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Leafs kill the Binnington streak but fall in overtime to the unbeatable Blues

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Tarasenko’s point streak got halted too as the Leafs worked their butts off to get that tie game.

Toronto Maple Leafs v St Louis Blues
The first period looked exactly like this.
Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images

Playing the Blues, you know. It’s been years since the Leafs have beaten them in their home rink. Nothing you can do but keep showing up to play and hope it goes better. Hope is dangerous though. Safer to assume the worst.

First Period

Toronto starts off by testing to see if Frederik Andersen is awake. I think they could try just saying how are ya doin’, but that’s me.

The Leafs come back with a really nice set of scoring chances and a lot of puck control. They have their skates moving to start.

Vladimir Tarasenko is good, don’t know if you knew, and he finally has a centre that’s up to the task of feeding him chances. He is getting chances.

Connor Brown with a desperately terrible attempt to exit the zone. Words cannot express how bad that was. The result was an epic flurry from the Blues fourth line on Andersen.

Travis Dermott has to hop home after he collides with Auston Mattews. He’s hopping still on the bench. This better not be anything more than a stinger, but he’s gone to the locker room now.

The fourth line are out against the Blues top line, and Andersen saves the day with a save so good even he was surprised as he looks around for the puck.

Matthews gets thrown out of the faceoff circle, and Marleau loses (to Bozak, so you know, he was outgunned there), and the play moves very fast down the ice leaving Matthews and Kapanen way, way, way behind the play. Jake Muzzin blows a tire, and even Freddie can’t save a two on nobody chance.

1-0 Blues

Muzzin crossed over to go for the puck on that play, which left Morgan Rielly on the same side of the ice. Fine, if he’d got to the puck or there still wouldn’t have been a forward doing anything but watching.

This catches the action just as Marleau decides to go the wrong way.

Travis Dermott, back in the play and seemingly fine, takes a penalty with an AHL-style dump of a player in the corner.

Kapanen with a good rush chance early in the Blues power play.

The post and the crossbar make a pair of saves so good, they should be signed to an SPC...ah crap. They’re blowing the horn. It went in. Tear up that contract.

2-0 Blues

Thoughts

  • Leafs had some excellent rush chances from the speed of Johnsson and Kapanen
  • That Connor Brown-induced flurry early in the first is still annoying me
  • The Blues absolutely play the type of defensive game that frustrates the speed game of the Leafs and screws up their timing on their defensive-zone and neutral-zone play
  • The New Blues also play really fast offence more in the Leafs/Tampa style than they’ve ever had going before
  • If you play high-risk, fun hockey, you better damn well backcheck as fast as you go the other way on a rush, simple as that
  • If your agent is about to meet with Kyle Dubas this week, you really need to do that
  • This period sucked

Numbers

It felt like the issue in the game was how the Leafs played defensively which wasn’t brilliant under pressure. But in a situation unfortunately reminiscent of the Arizona game, the Leafs seemed to be in the offensive zone a lot, but the shot plot disagrees.

The Corsi differential was only three shots more for the Blues, which is essentially even. But the unblocked shot differential was 10 in favour of the Blues. That’s just enough blocking of the Leafs shooting to frustrate their offence. Watching the game, it looked like many players had great scoring chances. And they did, Binnington made some great saves, but that’s not Leafs-typical offence.

Now of course, if you’re inclined that way, you can scream about how shots being blocked is the shooter’s fault, and the Leafs are bad and should feel bad for not getting the shots through and if Babcock just told them to do it, then they would. But there’s no evidence a shooter controls his unblocked shot rate beyond (perhaps) by where they tend to shoot from. The Leafs do not tend to shoot from bad locations.

Second Period

No Nazem Kadri to start this period.

I’m not clear if that was from the early hit from Vince Dunn (where Kadri got the pass off to Nylander for a scoring chance) or something else.

Nylander, who is playing 3C with Brown and Johnsson, goes coast-to-coast for a great chance. He’s hot tonight. So was Kadri, so his loss will be felt.

Marner repeats the trick immediately after but Hyman can’t score on the pass any better than Nylander could.

