So no Auston Matthews, eh? No problem. The Leafs have depth and they have other high-quality players. It will be fine. Focus on the unmitigated excitement of Josh Leivo drawing in the game, and William Nylander having a chance at centre.
The lines at warmups are:
So if you were taken by the practice lines that had Kapanen “promoted” and Komarov on the fourth line still, this won’t suit you. If you thought they looked optimistic against Boston, you might be relieved. That is a hell of first line, though.
Now let’s see how this plays out, shall we?
Oh, yeah, it’s “Hockey is for Everyone Night” which they barely mention. The MLSE Foundation does a lot of good work in growing the game with kids in the GTA who would never get a chance to try hockey. The NHL does in America more than Canada but the Leafs do work directly in Toronto and support the MLSE Foundation.
Not really sure what the NHL does to make me feel like they’re here for me or for LGBTQ people or that they value us all equally as people who see the world in our own unique ways. I think the Leafs try, just not terribly hard. I’ll just keep on kicking down the door, though. Got my boots on! (If you want to kick in the door with us, PPP is always available to host your stompy feet.)
The Kadri line gets the start with Rielly and Hainsey, and we should expect Gardiner and Zaitsev to back up the epic Nylander line of awesomeness.
Mo knows how to shoot, and he gets a good shot on Rask to keep him honest.
Bozak line is out for a faceoff in the D-zone and Polak vigorously tries to chip the puck out and gets it nearish to the blueline. Two more failures follow. Er, not from Polak, the fail is shared around equally.
Nylander line starts with, who else, Marner making a play.
Kadri comes right out to match up against Bergeron.
When they put Bergeron in the HHOF, they should make him work his way down a line of all the checking lines he’s dummied over the years to get to the podium.
Brown with a shot on net on the Bozak line’s better second go in this game.
Nylander line is out, and who else, Marner makes a play. This time it’s off a really good Nylander forecheck, and can we talk about how good Nylander is getting?
Oh wow, Leivo gives the puck away right at Andersen’s left hand. Our fourth line <<<< Boston’s.
Fourth lines give way to Bergeron vs Kadri, and yeah, you know it’s coming. The Leafs just let this happen.
Brad [redacted] Marchand.
Nylander line again, and offensive zone time again, and passing that connects, and you better believe Mitch Marner gets a damn goal. This time it’s the drag and ... pass from Nylander that makes this happen. He mimicked perfectly a shooter and then popped it over to Marner.
1-1 on the scoreboard.
I’m sorry, that goal was really hot shit. Go watch it again.
Now back to the game.
Leivo redeems himself with a nice offensive centering pass, but Moore is not home.
Really nice set of chances from the Kadri line. Which, frankly just being north of the red line against the Bergeron line is good enough from them. Rask looks hard to beat.
Nylander streaks up the ice and passes to Marner, and seriously, um, everyone, including TSN radio guys — why the hell would you trade either? Big three forever.
Bozak line has a piecemeal change going, while the Nylander line of doom dominates the offensive zone, and then the Bruins take a too much man penalty.
Power play to the Leafs.
LOL — Faceoff, Marner to Mo to JvR to Kadri and in the damn net!
That’s pretty nice too, watch it again. I think the power play coach should get a nod on that one.
Leo takes a hooking call right away to make it fair to the downtrodden Bruins. Sort of a fluke thing, not really his fault.
Bruins try their set passing play and shoot it wide.
I like this PKer the Leafs have, big tall Danish guy. He’s good. The rest of them are too, and the penalty expires without any damage.
The ice looks good tonight, unlike the Islanders game in the first two periods.
Not really sure how Chara won a race to the puck over Nylander, but the icing call gets the Bergeron line out against Nylander, so naturally Kadri’s line comes out on the fly. The Leafs defend a little when the play moves south, so it’s okay.
Yeah, okay. The Bergeron line is out in the offensive zone, and they just control everything that happens to the puck off the faceoff. Every player on the Bruins is better at this than every player on the Leafs is at defending. Marchand with the goal.
2-2 on the scoreboard.
Next, the Leafs try to make this game go to hell when Dermott takes a neutral zone interference penalty. I remember when Borgman did those a lot.
Okay, I’m not making this up: Polak skates like the wind to break up the Bruins as the come in on the power play set up. This penalty expires with no damage.
Wow, the Leafs look like the Leafs in the defensive zone. It’s like five guys trying to remember where they parked their car.
Lou Lamoriello is watching the game, so for what that’s worth, he’s not trading for Erik Karlsson as we speak.
The Leafs are who they are. The parable of the frog and the scorpion is apt here. They won’t suddenly shut down the Bruins; they just have to outskate and outshoot them.
Coaches Corner is not for everyone, so I’ll mute it. See you in the second period.
Bergeron vs Kadri to start the second period.
Komarov with something that looks like shot, but is so weak as to be amusing.
The Bozak line gets some good zone time, but struggles to control the puck and that burns the Leafs as Jake DeBrusk comes down the ice and scores.
The Leafs come right back with pressure, and just roll out lines that are grabbing the puck and moving in on the offensive zone.
Bergeron gets a post after a neutral zone turnover. Ping!
The fourth lines take a fruitless skate where no one really controls the play, and then the game starts up again.
Rask has to make some tough saves on the Bozak line. We have Polak moving up in the play, and that always surprises me.
