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Holl scores again, New York doesn’t: Leafs 4-Rangers 0

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The new-look Leafs light it up on Broadway

NHL: Toronto Maple Leafs at New York Rangers Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports

After a beatdown of the Islanders, the Leafs look to do the same to their foes across the river. The new-look lines of the Leafs have largely won the approval of fans, with three straight wins, and the revitalization of Nazem Kadri and Mitch Marner, who have looked phenomenal. The fourth line has also become among the best of its kind in the league. What’s gone a little more unnoticed, the Matthews line hasn’t sustained the level of shot share that they used to — it’s unclear whether this is because of the line change, or just something that happens, but it’s worth keeping an eye on. They’re still our best line (or at least, they should be), and consistent success from them will be the key to any long-term aspirations the Leafs have.

Travis Dermott and Justin Holl also reprise their roles from last night, where they both collected their first NHL goals. The lineup is exactly the same, as Roman Polak and Ron Hainsey recover from illness.

First Period

  • [19:01] Early on, Kadri and Marner combine nicely, and Kadri draws a hooking penalty on Rick Nash. Early power play opportunity for Toronto.
  • [17:52] The first minute of the power play passes with a lot of zone time, but no shots.
  • [16:57] Well, that was a horrible power play.
  • [14:18] Pretty sleepy start for both teams, no offense to speak of.
  • [13:39] Connor Brown creates a turnover behind the Rangers net, but nothing comes of it.
  • [13:23] Rick Nash finds himself alone in front. The Leafs catch a break, as his backhand hits the post.
  • [12:52] This is immediately followed up by a strong fourth line shift. They’re a problem.
  • [11:59] Nylander falls asleep on D and the Rangers get a strong shot off. McElhinney saves it.
  • [11:18] Uhh.. so Justin Holl scored again? Ryan McDonagh turns the puck over to Travis Dermott at his own blueline. Dermott passes to Holl, who fires a wrister past Lundqvist. 1-0 Leafs.
  • [11:02] Immediately after, Jake takes a penalty by hooking Rick Nash. Rangers onto the power play.
  • [10:22] Dermott is playing on the penalty kill, by the way. He’s getting the trust of the coaching staff.
  • [10:00] Holl is out there too. I suppose it makes sense, especially with Gardiner in the box.
  • [9:00] The Rangers get very little accomplished on the power play.
  • [8:34] But immediately after, they generate a chance on the Kadri line. Nash makes a strong power move to the net and creates a goalmouth scramble. McElhinney is up to the task.
  • [6:02] Pretty low-event stuff, both at even strength and on the power play. Which is maybe not a bad thing, given the relative quality of the goalies, and the Leafs likely being a little tired.
  • [4:37] As I say that, the Leafs do their thing. Connor Brown makes a great pass to a streaking JVR in the offensive zone, who tucks the backhand through the five-hole of the King. Bit of a streakbuster for van Riemsdyk, and it’s good to see that line succeed without Marner. 2-0 Leafs.
  • [3:05] By the way, that’s van Riemsdyk’s 5th 20-goal campaign.
  • [1:46] Nylander does that thing where he brings a puck deep into his own zone instead of chipping it out. Normally a fan of it, but it it leads to a (relatively undangerous) shot against. Always a tradeoff.
  • [0:00] Strong period for the Leafs. Very strong. Or maybe a terrible period for the Rangers. Hard to tell which. But things look good through one. Toronto is doubling up on the shot attempts of New York right now.

Second Period

  • [19:08] Hot start to the second, as Patrick Marleau slaps one home. It’s 3-0. Kadri takes a shot that deflects right to Marleau at the point, and he absolutely spanks it past Lundqvist.
  • [18:39] Sort of a bad break for the Rangers, but man, they look awful.
  • [16:55] Oh my God, now Zach Hyman is stunting on fools. Hyman drops it back to Nylander after entering the zone and drives the net. Willie finds him, and Hyman dekes Lundqvist out of his jock, and pots it home. 4-0 Leafs, and that’s it for the King. Matthews picks up the secondary assist on that play.
  • [15:32] Ondrej Pavelec is the Rangers backup, by the way. Not sure this will fix things. Lundqvist was by no means great, but the Hyman and JvR goals were essentially breakaways. I don’t blame him too heavily for that.
  • [15:26] I think the dads should always come to the games.
  • [14:52] The Rangers are starting to pick it up... they have a pulse at least. We’ll see if it nets them anything. We’ve seen the Leafs blow four-goal leads to this Rangers team before.
  • [12:47] Far be it from me to complain about anything tonight, but Marner just got on a two-on-one and never once looked like shooting. The fact that he’s a first liner who shoots as a last resort is impressive enough, but despite his relatively mediocre shot... he still can shoot. I’d like to see him have a bit more faith in his abilities, at least in that regard. Of course, he knows his skills better than me, but it’s something I’ve been thinking about recently.
  • [10:31] The Matthews line has started to impose themselves more on the game, which is what you like to see, especially against a weak team.
  • [9:37] The Leafs ice the puck, but there’s a glass issue in the arena, so we’re waiting on that to get fixed.
  • [9:15] Took a while, but we are back up and running again. The Leafs sort of caught a break, as that glass issue rendered the icing sort of useless, with the Toronto players getting the chance to rest.
  • [6:15] The Leafs will be happy to see this game out with no injuries, no fights, and no more chances for either team.
  • [5:45] I swear, the Rangers have whiffed on about 30 one-timers tonight. They’ve whiffed on more one-timers than they have shots.
  • [4:37] Van Riemsdyk takes a slashing penalty. Fair call.
  • [4:08] Once again, Dermott is first out on the PK.
  • [3:54] The Rangers get a strong chance from Zucarello, but McElhinney, who has been really solid this year, stops him without breaking a sweat.
  • [2:47] The New York crowd is booing... I don’t blame them.
  • [0:19] I’m not sure I’ve said Zaitsev’s name yet. But he’s been quiet in the best way, and it’s good to have him back.
  • [0:00] Period ends, and this is just domination. No other word for it.

Third Period

  • [20:00] By the way, Pavel Buchnevich, one of the few Rangers standout forwards, has left the game and will not return.
  • [18:49] A beautiful play by Kadri and Marleau gives Marner a wide open net, and somehow, he misses. Looked like he hit the post or something?
  • [17:51] The Rangers have a decently strong shift against the Leafs fourth, which has been their worst line so far. Less to do with that line, and more to do with the success of the other three.
  • [15:21] Marner looks like he wants another for the Leafs. He bears down on the net with speed, and nearly sets up Marleau from behind the goal.
  • [13:49] McElhinney ROBS Rick Nash (not the first time tonight), to preserve the shutout. The Rangers have been listless for much of the night, but they have gotten into the slot and gotten good chances away.
  • [10:56] Gardiner takes another penalty — this time for holding (once again on Nash, who has been the best Ranger tonight).
  • [9:39] McElhinney makes another great save, this time on Vesey, stoning him in the slot.
  • [6:40] Nash would be interesting as a short-term option after this season. Hardev suggested this recently, and I think there’s something to be said for it. He’s not near his peak level, but he can still really score, and in a sheltered role with a possession driver on his line, he could add secondary scoring.
  • [5:32] Anyways, we’re just waiting for this one to end.
  • [4:24] Marleau and Kadri get a 2-on-1, which Pavelec saves.
  • [2:01] I actually don’t know how the Rangers haven’t scored. They’ve had a million shots in front, ever since the game got out of hand.
  • [0:00] The rest of the game passes without incident. Dominant, dominant Leafs win.

Thoughts

  • You gotta give the goalie love whenever there’s a shutout. McElhinney played very well, and has continued his strong play throughout the year. With two NHL-quality goalies in the AHL, he presumably had little margin for error, and he’s stayed well within it.
  • Almost every Leafs was good. I thought Marner stood out in particular, and I really love that line.
  • The Leafs D was quiet in their own zone, which I appreciated. By no means was this a sterling defensive performance in every way; the Rangers got slot chances, and lots of them. But if the Leafs defence is average, as opposed to bad, they’re strong enough offensively to give a lot of teams trouble. No defender stood out to me as particularly amazing, but there were also no brainfarts or massive errors. Of the set, I thought Carrick was the weakest, but he was still fine.
  • Matthews was quiet, but Hyman and Nylander were very strong.
  • The fourth line had a weak game relative to the rest of the team, but still solid.
  • It’s hard to divorce the success of the Leafs from the failure of the Rangers. This was a putrid effort by a really bad team. As such, I’m not willing to say that the Leafs new lines have made them a contender or anything of the sort. Not yet, anyways. They’ve beat up on two bad defensive teams in periods of turmoil. That’s obviously encouraging. But a big test looms on Saturday in Boston. If they can do to the Bruins what they did to the Stars, I’m on board.