaha).
The Kadri line with Kapanen have been the best looking line in the game, and they had another good shift. We’re starting to see Babs throw out Rielly with Gardiner on the same shift, and it works! Rielly gets into the zone and he feeds Tavares for a wide open chance that he doesn’t miss, as he snipes it top shelf to make it a two goal game. 4-2 game.
Babs follows up the goal with a Johnsson - Matthews - Kapanen line... double-shifting Matthews or his wingers? You tell me! Nylander is out with Kadri and Marleau after, I don’t know who got moved up and who got moved down.
The Wings are starting to look a little scramble y now, and the Leafs are starting to get more chances and sustained offensive pressure. The Tavares line had ANOTHER great chance, with both Hyman and Tavares unable to put the pick in off a Marner pass right in front. The crowd’s getting into it, the Leafs look to have their legs and the Wings are going into turtle mode.
[15:00 to 10:00]
The Matthews line with his new wingers got a great chance on their next shift, with Matthews and Rielly playing give and go on an electric rush that ends with Rielly narrowly missing the top corner. Leafs all over the Wings with 6 shots on goal in under 6 minutes, and a few more quality near-misses.
We see the Gardiner and Rielly pair out together again with the Tavares line, and they continue to look more dangerous this period. Off an icing, that D pair stays out but the Matthews line joins them.
Sparks has had to make a good save on the Wings’ attempt at pushing back, keeping it at a two goal game. AND IT WORKED! The Tavares line again, off a great play by Marner to enter the zone. Ozzie had the point shot and Hyman on the rebound makes it a one goal game! 4-3 with half a period to play!
[10:00 to 5:00]
TIE GAME!!!!!!! Babcock’s magic lineup tinkering has done wonders. A nice bit of passing to start a rush led to Matthews darting into the zone. He takes a shot that misses, but bounces to Johnsson at the short side who does a real nifty little chip shot over Bernier’s shoulder. It’s all even now! 4-4 tie game!
The game looked a bit even after the tie goal, with the Wings starting to push back for some chances again but the Leafs not going back to their sluggish ways from earlier in the game either.
[5:00 to Fin]
Lots of end-to-end movement but no sustained zone time and no icings. Kronwall tackles Brown trying to fight an icing but no penalty. Brown nonetheless fights hard and the Leafs sustain some zone time around Kadri and force an icing.
We haven’t seen any Willy for the past chunk of time, Babs might have sat him to catch his breath for OT or the shootout. His minutes have dropped in chunks for each period.
Marner almost caught Bernier by surprise with a wrister from the boards. Bernier made an awkward save as he had to squeeze his arms tight to keep it from sneaking through. We have a minute left with the game tied.
Off a defensive zone draw they run a set play and Brown gets sprung for a breakaway that Bernier stops. Right after that the Wings came down and a point shot rang off BOTH posts with 10 seconds left, and Rielly saved a goal by deflecting Larkin’s rebound over the net. Yeesh... off to 3 on 3 overtime we go!
Third Period Thoughts
And they did! MUCH better period for the Leafs. Babcock tinkered with the lines and pairings, and it got their energy going. They out attempted the Wings 31 to 18 that period, and while Sparks had to make a few good saves the Leafs had some good bounces go their way (thank you based posts).
A little frantic back and forth to start with no shots coming from it. On the Wings’ turn Sparks had to make a solid save going post to post on Larkin. He had to make a good poke check on another Wings chance in front, which wound up springing Marleau on a partial break the other way that Bernier saved.
This is like the polar opposite to the overtime vs Buffalo. Lots of end to end skating, changes of possession, and chances for each team.
And the back and forth overtime ends with a Larkin goal. A turnover by Tavares led to Larkin bolting up the ice as he got sprung on the breakaway, and he beat Sparks for the goal like an opposing player being held back for an open knuckle cheap shot.