Tonight the Leafs carry on straight into the playoffs to face Tampa Bay, or they take a sharp turn into the second Draft Lottery. Those are the only choices.
Most NHL games have some meaning beyond the outcome of the game. For all we get tired of Kyle Dubas’s process talk, it is a process game. You go out and you execute, and win or lose that matters in October against the Red Wings, and it matters in the post season too. But when it’s a game like tonight’s, there is only one purpose: Win it.
I want to see 60 minutes of the Maple Leafs best execution, and proof the lessons have been learned — finally — but what matters most is the goals that go in, and the skill, the effort and the chance that puts them in and keeps them out.
Audentes Fortuna Iuvat
Tavares - Matthews - Marner
Hyman - Nylander - Kapanen
Johnsson - Kerfoot - Mikheyev
Clifford - Engvall - Spezza
Rielly - Ceci
Dermott - Barrie
Marincin - Holl
Nick Robertson is scratched.
Columbus has Ryan Murray back on defence, and Zach Werenski, fresh of an MRI, is starting, but Gerbe is out for a seventh defender. Korpisalo is it for goalies. Columbus has their number three in the backup seat.
Andreas Johnsson looks good on his first shift, and there’s already too many Leafs point shots as the first five minutes roll by.
Werenski must be okay, because he opens the scoring with a deflection that catches Frederik Andersen going the wrong way:
Werenski's shot is deflected by Barrier pic.twitter.com/50l2ilcOFG— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) August 10, 2020
The fourth line, who are usually fairly good about holding their own, get pinned in hard. After than bit of a mess, William Nylander forgets he’s not the winger and goes over the boards too fast. Columbus to the power play while Nylander sits for being too much man.
Mitch Marner gets the ugliest shorty rush ever and loses the puck in his own feet twice as it never stops bouncing.
Werenski and Seth Jones are not together on the first power play unit, Werenski is helming the second unit instead.
Leafs just miss on a tip.
Mikheyev had an opportunity as well deflecting this Kerfoot shot off the crossbar pic.twitter.com/c73Sx2b81L— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) August 10, 2020
You know, Tavares, Marner and Matthews with Morgan Rielly is a hell of an offensive unit. That’s Maximum Leafs.
John Tavares had an empty net but hit the post pic.twitter.com/T9rUdfR2Sr— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) August 10, 2020
Texier's shot is deflected off Holl's stick and hits Andersen right in the head loosening the straps on his mask pic.twitter.com/E5YrDc6ud2— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) August 10, 2020
Leafs look good, are getting through the neutral zone easily, and are using Rielly well to make their only offensive line work. That line is absolutely dominating, too.
This must be what it’s like to cheer for Boston.
Period ends with the Blue Jackets up 1-0. 40 minutes to fix that.
Johnsson with a good shot early, and then Alex Kerfoot makes what looked like a dopey giveaway, but I think might be a puck sticking on some slushy ice. Hard to tell.
Andersen has to be good and then good again as the defending gets Leafy.
Defensive zone turnover causes a 3-on-1 against pic.twitter.com/1yzXCkwJwv— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) August 10, 2020
The superline looks super again, and then everything devolves back to an even game between the two teams as they leave the ice, having had chances, but no joy.
Tyson Barrie is down and not able to get up after a whistle on an offside. He skates off, but...?
Big hit from Jenner was the reason Barrie went down and off to the locker room.
Columbus blows a two on one, or this game would have a new score.
I was thinking nice things about Justin Holl skating the puck like a boss, and then he gave it away.
The game is half over, and I’m feeling no hope, but the Leafs proved the other night, they’re stronger-willed than me, so, wait, that might be hope.
Werenski tries a dirty hit on Tavares, and now the Leafs have a power play. This was dumb on Werenski’s part, and I’d like him to remember the lesson.
Travis Dermott is helming the second unit which opens the power play. Now the first unit comes out after 14 seconds.
JT wants a goal on this power play, so, so bad. No joy. Maybe Werenski will do something else dumb now.
Tavares showing off the hands in-tight pic.twitter.com/R4YsmSQ9yb— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) August 10, 2020
When Keefe puts the superline out, he should just pull Freddie and throw Nylander out there too.
So, here’s the thing. Last year, Nylander had to be a centre, and he was okay against the Boston depth. He is not okay tonight. He is a detriment, and I am now worried about that. Which saves me worrying about the iffy play from the Leafs as the second period winds down.
The superline get penned defensively and two of them have no sticks. Columbus doesn’t score, somehow.
What are the odds that both of their sticks break within seconds? pic.twitter.com/2QrKQwXLNo— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) August 10, 2020
Leafs take a penalty after Columbus comes back, so the Blue Jackets have a short power play now, and a longer one to start the third.
Score is still 1-0 for the bad guys, and Barrie never returned to the game. 20 minutes left.
No Barrie out for the third. Leafs announce he’s out for the game. Leafs uneventfully kill the rest of the penalty.
I’m going to watch and not recap much as it’s hard to type with your fingers crossed.
The lineblender has been out, and I could give you 3,000 words on the profound misunderstanding of probability that’s involved in the demands for a different line to get scoring chances, and thus this lineblender. But I’ll save it for a autumn day when it’s less painful.
I’d like the superline back now.
Rielly settles the puck down quickly and gets a shot on Korpisalo pic.twitter.com/iwT94wOUWL— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) August 10, 2020
Oh god. No. A goal on a bad change by the Leafs:
So much of this goal is unbelievable pic.twitter.com/7GAIVHR1RR— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) August 10, 2020
2-0 Columbus with a goal from their new star, Liam Foudy. He’s the real thing. The Leafs defence is not. Columbus adds an ENG, and this is the end.
Fortune did not favour the bold. Fortune favoured the patient and the dull.
Get your revenge Tampa, get it for both of us.