Are you ready to relive the game of the century? I’m sure you are, so let’s get to it.
Lines tonight are almost last night’s with Jason Spezza out and Trevor Moore (finally) reactivated from LTIR and on the fourth line. Timashov stays in the game.
Michael Hutchinson with the play of the game. Dylan Larkin got a breakaway when an Activated Justin Holl spontaneously fell down.
On the closeup, you can see Larkin's shot goes off the post#Leafs x #LeafsForever pic.twitter.com/u3xhCWwlfz— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) December 22, 2019
Leafs get an early power play when the evil Red Wings knock down Zach Hyman.
Plot twist! Calvin Pickard comes in for Jonathan Bernier who left for
undisclosed reasons either a LBI or fear the Leafs might trade for him if he looked good. Tough spot for Pickard to come in cold on the PK.
Whoa! Pickard makes a save on the one-timer, but gives up a big backup rebound, and Marner nearly has a wide-open net.
Leafs let Larkin go for a slower rush, and this time Hutchinson actually has to make a save.
Travis Dermott with a heroic sliding block when a pinch goes awry. Er, sorry, an Activated Defender move results in the most probable outcome, er, I mean, when the system works as intended.
Good effort from 23 here#Leafs x #LeafsForever pic.twitter.com/7MSBTxrePk— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) December 22, 2019
And a scoreless period closes. The Leafs have all the zone time, 58% Adjusted Corsi and 42% of the Expected Goals. Against the Detroit Red Wings.
Meanwhile in the AHL
The Marlies are playing in Belleville, and on my other monitor, as they help Greg Moore start his pro-coaching career. They have Joseph Woll in net, and you know what that means (they don’t, traditionally, offer up much defending in front of Woll). Pontus Aberg scored on the first shot of the game, giving Moore totally the wrong idea about this team, and then they did this:
This team needs some work. But it’s only 2-1 for the B-Sens, they can still come back.
William Nylander playing air hockey with a little kid is everything#Leafs x #LeafsForever pic.twitter.com/WChbX8TIe3— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) December 22, 2019
Auston Matthews carries the puck up the neutral zone with support, and he... dumps it in, and Kapanen goes and retrieves it, and he... cycles it back high personally, passes it to Tyson Barrie who is standing still in the centre of the blueline, and he wails on it like it’s the hardest shot contest at the All-Star break. Pickard with an easy save. This entire sequence was to hockey what Miracle Whip is to an aioli.
Red Wings get another chance on a two-on-one, and Holl comes to tidy up behind Hutchinson.
Another good stop by Hutchinson#Leafs x #LeafsForever pic.twitter.com/C2eDpCoiXy— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) December 22, 2019
OMG. I’m writing a sternly worded letter of complaint to HNIC. “You might not know that Steve Yzerman and Brendan Shanahan were teammates.” Yes, yes, that’s before everyone’s time, sure.
Hutchinson has to make another big save, so the Leafs try that shooting at the net thing, and Pickard comes up equal to the task.
Trevor Moore with a nice move, but he misses the net. He’s been working hard in his very few shifts tonight.
So close for Moore #Leafs x #LeafsForever pic.twitter.com/bb8yb8vhnx— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) December 22, 2019
Yay! A penalty behind the play. I guess the number two ref was bored. And it’s Alexander Kerfoot, Mr Penalty, who is going off, but he’s taking Fabbri with him, so it’s four-on-four.
Matthews cheats so high on a four-on-four play, Phil Kessel is jealous, and what comes of it is not a lot, since he can’t actually out-deke four Red Wings all alone.
Golly, I hope he does the lacrosse goal, next.
The pace of the game is somewhere between glacial and film running in reverse. The commentary is reduced to enthusing over defensive Activation! while the ensuing opposing breakaway is already in progress.
Sheldon Keefe comes up with a line of Hyman, Matthews and Marner because this team, frankly, sucks worse than they did last night.
Hyman gets hauled down on a breakaway, and he bowls Pickard. The ref is a coward and calls a penalty, not a penalty shot.
No, wait, this might be a goal.
Yup, they’re calling it a goal (technically an own goal by the Red Wings)
Best angle of it, the puck goes in before the net comes off#Leafs x #LeafsForever pic.twitter.com/bCf7Oi1pmG— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) December 22, 2019
Matthews looked like he was legit thinking of try the lacrosse goal. How be you score one yourselves the old-fashioned way first.
