Jason Spezza, William Nylander, Wayne Simmonds, and Auston Matthews scored in a 4-3 Toronto Maple Leafs win over the Edmonton Oilers. Frederik Andersen stopped 26 of 29 in the win, he was excellent. The referees called 11 penalties, and up to eight of them were make up calls for previous incorrect calls in the game depending on what you thought of the third period. This game was stupid, let’s go over it.
The Leafs definitely seem to be trying to get the snake-bitten Ilya Mikheyev going offensively. In the first minute of the game, Nylander and Mikheyev got away on a 2-on-1 but Soup couldn’t bury the pass. It definitely seemed like Nylander shooting the puck was the better option, but I think he chose early to pass as quick as he could because they were running out of space in front of Koskinen.
Nylander trying to hook up Mikheyev for his first of the season pic.twitter.com/kU1PNjFy61— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) January 29, 2021
Daily Wayne Simmonds love:
Wayne Simmonds getting to work pic.twitter.com/A8HpAXYaNk— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) January 29, 2021
The Boyds are Back with a new frontman! Jason Spezza with his first of the season!! With the third pair and fourth line out on the ice, Boyd stole the puck from Koskinen as the goalie was trying to play it up the boards. He then quickly set up Spezza for a terrible goal (that still counts)! Koskinen was out of the net to try and play it, but had to circle back in and was both too deep and not square to his post in order to cover up all the holes. Spezza found one and now Travis Boyd is officially on a point streak!
Spezza's backhand squeaks through Koskinen pic.twitter.com/DK4sjjDEDU— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) January 29, 2021
The next five minutes were a musical of the name “Thank You Freddy.” Our ginger made a couple really important saves as the Leafs got caught going forward in the neutral zone. On one particular shot, he had to come across to stop Alan Quine on a 2-on-1.
Andersen is doing his part.— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) January 29, 2021
Good stop off the deflection pic.twitter.com/G8gvr7f7R5
Incredible first stop by Freddie. He also may have the force on the second. pic.twitter.com/8PTvtdDFs0— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) January 29, 2021
Then Alex Kerfoot took a slashing penalty that the Oilers were pretty ineffective on. Positive for us? It then got better as the Oilers got penalized, Turris for holding Kerfoot. Both were on the soft side, so no harm no foul.
One second after the power play ended, Nylander buried a pass from Tavares, extending the Leafs lead. The way was choppy and incoherent, the line was at the end of the power play and the puck somehow bounced from the point through the slot to Tavares, who (some some amazing hand-eye coordination) fed a stationary Nylander right at the edge of the blue paint. With the goal, Tavares got his fourth assist of the season, Jason Spezza got his second point of the night with the secondary assist, and Nylander scored his third goal of the season (first at 5v5, but it counts!).
Go check out the video again and you’ll see Tavares bad the puck down on his forehand and then pass it on his backhand on the next move. How he found Nylander I haven’t the foggiest idea.
What a feed from Spezza pic.twitter.com/jbb9LbhC0G— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) January 29, 2021
- Shot attempts: 17-17
- Shots on goal: 7-11
- Scoring Chances: 10-9
- Expected goals: 1.00-0.77
I got the feeling that only the Matthews-Marner line is actually able to play Keefe’s high zone possession system. No other line either likes to play that high in the zone or isn’t able to keep the puck away in more open ice up high. Matthews and Marner are incredible at avoiding poke checks and have the mobility along with defensemen like Rielly, Dermott, and Holl to make those possessions work. The point of those possessions being creating seams down low for high-low passes and better chances.
Often the Tavares-Nylander line wants to push low and work there with low-high passes into the slot, and the bottom six can only really grind things out. Kerfoot is one of those players that can play that high-zone style, but he alone can’t do enough. I gotta say, stylistically, I don’t like this strategy for this team. Get them working outside-in, not outside-wide.
McDavid looked scary to start the second, especially one time when he got around Muzzin, but the Leafs were mostly able to keep him from scoring. Nylander was looking really confident with the puck, but while the Leafs were in the offensive zone, Holl got penalized for running into a player. It was a really dumb interference call; Holl had just dropped the puck off to a teammate and the collision happened immediately after. There was nothing he couldn’t done but he got called anyway.
How the hell is this interference on Holl?— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) January 29, 2021
He skated into him pic.twitter.com/oDlc2BtLKw
The Leafs killed the penalty, again, with ease.
Unfortunately, the entire first half of the second felt like a penalty kill. The Oilers didn’t score, which is either a big plus to the penalty kill or a worrying indictment on the team’s 5v5 play. They just couldn’t exit the zone cleanly and bring numbers with them to the offensive zone. Kerfoot got the closest at one point and all he could do was dump the puck in for Simmonds to chase it. Frustrating.
