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Maple Leafs vs John Gibson, and the winner is...

Tiamat, the Mesopotamian God of chaos.

NHL: JAN 26 Ducks at Maple Leafs Photo by Julian Avram/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Ducks are in town. They are a team neither bad nor good. Not in the playoffs, nor out. They have no GM, no plans to get one quick, and are a goalie and Trevor Zegras with some other guys who used to be good, and one or two who may be.

What does all that add up to? Who knows. John Gibson may decide who wins, though.

First Period

The Kämpf line starts, and then the Matthews line appears in short order.

Trevor Zegras does Trevor Zegras stuff and tries to do the Boyle.

The Leafs look Leafy in their own zone, and the chaos infects Campbell. He doesn’t see it, in it goes:

1-0 Ducks

The owniest of own goals.

Six minutes in, and Matthews is taking the offensive zone draw on the “Kämpf” line, and suddenly Gibson has to work, and the Leafs look like a good team.

It seems like Sandin is the main forward on the Marner line. And it’s been an adventure.

Everyone, including the Ducks D knows Marner won’t shoot on a three-on-one.

He passed to the trailing Sandin on the right side. Conversely, on the next flurry, Nylander has three guys on him because no one else matters on that line.

Superline alert. the big four minus Matthews are out together. Gibson handles it sitting down.

Liljegren takes a penalty and is hurt on the play. Is likely off for concussion protocol.

Alex Kerfoot steals the puck behind the Ducks’ net while on the PK. The Leafs get a good scoring chance out of it. The Leafs are too much for the Ducks, and they hook Mikheyev.

Campbell has to make a stop while it’s 4on4, and that’s his fourth of the game. However, the power play for the Leafs doesn’t last long:

Tie Game!

The Leafs get another power play because Michael Bunting is just that good at drawing ire.

The Leafs get another power play goal because William Nylander is just that good at scoring.

2-1 Leafs

Tavares from behind the net, which I’d like to see more of.

Thoughts

  • The Kämpf line with Nylander is just too easy to defend.
  • The Ducks were never in this game, Toronto scored all the goals.
  • Hard to believe the Ducks will be this dull all game.

Second Period

The Ducks are not a lot less dull to start, and the Leafs are looking to play the stretch pass game with Nylander on the ice.

The broadcast mentions he leads the league in some trivia stat related to rushing. The reality is that last season he was so elite at rush chances and scoring off the rush that no one else touched him. I can’t emphasize enough that his style of play is a little unusual for the Leafs now, and suit Mike Babcock’s team better. But he is a spectacular forward, and a smart team makes a line to utilize his talents to their fullest.

Also on the broadcast was a graphic showing all-situations ice time. Naturally all the big four forwards had their usual minutes, they had more PP time. But at 5on5 or even-strength, it’s Tavares playing less. Markedly less. But not his wingers.

Sandin gets a post. He really is a forward tonight.

And indeed, he’s the last Leaf without a goal. He looks hungry.

(Turns and stares into camera.)

The Leafs are owning this game, and finally draw a penalty. Good God!! That’s Auston Matthews drawing this call. Call and inquiry.

Leafs don’t score, but they do draw again, and it’s a five-on-three for over one minute. And no, you don’t have to score on every five-on-three.

But sometimes you do:

3-1 Leafs

Leafs nearly get another on the remnants of the five-on-four, and then... it’s like an Aesop’s fable about hubris:

3-2 Leafs

Campbell with a sleepy game here, and that’s kind of understandable.

Thoughts

  • After two, the top three in TOI at five-on-five are Bunting, Kerfoot, Kämpf. But post hoc analysis says this is a brilliant idea.

Third Period

Oh, hello. We start with maximum chaos. Campbell gives the puck away, and somehow it almost ends up in Nylander breakaway.

The Ducks are the most active and effective they’ve been all game, and they try to take advantage of a Leafs penalty, but no dice.

Leafs have the Ducks in the spin cycle, and it reminds of how gloriously good the power play is these days.

At this point in the game with only five defenders, Brodie and Holl are playing all the five-on-five it seems. All five remaining defenders have more TOI than the top forward: David Kämpf. The fourth line is at under five minutes, which is deserved. They are terrible lately, and might be a problem that needs to be solved at some point.

It’s alarming to me that the Leafs are playing like they think they should just sit on this lead.

There’s a more plausible third line on the ice: Kämpf with Mikheyev and Kerfoot. They look good. Nylander has moved up to play with Tavares and Nylander, and before I get too excited by this moment of sense, the Leafs do Leafs stuff on defence. Add a deflection, and:

Tie Game

Sorry, I know the horse is dead, but I can’t help thwapping it one more time. David Kämpf is fifth in 5on5 ixG and he has more minutes than the four players ahead of him. Guess who they are?

Why is this game going to overtime? Because the Hockey Gods believe we need to learn a lesson, I guess.

Thoughts

  • Marner with a great game that sort of vanished in the third.
  • I still hate these lines and think it’s all silliness. Now I also just hate this team.
  • Here’s my only thought about the Ducks. The Oilers should have poured out all their assets, everything, and got John Gibson off this hapless team. They could conceivably have a cup by now if they had. And the lesson here really is that you can’t piss away the peak years of exceptional players.

Overtime

JT tries the Boyle vs Zegras, thinking maybe age was key to success, but no joy.

Gibson robs Nylander, and if this game goes to a shootout, I will write a sternly worded letter of complaint.

Shootout

To whom it may concern:

I am writing to you today to make you aware of the depth of my displeasure at your performance in this game. Have you no sense of common decency, sir? Have you no human feelings? Why did you visit this upon us?

In the future, I expect better.

Sincerely, Katya

  • Spezza with a beauty
  • Zegras with a dribbler
  • Matthews goal
  • Campbell stops Terry
  • Gibson stops Nylander
  • Campbell stops Rakell and this hell game is over

Leafs win.