This was supposed to be the last game of the season for both teams. In another universe, it would have been a barn burner. In this one, it’s a chance to watch Ben Hutton. Seriously, that’s it, that’s the entire point of the game for Leafs fans.
Ben Hutton jumped up with the third line like he’s been on the Leafs for years. He then gets played along the boards and sort of uselessly follows the play back as Joe Thornton covers for him, or tries to.
Kerfoot nearly finds an activating Ben Hutton off the cross-ice pass pic.twitter.com/W7CEQj2bTr— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) May 8, 2021
Brett Kulak opens the scoring as the fourth lines go toe-to-toe, and the Leafs never even come close to clearing their zone.
Brett Kulak scores off all the traffic in the world pic.twitter.com/ffpjdtOVa6— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) May 8, 2021
Hutton has to hustle and hope after Travis Dermott misses receiving a pass, and the play rolls the other way leaving him behind. Jack Campbell is the hero on this one, here’s how it all started:
Matthews nearly gave Dermott a tap in pic.twitter.com/uoxd5JbO5L— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) May 8, 2021
Leafs have suddenly sped this game up, which they’re always capable of. Not sure they’re playing any smarter, however.
Mitch Marner unleashing the one-timer pic.twitter.com/wQ6Eeg1O0t— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) May 8, 2021
Marner should try one that good on the power play some time.
Leafs take a penalty when Justin Holl, likely accidentally, trips up Joel Armia.
You know, Ilya Mikheyev is so famous for his shorthanded rushes and his hilariously inept five-on-five play, that you forget sometimes he’s just really, really good at PK in general.
The Leafs spend 5 minutes controlling the puck and getting near the net, but they never shoot. Meanwhile the Canadiens do what they did last game, which is hit a lot. And that never gets them the puck.
The Leafs have six Corsi For, and Ben Hutton has two of them, and two of the three shots on goal.
And while this is true:
FYI, Mitch Marner had a shot on goal from the slot here where Allen made a quick pad save that the stat keepers missed. They don't even have it as a shot attempt. pic.twitter.com/XShxwene3H— David Alter (@dalter) May 9, 2021
Don’t blame the official scorers, they’re asleep!
Oh, that’s adorable. Nick Suzuki scores a softie off of a decent rush with half the Leafs D chugging after him.
Suzuki makes it 2-0— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) May 9, 2021
Trickles through pic.twitter.com/4wtBygKsCv
Hutton gets to watch, hopefully not in confusion, as the Leafs do the carry the puck back into their own zone to retry the move up ice. Mikheyev passed the puck to him from two feet away in a way that didn’t speak too well to Hutton’s grasp on this technique.
There was some pushing and shoving while I was typing that, so I assume we’ll have a fight later.
Holl tries to catch Cole Caufield on a rush, which is funny, but Muzzin makes the excellent move to stop that from being a goal.
Muzzin denies Caufield without taking a penalty pic.twitter.com/Fw3T1x2XfU— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) May 9, 2021
Hutton carries the puck in, and nothing happens, so Pierre Engvall shows him how a pure goal-scorer does it:
PIERRE ENGVALL 🚨— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) May 9, 2021
Marner takes a slightly less certainly accidental tripping call on Caufield, and it’s PK time without the most fun PKer. Campbell only needs to make one or two saves.
Oh, nice. Nylander ties it up after some good puck movement that almost makes you think the Leafs know what they’re doing:
WILLIAM NYLANDER 🚨— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) May 9, 2021
TIE GAME! TIC-TAC-TOE! pic.twitter.com/Z0z8g0yS0H
That's for Deccan! pic.twitter.com/JZcr3pk0K5— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) May 9, 2021
Okay, so confession. I mute the intermissions, so I had no idea who Deccan was so I googled, and just watch this if you didn’t see it:
Okay, back to the game, just in time, which is more than I can say for the broadcast! Marner right off the faceoff. Great shot.
MITCH MARNER🚨— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) May 9, 2021
20TH OF THE SEASON pic.twitter.com/wPA9JochCj
And so it stays to the end of the period
Were the Leafs better in the second? It would be hard not to be.
But that’s significantly better than two shots from a defenceman and not much else.
Leafs got a power play at the end of the second, so it gets fruitlessly finished now.
Ohhh, Ben Hutton takes over the job of jousting with Josh Anderson and blasts him into the boards.
Ben Hutton sends Anderson flying pic.twitter.com/NYUmkWCN80— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) May 9, 2021
Leafs take a penalty, Nylander with the third stick into the feet of a Hab of the game. The Canadiens without Weber’s cannon are maybe the most boring power play in the NHL.
Hutton is getting the occasional shift with Morgan Rielly as Dermott is playing less than his nominal partner by quite a lot.
These games are a good opportunity for Hutton to figure out the quirks of the Leafs, find the range of risk they employ, and it’s not at all a bad thing that he’s in the lineup.
Campbell with a big stop in traffic. He’s been great on everything except that rush goal. Which I feel safe saying is a flaw in his game, not a fluke at this point.
Leafs switch to more of the top six and Muzzin-Holl to end the game, as Keefe likes to do.
Montreal pulls the goalie, but nothing much comes of that, except a Petry penalty in the last seconds as he stops Mikheyev on a ENG rush.
Campbell is the guy making the saves during the final seconds, however, allowing everyone who is into that to talk about how important faceoffs are.
The third period was all about the speed and the checking. Hutton played a lot, the bottom six played a lot, and the Leafs didn’t struggle too hard with what Montreal offered up from their depleted lineup. Even when boring, the Leafs can turn up the heat when they need to.
That’s that for the Habs until the playoffs. Then it gets real.
Sorry, and the Leafs clinched the division, because... well, duh. They made a graphic! Isn’t that sweet?
TORONTO TAKES THE NORTH 🇨🇦— Sportsnet (@Sportsnet) May 9, 2021
The @MapleLeafs have clinched the top spot in the North Division. pic.twitter.com/xYEyer7oMR
The rest of the boys congratulating the team!— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) May 9, 2021
Bogosian, Hyman, Sandin, Foligno and co. pic.twitter.com/fs9LHazv7K