Tonight the Leafs mercifully play the last game of the regular season, and the real hockey can begin.
CBC opens their broadcast with a heart wrenching feature on the tragic bus accident. A reminder: if you want to donate to the GoFundMe, this is the official one here: https://www.gofundme.com/funds-for-humboldt-broncos. Be wary of these sorts of sites as it’s not uncommon for some scumbags to take advantage of tragedies to make fake ones to try and get the money for themselves. Make sure you find the official fundraiser.
You can see a highly emotional Mike Babcock and some Leafs players speaking about the tragedy here. Teams around the league will be having moments of silence and wearing stickers on their helmets for the team crest.
Let’s get to some hockey now. We could use the distraction.
Babcock looks fired up on the bench, slapping the shoulder pads of all the players in motivation.
Kadri’s line sets up at center ice, the puck is dropped, and our distraction for the next few hours is here.
Nice to see Dermott back in the lineup, and his point shot rebounds off the boards to Bozak in front who almost puts it home. His skating looks smooth, no obvious signs of a foot problem. Leafs follow it up with a few good shifts mostly in the Habs’ end.
Mike Reilly beats Andersen but not the crossbar, that was Montreal’s first good chance this game. Montreal builds momentum off that, they had a couple good chances after that with one of them thanks to Dermott handling the puck like it was coated in grease. Not looked good making decisions in his own end.
Marner absolutely dancing in the Habs’ end with the puck. Kadri knocked down a few times, no penalty. Nylander takes the puck into the Habs zone off a chance and wires one wide. The narrative starting to swing back to the Leafs’ side of things.
The Leafs are the playoff team, the Habs are the lottery team, and the game’s been pretty even, and if anything the Habs have had more real scoring chances. Neither team really has anything to play for so that’s not very encouraging.
Zaitsev with a bizarre decision to go the long way around his own net on a race to the puck, which makes him lose and the Habs get a scoring chance. Not sure if he was expecting Andersen to get it but that was at best poor communication.
Game’s started tilting more the Habs’ way again. Leafs don’t look like a team that really cares about winning or even finishing the season strong so far.
Jonathan Drouin, who is definitely better than every Leafs’ forward not named Matthews, but he isn’t my colleague no matter how much he says he is.
Nylander’s twinkle toes ice dancing through the Habs defense leads to the first PP of the game. The first PP unit turns it over a bunch, so the second unit comes on and Gardiner hits the post, the puck bounces right to Nylander who missed the net (or it was deflected) and he looks to the sky in anguish.
NO WORRIES BECAUSE AUSTON MATTHEWS IS STILL A TORONTO FUCKING MAPLE LEAF BABY! Matthews is making up for lost PP time to wrap up the year. Hope that continues into the playoffs. That goal guarantees Matthews will finish the season at least at exactly a point per game pace.
The horn sounds, and the period is over with the Leafs’ PP bailing out a lack lustre performance that period.
Thoughts — First Period
Scoring chances pretty even, shot attempts favour the Habs more strongly, the PP was the difference. Not exactly high praise considering the disparity between the two teams.
I’m pointedly not watching Coach’s Corner, just like I’ve not watched it all year. I encourage people who don’t like him or his opinions/schtick for the segment to do the same instead of watching it anyways.
Matthews weirdly trying to stick handle through about 2-3 Habs in the slot of his own end... not smart, Auston, it led to a scoring chance for the Habs. Habs really control play for the first 5 minutes of the period. Hyman takes a penalty for holding after looking like his stick was slashed out of his hands. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
[PLAYOFF MATCHUP TRACKER: Boston tied it up vs Ottawa, Lightning have closed the gap to 2-1 but are still losing. Currently looking into Amazon’s return policy for 10 tons of novelty toilet paper]
Leafs kill off the penalty having played the Habs about equal in scoring chances. After the penalty ended, Marleau has a good chance off a Zaitsev point shot. Unfortunately Marner tripped Alzner so the Leafs go back to the PK.
Petry sets up Gallagher for a great chance but Andersen makes a better save in front. Andersen makes another save off a clean point shot.
Leafs kill off that penalty too, but are continuing to get crushed at 5 on 5 possession-wise.
Oh well, the Leafs draw a penalty so they get to increase the lead on the PP! Babcock chooses to put his second unit out first, either because Kadri was just on the ice or because Matthews and co have been so hot lately. They never really put a good chance together, so Marner comes out to dance around the ice some more but can’t get anything through to the net either, and the PP ends with the game still 1-0 Leafs.
Kapanen takes a hit behind the Habs net and didn’t look too solid on his feet going to the bench immediately after. Hopefully he’s okay and was just at the end of his shift anyways.
