Our long pre-season nightmare is over. The real season that we still won’t care about is just around the corner.
Leafs get some chances early, including Mikheyev getting two shots off of some nifty Nylander passing. Rubins also had a nice cross-ice pass to set up a chance. But the best chance early comes from SDA, who had a nifty move in the neutral zone, but off an ensuing scramble that SDA scored on it was called off immediately because Seney was kind of parked in the crease.
SDA scored but it was waved off for goalie interference pic.twitter.com/Xxc4jLUg5a— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) October 5, 2021
And, hilariously, right after the Habs get a good goal off their own weird bounce, rough shift for Hollowell who failed to clear it twice leading up to the goal AND had the puck bounce in off him.
Joel Armia scores but it goes off Hollowell pic.twitter.com/lWJ2V8ccJr— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) October 5, 2021
Oh, Johnny, how we missed you... he’s looked good.
Tavares back in his wheelhouse fighting off the opposition pic.twitter.com/EVgBNkGUke— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) October 5, 2021
You know who else is still good? Mitch Marner. The strategy will be for Ritchie to park his big butt in front, clean up rebounds from Matthews’ shots and let Marner bounce pucks in off him. If that turns him into a viable 1LW, sure!
Nick Ritchie— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) October 5, 2021
Marner with a perfect feed pic.twitter.com/ui8mWCuwvm
And right after the goal, the Leafs have a powerplay and the new look-set up looks... good. Marner had some magic with JT, and Nylander teed off for a few good shots. I’m thinking maybe Marner and JT should play together more [coughs in Keefe’s direction]. But the solution to our powerplay problems all along has been noted elite PP scorer, Nick Ritchie.
Nick Ritchie— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) October 5, 2021
The power play is working! pic.twitter.com/TGY14N79TQ
Leafs give up the tying goal on their second penalty of the period.
Alex Belzile ties it at two on the powerplay pic.twitter.com/9lQkn5o8Jo— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) October 5, 2021
Leafs’ strike right back after Nylander and Tavares play rope a dope in the Habs end, and Mikheyev.... wait, THAT Mikheyev? — yes I’m being told THAT Mikheyev — sniped a wrist shot through Montembeault.
First Period Thoughts
The Leafs, quite frankly, clowned the Habs. Their penalty kill looked good outside of a seeing-eye puck that got through a screen and Mrazek. On the powerplay they opened a shooting gallery before scoring. But at 5v5 the Leafs dominated for almost the whole period, especially when they had their Real Boys lines running out Tavares, Nylander, Marner and Ritchie. It’s funny how much different they look after seeing a lot of AHLer and NHL depth rosters the past few games.
They had 18 shot attempts to Montreal’s 2 at even strength, and 90% of the expected goal share. No Leaf player had a shot attempt share under 85% or an expected goal share under 79%. At all strengths, it was 26 to 8 in shot attempts and 60% of the expected goal share.
Liljegren starts the period jumping into the play and being down low with the puck so much he may as well have spent the shift as a forward, and he helped draw a penalty to send the Leafs back to the PP. He and SDA had a fun shift.
Just as we were expressing confusion over the existence of Brennan Menell, he creeps in from the point and takes an easy Tavares feed for a wide open slot chance. Powerplay goal, Leafs restore their lead to 4-2.
A few minutes of some tepid back and forth later, and SDA sort-of snipes a goal to make it 5-2. This game is fun. Meaningless, but fun.
Second Period Thoughts
Not as dominant a period in the underlying numbers, but Leafs outscored Montreal 2-0. Montreal closed the shot share towards the end of the period after the Leafs had already taken a 5-2 lead. But we don’t really care about the lead. We care about their NHL regulars looking strong and dominating the Habs. We care that a lot of their depth who look destined for the Marlies will help form a potential powerhouse team in the AHL. SDA, hilariously, has been the best Leaf. And we care that this pre-season is almost over.
Been that kind of game. Leafs take a penalty, Habs don’t get a shot, and right after Seney comes out of the penalty box he just out races the tired Habs powerplay team and roofs a backhand for the 6-2 lead.
Brett Seney— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) October 6, 2021
Right out of the penalty box! pic.twitter.com/czy0au9uLw
Poor Tavares can’t buy a goal. He could have had two or three this game off of great passes by Marner and Willy.
We interrupt this commentary on the game to note that there is nothing dumber than a statement fight in a pre-season game. Thank you for your time.
Game getting pretty chippy in the third. Guys hunting hits, some MMA-like take downs on display, and the one dumb fight. Leafs have had more penalties to kill off this period, and the PK has done well. Montreal hasn’t been getting many shots or chances, and I’ve been watching Liljegren carefully since he’ll have to be at least decent at it if he wants to make the NHL. And I though he’s been... at least decent. Made some good plays, blocks, shutting down a puck carrier and pinning him against the boards. Not that the Habs powerplay is all that difficult to look good against, but hey. Baby steps.
Good thing Mikheyev has a goal already this game, because... uh...
Welp— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) October 6, 2021
Semyonov finds Mikheyev on a shorthanded chance but he can't handle the pass pic.twitter.com/f8j8VYsean
Leafs were good.
Habs were bad.
Pre-season is bad.
Real hockey being so close is good.
Let’s start the god damned season!