Good, god the Leafs are unlucky tonight. Tavares has his stick blow up on a shot. Then Johnsson whiffs totally on a shot and the play nearly gets away from the other way. Every time Muzzin touches the puck, I worry he’s going to break his leg or something because somrthing always goes wrong. This period is going much, much better, they just need a bounce or two.

Gauthier has lost his stick in the defensive zone, and it makes no noticeable difference to what he does.

Oh, my. Nylander with a great chance. Binnington with the great save. This Nylander line is really cooking.

Nylander is getting some Matthews line time here and there too with the way the line changes are working out.

Brown has his stick lifted and it goes right up and over into the crowd.

And now we know:

Another excellent Nylander line shift. Just, if you didn’t see this period, you missed a dominating performance from Nylander, Brown and Johnsson.

Ron Hainsey takes a hooking call on Bozak, so the Blues end the period with a power play that will carry over to the third. Andersen does what needs doing on the first portion of the power play.

Thoughts

  • Nylander is even better centering his own line than he was on Kadri’s wing
  • No one ever talks about this anymore, but the Leafs got thrown out of faceoffs a lot tonight
  • Dominating Leafs period, but Jordan Binnington is a puck magnet right now

Numbers

The Corsi Differential in this period was 10 in favour of the Leafs, while the unblocked was eight . That’s actual numbers. Score adjusted the Leafs were 59 per cent Fenwick (unblocked) in this period. So all that shot blocking vapourized.

That’s more like it:

Third Period

There is almost one minute of power play left to start this period, and it’s killed easily.

Cripes.

The Leafs give up a three-on-one to the top Blues line when they interrupt Mitch Marner’s stick handling, and Johnsson ends up taking a hooking penalty.

Marner is killing heaps of penalty minutes here with a short-handed chance and then some puck control mastery. This penalty is killed as well.

I’ll take a makeup call now, please.

YES!!!! Kill that thrice damned shutout streak! And don’t tell me how many minutes it was, I don’t care.

I’ve given short shrift to the Tavares line, but they’ve been good out there, and Hyman gets a below the goal line pass off to Tavares in front that ends up in the Blues net. Zach Hyman with the credit on an own goal, and it’s a game!

2-1 Blues

WHOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!

Zaitsev gets off a great “pucks in play” shot and Matthews puts it in.

No, no, what? A challenge. Don’t do this to me. They’re claiming interference.

So this is going to count, come on, please.

GOOD GOAL!!!!!

Damn straight. In my totally unbiased, ‘I did not look at the replays’ opinion, that’s a perfectly good goal.

TIE GAME

Freddie, uh, lets through a dribbler right on the goal line, but it’s cleared away. Don’t do that, Freddie.

The Blues are back and focused fully on this game now, alas.

Kappy with a good chance courtesy of Matthews, and period three is all Matthews line so far.

Nylander with another long Viking raid on the Blues net because I said that.

Oh, man. Marner to Hyman on a hell of a chance, and Binnington has it. He’s rebounded well to giving up two goals.

The Leafs are pressing hard here to finish this game.

Last minute, and there was a time teams played for the tie in cross-conference games, but not this game.

Thoughts

  • Andersen was great in this game (except that one time); he’s looked a little not great lately, and this game was very reassuring in that respect
  • I love how the Leafs responded to being down a couple of goals on the last game of a roadtrip where they have already won half the games
  • If I was the Blues coach, I would not like how they play with a lead
  • It’s interesting to listen to an intermission panel carry on about how tough the Blues are and how much they can just run guys because the Leafs don’t scare them or some such, and yet, they never once took a penalty
  • Leafs with a score adjusted Fenwick of 55 per cent in that period, and just a hair under 50 on the entire game.

Overtime

Bah. That’s a terrible way to end it after all that work to get the tie. Bah.

Marner wipes out on the ref behind the Blues net, and that gives Ryan O’Reilly the puck and an odd man rush and the game. Bah. Shit happens.

3-2 Blues

Seven points in six games on the road. Not so bad. And don’t expect news on Kadri before tomorrow, but we’ll update you when we hear anything.

Some Blues for you: