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Maple Leafs can’t beat Craig Anderson

I hate it when they play bad teams.

2022 Tim Hortons NHL Heritage Classic - Toronto Maple Leafs v Buffalo Sabres Photo by Ben Green/NHLI via Getty Images

Hey!

You know what’s a great way to start a hockey game? With a puck over the glass penalty. What action the NHL loves to dish out! Wheeee!

The Buffalo Sabres brought their shiny new player Owen Power to the Scotiabank Arena and the game really started out well, and by that I mean a stupid penalty but the Leafs killed it off. It wasn’t exciting stuff to start, but hey the Sabres didn’t score, and that’s all I wanted.

The Maple Leafs get their own powerplay when Jacob Bryson holds Alex Kerfoot, but then it’s immediately nullified by Morgan Rielly getting called for “high sticking”.

Auston Matthews and Mark Giordano team up to almost score but they made one too many passes.

After The Sabres power play runs out, they got a little bit of a power play and Kyle Okposo goes high on Källgren to make it 1-0 Buffalo.

The Buffalo Sabres, inspired by the young star player joining them, or fully aware of just how awful the Leafs usually play against the bottom of the league, are playing with total control in this game. More than doubling the Leafs shots, hemming them into their own zone, and not giving up much of the puck. It is the most frustrating part of this Maple Leafs team, in that they won’t simply dominate and humiliate these awful teams like they should.

It’s a weird mental block the Leafs have, but at least it isn’t against the best teams?

Ilya Mikheyev comes in down the wing hard with some speed but is easily bodied off the puck before he can shoot or pass. It didn’t look that hard to do. Auston Matthews missed a shot too.

The Maple Leafs get their second powerplay of the game after Dylan Cozens hooks Matthews, and Nate Thompson almost scores a shorthanded goal right away. Sigh. After the penalty expires the Leafs are crowded around the net and twice Auston Matthews makes the crowd think he’s scored as they yell and get excited only to give out that defeated crowd “aww” afterwards. Craig Anderson Is 25 years old again tonight.

The period mercifully ends, maybe the Leafs will remember that they’re a good hockey team during intermission.

The Leafs get a couple a shots, but the second period doesn’t get too exciting until a brief moment when Timothy Liljegren scores to tie the game.

The Leafs are starting to connect on more passes, we get a beautiful play from Marner passing back to Bunting, and then across to Matthews but Craig Anderson can’t be beaten.

Mitch Marner gets called for tripping, and the Sabres get another power play chance to take back the lead. And they do! Tage Thompson scores his 33rd of the year from the slot.

2-1 Sabres.

The Sabres miss a pass to score on a wide open net, thankfully, but the Leafs aren’t even getting that lucky. Midway through the game shots on goal are tied, the Sabres lead, the Leafs are essentially lifeless, and I’m enjoying the smell of the auto wreckers on fire not that far away than I am by this game.

The Leafs almost score when a Mitch Marner rush leads to a puck hitting the post and sitting in the crease, but Anderson gets to the puck before the Leafs can and after some scrambling there play is blown dead.

Michael Bunting draws a penalty, as he does, and the Leafs have a power play opportunity to tie the game. They don’t and before it expires, Jason Spezza gets called for tripping to give us a little bit of four on four. Mattias Samuelsson leaves the bench for the locker room after blocking an Auston Matthews shot.

The Sabres power play has been working much better than the Leafs tonight, but can’t get anything past Källgren this time.

The Sabres continue to push to extend their lead, again missing an open net and spending the final minute crashing the Leafs net. After 40 it’s 2-1 Buffalo.

The third is more of the same. Sabres clogging the passing lanes, Leafs unable to make any headway, and then Jeff Skinner scores to make it 3-1 Sabres.

Rasmus Dahlin makes it 4-1. Now, someone remind me which of these teams is headed for the playoffs?

Maple Leafs get their fourth power play of the game. Will they score?

LOL no. The power play has been extra awful tonight, Maybe two shots on four attempts?

BUT! Alexander Kerfoot scores an pinball goal, to cut the Sabres lead by one. 4-2 Buffalo.

Ilya Mikheyev tries to doodle around Craig Anderson and somehow the puck doesn’t go in. Craig Anderson, man.

Mitch Marner, Nick Abruzzese make some good moves, try to score, but the powerhouse Sabres defense combined with the spry young Anderson keeps the Sabres double up on the Leafs score.

With 3:30 remaining in the game, the Leafs pull the goalie to try and overcome the two goal deficit. They don’t, and the Sabres score on the empty net.

Final score: Buffalo Sabres 5 - Toronto Maple Leafs 2

The lesson here tonight is don’t bother watching a Leafs game against the Sabres or anyone else at the bottom of the standings.

It wasn’t an impressive game by any means, and the big players weren’t there for the full 60 minutes. Lots of floating, limp shots, a lack of effort from all around.

The Maple Leafs next game is Thursday night against the Washington Capitals, which should be a good one, and then they play the Senators on Saturday night.

You should probably skip that one.