Original Six. Rangers are heating up, beating good teams. Should be a good one.
Conor Timmins is ready.
Lets go. First shift amounts to not much, but shift two sees the top line work the puck up the ice with Nylander's pass through the slot just tipped away. Sandin was the man robbed of an excellent opportunity.
Giordano whacks another players stick and is whistled for slashing.
Gio to the box for slashing— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) December 16, 2022
Leafs PK pic.twitter.com/E56GF8TmRJ
The Rangers win the draw and move the puck around getting set up. A few deferred shots and nifty passes through the slot ends with a wide open net facing the New York shooter.
0-1 New York Rangers.
Filip Chytil scores on the power play pic.twitter.com/XbYwptGIM0— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) December 16, 2022
The Leafs come back out with not so much of a response as just sticking to their game. We’re 6:00 minutes in with the face-off in the Leafs zone.
The third line works it up the ice and hangs out in the right corner before the Rangers fire it back into the Leafs end.
Lots of back and forth without much sustained pressure thus far. Two more minutes pass fast.
No sooner I think thing dull, Malgin starts to break in on an opportunity, but kind of awkwardly bobbles it? Just over skates it I guess. He recovers and still tries to shovel it over to rising star Pontus Holmberg. Holmberg who was working to the net so hard he drew a penalty, because it was the only way to stop him.
Leafs get their first power play of the game as Holmberg is hooked pic.twitter.com/8lFHn82fuh— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) December 16, 2022
The power play starts by having the puck fired down the ice. It happens one more time before this unit wakes up. The Leafs do a pretty good job working the puck around with pace and create a few chances and shots, but nothing high quality. The second unit comes out with 25 seconds left and really only accomplishes giving up an opportunity 2-on-2 to the Rangers as the PP expires.
The third line takes the puck back up to the other end of the rink on the next shift and claims a decent chance.
Matt Murray fires the puck on a quick up to Kerfoot who breaks in with a player offside. Lame.
Nylander gets an opportunity, at the end of a mediocre shift from the top line, on a break with Bunting, but it’s in front of Bunting. Hard to say if he was hoping for a toe to kick it out or hoping to slide it over.
Pontus Holmberg picks up the puck in the defensive corner and dumps his would be pursuer, before working the puck safely up ice.
Just under 6:00 minutes to go the puck squirts up top to offensive defenseman Conor Timmins. He dishes down to Engvall in the slot who funnels it to the net. Michael Bunting is on the scene to tidy things up.
1-1 hockey game.
MICHAEL BUNTING— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) December 16, 2022
BIG MIKE'S RUN CONTINUES! pic.twitter.com/IcyrsdJGs0
Trouba isn’t happy.
Pontus Holmberg gets an quick shot off in close, but from a tight angle.
The Tavares line gets out next and gets some decent zone time, but not much action. The Matthews line follows that up and does about the same. The shots are 8-8 with 2:35 to go in the period.
Fourth line gets out for a late shift and win a race to the puck below the goal line. A pair of quick passes later, the puck is in the low slot for Pontus Holmberg. He does not score. And then the Rangers go 2-on-1 down for a chance the other way.
Not much really going on after that. We head to intermission tied at one.
It didn’t look like either team was terribly sharp in the first. Perhaps it is a symptom of neither team looking to make any early mistakes and instead play a bit more conservative. Besides the Rangers Power Play, I don’t think they had much going offensively. The Leafs created a few chances, but again, nothing to really write home about. There was quite a bit just missing the mark.
Hopefully it gets a little tighter and a little crisper.
The second starts a little slow, and a minute in, Matthews’ pass in the offensive zone bounces over some sticks and out of the zone. Great. Not exactly high and tight.
Timmins touches the puck and I perk up. He dishes up to hot hand Kerfoot who fires it into the Lady Liberty Rangers crest.
too many turnovers— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) December 16, 2022
the eventual shot rang off the post pic.twitter.com/7wvSq2BZY4
CLANG! A Leaf segment of turnovers leads to the Rangers finding iron. Hopefully that wakes them up, because the first five minutes of the period hasn’t found any rhythm.
The fourth line comes out for an offensive zone draw. They put together a good shift with Holmberg making a nice play on the backcheck in center ice to send Zach Aston-Reese back the other way for a decent chance.
We go back to watching an intense game of Pong before the Rangers take advantage of some space provided. The combine quick chances, but nothing more.
The Leafs start waking up and the third line gets things going. They move the puck around, get a shot and keep things rolling. The Leafs keep them pinned and get a change rolling. Tavares, Marner and Matthews come out fresh with the opposition over 90 seconds on their shift. The three of them with Sandin and Liljegren fly around the offensive zone making nice plays and following through with some shot attempts, but ultimately that is all it becomes.
Kampf and the boys continue to have nice looking shifts, but don’t get much more. The fourth line follows suit and picks up an offensive zone face-off. You know, I say they don’t get much, but the execution looks cleaner. Hopefully it sticks.
12 minutes into the second and the shots are 12-12.
Out of the break, after a win and chance from the Leafs, the Rangers offer some pushback. The fourth line ends up on the ice for about 90 seconds, as the Rangers play keep away and have some nice looks.
Next shift, with the Rangers looking to pick up steam, Marner tips the puck ahead to Tavares who races down. The Leafs really start applying pressure this shift. Trocheck loses a stick. Great opportunities a plenty, but no clean shots. What a tease.
