Will the Toronto Maple Leafs make up for their woeful road trip? Will the Tampa Bay Lightning annoy us despite missing several key players? Will the Leafs hang onto their slim lead over the Florida Panthers? Will Road Trip Freddie stick around with his much better play of late? Will I keep asking questions to pad the intro?
Here we go!
PERIOD ONE HIGHLIGHTS
Welcome back, Morgan Rielly!
Morgan Rielly gets a shot on net while Kyle Clifford sets up Jason Spezza in front pic.twitter.com/aKpWRqpY3E— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) March 10, 2020
The chemistry between Willy and Auston remains a beautiful thing to behold.
Nylander finds Matthews for the one-timer pic.twitter.com/Mke8dXAJd3— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) March 10, 2020
Scary moment as Sergachev took a Matthews one-timer straight to the back of the head.
Sergachev catches an Auston Matthews slapshot to the back of the head pic.twitter.com/bjCQo2GAT9— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) March 10, 2020
Leafs were all over the Lightning in the first half of the period, holding them without a shot attempt until their powerplay.
Engvall gets another shot for the Leafs in front pic.twitter.com/0xhH2nhfro— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) March 10, 2020
Sandin took a dumb penalty but the Leafs managed to out-shoot and out-chance the Lightning on the penalty kill.
Pierre Engvall is still on the hunt. Turnover at the blue line allows him to charge down but his shot rings off the post pic.twitter.com/wDMlPpg0vK— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) March 10, 2020
Freddie the Goat on the hunt shorthanded pic.twitter.com/WBUxNq3tuh— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) March 10, 2020
BILLIAM WILLIAM NYLANDER MAKES IT 1-0!
Tampa started to push back in the final few minutes of the period, but Road Trip Freddie stood tall!
First Period Thoughts
- Offense: Dominant in the first 15 minutes, up 19-3 in shot attempts at even strength and 1.02-0.01 in expected goals. Took 10 minutes for the Lightning to get their first shot attempt. As of 15 minutes, the worse Leaf player’s expected goals was 93%.
- Defense: Not giving up any shot attempts over 10 minutes is good! Tampa started putting on some pressure in the last 5 minutes, which has me worried for the second...
- Special Teams: STOP. DROP. PASSING. YOU. PILLOCKS. Second PP was much better, and penalty kill looked good.
- Lines: The Hyman-Matthews-Nylander and the Engvall-Kerfoot-Malgin lines were superb, each with ridiculous control shares for shot attempts and expected goals. Holl and Dermott struggled a bit, and the Tavares line seemed to be the ones who struggled with the most of the Tampa push back late in the period.
PERIOD TWO HIGHLIGHTS
Go Kappy go!
Kapanen forces the turnover at the blue line but gets poke checked last minute but Kucherov pic.twitter.com/u4pKZqH9Os— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) March 11, 2020
Good chance for the fourth line off a faceoff, man I missed how Rielly actually gets good point shots through.
Gauthier and Clifford cause some chaos in front off the point shot from Rielly pic.twitter.com/rcPmNeZcuE— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) March 11, 2020
Leafs are getting sloppy. Barrie got walked by Verharblwharbl, and some confusion at their bench led to a 2 on 0. Road Trip Freddie stopped them all!
Freddie made a number of good stops on a penalty kill, with the Lightning doing to the Leafs this period what the Leafs did to them in the first. Shots are 8-1 for Tampa after only 5 minutes.
Andersen makes the stop on Sergachev through traffic pic.twitter.com/tmbLpRvQh6— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) March 11, 2020
Blake Coleman just did the Brian Gionta maneuver on Freddie!
Blake Coleman goes right through Andersen pic.twitter.com/zyBQ3IqLlA— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) March 11, 2020
This is the kind of defense that can make Matthews a truly great hockey player.
Auston Matthews uses his size, wins this puck battle and helps get the puck out of the zone pic.twitter.com/WQusvoxTca— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) March 11, 2020
Kapanen’s had a few chances off the rush thanks to his speed.
Kapanen gets a shot on Vasilevskiy after a good pass from the D-zone by *checks GIF* Cody Ceci pic.twitter.com/XnESpJYaHk— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) March 11, 2020
Some Yakety Sax defense by Barrie and Sandin lead to the tying goal, 1-1
Thank you Freddie. He’s been saving the Leafs that period.
Freddie has been really sharp. Comes up with another good save pic.twitter.com/g7X11KxEYC— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) March 11, 2020
Second Period Thoughts
- Offense: It looked worse than it was because of the Tampa powerplays that had lots of shots and chances, but at 5v5 it was more pretty even. Tampa had the better quality chances at even strength too, though. Once again, it started falling apart more in the final few minutes of the period. Shot attempts were 10-9 for the Leafs, but the Lightning doubled up in expected goals. Leafs still lead the game in xGF% with 63%.
- Defense: Barrie got walked by Verhaeghe, Holl blew a few tires, and the Leafs almost gave up three 2 or 3 on 0’s. Pull it together, guys! I don’t want to pick on him but Barrie got danced, turnstiled, and left his jock at his own blueline multiple times. Again, because of the powerplays it looked worse than it was, the Leafs managed to not give up much in quality chances against at evens.
- Special Teams: Freddie was the best penalty killer. The powerplay was pretty ass.
- Lines: The same two forward lines are carrying the Leafs, but the third line didn’t get to do too much with so many penalties. The Sandin-Barrie pairing is getting absolutely dominated by the Lightning, I would honestly look at separating them if not stapling them both to the bench.
PERIOD THREE HIGHLIGHTS
Brilliant Marner pass to Matthews on the powerplay, 2-1 Leafs
Freddie has had enough of being ridden like Goat, that’s the other Freddie’s job!
Travis Dermott with a glorious chance that rings off the crossbar.
Travis Dermott rings this shot off the crossbar pic.twitter.com/8pouLSLq9u— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) March 11, 2020
Zach Hyman trying to seal the deal but gets stopped by Andrei Vasilevskiy.
Zach Hyman breaks free of the line and gets a shot on net pic.twitter.com/VHpdgeonf7— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) March 11, 2020
- Offense: The Leafs continued their steady decline in carrying the play, in the third the Lightning dominated both shot attempts and scoring chances at even strength.
- Defense: They weren’t giving up terrible odd man rushes and quality scoring chances like the second period, so that was something of an improvement at least. Freddie was the best player of the game for the Leafs.
- Special Teams: Leafs got both their goals on the powerplay and didn’t give up anything on the penalty kill. That’s about as good as you can ask for, even if it didn’t look pretty at times.
- Lines: Keefe swapped Marner and Nylander to restore his usual C-RW combinations for the top two lines. The third and fourth lines by the end of the game had the best underlying numbers, with the top two slowly being chipped away by the Tampa pressure.