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Toronto Destroys Another Terrible Team: Senators 3 - Leafs 6

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Mitch Marner lights up the ACC

Ottawa Senators v Toronto Maple Leafs Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images

First Period

[20:00 - 15:00]

It’s a strong start for the Leafs. On the very first shift, JVR has an early chance all alone, and then the Matthews line comes in and continues the pressure. The Leafs are better than the Sens, and look like they want to show it early on.

And then they do just that, as Mitch Marner scores! 1-0 Maple Leafs. The Sens are in shambles in their defensive end, failing to clear the puck time and time again. Marner picks up a loose puck, slides across the slot, and rifles it past Anderson. There’s been a lot of talk about his relatively poor shot this season, but if he gets in close enough, he is still very dangerous.

In general, the Kadri line looks like it’s humming in their first few shifts, and Ottawa isn’t mounting anything approximating resistance to test the porous Leafs D.

[15:00 - 10:00]

Ottawa is having real trouble exiting the zone, and as a result, the Leafs have a ton of offense in the early parts of this game.

It pays off with an Auston Matthews goal! 2-0 Toronto. With more offensive zone time, Nylander circles through the top of the zone and drops to Matthews on the reverse. He does his patented release-point-switch snap shot, and fires it top shelf. No chance for Anderson, and the Leafs look like they want to stomp on Ottawa’s throat here.

[10:00 - 5:00]

Still nothing going for Ottawa. Hyman and Nylander get a 2-on-1. Unfortunately, Hyman has the puck, and it comes to nothing. Really, he deferred too much there, forcing a pass when it wasn’t in the cards. Hyman normally defers offensively to a great degree, as he should, given that his two linemates are among the more gifted players in the league. But he definitely should have shot.

Meanwhile, the Leafs are generating shots like its going out of style. Kadri makes a neat drop back to Marleau, who beat Karlsson in the neutral zone. This creates a 2-on-1 with Marleau and Marner. The old guy passes to the young guy, and it’s 3-0 Toronto. Anderson says goodbye, Mike Condon comes in.

The Sens eventually do venture past the Leafs blueline, where Gardiner promptly takes a holding penalty. Maybe Ottawa can finally get something going?

Never mind. Ottawa takes a too many men penalty very early, and their power play is immediately cut short.

Looking at Ottawa’s roster tonight, one conclusion is obvious — Ottawa is really, really bad, by the way. Also, they gave their GM a three year extension, because why not shit on your fans a little more during a horrible year. Fun times in the nation’s capital.

[5:00 - 0:00]

The 4-on-4 and Leafs power play doesn’t amount to much, though the Leafs do get some zone time on the power play and a few half-chances. But we return to 5-on-5 with the score unchanged.

By the way, Hyman is a man possessed today. He has a beastly forecheck that turns into a power play for the Leafs, as Mark Borowiecki takes about 30 penalties trying to impede him.

The Matthews unit starts the power play, and has a few chances, but no goals. That unit has not been terribly prolific this season, for whatever reason. Certainly, they’ve been nowhere near the top group, spearheaded by JvR.

The end of the period comes, and that was comprehensive domination from the Leafs. Ottawa is bad, and the Leafs are good enough to exploit this.

Second Period

[20:00 - 15:00]

As the second period starts, you’d expect Ottawa to do a little more than in the first. It would be hard for them to do less. True to form, they actually force some frozen pucks from Andersen, and hold the puck in the offensive zone in the early part of the period.

Unfortunately, their good start doesn’t last long. Nylander is able to spring Kadri for a breakaway, and while he’s stopped, it leads to a Leafs sequence in the Senators zone, and is a reminder of just how poor their defense is.

The Leafs keep doing their thing. Ottawa gets a shot, maybe two, but then they’re forced to defend, constantly. In particular, the Kadri line is just killing the Sens. They have no answer for that trio, and the Leafs forwards are so dominant that the defense is hardly having to activate to create chances.

[15:00 - 10:00]

Of course, as I say that, the fourth line and third pair get hemmed in by Ottawa and concede a few good shots, eventually icing the puck. A warning shot from Ottawa, if nothing else. The Matthews line comes on and then does their thing, trading chances with their opponents, for better or for worse. No goals occur during this stretch, but it is very fun. The Sens do look better now.

And it pays off for them. A bad change gives Johnny Oduya all the space in the world to walk into, and Mark Stone finds him. His shot beats Freddie, and it’s a 3-1 game. Ottawa was playing better this period, and with how weak the Leafs are defensively, this was inevitable to some degree.

The Kadri line bounces back with a strong shift, to ensure momentum doesn’t sway too far from Toronto. Unfortunately, it’s followed by a shift where Ron Hainsey trips Erik Karlsson, and Ottawa can cut it to one if they get a good power play.

[10:00 - 5:00]

Luckily, it’s Ottawa, so they don’t. Though Mark Stone gets an amazing chance in the aftermath of it that Andersen turns away brilliantly. It’d be nice if the Leafs regained control of this period, after that penalty. The Kadri line comes on and ensures they do just that, with another strong shift. They’ve been excellent tonight. On the ensuing faceoff, Tom Pyatt blatantly interferes with JvR, and the Leafs head to the man advantage.

And they score! Marner throws it in front of the net, and it ricochets in. Even the players seem unsure of whose goal it should be, but the replay eventually shows that it goes in off JvR, who now has his 22nd of the season. 4-1 Toronto.

[5:00 - 0:00]

Kasperi Kapanen does one or two things a game that make me feel he’s totally overqualified for fourth line work. I love his speed. Today, he uses it and centres the puck, nearly creating a goal in the process. He’s gonna move up the lineup, sooner rather than later.

While I’m gushing, I really can’t say enough about how good Kadri’s line has been. Marner, in particular, has been aggressive, confident, and everything he needs to be in order to meet his sky-high potential.

Anyways, the second period ends, and while it was more even than the first, the Leafs still have a notable edge. The third period beckons!

Third Period

[20:00 - 15:00]

For the first time that I can see tonight, the Kadri line and Rielly pairing get hemmed in, early in the third. Rielly has a weak backhand that fails to clear the zone, and the Senators make them pay. A Phaneuf point shot is deflected in by Derrick Brassard, and it’s 4-2.

The next shift isn’t much better, as the Matthews line surrenders two quick shots against, generating none of their own. The Leafs are still capable of blowing this lead. And just to scare us, Brassard nearly pots a wraparound. Deep breaths.

But the Kadri line makes it all ok again. Marner beats out an icing, Marleau wins a puck battle to Mitch, who passes to Kadri on a low 2-on-1, and Kadri snipes it. 5-2, and a phenomenal play by Marner to let us breathe a little more easily now.

Again, I can’t say enough about how good that line has been.

[15:00 - 10:00]

Matthews’ line, not wanting to be outdone, has a strong shift of their own, though one that has fewer shot attempts than it probably deserved. They had about 45 seconds of controlled zone time against Stone’s line, but were very particular about the shots they took. A bouncing puck also robbed Nylander of a shot from about 3 feet out on Condon.

I haven’t mentioned him much this game, but I think Rielly has had a real strong game as well — his first after his return from injury, in my opinion. He’s been a 1D this season, a true 1D. The Leafs need him to be that going forward.

Speaking of guys we need to be good, Zaitsev made a great defensive play to stop Stone from potting the puck into an empty net. Zaitsev seems awesome in the defensive zone. But he’s really bad at preventing zone entries, and getting out of his own zone. The reverse Marincin, in many ways.

[10:00 - 5:00]

Not a whole lot happens in this five minute segment until the six-minute mark or so. The Bozak line and third pairing gets caught scrambling in their own zone. Bozie takes a slot shot off the knee bravely, but can’t find the ricochet. Ryan Dzingel can, and he fires it by Andersen. 5-3 Toronto.

[5:00 - 0:00]

The Leafs do a masterful job of shutting down the game in the last five minutes. Three minutes in, and the Senators have gotten no shots in this time period. Surely, the Sens themselves have something to do with that. But for a team like Toronto, I’ll take progress however I see it.

And with 1:22 left, Marner fouls Karlsson, and gets lucky with the no-call. Marleau rifles it into the empty net, to make it 6-3 for the Leafs. Marner gets an assist, his fifth point (all of the primary variety). A deserved way to end the game for that line, which absolutely carried Toronto to the win tonight.

Thoughts

  • Lets keep that Kadri line together, eh?
  • This was an encouraging game, but like the Islanders and Rangers game, this was a good team beating up on a terrible one. Don’t get carried away.
  • The Kadri line was so dominant that no other forward was a positive relative Corsi player tonight. That’s bananas.
  • I thought Dermott and Carrick were very ineffective, particularly against such a weak team. They are both better than Polak, but if you’re pinning this victory on not playing him, then you’re barking up the wrong tree.
  • The top two pairs were very strong, in my opinion.
  • This wasn’t the best Andersen I saw, but he didn’t need to be.
  • If the Leafs continue to roll bad teams, that would be awesome. These are the games you need to win convincingly on the road to being a Cup contender.