Right after that, Polak gets turnstiled by the Habs, then knocks into Andersen, and in the scrum the Habs put the puck into the net to tie it up 1-1. Awful sequence by Polak.
The Kadri line comes out after the goal and look to finally have more energy, but can’t get anything through. A few shifts later Bozak, Brown and JVR create a nice chance but Price makes a nice glove save on JVR. Nice to see them finally generating any kind of offense 5 on 5.
1-1 tie game.
Matthews takes a slash (or hook?) and the Leafs go back to the PP. The period ends before the end of the PP with no goals to show for it. Leafs tied 1-1 with the Habs after two.
[PLAYOFF MATCHUP TRACKER: Boston now leading 3-1, Lightning still losing 2-1. Amazon rep was extremely rude when I asked about returning the toilet paper. He must be a Bruins fan.]
Thoughts — Second Period
More of the same as the first period. Leafs didn’t really generate any offense at 5 on 5, and couldn’t capitalize on the two PP chances they had. Habs dominated 5 on 5 shot attempts, scoring chances were closer.
Leafs start the period with a bit of time left on the PP but can’t get anything going, BUT AUSTON MATTHEWS IS STILL A TORONTO FUCKING MAPLE LEAF!
Nylander with a good backcheck turns it over, Gardiner sets up Matthews in the slot and Hyman pots home the rebound.
Canadiens go back to controlling 5 on 5 play, so Komarov wisely decides to end the 5 on 5 nonsense by falling on top of Price. Habs to the PK.
It almost works! The first 30 seconds of the PP Hyman has two great chances short handed, and it takes more than a full minute for the Habs to ever really get set up with control in the Leafs end. In fact, the Habs NEVER get set up with control the entire power play. Mighty fine PK effort.
And right after the penalty ends, McCarron takes a really stupid penalty on Rielly. It was a weird jump hit interference slash thing. Causes a bit of a scrum, but nothing more than words and Fortnite handles are exchanged.
Leafs PP doesn’t fail spectacularly like the Habs just did but don’t really generate any good chances either.
[PLAYOFF MATCHUP TRACKER: Boston lead down to 3-2, but Lightning still losing 2-1. Wondering how hot dogs cooked over Boston Bruins toilet paper fire would taste. I’m guessing probably like a smokey shitweasel.]
Leafs have played much better this period and utterly dominated every part of play. They’ve caught up on shot attempts at 5 on 5 and taken a strong lead on scoring chances. Seven minutes to go and the Leafs are looking close in on a couple of team records with the win.
[PLAYOFF MATCHUP TRACKER: Lightning tie the game 2-2 with less than 10 minutes in the third period. If they win the game they clinch the division, if they get a point Boston needs to win both of the last two games including tonight to win it. I’ve put the cans of gasoline away for my Bruins toilet paper fire... for now]
Montreal starting to press for the tie a bit more, but the Leafs are still doing a good job of keeping the puck in their end without 4 minutes to go.
Hyman outfights THREE Habs behind the net and gets the puck out to Matthews, all alone in front. McCarron in desperation hauls down Matthews and takes the penalty to prevent a prime Matthews scoring chance. Leafs to the PP.
This time they don’t waste the opportunity to put the game away. Kadri puts away a slick backhand for the goal, putting the game pretty much to bed with a late 3-1 lead.
Well, Matthews apparently wants the Leafs to get more practice on the PK and took an uncharacteristic penalty for cross checking Carr twice.
On the Habs PP they get a flurry of chances with Andersen scrambling along the ice like a fish out of water, but the Habs can’t put it by him.
[PLAYOFF MATCHUP TRACKER: Lightning get the point for getting to OT, Boston wins in regulation. They need the Lightning to lose or Tampa clinches the division.]
NOT SO FAST! Mike Reilly scores on the PP with less than a minute left to pull within a goal. Hainsey’s face on the replay... hilarious.
Off the faceoff Marner and Kadri get the puck deep into the Habs end and keep it there, and LMAO Price completely misplays the puck to Marleau in front of his own net, and Patty puts home the easiest tap in goal he’ll ever score.
And with only a dozen or so seconds left in the game, the Leafs wrap up a pretty great season.
[PLAYOFF MATCHUP TRACKER: Lightning lose in OT, Boston wins in regulation. Boston has a chance to win the division if they win tomorrow vs Florida. My toilet paper horde is deciding whether my butt and then drowning or being burned alive a bonfire is a worse way to die]
LEAFS WIN! COMMENCE GIF DANCE PARTY!
With the win the Toronto Maple Leafs end the season in style, and with some new records.