The full team of Leafs faces whoever is mostly healthy on the Bruins this week in tonight’s matchup. With William Nylander expected to start on Nazem Kadri’s line, the Leafs should have three full lines to roll against the weakened Bruins. The better news is that Patrick Marleau is on that line too. You can count me fully in the camp of people who never thought Marleau, even at his best, was a fit for Auston Matthews.
Bruins take a penalty very early, and Brad Marchand rolls up from distance to try to stir up a retaliation penalty. The deeply annoying commentary blithers about the need for an enforcer, but the Leafs take the PP instead.
In the middle of the PP, a Bruin shoves Kadri over, trying to stir him to retaliate. The refs let him give back as good as he took, and that’s it for the Bruins’ gamesmanship.
The PP comes up empty, but it still looked better than last game’s.
Jake Gardiner just about skates past a pass from Nikita Zaitsev when Z was under so much pressure, what did Jake think he’d do? They seem like they’re on different planets sometimes.
Deeply weird bad play by David Pastrnak turns a two-on-one into nothing. See! Other team’s top players do dumb shit, too.
Tyler Ennis bringing the tough guy play:
Connor Brown on a break. The good news is it’s a good chance; the bad news is Brown is not the first choice of shooter on a break. He was in for Andreas Johnsson who took this hit:
Hard hit for Johnsson to take along the boards #LeafsForever pic.twitter.com/AAP5IzJMi2— Omar (@OLW93) December 9, 2018
Now Zaitsev and Marchand are in a thing in front of Freddie and it ends up being Gardiner and David Krejci who go sit, which almost makes sense. Four-on-four time.
JFK scores on the four-on-four when Freddie doesn’t do the world’s best job of sealing to the post. That was a savable shot.
Johnsson is back on the ice after missing a regular shift and not playing in the four-on-four.
One good-ish shift for the Kadri line as Nylander takes the puck in and then gives it to Marleau, who didn’t really seem to have a plan. Eventually Rielly got off a shot.
Leafs got some chances late in the period, but don’t seem to be able to get their sticks on pucks when they need to.
Nylander's first solid scoring chance since his return #LeafsForever pic.twitter.com/BW75yzWjg3— Omar (@OLW93) December 9, 2018
- Nylander has all the speed in his feet, and half of it in his brain. He’ll get there in a couple of games.
- The Bruins spent a lot of time trying to stir up trouble.
- Jim Hughson has a lot of trouble telling Kapanen from Nylander, and you know, I sympathize. Now they have the same length hair, it’s getting tough since they actually skate very similarly.
- I don’t feel like the Leafs made Halak’s life very difficult so far.
That argues against the eye-test a little, but I see Moneypuck’s expected goals are almost dead even only if you include all situations, and the Corsi at five-on-five is even, yet, clearly outside of that one moment during the double minor, the Leafs are winning in shot quality by a large amount. If they keep it up they deserve to win the game. There is, however, no deserve in hockey. [This turns out to be very prophetic.]
The Kadri line looks like they’re going to do something early in this period, but they just can’t make a whole out of their constituent parts yet.
The fourth line has a very adventuresome shift where they let the Bruins get in close enough to hit the post, nearly get their own scoring chance on a Tyler Ennis play in tight, and then Ennis goes off for tripping and Boston is on the PP.
Leafs kill it easily until the final seconds, but Andersen has the saves ready when he needs them.
Kadri takes a penalty right away on an iffy sort of tripping call, and he wants his old friend Krejci called for embellishment, which I could buy.
The Bruins get set up fast, and Andersen has to do all the work. David Backes gets what looked like an inevitable goal.
This game has gone to hell quickly. Right after the power play, Andersen does a really good job of sealing to the post and prevents a goal to keep the score close.
And so, as we would expect if we’ve looked at the math on penalty calls: The refs call a slashing call on Tavares. Bruins PP number three in a row.
And the math is back to normal on this as Backes takes a penalty to cut short the power play.
And now it’s a mess again, because Gardiner gets called for a hit on Krejci they call boarding.
Four-on-three now for the Bruins.
Andersen with a great save! A chance the other way, but it’s Brown vs Charlie McAvoy and that doesn’t work out.
The remaining Bruins PP time at the end is too short for them to do anything with it. All that nonsense just killed a lot of time in the Bruins’ favour. [If you didn’t watch this one, this is the exact moment when it stopped being a hockey game. Everyone was just waiting for five-on-five time to start the fighting.]