The Fred Wall is up pic.twitter.com/71JiiM27hv— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) January 29, 2021
Rielly sacrifices the body to block McDavid pic.twitter.com/ATZkkyjmZ4— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) January 29, 2021
Oh hey, another real penalty! This recap has dissolved into mockery and it’s not even midnight. I don’t exaggerate, Zach Hyman got the Leafs best offensive chance of the period on the penalty kill. Nevermind that the Oilers then came back the other way and whiffed on their fourth tap-in of the frame. In other news, Tyson Barrie is finally a competent penalty killer.
Hyman strips Barrie shorthanded— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) January 29, 2021
(We've seen this before) pic.twitter.com/S7mqu4cx2F
Kerfoot took another penalty with four minutes left (Keefe argued it), and then Hyman took a second to put the Leafs down 5-on-3. Goal Draisaitl.
Kerfoot called for *checks notes* slashing pic.twitter.com/dPENsudvnf— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) January 29, 2021
This man skated away from Keefe lol pic.twitter.com/n3vW2Z3EJh— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) January 29, 2021
Draisaitl puts the Oilers on the board. 2-1 pic.twitter.com/kGTDcx5FRh— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) January 29, 2021
- Shot attempts: 8-13
- Shots on goal: 4-5
- Scoring Chances: 6-4
- Expected goals: 0.4-0.71
To put it concisely, the Oilers skated back from the offensive zone faster than the Leafs could move it out forward. They played a very tight group of five and it smothered the Leafs out of time and space in the neutral zone. The Leafs couldn’t break up a play low in the zone, their best chances came high when the Oilers forwards had come up to support the defense. They weren’t as fast, they made mistakes with the puck, and didn’t make the Oilers work very hard when they had the puck.
The Leafs spent most of that period shorthanded, but there was a stretch in the middle of the period (about four minutes in length) where the team looked like an AHL team. They got utterly shelled during that stretch and I was certain they were going to give up a goal. Freddy stood on his head and it had to take the 5-on-3 for the Oilers to score at the end of the period. That said, even when the shots weren’t there from the Oilers, the Leafs had no control of the play during that period.
That penalty was bullshit. [Oh just you wait — future Hardev]
All I can do is laugh, the referees called the Oilers for a puck-over-glass penalty when the puck actually ended up in the bench. They just made up a call to “even things out.” I’ll be blunt here: this is every proof that we need to automate as many penalties and calls from the referees as possible. The quality of referees is just bush league. Get the calls right the first time. Take back the penalty, your pride won’t be hurt because you look way more stupid this way, Stripes.
Oh look, another Kerfoot “interference penalty.”
Oh look, another Draisaitl power play goal.
Draisaitl ties it. 2-2 pic.twitter.com/IcvWWOg9rR— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) January 29, 2021
Oh and would you look at that, another makeup call.
Oh hey, I guess it’s cool that Simmonds scored. This game just feels ruined to me with all these dumb penalties.
Goals in 3 straight games for Simmonds pic.twitter.com/ParRQ5O4VB— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) January 29, 2021
Zack Kassian scored after being left wide open by Holl and Muzzin. He got two chances at the puck before burying. At this point in the game, the Leafs have totally given up on defensive focus, they’re just standing around and reacting. They seem almost as disinterested with this game as I am currently.
Kassian ties it. 3-3 pic.twitter.com/WMYOvIlXkn— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) January 29, 2021
Oh look, Ethan Bear got another equally stupid slashing call. It was honestly as bad as the Kerfoot one. Who is this ref???
Oh and hey look, another power play goal. I don’t understand this game. My head hurts. It’s after midnight. This game is going to be giving me nightmares. Oh right, I should probably mention: Auston Matthews with a snipe! Woo!! Perfect shot over the pad and under the glove of Koskinen.
Matthews is going on a streak here— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) January 29, 2021
Shot through traffic pic.twitter.com/eUkSwWa9Jp
Nylander penalty with three minutes left. *shrug* you know how it is.
Thank you, Freddy.
FRED! pic.twitter.com/u7mgx4wAoN— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) January 29, 2021
- Shot attempts: 8-12
- Shots on goal: 6-5
- Scoring Chances: 5-6
- Expected goals: 0.51-1.07
I hated this game so much. The first period was some description of normal, but every minute after that got even more looney tunes than the last. A referee cannot have this much impact on a game. Ever.
Trying to look at the Leafs objectively, it felt like they were poop for a vast majority of the game, but when you look at the shot plot, things were nearly as bad at 5v5 for long stretches, only that the short bad stretches were really really bad. Someone’ll let you know how to fix this team tomorrow.