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Recap: Maple Leafs play like champions; Blues capitalize on mistakes to take the win 3-2

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That was the real Maple Leafs out there, though, and that was good to see.

St. Louis Blues v Toronto Maple Leafs Photo by Kevin Sousa/NHLI via Getty Images

It’s time to play the Cup champs. Will the Blues be tired and still hungover? Or are they ready to try to repeat? Let’s see what happens.

First Period

Alexander Kerfoot gets the first Ooooh from the crowd when he gets a post when he’s got Jordan Binnington just barely beat. So far this is the good third line, not the bad one from the Columbus game.

Freddie takes a puck right off his mask which sends the mask tumbling off. He seems fine.

Nylander takes a shot from way out near the top of the circles right after a clean carry-in, and Binnington froze it easy. What’s the point of that? Tell me they aren’t playing to get offensive zone faceoffs.

Petan makes a good play to pounce on the puck and make a low to high pass, then his opposite winger has it on the boards, and, wow, he looks good. That “winger” is of course, Rasmus Sandin.

Justin Holl grabs the puck and moves up smartly. Would have liked a pass from him, not a shot, but that was a timely play in a game where the pace is finally heating up.

Kappy, we need to talk. And we need to talk about your helmet. It’s fallen off three times in four games, and you keep having to go off to fix it under the new rules. Stop being a dumbass about this too.

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Lovely chance from the Matthews line:

Blues take the first penalty, and Matthews gets a post on the PP after Marner gets a shot. Hard to complain about this aspect of the new power play

They run out the clock on the first tied up with zeroes.

Thoughts

  • Leafs struggling, as expected, to get clean exits against one of the best pressuring teams in the NHL. It’s a contest of greatest weakness vs greatest strength.
  • Blues struggling, as expected, to counter the speed and intensity of one of the best offensive pace teams in the NHL. It’s a contest of greatest weakness vs greatest strength.
  • Petan with a strong period offensively in limited minutes.
  • Leafs played a near-perfect period with 64% 5on5 SVA CF (NST) and .89 - .4 expected goals in All Situations (Moneypuck).

Second Period

Rasmus Sandin gets a cheesy hooking call, and the Blues get a power play.

Ilya Mikheyev on the PK looks like the Leafs made this guy with the NHL 20 create a character. It’s like he’s been on the Leafs for years. Learned it all on the Marlies, rode the buses...

One little mistake, and the post PK offence is busted up by the Blues, and they get extended zone time. The Leafs are defending well, wingers included, but they can’t keep control.

Binnington with a hell of a stop on Kapanen’s best shot of the season:

Blues win the faceoff in their own zone, and the Leafs fourth line can’t even get close to the puck. The Blues act like they aren’t even there, exit the zone, and Oskar Sundqvist fires a rocket by Andersen. Leafs totally outclassed by the Blues depth on this play.

1-0 Blues

And the fourth line have their revenge!

Goat goal, number two on the year! Who saw this coming?

Tie Game

Petan did the hard work on this one, forechecking and heading for the netfront. Great comeback for that line. See, sometimes you gotta put the guys who failed right back out there, no matter what.

Now this next goal, though, this is just pornographic:

But his emails, er, contract, though...

2-1 Leafs

Justin Holl gets put in jail for Ilya Mikheyev’s crime, and Holl’s arguing, Mickey has a baaaad innocent face, and you know, Holl...shut up. This is a swap the Leafs will take on the PK.

The Blues power play is bad, and that’s fine with me.

The Leafs are just laying on the pressure now. It’s relentless. Binnington is in a spin, and the only problem is they Leafs can’t get a good shot off. They do draw a penalty from a dominating offensive tidal wave.

Not a great power play from the Leafs, with Tyler Bozak getting the best chance shorthanded.

And then the Leafs struggle to clear the puck several times with some mismatched lines, Gauthier vs Tarasenko at one point, and Brayden Schenn ties the game in the last minute, and we’re back where we started from.

Tie Game 2 all

Thoughts

  • This period was all Blues until the first Leafs goal. They had evened the Expected Goals, and they had the Leafs spinning in their own zone, and then suddenly the tide turned with a vengence and it was all Leafs.
  • The Leafs killed the Blues comeback and are now ahead 2.73 - 1.53 Expected Goals in All Situations and 62% in SVA CF. But that one post-PK shift where they had the wrong guys on the ice and Morgan Rielly couldn’t clear the puck has undone all of that work.
  • This is more like the Leafs offence I want to see though:

Third Period

Time to regroup and play a 20-minute game with the best they’ve got.

Whoops, that’s a big no-no. Carl Gunnarsson is going off, and Trevor Moore takes a retaliation call on a dumb cross check.

Really good defensive play by Cody Ceci on the four-on-four. He’s much better going the other direction, so let’s pat his head for that play.

Sandin does this thing he does, where he dumps the puck out to the bench area. And, okay, it’s not the dump out that goes nowhere, but he loves this play (maybe a Soo Greyhounds thing?) and it’s so risky. So easy to cause a too many men penalty.

Alex Pietrangelo gets the go-ahead goal on a simple cycle play. Kapanen loses the giant defender in his rearview, and that’s that.

3-2 Blues

Oh! Marner nearly had this game tied. More of this pressure, please.

Leafs get caught in some desperation defending, and take a penalty.

Shut up Pull Bot, they can’t now.

Dammit! Mickey with a shorty chance, but Binnington looks like a Cup winner out there tonight.

Andersen pulled at 2:15.

You know, don’t you, that usually a goalie pull fails, right? Hockey is not for the timid.

Excellent puck work on the six on five by the Leafs.

And that’s all the time the Leafs are allowed to try to tie this up. The Blues win 3-2.

Thoughts

  • Don’t worry too much about most of the dumb stuff that’s coming from an excess of passion. Johnsson, Kapanen and Moore have all been guilty. They’ll find the balance. Worry about the guys who look bored, like.. uh, um. hmmm. well... I got no one.
  • William Nylander was the best Leafs player out there tonight.
  • I really liked Rasmus Sandin tonight, he looked like a player for the first time.
  • This was a good process game. The sort where no matter the outcome, nerds be like, ‘this is a good outing,’ and everyone else be like, ‘but the score, though.’ I don’t care about the score, the Leafs really, really needed a game where they played like the god damn Maple Leafs. And this was that.