For some reason Kadri is fighting Brandon Carlo. They’ve had some stuff going on all game. Just when the Leafs can roll their lines for five minutes, they can’t.
Bob Ross has had enough #Leafsforever pic.twitter.com/3MZCRXuR2f— Omar (@OLW93) December 9, 2018
I see Mitch Marner, Marnering for the first time all game, as he moves the puck out of the neutral zone and into scoring position, but the pass to Tavares doesn’t lead to anything.
Boston pins in the Leafs with most of the Tavares line out, and they just have their way. They look like they’re on the PP, right down to Marchand playing bumper untouched by any Leafs, as he passes the puck back to Torey Krug who puts it home.
The Leafs aren’t quitting, but that’s Halak in net. Tavares gets a shot off, but they’ll need a lot of that, some speed and some luck in the third period.
- The Kadri call was weak, but the Tavares call was a real penalty. The Gardiner call was just one of those things. True on a technicality, but not a dirty hit.
- Maybe the refs don’t like being written up for not calling penalties in Leafs games? I blame the Athletic.
- Whenever the Leafs face heavy forechecking pressure, they seem to make bad decisions with the puck. Their weaknesses get magnified. But you can’t criticize the offence at the other end in this game so far despite the score.
This only makes the game more annoying. The Bruins look a touch better if you include the four-on-four segments of play, but the Leafs are doing everything right offensively, driving play and even executing to their own standards defensively. But you can’t give a good power play team that many chances.
The Leafs start the third period struggling to get out of their own zone, until Kapanen just solves the problem by giving the puck away, and Andersen has to make a save.
It looks like Babcock is line matching (on the road!) so he’s delaying bring out the Tavares line. He gets the fourth line out against some of the Bruins depth, and it all goes wrong.
Ozzie goofs up, Dermott and Ennis take themselves right out of the play by trying to both get one guy on the boards, and Andersen looks like he’s new at this goalie thing.
Never give up. The Leafs come right back with a Dermott goal. Note he was on the ice with Gardiner here:
Gardiner gets caught too high just starting a pinch, while half the Bruins buzz around Marner like bees and grab the puck. The Bruins get a three-on-two. Andersen gets done by having to play the shot not the pass. He had no chance.
Andersen looks like he’s just not home here:
Andersen gets pulled, which is what it is. Andersen goes down the tunnel to say the bad words where no one can hear him, but he comes right back out, ball cap on.
Matthews makes it 6-2 Bruins:
Hyman takes a penalty on a late hit to Charlie McAvoy, who is only just back after missing a lot of time. Hyman gets in a scuffle with Grzelcyk, and McAvoy stays down for a bit, and that was not a good or necessary play that only sucked the life out of the Leafs. They have 10 more minutes to play, but McAvoy is likely out for all 10.
Play resumes at five-on-five, which is a gift to the Leafs. Hyman gets a five minute major for interference, five for fighting, and they give Grzelcyk five for fighting and a game misconduct.
So naturally a Bruins player I’ve never heard of, Wagner, goes after Rielly, and Ron Hainsey steps in and fights him. The Wagner hit was dirty, and there should have been a call on that right away.
Hainsey stepping up for Rielly #LeafsForever pic.twitter.com/z8AiC6pRKg— Omar (@OLW93) December 9, 2018
The Leafs have a power play out of that, as the refs belatedly call charging on Wagner and he gets a misconduct too. I am very surprised they didn’t sit Hainsey too, but he was doing their job for them since there was no sign of an initial call on the hit to Rielly.
The second unit takes Boston to the woodshed:
Leafs hand the puck to Pastrnak, but Sparks makes the save.
The Bruins only need to run down two minutes on the clock, which they do easily.
- Overall, I liked the Kadri line, but I thought Matthews seemed lost out there. Most of his line’s meager shots for came vs the Bruins bottom six.
- Having said that, I liked how Johnsson plays with Matthews and Kapanen.
- John Tavares was matched to the Bruins top line, and flat out couldn’t handle it most of the time, going five shots for to nine against before the game got out of hand. After? Who cares.
- There were way too many bad calls, late hits, retaliations, and dirty bits of nonsense in this game. One of the jobs of refereeing is to control a game like this. They failed, and it feels like it all started with that weak tripping call on Kadri.
- This was a shitty game.