Welcome everyone to the start of the California road trip. This year, the three games are played against teams that are all in the bottom five of the NHL along with our dear friends Ottawa and Detroit.
Tonight’s tilt is against the Sharks, and speaking of Ottawa, they own the Sharks first round pick, so they will directly benefit from the Sharks being as horrible as they’ve been. San Jose tried to mitigate that by acquiring the Tampa first, but that’s not going to get them much. But that means the Sharks aren’t tanking. They are, perhaps, playing some prospects, and they called up a defender from the AHL right before game time.
So will they be good or bad? Will the Leafs roll over them like we want them to? Let’s find out.
Confession: Post deadline, I reserve the right to not have any idea who is even on the bottom third of the NHL teams.
Jack Campbell gloves the first shot like Leafs goalies do that all the time.
Nylander with a bad giveaway, so we have our intermission segment set early. Campbell got in front of the shot that produced, and gave up a backup-sized rebound. Da dum, da dum, da dum da dum.
A Sharks player I have never heard of takes a tripping call. Noah Gregor? Who’s that?
Extreme perimeter-passing power play from the Leafs, easily defended by the — we interrupt this sentence to mention that Calle Rosen is on the second unit! Sharks are breaking this all up at will, but somehow the Leafs got four shots on goal.
Kapanen tried to do the William Nylander pic.twitter.com/uXSft9Dpmk— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) March 4, 2020
And Travis Dermott takes the makeup interference call almost instantly.
So, uh, this Sharks... yeah. Their power play has fast passes and is focused on shooting, shooting, shooting.
One goes in when Campbell gives up a rebound no one can clear.
Really forceful net-front flurry by the Leafs. They just need to do that for the entire rest of the game, and they’re good.
Long, long Leafs cycle that’s not full of thrills and chills, but it’s addition by subtraction of shots against.
Some of the Leafs weakest defenders — Marincin, Rosen in particular — are stripping pucks off the Sharks at will which is making this score really frustrating.
For some reason Marincin is in deep alone as the fourth line changes.
Yiiiikes, one just dribbles across in front of Campbell there.
And the Leafs finish up controlling the puck as they have all period.
- Sometimes the Leafs manage to have the puck in the offensive zone for hours but still make you long for a good old stretch pass and rush chance or six.
- Heatmap! I did not peek and look during the period so let’s see what it says:
The Leafs look a little better than I thought. The Sharks were never in their own zone, but the Leafs got those big blue dots all on volume, not quality. They had few really dangerous chances, but volume wins too, so good enough for now. How about you try your good power play next time?
Campbell opens this period as the star of the show with a seriously good save.
And again off of another Sharks flurry. They came to play this period, and again, Campbell is down and makes a save... somehow.
Gooooooooooooooal Number 46, for Auston Matthews as he lags horribly behind Nick Robertson still.
Classic Matthews goal.
Okay, so the weak defenders don’t always look good this game.
Campbell had stood all the way up when the puck took its weird bounce, but then didn’t get back down and in position. He had no closure to the post when the shot got past him.
And he comes back with a great save as the Leafs have faltered under a lot of Sharks pressure.
Jack Campbell robs Evander Kane off the wraparound pic.twitter.com/Ubht2mcbPF— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) March 4, 2020
Suddenly this a game where the Leafs fourth line needs a whole shift to exit the zone, and then the Tavares line plays dump and chase. The “cycle” ends when Barrie no-look passes it to the Sharks. The Leafs need to step it up to meet the Sharks who are actually making an effort here.
Instead Holl takes an interference call and we get to see that currently hot Sharks PP.
They pass well and quickly, but their control isn’t there this time.
Liljegren gets the puck up to Marner.— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) March 4, 2020
Marner dances and gets a chance on Jones.
Rebound comes out to Hyman.
Hyman is robbed. pic.twitter.com/NN6Vql4OwT
Campbell with a no-look save after a pass out from behind the net. Leafs have collapsed, and Campbell is keeping them in it.
Jack Campbell is keeping the Leafs in this game. pic.twitter.com/7vbbnJJtwj— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) March 4, 2020
Hideous giveaway by Tavares in the slot. Followed up by a Kerfoot (I think) giveaway.
Leafs gain the zone, and ha, imagine that, it’s the fourth line again.
I’m leaving that complaint in because then the Matthews line comes out and....
Tie Game Again!
Sharks take a penalty which will finish up the period.
Wow, Jones robs Matthews.
Leafs handle the puck A LOT before a pass on the PP. Sharks just bing, bang, boom.
- San Jose came out after a dreadful first period ready to play and the Leafs were very slow to respond.
- They responded with horrific defending and multiple d-zone turnovers. It’s almost like the way Rosen, Holl and Marincin looked so good should have been a warning.
- Campbell’s early bobbles were not a warning, and he had a near-perfect mix of luck, athleticism and good positioning to keep the Leafs alive.
- Heatmap favours the Sharks as do all the stats:
Shorter version of thoughts:
After 40 - #Leafs 2, Sharks 2.— Kristen Shilton (@kristen_shilton) March 4, 2020
SOG favour San Jose, 29-20.
Jack Campbell should just go take that basketball right now because if it weren't for him this thing would be ugly.
Also, Mitch Marner. Just in general. Welcome back.
Make this one a good one!
That’s from a feature. Expect him back in late March.
The period opens with a shooting it wide competition, but the Leaf are actually shooting some of the time.
Sharks kill our hopes for this one with a rush chance, weird bounce, and this time Campbell can’t move laterally fast enough. That first one was iffy, this was just one of those things.
Holy cow, Marincin nearly scored.
And now the hopes and dreams are well dead.
Kane beats Campbell clean. He never moves.
And now it’s Gauthier looking like he might score, but nope.
Last chance, perchance, as the Leafs get a PP opportunity.
Leafs pull Campbell and then struggle to maintain possession. The six-on-five is marked by poor puck control and a lot of long-bomb shots.
Sharks miss on the ENG, and then second time lucky. Game over. 5-2 Sharks (27th place) vs the Leafs.
- Leafs underperformed in shot quality in the third by a margin much greater than score effects can explain. They were less effective by far than the first.
- If they’d come out of the first with the lead, who knows, but you can’t play a period like that second one, not if you’re serious about winning.
- Martin Jones was good, but he wasn’t tested like Campbell was.