It’s HNIC time, everyone. It’s also Ottawa Senators time, and they’re coming off a convincing stomping by the Sabres in their only game played so far.

The Sens went shopping this offseason and returned with Alex DeBrincat and Claude Giroux, and then they stopped. Instead of adding meaningful depth or improving their very poor defence, they just stopped. They are dangerous in some ways, and should have a decent power play, but they aren’t a complete team.

Meanwhile the Leafs are down a goalie already. Is this a record?

First Period

Two minutes in and the Senators have iced the puck twice and the Leafs have had three serious offensive chances.

JT is stopped on his second or third good chance by Anton Forsberg’s jersey.

Samsonov finally gets to make a save on Claude Giroux.

And then he makes one of his snatches out of the air, seems to be his signature flourish.

And the whistle goes, and the camera zooms in on Michael Bunting practicing his innocent face, but wait! Plot twist. It’s Mitch Marner going to the box.

Let’s see some new guys on the PK, see how they do.

New guy Calle Järnkrok is fine off the faceoff, but David Kämpf fails a couple of times to effectively break up the play. Shane Pinto makes the Leafs pay.

1-0 Ottawa

Brady Tkachuk gets close to Samsonov, and I think Kyle Dubas was in the scrum that ensued.

Rasmus Sandin blocks a shot with his ankle, and the whole bench and five rows up learned some new Swedish words. He takes his next shift as normal.

Morgan Rielly (and TJ Brodie) are out with the fourth line, who can forecheck all night long, but none of them are good shooters. That has to be the only way that line scores this year.

The Sens shoot the puck straight out under pressure, and Sheldon Keefe goes all tomato-faced rage when the refs get this one wrong. No penalty. His yapping carries on into the next faceoff pause. Will he get a compensation call at some point out of all that?

The Tavares line spends a long, long shift hemmed in and that’s how we end this period. That was really the only moment like that in the game, but it was very bad.


  • Never look at SOG, but really don’t in this game. The Leafs missed, not by much, on a lot of really good chances, and they dominate in real shots 25-14 at five-on-five./
  • They aren’t exactly mid-season form in their passes and timing yet, and the Matthews line looks like they just met for the first time far too often. But the Leafs are clearly getting to that top form.
  • Something I’ve noticed about Samsonov, the net is rocking when he’s playing. He drives back to the post hard when he comes out into the crease. At first I thought he was a losing his sense of where he was a bit, but I think it might be just how he is. /

Second Period

Marner and Bunting both with some stupid winger tricks in the offensive zone nullifying possession time.

And the Leafs get a power play finally when Alex Kerfoot is better on the boards than Tim Stützle.

Someone (I forget who) called this year’s PP1 the Jekyll and Hyde power play, and this is definitely the monster version.

Ottawa denied point blank while Samsonov is swimming out in the deep water a little.

Leafs get a five-on-four when a Sens player has to go off when he loses his helmet. They can’t capitalize.

Leafs head right to the box after.

Pierre Engvall generates a shorty chance, but no one can put it home.

Sandin sends a beautiful pass up to Bunting who dithers until it’s dead.

William Nylander follows up with a breakaway that doesn’t fire.

It’s like setting off fireworks in the rain here.

Muzzin to Kämpf. Of course, that was the one that would work

Tie Game!


  • The game got a lot lower event, much like the Capitals game before it. Shots were only 17-12 Leafs.
  • All-situations xG (NST verstion) is 2.4 to 1.4 for the Leafs. /

Third Period

Muzzin continues as player of the game by breaking up a cross-crease pass.

The Sportlogique Numbers Boutique stats say the Sens are evening up the overall differential with more dangerous rush chances, and that is the biggest flaw in the Leafs system, so it won’t be in traditional xG, but it might be the reason this game is so close.

Samsonov stops a breakaway. This could be the new drinking game.

Ottawa takes a penalty behind the play, and we have a power play. Um, yay?

Yay! Nylander!!

2-1 Leafs

Not the monster version of the PP. (Yes I’ve forgotten which is Jekyll and which Hyde, shut up.)


After a 20-minute TV timeout, play resumes and Giroux is still Giroux.

Tie Game

Much like vs the Caps, okay, you just never mind about that scintillating analysis. Justin Holl does the deed:

3-2 Leafs

Take that everyone who thought he was jumping up pointlessly last game (it was me).

Samsonov and the Leafs close it out with a win again.


  • Seven preseason games (seemed like a play for ticket sales to me) and less practice time is showing on the ice. For the Leafs their best defence is still offensive zone control.
  • Recalls into the now roomy LTIR pool should be Wayne Simmonds, Nick Robertson, but Victor Mete might stay in the AHL and get in game action. Filip Král likely deserves a trip to some California beaches./