The Toronto Maple Leafs rode the rails of two goals from Wayne Simmonds and Auston Matthews in their eventual 5-0 win over the Vancouver Canucks on Hockey Night in Canada. Simmonds scored his fifth goal of the season, and Matthews got his league-leading 10th goal in his 11th game of the season. Frederik Andersen lost his shutout in garbage time at the end of the game.
All I can say about that game is, wow, um, the Canucks are quite a bad hockey team. They have one line of offense, no defense to speak of, and Braden Holtby in net was laughable. On the Leafs side, they had three dangerous lines throughout the night, and while the defense didn’t have to do much, Mikko Lehtonen posted two primary assists on goals from Simmonds and Zach Hyman.
Canucks are the first team to allow 5+ goals in 9 of their first 15 games of a season since the 1993-94 Senators— Sportsnet Stats (@SNstats) February 7, 2021
Nylander was effective right at the get-go. First he played some keep-away with the Canucks defenders and fed Simmonds for a nice tip chance from the side of the net. On his next shift, he and Tavares connected through the neutral zone with some give-and-gos and Tavares nearly buried the chance right in front of the net but he was checked by Alex Edler, sending the Leafs to the power play.
CHOO CHOO! THE WAYNE TRAIN HAS LEFT THE STATION!! On the power play, the first unit (namely Marner) got the Canucks focused on covering Matthews and Marner so much that Simmonds was able to walk to the front of the net and rip a shot off the top of the net and in. Everyone on the Canucks was looking pass, including Holtby, so Simmonds just chose to shoot. What a great play all around.
What patience from Simmonds to send it high pic.twitter.com/rZhC5j3yiL— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) February 7, 2021
And on his third shift, Nylander draws another penalty! The Leafs didn’t score on this one but they got some good chances and kept the Canucks on their ass (their back foot disconnected from the ground a long time ago).
Including power plays, the Leafs put 14 shot attempts on Holtby before the Canucks even got one (eight at 5v5). The best chance after the power plays came off the stick of Vesey, he turned on the jets and used his reach to get around some defenders and get a nice shot off from the slot.
Vesey reads the play created by Matthews pic.twitter.com/zLCZKxxBzp— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) February 7, 2021
Jalen Chatfield I am so sorry, Auston Matthews just did *that* to you. (Omar apologized for the incorrect score, you can understand that he got a tad excited).
Matthews just ended Chatfield's career pic.twitter.com/dALMhQXLaG— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) February 7, 2021
Hyman took a penalty for high sticking a few minutes later. The Leafs did a reasonable job killing the penalty, but on one of the two shots against, Pettersson hit the post. Freddy Andersen was sharp throughout (I think he even got an elbow on the Pettersson shot?).
- Shot attempts: 16-9 (64%)
- Shots on goal: 8-5
- Scoring Chances: 12-6
- Expected goals: 1.09-0.64 (63%)
The Canucks really are one line and then nothing. The few shifts with sustained pressure in the Leafs zone were exclusively from the Elias Pettersson line. Any others kind of just fizzled after the initial forecheck and battle. After one, the Pettersson line (plus Tyler Mott?) was the only one close to even in shot share, no other line could tread water against the Leafs.
On the other side, the Leafs are a terrifying team. Travis Green put it right, they are the fastest and most skilled team in the Canadian Division. This period proved it, as well as also quenching my fears of the Canadiens. Them beating up on the Canucks doesn’t worry me as much after seeing them myself. The whole top-six was excellent, Kerfoot was useful (as always). Funnily enough, this was the quietest I’ve seen the fourth line in a while. I wonder if they keep their goal streak up with some third period time. On defense, it seemed like a nice quiet evening for them. I’ll try to pay more attention to them in the second. Unfortunately, it’s hard when the forwards have been so exciting.
Once again, the Pettersson line had the best chance for the Canucks, but EP couldn’t find the net at the back door.
Pettersson had an open-net. What a shame. pic.twitter.com/m1CE8Hfbsl— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) February 7, 2021
Zachary!! A nifty passing play from Marner to Mikko Lehtonen to Hyman put both the puck and Alex Edler into the back of the net. It was a great pass for Lehtonen who jumped into the play and found the seam for Hyman on the back end. Coaches always say get the puck or the man, and Hyman got both... in the back of the net.
ZACH HYMAN— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) February 7, 2021
WHAT A PASS FROM LEHTONEN! 3-0 pic.twitter.com/1zZP6bB3KD
The puck was bouncing a lot in the second period, we saw refs trying to repair part of the ice and the puck bounce off several sticks. Pettersson at the beginning of the period was one, but Muzzin and Holl both had it happen to them while they were keeping the puck in the offensive zone. Luckily, the Leafs were playing the Canucks and they couldn’t take advantage of any mistakes the Leafs were making.
The Leafs went back to the power play midway through the period, Myers got called for elbowing Hyman. The Leafs then had a dangerous shift in the offensive zone, helped by a clutch keep by Lehtonen at the blueline.
Patented keep by Lehtonen at the blue line pic.twitter.com/ysZtJVOz4Z— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) February 7, 2021
JT Miller thought he got the Canucks on the board with five minutes left in the second, but after a review, Nils Hoglander ws found (very) offside on the far side of the zone entry seconds before.
Matt Duchene plays for the Vancouver Canucks— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) February 7, 2021
It's offside pic.twitter.com/1kwPShVHsy
As the period died, Tyler Motte tried to hit Nylander into the Canucks bench. Nylander jumped out of the way and on his way down fell on Motte (he got off quite quickly). Nevertheless, Motte was hurt and had to be helped into the bench. To be honest, if you’re going to run players, don’t expect them to cushion your collision with the wall.
Nylander tried to get by Motte— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) February 7, 2021
Motte was in pain afterwards pic.twitter.com/ygzpm4TIxN
- Shot attempts: 17-15 (53%)
- Shots on goal: 10-9
- Scoring Chances: 11-8
- Expected goals: 0.94-0.31 (75%)
I could tell immediately just by looking at the stats that the Canucks shot more, but it all came from the point. The shot share was much closer in the second than the first, but the Leafs were far-and-away leading in expected goals. Part of that came from Hyman’s goal, but also from the fact that the Leafs got a lot more bang for their buck on each shot they took. The big blob of death on the shot map from the first period remained in the second while the Canucks grew some secondary blobs at the points. The top of the circle on the left side got a lot of work from the Canucks, which tells you their forward had to come up high to find space to shoot.
Oh Braden Holtby, what a goof. Holtby tried to clear the puck (because there was literally no defensive support for him and the Leafs were hard on the forecheck). He tried to bounce the puck off the glass, but Matthews beat Miller back and dummied Holtby with a shot through the five-hole. How embarrassing for the Canucks, and fun for the Leafs! Oh, and did I forget to mention this was Matthews’ 10th goal of the season? First in the league to double digits, baby!
WAYNE TRAIN LET’S GO!!!!! Mikko Lehtonen got his second primary assist in the game when his shot from the middle of the point got tipped by the man himself, Wayne Simmonds! Jalen Chatfield, once again I am so sorry, you couldn’t handle Matthews rushing at you and you can’t handle Wayne Simmonds in a stick/body positioning battle. Simmonds’ second goal of the night is his fifth of the season.
Wayne Simmonds with a top-tier celly pic.twitter.com/ec8sXk00UG— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) February 7, 2021
Can I just say how much I’m enjoying all the long close-ups on the Canucks bench? Is this what it feels like to be on the other side of that treatment? I had no idea how good it felt! Holtby (below) even got the patented pan-to-the-backup after the fifth goal!
Holtby can't comprehend what is going on pic.twitter.com/6COaGLznjd— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) February 7, 2021
Let's check in on the Canucks right now pic.twitter.com/OsxLQBcluc— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) February 7, 2021
The end of the game was garbage time. The Leafs gave up two power plays and forced Freddy to make a fair number of saves, unfortunately he couldn’t stop them all and lost his first shutout of the season. The Leafs were really good at clogging up the neutral zone and the slot in front of the net. All the best chances from the Canucks came from the perimeter, including the goal.
Full Game 5v5 stats:
- Shot attempts: 46-35 (57%)
- Shots on goal: 26-20
- Scoring Chances: 33-18
- Expected goals: 2.82-1.37 (67%)
The Leafs are good, Matthews is incredible, and Wayne Simmonds is a gift. This game was a perfect example of how well the Leafs can play stylistically when there isn’t a team in the way at the other end. The power play was buzzing with chances from dangerous areas, Marner and Matthews found each other really well from across the ice.
Nylander was especially good on the second line, but it was hard to out-shine Simmonds. Tavares had one of those quiet games where he did a lot to help his linemates get chances. He was great around the net and in transition with Nylander. He played the centre position, and while he wasn’t the star, he helped the team thrive.
Between Jason Spezza, Travis Boyd, and Nic Petan, they allowed only one shot attempt against. No goal this time, but I would say it’s not exactly fair to ask for a goal-per-game pace from the fourth line.
This was one of the few nights where Morgan Rielly didn’t have to deal with much, and it showed as he played a very solid game with TJ Brodie. Muzzin and Holl had some bobbled pucks but were overall solid and a great second pair. Bogosian was good, except the penalty during the dead minutes in the second half of the third. Muzzin was in the box when the 5-1 goal was scored. Mikko Lehtonen showed his quality with good skating, positioning, and playmaking. His passes and shots are very accurate and he can use his body well.
Can we play the Canucks every night? Lucky us, we play them on Monday!