More pressure from Nylander. Kadri gets in it on an incomplete change, and the Leafs are pouring on the offence.
More offence off a Zaitsev shot. Three solid shifts by the Leafs.
Kappy with the jets on up ice and Brandon Carlo wipes out.
Kapanen just sent Carlo's ankles to the shadow realm. pic.twitter.com/sVr77Z8eb7— Flintor (@TheFlintor) February 25, 2018
The Leafs get a golden opportunity Moore can’t convert on, then Leivo can’t find the net.
The game is now half over and the Leafs have to do this for thirty more minutes.
Bruins fourth line is taking it to the Kadri line, but they come back better against the Bergeron line.
Now the Bruins fourth line is working against the Bozak line.
Bozak on a rush goes to his backhand, and Rask lets it bounce off of him.
Kapanen with his speed gains the zone and his centering pass has no one to receive it. This is a recording.
The play is breaking up into more sloppy passes and choppy ineffective rushes, but the Leafs are still driving the bus.
More fourth line success, and this is a very good sign for the Leafs that their depth is solving the Bruins bottom line.
Chara takes a fairly weak slashing call and the Leafs have a power play chance.
Leafs with a lot of chances on the power play, led by Marner and Kadri. Whoa! Josh Leivo draws a penalty as the second unit is trying to get set up. 5on3 for a few seconds.
Leivo’s reward is to go sit down while the first unit comes back out. Which is a very good thing, because it’s Marner to Kadri and the game is tied!
3-3 on the scoreboard.
Kasperi Kapanen. He roars in with the puck, he has the option to shoot, and he ... I don’t want to say it. He passes to Komarov. Why, Kappy? Why ya gotta be like this? Komarov totally misplayed the pass, as in he was nowhere near it.
The clock runs down on a period dominated by the Leafs, but with a goal from each team.
The Bruins were a one line team last year with age-related slowness throughout the lineup. They fixed that this year with a big injection of youthful support players like DeBrusk, but the Leafs seem to have tired them out in this period, particularly the second three quarters of it. The Leafs aren’t winning the game though.
Mitchell Marner is the best player on the ice, either team.
Here we are again, the game is tied and it’s Kadri vs Bergeron.
The Leafs are not as heavy on the puck as they were, and Boston is getting some looks in.
This is an all out up-and-down test of speed. If you make a fantasy trade for the Leafs, make it a fast guy.
Nylander carries the puck in, but the Bruins are on him, and he loses and edge.
They show Nylander on the bench out of his helmet talking to Marner, and holy crap you guys, these are kids! It’s shocking sometimes. They’re playing fantastic hockey tonight (helped by their usage, but still).
Leivo gets the puck then loses it instantly. He’s been serviceable, but adds nothing special.
The Nylander line gets hemmed in, but Polak gets it to Marner and they are out, but it’s an icing, and Hyman takes an accidental stick to the face and has to stay out.
The Leafs stay hemmed in and have to ice the puck. Marner almost gets out, and then finally Hyman does.
That slowed down the game nicely for the older team.
The Bozak line are struggling to control the puck in the offensive zone. Boston isn’t getting it going, but neither are the Leafs.
Polak hacks at the puck, and then the Nylander line end up icing the puck. The Leafs look tired here, particularly Nylander. Tired in the mind, I imagine. He’s played a hell of a games so far, though.
Boston looks like they’re on a power play as the Leafs are now chasing all the time.
Jake Gardiner delivers a huge hit. You know, as he does.
Dermott with a lovely short outlet pass springs the Bozak line. You don’t always need a long stretch pass.
Leivo! He gets a shot on goal. It’s his only shot of the game, and his low shot rate is why he’s press boxed. It’s not mysterious.
Things aren’t really going the Leafs way right now, but man, are they dogged. They remind me of Hyman last year when sometimes he and Matthews were the only ones left in the game as it was going to hell.
Centre ice faceoff after a TV timeout at four minutes to go, and it’s down to this. This is the game, that other stuff doesn’t matter.
Two minutes to go, and it occurs to me that the D pairs have just rolled out two-by-two, and after the last game, that’s interesting. I’ve no complaints on any of them either.
I want a Marner goal though.
Kadri’s line, sans Marner, gets some chances, and Marleau actually looks like he’s in the game. This lineup does not favour him.
Marner with a shot on Rask from a deep angle.
Ron Hainsey gets the puck and fires it past Rask, but the goal is challenged for interference as Hyman pushes the Bruins defender into Rask’s skate. It’s a standard challenge, not a late-game situation room deal.
This is a crease violation in IIHF play, no question.
Hainsey scores from the point, but it might get called back for goalie interference. pic.twitter.com/0axTSUULSy— Flintor (@TheFlintor) February 25, 2018
And half an hour later, there is no decision. Whatever happens that Leafs top line is very well rested.
Gooooooooaaaaaal. Whoo hooo. (No one understands goaltender interference).
The Leafs will be (temporarily, I’m sure) in second place if they hold the line for one minute.
They do hold the line with some good play by everyone. Leafs dominated the Corsi numbers, but this is a somewhat weaker than usual offensive concentration of shots. They really kept Boston away from any good concentration of chances though. Moneypuck.com has the Bruins winning the expected goals battle though. So an even game if you look at all three angles on it.
Leafs Win! Boston Loses! All is right in the universe!