Auston Matthews tried to do the lacrosse goal there#Leafs x #LeafsForever pic.twitter.com/HrWR9QBC2j— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) December 22, 2019
Oh, cool. Jake Muzzin takes a tripping call with under a minute to go.
And that period ends with the Leafs having given away all of their shot share, and now have 49% adjusted Corsi and 40% Expected Goals, and again, they are playing a historically bad team that has CALVIN PICKARD in net.
As noted by Kevin Papetti, Nylander and Kapanen have been benched for a large part of the second period since well before the goal.
Meanwhile in the AHL
Greg Moore obviously has an effective intermission speech, since the Marlies played their second period very well, upping the shots on goal to 11-12 on the period, and crucially scoring two goals to Belleville’s one. They lead 4-3 in a game they don’t really deserve to be winning.
As long as you’re loose and having fun, really, what else matters? Anyone for some ping pong?
Leafs open the period by killing the rest of the Muzzin penalty.
The Leafs immediately get their own power play because the Red Wings are that dumb.
Matthews isn’t out for the power play, and the Leafs have only four guys on the ice. Finally the bench notices.
And because you can look like a fool one minute and still be the hero, Matthews gets an old-fashioned goal on the power play.
You can't keep a straight face during a group celly when Marner is on the ice with you#Leafs x #LeafsForever pic.twitter.com/gLBIGh7xXY— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) December 22, 2019
It’s possible Matthews realized he’d just narrowly missed being a gigantic idiot on Hockey Night in Canada on home ice.
Nylander and Kapanen are playing with Kerfoot in this third period, so maybe some messages have been learned all around. Engvall is with Tavares and Mikheyev, while the line that scored the goal, Hyman, Marner, Matthews is the other top line.
Red Wings get another odd-man rush, and the shot goes wide, and in the “there is no deserve in hockey” theme of the night, Hyman makes it 3-0 Leafs on the return rush.
Great shot and a great play, so it’s not like they didn’t work for the goal, but they’ve only worked for it some of the time tonight.
The Leafs look like they’ve twigged to the fact they owe their goalie some effort, and they’re spending a lot of time in the Detroit zone again.
All that hockey-playing pays off and Matthews makes it 4-0 Leafs.
#LeafsForever goal— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) December 22, 2019
Auston Matthews gets another one. 4-0#Leafs pic.twitter.com/AczpPs8hvh
And now there’s a not-fight in the corner. Mantha vs Muzzin, and this went horribly wrong. A wresting move where Muzzin takes Mantha down ends with the trainers on the ice, after Mantha hits his head on the ice.
I. Hate. This.
Muzzin reacted to being jumped by Mantha, but went way overboard. Muzzin gets a roughing and an unsportsmanlike penalty, and Mantha gets a roughing minor as well. Mantha looks bad, and yes he started it, but that was an unfortunate ending to say the least.
Detroit has a power play for the rest of the game.
Dammit. The Red Wings spoil the shutout on the power play.
Dermott gets a game misconduct for slapping his stick on the ice from the bench to make a show of how much he didn’t like the extra penalty to Muzzin. I’m not clear what the extra penalty was for to be clear.
This is what took Dermott out of the game#Leafs x #LeafsForever pic.twitter.com/YbKUVmkK4h— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) December 22, 2019
And now, here we go. Athanasiou takes a knee-on-knee run at Kerfoot, and Justin Holl goes for him. Good man, Holl, on that move, that was a dirty hit.
Athanasiou takes a run at Kerfoot#Leafs x #LeafsForever pic.twitter.com/Llr9uuiP9H— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) December 22, 2019
Athanasiou gets six or so penalties, including a fighting major, just to get him out of the game. Holl joins him.
And this dull, tepid, lackadaisical game comes to a limping close. I hope Mantha is well. Most of the rest of it was just stupid.
Meanwhile in the AHL
The Marlies can take a period or two off because they have a significant scoring skill advantage over almost the entire NHL. They upped the score to 7-3 in a third period that the B-Sens basically handed them. Sound familiar?
Every once in a while I think the Leafs should post the ticket prices the fans pay in the locker room. This game was one of those times. But maybe a fight forgives all sins?
Michael Hutchinson did his job, and eventually, so did the rest of the team. Let’s call this a teaching moment, I suppose as well as two necessary points in the books.
Please thank Omar for making this recap tell you a meaningful story with his gifs, and follow him on Twitter.