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Recap: Toronto Maple Leafs win over the Ottawa Senators, I guess

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They looked ugly for the first half of the game, but ended strong

Ottawa Senators v Toronto Maple Leafs Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images

Dear Toronto Maple Leafs: don’t be a fucking embarrassment again tonight.

That concludes the introduction for this recap.

PERIOD ONE

The first five minutes were mostly uneventful, which is not a mark in the Leafs’ favour. They generated two shot attempts, and while they didn’t give up much more in terms of quality there were a few instances of Ottawa getting some rushes.

Halfway through the period and there has been three total shots on net. The Leafs are stuck at two shot attempts all period, it’s been more than five minutes since they’ve had one. There isn’t even any highlights worth sharing so far. I am digging NST’s new emotion tracker feature though. It’s really accurate.

Aha! They got a third shot attempt at around the 11 minute mark. Let’s celebrate with a fun stat.

More fun stats!

The Leafs finally have a dangerous looking shift in Ottawa’s end with their top line out. Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner zipping around, making some crisp passes. Until their passes started being broken up, intercepted, and they get zero shot attempts out of it.

They FINALLY get a good chance with 2 minutes left. A quick breakout and good pass by Zach Hyman sprung John Tavares for a partial breakaway. That’s worth our first highlight clip.

But don’t worry, because they gave up a 3 on 1 the other way right after to balance it out.

With seconds left in the period, Joe Thornton was all alone in front and almost scored... but he pushed the goalie’s pad into the net and obviously doesn’t count.

First Period Thoughts:

That period started dull and slowly turned into horrifying, if this is the Leafs’ response to their last game.

  • Shot attempts were 21 to 6 (78%) for Ottawa. Toronto had six ATTEMPTS all period.
  • Expected goals was 68% in Ottawa’s favour.

This is the heatmap. I’m pretty sure the “blob” for the Leafs were from the Tavares rush chance and Thornton’s last second chance, and that’s it. The best I can say is that the Leafs had signs of life in the final few minutes. Before that was pretty pathetic.

PERIOD TWO

The Leafs start off looking stronger, but still not spectacular.

Joe Thornton started the period like he finished it... scoring a goal but having it called back. This time from a high stick.

GOAL: AUSTON MATTHEWS SAVING THE LEAFS FROM THEMSELVES! 1-0 LEAFS.

Great play by Justin Holl to set up Matthews.

Ottawa takes a too many men penalty, and the Leafs get the first powerplay of the game. Leafs don’t get much going, and right after the powerplay ends Ottawa has a flurry of chances. Not great.

Slightly more eventful period for the Leafs. They’ve almost doubled their shot attempts, but aside from the Matthews goal it hasn’t been great quality. They’re maintaining a similar expected goal share (read: bad) as the first period at even strength, and the powerplay doesn’t move the needle much.

Engvall got the Leafs’ other good chance of the period.

Dermott with two bad plays. First he tried a solo-rush and ran into a wall of three Senators at their blueline, and turned it over. Then Ottawa had a rush back the other way, and Dermott took a holding penalty trying to get back.

GOAL: Matthews ties it 1-1

Leafs do manage to kill the penalty, but not long after the Ottawa Senators get a rush chance off a turnover and Tkachuk gets the tap in goal on a cross ice feed. Actually watching the replay, it looks like Matthews knocked it into his own net trying to knock the pass away from Tkachuk.

Second Period Thoughts:

  • Offense: They tripled their shot attempts and doubled their expected goals total compared to the first period.
  • Defense: They gave up slightly less shot attempts and the same expected goals as the first period. The net result: Leafs had 52% of the shot attempt share, but only 47% of the expected goal share.
  • Special teams: They had one powerplay that didn’t look great, and a powerplay that looked good. That’s about all I can say about each.
  • Standouts: The Tavares line and the third defensive pair have been the best for the Leafs. The third line and the Rielly-Brodie pair are getting caved in badly. As in sub-30% expected goal share bad.
  • Heatmap:

PERIOD THREE

The Leafs’ top line looking more dangerous as the game has gone on.

Spezza draws a high sticking penalty early in the first period, giving the Leafs’ powerplay a chance to re-take the lead.

Leafs load up the powerplay with Matthews, Marner, Tavares and Nylander and had a couple of good chances, but Marner took a dumb penalty to negate the rest of the powerplay.

The Leafs kill off the Marner penalty, with a good chance by Vesey and Mikheyev shorthanded. They get a really good offensive zone shift with a line of Thornton, Nylander and Kerfoot after the penalty kill. They were able to change their forwards and defense and had the puck in the zone for over two full minutes, and it led to an exhausted Sens line and a drawn penalty.

Leafs struggle mightily to establish possession in the offensive zone, taking more than one minute of the powerplay to achieve it.

GOAL: Alexander Kerfoot scoops up the rebound to make it 2-1 Leafs.

When they do finally manage it, they don’t get a good chance with the time left but they do keep the puck in the Ottawa end and hem them in. Their defenders get tired, and a flick of a wrist shot from the point leads to a scramble, where Kerfoot was able to bank the puck off of Murray into the net in tight.

Leafs have been much more dominant in this period to start, and we’re almost halfway through it. Buuuuuut Hyman takes a tripping penalty, and the Leafs are back on the powerplay.

The Leafs held strong for most of the penalty kill, and Frederik Andersen made some huge saves at the end to maintain the lead. He’s been good this game.

Hyman almost made it a two goal lead off a funky flip pass got bobbled by every other player, but landed right on his stick in close.

Final Thoughts:

  • Offense: They really controlled play for the most part. They hemmed in Ottawa a couple of times for very long stretches, and it paid off in powerplays and a goal.
  • Defense: They gave up almost nothing on defense. Almost no shot attempts and even less in terms of quality scoring chances.
  • Special teams: They didn’t get a powerplay goal, but their end of a powerplay led to a goal at even strength. Their penalty kill wound up perfect on the night as well. Call that a win.
  • Heatmap: