The Toronto Maple Leafs split their mini series with the Edmonton Oilers, taking Game 2 by a score of 4-2. John Tavares scored the game-winning goal in the third, with Adam Brooks and Jimmy Vesey getting goals in the second. Brooks’ goal was his first career NHL goal in his eighth career game. Vesey scored off a lovely pass from William Nylander, who was arguably the Leafs best player in the game. Frederik Andersen stopped 30 of 32 for the win, he was Steady Freddy and kept the team in it during their occasional lulls in defensive play.
Nylander got mixed up with Vesey in a defensive transition and allowed Draisaitl to go off on a 2-on-1. He nearly set up Yamamoto for a goal, but Andersen stopped him with a great save. Anderen had to make another great save a couple shifts later on Dominik Kahun with Nylander and Kerfoot playing as the defense pair. How that happened, I have no idea, but Spezza was the third guy back, Rielly was trailing after that, and Brodie was nowhere to be found.
Andersen coming up big again on the odd-man rush pic.twitter.com/bsevU3cGad— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) January 23, 2021
The Leafs duo tangled again as Nylander dangled his way out of the defensive zone and rushed up for a shot the other end. Vesey followed up and took the shot as Nylander bobbled it near the slot, forcing Koskinen into a save. Simmonds had a good chance himself a few minutes later.
January 23, 2021
The Engvall line with Simmonds and Mikheyev had a pretty good shift near the end of the period, getting a couple rebounds from a seeded point shot. They seem to work well together around the net. Engvall looks good, even though he hasn’t played a long time. Engvall later made a good defensive play with his stick before skating it up and getting a shot for a faceoff in the offensive zone.
What a shift by Wayne Simmonds pic.twitter.com/Dr8pxddIce— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) January 23, 2021
Engvall robs McDavid pic.twitter.com/dxlbMr8lsR— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) January 23, 2021
- Shot attempts: 20-17
- Shots on goal: 12-11
- Scoring Chances: 10-5
- Expected goals: 0.71-0.73
- Among the forwards, Tavares, Marner, Nylander, Engvall, and Simmonds got the most shifts with seven. They all played between 5-7 minutes. The fourth line got four shifts in three minutes by comparison.
- What I’d like to see:
More rushes to the net, and if they have to get that from point shots so be it.
- Nylander played with a couple different lines in that period, he seems to be one of the only players who can transition the puck into the offensive zone, although the third line was successful at that too.
- What I got:
Thank you, Freddie (x5).
- I got Marner shying away from pressure and turning back or dropping the puck back way too much. He has been dominant far less than he has been passive and unproductive to the Leafs generating offense this season.
- I would like to see Engvall in the lineup full-time. Play him with Nylander and Tavares or Nylander and Matthews. He’s a big body who can play defense and knows how to handle the puck around the net. I wouldn’t play him with Marner, he needs elusive skaters with him to make him work (eleven million, baby). He’s better than Vesey.
- Simmonds also looks up to speed, which is great to see. /
Engvall took a bit of a suspicious hooking penalty early in the second period. The Leafs, especially Kerfoot, did a good job of keeping the Oilers out of the zone. Mikheyev had a shorthanded rush, he seems to be getting one a game now.
Mikheyev ascends when he's on the penalty kill pic.twitter.com/0hRH84dorD— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) January 23, 2021
Kyle Turris then got penalized for hooking Holl, sending the Leafs to the power play. The first group looked like this:
Marner got overwhelmed and fell on his zone entry on the power play, the puck went the other way and Leon Draisaitl stuffed an ugly goal on Andersen. Nylander wasn’t great on the goal, neither was Reilly, but it started with Marner.
Draitsaitl scores— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) January 23, 2021
Mistakes all around pic.twitter.com/jeEw7JprLN
ADAM BROOKS ON THE POWER PLAY! Do we need to trash our prospect pyramid now? The rookie scored his first NHL goal after deflecting a shot from Jason Spezza off his foot. Congratulations to Adam Brooks.
LOL Kerfoot thought it was Spezza's pic.twitter.com/JET6rxYLLy— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) January 23, 2021
I am a bit of a proud dad.— Mark (@MarkUkLeaf) January 23, 2021
Here is Adam Brooks' first AHL goal.https://t.co/Osnb6cacmX
WOW OH WOW William Nylander and Jimmy Vesey has his second of the season! This play started because Dermott pinched down and got the puck behind the net. Kerfoot stole it from Nurse as two of the Oilers forwards though they were going off on a break. This left Nylander all alone to go do his magic and for Vesey to finish it off with flair. What a team goal.
Kerfoot steals the puck low— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) January 23, 2021
Nylander with the patience
Easy pickings for Vesey pic.twitter.com/EvRrg8OCnk
- (5v5) Shot attempts: 12-11
- Shots on goal: 7-6
- Scoring Chances: 6-5
- Expected goals: 0.32-0.33
- Tavares, Marner, Nylander, Engvall, and Spezza led the Leafs in shifts in the second with six each. Tavares led the way in 5v5 icetime with nearly 13 minutes after two periods. Hyman leads the way in all situations icetime with his power play and penalty kill minutes. He’s on pace to play nearly 23 minutes tonight. Something I’ve noticed is how short the shifts Engvall and Simmonds have been taking. It’s 35 seconds on the ice for them and off. I will say it’s kept them fresh and assertive when they’re on the ice.
- What I’d like to see:
A quiet, Keefe-Marlies third period. They have the lead. Come out in the first 10 minutes and control the shot share and try to go up by one more for insurance. In the second half, close off the defensive zone by filling the neutral zone. The depth guys have done more than I expected so if they could just maintain this lead that would be great.
- What I got:
Thank you, Freddie (x4).
- Goals from the misfit toys and a lead!!!/
“Someone help! I have no idea what I’m doing back here!”
January 23, 2021
Fuck. McDavid tipped a shot from Bear through the legs of Andersen. There goes the lead, and the Leafs need to play hockey again. There goes everything I said in the second intermission.
Connor McDavid ties it 2-2 pic.twitter.com/IgELKG2lzp— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) January 23, 2021
The Leafs then put on a lot of pressure in the offensive zone. They were fast, hard on the forecheck, and despite still only getting shots from the perimeter, they were in the positions to pounce rebounds. Engvall looked really good, including a Nylander-esque rush. The Oilers had some chances of their own, but they were relegated to coming up from behind the net to the right of Andersen, shots he handed fairly well.
The Leafs then drew a power play, Marner drawing a hooking call from former Leaf Devin Shore. He’s not a former Leaf, but I’m curious to how many of you believed me.
JOHNNIE JAVARES! TONNIE TAVARES!! JOHNNIE TAVARES!!! With the tip in front after a great power play around the front of the net. It was Marner with the initial point shot, but Hyman was very pivotal in driving attention away from Tavares and giving him space to score. Nylander might get a secondary assist, which was well-deserved considering how dangerous he looked on the left wing.
Tavares is money on the PP this season pic.twitter.com/GrMxxQSiQr— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) January 23, 2021
This was funny. In the dying seconds of the game, Barrie was taking his sweet time getting to the neutral zone, Tavares stripped him and Marner dumped it in the empty net.
Marner: I'm the new Zach Hyman pic.twitter.com/trgWfVUEIJ— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) January 23, 2021
Of course they won this game after losing Matthews to his day-to-day injury. I think the pressure was on for a lot of these players and we saw a good number of them swim. Tavares, Marner, and Hyman did their best to shave off the impact of McDavid, though they couldn’t stop him from scoring in the second.
I described Nylander as self-aware of how unaware he is. He had moments where he was alert and driven, but then moments where he got a little lost in his head. Credit to him, he often self-diagnosed himself and put in the work to get in the right areas. Kerfoot and Vesey were reasonable foils for him. Kerfoot looked very good and Vesey finished off that beautiful goal.
The third line was my favourite surprise of the night. Pierre Engvall deserves to be in this lineup. He’s not got it all put together, but that’s what a third liner is. If he had the finishing to go with the puck handling an defensive ability he would be a second liner. Simmonds looks up to speed and was quite dangerous around the net as a shooter and playmaker. Mikheyev was lots of fun when he turned on his ion drive. He’s explosively quick and yet he worked well in the middle of the offensive zone with his linemates.
The fourth line didn’t play any meaningful minutes, but they got some of the most minutes I’ve seen the fourth line get all season. Spezza helped Brooks get his first NHL goal on th power play, which was great. He took a penalty, which I didn’t like, but otherwise he was ok. Barabanov once again disappeared after a little bit. He reminds me of Timashov as someone who will give you one bit of flash and then be a complete non-factor for the rest of the game.
The defense wasn’t perfect, but they weren’t a problem tonight by a long shot. They haven’t been save for a couple periods this year. Dermott made a good offensive play on the Vesey goal, Rielly wasn’t great on the McDavid goal, Muzzin had a puck magnet on his feet, and the rest of the guys were fine. Bogosian hit the post one time!
The other team got their chances, but I did like the improved offense from the Leafs. It’s been a while since I’ve seen that blob in front of the opponent’s net. Shot share all the way down the list was even or better for the Leafs until the final five minutes when the Oilers threw everything on the net. The Leafs were ahead in shot share, but the Oilers had the marginal expected goals advantage for the first 55 minutes of the game.