Matthews tries making a pass out front that gets tipped and the Rangers go breaking the other way. Brodie plays the pass poorly, and the slick stick of Jimmy Vesey skirts around him to the backhand before bringing it back out front and putting it up top short side.
1-2 Rangers. Can’t let those ones beat you.
Luckily things come back around and Giordano has his stick snapped with a slash. The Leafs that go to the Power Play.
The first 30 seconds are brutal. Then the Leafs turn it over and now there is a minute remaining. I can’t keep up. The second unit gets out with 45 seconds or so remaining and succeed in picking up a shot as time expires. Be thankful you only had to read this and not watch.
Under a minute left to play now that the penalty is over, and Kampf, Kerfoot and ZAR move the puck into the offensive zone to give the big boys one more chance with 25 seconds left. Nothing really comes of it and that is the end of the second period.
The best I can say is that both teams were around it, but not much happened. The Rangers lead in shots 6-4. That should tell you most of what you need to know.
It seems like one of those games where neither team can find a groove, and I won’t be surprised to see the Rangers grind this game to a halt in the third period. I’m optimistic about Leafs rising to the challenge here in the third period despite not seeing much in this game. The bottom six continues to almost look dangerous, so it isn’t hard to see either line breaking through yet (again?) tonight. Kampf and Engvall were out with Bunting so that is a grey area for me.
The team has earned the right, over the last fifteen games, to have the benefit of the doubt going into this period. They really need to get chopping though. And with that...
The ref goes down on the face-off so that must mean something.
Marner fires a long one from the point, trying to catch Shesterkin out of the net, but it doesn’t work. Shame.
When Matthews has had space tonight he looks like he really wants it. Maybe it is the stage? He hasn’t been as apparent all over tonight, but he’s had a few looks.
Kerfoot takes advantage of Chytil with no stick and on the ensuing power play the Rangers immediately take a quality short handed opportunity the other way. Timmins is out with the top unit for a short stint, but other than that you really don’t want to know. The Leafs just have not gotten setup.
The post PP line comes out and Zach Aston-Reese gets another grade-A chance in front of the net, but Shesterkin comes out to meet him.
Matthews, Tavares, and Marner come out for another shift together, but don’t get much pressure.
The Rangers continue to counter with varying degrees of decent-to-dangerous scoring chances.
With 12:00 minutes to go, Matthews is reunited with Marner and Bunting this time.
Kampf, Kerfoot and Engvall follow them out, steadily move the puck up ice and end yet another shift in the offensive zone. Both bottom six lines have done this pretty routinely tonight. It has been nice to watch.
The top line is back out and Marner makes a nice play to snag the puck and feed it over to Matthews on the far side. With the puck on his stick Matthews pumps in close, getting ready to fire...
And Panarin comes in to break it up. Or at least distract him. Damn... I thought that one was it.
great drop pass from Marner— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) December 16, 2022
Matthews nearly completes the play pic.twitter.com/XnVcmiBrqs
Engvall is now out with Tavares and Nylander, but that trio doesn’t get much going either.
Since being denied by Panarin, Matthews looks possessed. He takes it the whole way himself, before going down on another 2-1. The team looks like they are responding as Tavares comes out and keeps the momentum going. They stay out for the offensive one draw.
They Rangers almost clear, but the Leafs keep it alive. They work it down and Tavares gets it out in front of the net, but the Leafs can’t get to it before Shesterkin.
Kampf, Kerfoot, and ZAR are the other threesome since the adjustment, but time is winding down. The Leafs are playing with urgency and speed, but nothing is breaking yet.
Spoke too soon as Matthews picks up the puck in the defensive zone and lobs it to center ice where it drops just so onto Marner’s stick. Marner races up the right side with a pursuer close. Marner takes an off slap shot he attempts to slide five hole, but the Ranger netminder makes the stop.
Another round of shifts and we have four minutes to go.
Top line has nothing.
Holmberg takes a shift with Kampf and Kerfoot, but his magic isn’t enough either.
Three minutes to go.
Engvall, Nylander and Malgin take a turn as the Leafs gear up for a goalie pull maybe?
Two minutes to go, the top line is on, the goalie goes off and Tavares comes out. The puck squirts to the front of the net for a chaotic scrum before Vesey fires it down at the empty net. He misses.
The ensuing face-off is scrummed and everyone ends up standing around... Until the puck is slid over towards Vesey, who beats Sandin and skates it down the ice. This time he doesn’t miss.
The Leafs decided to give up after that. The Rangers ice the puck with 45 seconds to go, but Keefe neither pulls the goalie nor puts any fire power on the ice. Maybe someone said something on the bench he didn’t like? I’d at least pull the goalie again, but maybe that’s just me. It seemed odd to me so I wrote about it here. Discuss.
Oh, and time expires and the Leafs lose 3-1.
The Leafs point streak has come to an end.
The Marner point streak has come to an end.
And so it goes. The Leafs were more around the game than in the game. Not from a score perspective, just an ability to create scoring chances. They had chances for good chances, but there just wasn’t enough there. At least not in the first 40 minutes.
It is a good reality check or hurdle for the team to bounce back from. The Rangers are a good team. There is another one waiting on Saturday night in Washington so let’s not waste too much time thinking about it. Have a good Friday.