clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Leafs lose to the Canadiens while dominating the play

Never enter a duel unarmed. Even a goalie duel.

Toronto Maple Leafs v Montreal Canadiens Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images

It’s HNIC, Toronto vs Montréal, and would you have bet on day one of the season this game would feature one team in the midst of a four-way contest in the Atlantic, and one team the first out of the playoffs?

Montréal’s injury troubles continue with three main players out of the lineup, possibly for the rest of the season. And tonight their assistant coach Luke Richardson is in Covid protocol. Meanwhile the Leafs have two new ones we should be paying attention to.

First Period

That was quick. Thirteen seconds in and Matthews opens the scoring while Bunting just prays this goes in.

1-0 Leafs

He’s on his knees, you see... oh, never mind.

Timothy Liljegren gets stuck the lone defender on a rush against, and not only does he just calmly take it off the Canadiens’ player with a stick check, Mark Giordano is already back in case he needs help.

They are a Maple Leafs defensive pair, you recall.

Deep into the period, Erik Källgren makes his first save on Mike Hoffman in the slot.

Källgren finally has to make some more real saves:

Michael Bunting gives it away and the Leafs easily recover, but... well, onto the thoughts.

Thoughts

  • Montréal is not in this game beyond their own crease, which is exactly how it went against Florida for them.
  • Saint Marty dumping William Lagesson out there in his NHL debut against the Leafs top line is some kinda thing.
  • Maple Leafs with 73% xG.
  • Bunting looked really bad for a lot of the New Jersey game. He couldn’t complete a pass, and he’s done one boneheaded thing so far tonight. I hope he’s not turning back into a pumpkin.
  • Källgren seems to be coming out too far to challenge shooters in traffic, and if he keeps it up, someone’s going to get one in the gaping net behind him.

Second Period

Great fourth line shift that segues into Colin Blackwell playing a little with Matthews and Bunting.

The full top line just spins the Canadiens for an hour or so.

But you know how this goes, all it takes is one chance, and the Leafs have about six chances to regain the puck, and they never do. Brodie flips it up, trying for and easy dump out, and it doesn’t make it. A lot of Leafy defending from the forwards and the number two pair du jour results in this:

But wait!

Leafs get lucky.

Källgren with a good save from the point, and this is where Källgren is very good.

Yeah, that was my fault. Never say the goalie playing over his head is good. Not that this is his fault:

Tie Game

William Nylander lets a defender walk in and score. And then Morgan Rielly takes a penalty. And this game was all going so well! Shorty? Please?

Wow, Leafs get possession and everyone goes on the rush. That’s the closest thing to action in that two minutes.

By the way, Florida played a 5F PP vs the Habs the other night. I’d like to see the Leafs do that in two or three weeks when they get their next PP.

Montréal has uncovered the secret to playing the Leafs: make them defend. They’re getting a lot more chances in this period.

Källgren getting away with some stuff out there as the Canadiens put on a lot of pressure.

Blackwell flubs on an offensive play, and the Canadiens get a rush against. Blackwell gets back and defends well, but the Leafs take a penalty on the play.

Cole Caufield needs three tries on this power play, but he gets there eventually:

2-1 Montréal

Not the best PK the Leafs have ever produced.

That’s it for that period.

Thoughts

  • So how did we get here?
  • It’s not that, although for all the tiny amount of shots the Habs are getting at five-on-five, they aren’t wasting them.
  • It’s not even the power plays the Canadiens are getting because for all they scored on one, they had very few shots.
  • It’s really very simple: Erik Källgren can play at around average plus or minus a little, and tonight he’s minus, and Jake Allen is excellent.
  • Of course, it’s easier to play a goalie who is not really an NHL to 50 guy when you actually play a tight, error-free game. But that’s asking too much of these guys.

Third Period

Nylander has been bounced down to the third line after his very dumb move on the tying goal, Mikheyev up with Tavares.

Bunting still can draw penalties! The Leafs go to the power play.

The Leafs 2D, 3F second unit gets its debut. The theory is that starting it with both defenders makes the transition to five-on-five smoother. I remain very unconvinced it’s not because there aren’t enough good forwards right now with Kaše out.

Montréal take a holding call almost as obvious as the penalty to Rielly earlier, and the Leafs get another try on the power play.

Nylander with a goal.

Tie Game

I swear, every time Nylander does a dumb, he scores later.

Speaking of dumb, the Canadiens take a penalty on the scoring play. LOL.

Wow! Allen robs Marner on a great shot.

HUGE stop by Källgren on a shorty chance the Leafs very lazily defended. Very lazily.

Allen with another stop and this game is wide open, no one is playing for a tie here. Not yet, anyway.

Great third line shift with the defenders looking most likely to score. As it goes.

Lyubushkin with a chance in tight. He is a totally different player to who he was in Arizona, just in case you thought scouting was simple.

Holl gets a shot while the fourth line is also buzzing the net un-dangerously.

Matthews gets knocked down off the puck, and Paul Byron walks away and gets a clean look at Källgren and in it goes. Blame the ref and say that was tripping. Blame the defender if you like, but what’s the point of defending if the goalie can’t handle that kind of play?

3-2 for the worst team in the NHL who are beating the Leafs in a game they should have won. Hey... when has that happened before?

The Canadiens cap it off with an ENG, and I’ll resist making any bitter jokes here because Källgren is doing his best.

Thoughts

  • I like Blackwell, he passes the eyetest, but in a general way this fourth line is not really adding the right thing to the mix.
  • The Tavares line needs to be in the o-zone all the time. (See point above)
  • The third line is neato, but they are a “no goals against line” which is necessary, but not always the most necessary thing.
  • So. How is Jack Campbell doing?