Tonight marks Garret Sparks third start for the leafs this season. He’s been very, very bad once, and good enough to offset that first game to land at near league average altogether.

One really interesting thing is that in those two games combined, Sparks has the highest Expected Save Percentage according to’s Expected Goals model. Sparks is at 96.26 (the number is so large because this is a save percentage calculated on all unblocked shots, not just shots on goal, so all the numbers are grossed up over what you’re more used to). The next closest is 95.87 (Tuukka Rask, as it happens). What that means is that given the volume and quality of shots faced, no goalie has had an easier job than Sparks has had.

Small samples of games give really odd results sometimes. Frederik Andersen is well down the list with 95.14, which should be seen as the Leafs’ norm, or close to it. But if the Leafs give Sparks a more normal game, and a tougher job, how will he do?

On the other side of the ice, the Bruins are tough to score on. Jaro Halak’s expected save percentage is also really high at 95.52, and so far his actual is 96.52.

This game is a test of the Leafs offence, for sure, but providing some of their best defence might be a wise move as well. And on that note: Martin Marincin is in for Igor Ozhiganov, the only change on this back-to-back game.

First Period

[20:00 - 15:00]

John Tavares starts against Patrice Bergeron, so let’s look for scoring from the Kadri and Lindholm lines.

And Kasperi Kapanen, with the first shot of the game, tosses a bit of a knuckle ball that Halak caught well wide.

Andreas Johnsson with an AHL drop pass right on the blueline that nearly went horribly wrong. I remember when Mitch Marner stopped doing that.

JT and Zack Hyman are the best guys to play against Bergeron and co. in the offensive zone.  They play the sort of tough physical game this line doesn’t do well against.

Leafs with a lot of early zone time, and the Boston crowd is eerily silent.

Oh! Sparks with his first save on a nothing shot.

[15:00 - 10:00]

David Pastrnak and Brad Marchand get loose, but Sparks has it easily.

Oh, ho. Josh Leivo draws a penalty. That’s very good for a fourth-line shift.

Wow! Chaos and shots and this PP1 unit is good even when they’re a little off their rhythm. Halak survives it.

Unit two is:

Leivo digs the puck out on the boards and gets it to Johnsson for the best chance. There are nine SOG in the PP with three seconds left. The Bruins owe Halak a dinner for that alone.

Incredible post-PP pressure by the Leafs.

[10:00 - 05:00]

The commentary on Twitter of the Marlies vs B-Sens is exactly like this game. Eamon McAdam getting his first start has almost nothing to do, but no goals so far there either.

Kappy outskates his own feet, which is always funny. Maybe not to Babcock, but it is to me.

For the first time, it’s obvious that David Backes is on the fourth line for Boston. The Leafs fourth line are not as good against them defensively as they are offensively, but they’re coping.

Marlies score before the Leafs: and then seconds later it’s 2-0. Leafs! Try this scoring idea.

Sparks with a good save on John Moore on a rush. That’s the most dangerous the Bruins have looked so far.

[5:00 - 00:00]

Sparks lets a puck roll by uncaught, and Bergeron bears down and almost gets it in the net.

Cripes. What a pain in the butt this game is. Bergeron gets to skate the puck around post-faceoff and in it goes. Sparks was not exactly as tight to the post as you might like on that one.

1-0 Boston Bruins, who we all hate and despise.

Sparks almost causes a goal when he loses the puck in traffic. Suddenly the rest of the Bruins have arrived in this game to join Halak.


The numbers are no fun when you’re losing. The shots (Corsi variety) are 19-10 for the Leafs, but this is too much high shooting:

This is including the power play:


  • Josh Leivo with a very good grinding set of shifts. Ennis the same. Gauthier plays the body, not the puck, which only works if the guy who gets the puck left laying there is in blue.
  • To love the fourth line, just never expect them to score, and count ending on an offensive zone facefoff as a winning shift.
  • Sparks’ expected save percentage has to be massive, near to 98, but he has five saves out of six shots.
  • JT is dominating the Bergeron line so far.
  • The Growlers just won their sixth in a row and got their first ever shutout in franchise history from the guy who is supposed to be their back up./

Second Period

[20:00 - 15:00]

Hyman opens the second period with a penalty, so now we get to see the Leafs on the PK.

The Leafs totally disrupt the Bruins’ setup, it’s actually beautiful. The bad guys have one shot in the first minute.

Mitch Marner is out late, but he doesn’t get to do much while Sparks makes a series of saves.

[15:00 - 10:00]

Whoa. Nice pass from the new guy on the Bruins, Forsbacka Karlsson to Jake DeBrusk, our old nemesis. Really close to goal.

Oh, lovely. A bouncing puck is not corralled by anyone until Bergeron passes it to Pastrnak for the bing, bang goal that didn’t quite work seconds ago.

2-0 Bruins.

This goal was Bruins skill, and quibbling over Sparks’ play on it might be going too far.

Nice period of Leafs pressure but then, the Bruins get away, draw a penalty, and it’s back to the PK for the Leafs. Martin Marincin goes to the box for a very stupid, Marincin-esque play (and doesn’t want to play in California, I guess).

[10:00 - 05:00]

So, what fresh hell is this? The Leafs do well on the PK at first, but then Marchand has the puck, and much like in goal two, Sparks has bought in fully to the shot coming, but Marchand passes it to Pastrnak, who is way open.

3-0 Bruins.

Danton Heinen tries a wraparound on Sparks stick side, which after goal one, makes good sense. But Sparks is on it.

[5:00 - 00:00]

Leafs allow Pastrnak to float around in his office, and he nearly gets one on Sparks who was swimming in the blue.

Backes tries to fight Leivo, who says leave-o me alone. Backes is a fool. Why even do that?

Brandon Carlo goes after Kappy behind the play. (Are the Bruins unable to read a scoreboard?)  Kappy says leave-o me alone, takes a punch in the cheesy mustache, and the Leafs get a power play.

Oh, good, a Bergeron shorty attempt.

PP2 looks more dangerous than usual, but nothing comes of it.

PP1 comes out for the last few seconds of the penalty, and here we go, we ain’t dead yet:

3-1 Bruins.


3-1 that’s the numbers. Leafs gave up their dominance totally in this period.


  • Doesn’t matter who is in net, you have to score to win the game. One isn’t enough (obviously).
  • I don’t like Sparks, never have, so I’m trying to be fair, but goal one is his positioning, and goals two and three are both, in part, his decision making.
  • Down by one, and you take two penalties? Really bad game management in this period. Luckily, the Bruins are actually stupider.
  • Marlies are up 4-1 in their second of a back-to-back with their back up in net, so don’t cry tired to me, Leafs.
  • I’m not listening to the intermission panel, I’m cleaning the cat box like a grown up. So whatever they speculated about, I don’t know, and I’m past caring about it. News or don’t talk to me./

Third Period

Will this be period one Leafs or period two Leafs?

[20:00 - 15:00]

Early returns are it’s mostly first period Leafs, with one segment of time hemmed in on a fluke bouncing puck that derailed the breakout.

Leivo with the only real chance off an Ennis rush. Remember? Don’t expect them to score.

[15:00 - 10:00]

Kadri coughs up the puck in the offensive zone, and the Bruins get a rush stopped by Ron Hainsey in a great defensive play to hook the puck away from the pass.

Kappy is on the Tavares line suddenly, with Gardiner and Rielly as the defence. I’ve seen both of these things briefly recently.

Halfway into the third the Marlies lead 8-2 (the final score). Mason Marchment has a lot of points in the last few games. Wish I was watching the Marlies, to be honest.

Sparks makes a save, but has to look behind him to make sure it didn’t leak through. He’s not looking confident in himself.

Marner sticking on the Kadri line for now, and this might be a good idea.

Dammit. Great save by Halak on JT after a sweet pass from Kappy. I like Babcock’s line changes here for this game.

[10:00 - 05:00]

Yup. Good plan. Marner creates a chance on the Kadri line that doesn’t quite work.

A Marlies line gets epic zone time. Not in that other game, in this one. Hyman, Brown and Kappy look like a wicked checking line.

But never mind, it’s all gone to hell. Kappy gets his stick up high, and it’s a four-minute penalty. The Leafs are pretty much dead now for real.

Marner gets in on the PK very early, and he’s good.

But of course, there’s a hat trick for Pastrnak off a great pass while he was circulating in his office. It was in the second PP, but who cares now?

4-1 Bruins.

5-1 Bruins on a play Sparks just isn’t in.

[5:00 - 00:00]

The Bruins ran out the clock. (With one fruitless Leafs PP in there.)


Bah humbug. Oh, wait, there is one thing. The longest period of sustained Bruins pressure ended in the Leafs PP and goal. Hockey, man, why do we watch this?


  • You couldn’t give the Leafs four power play opportunities at home and expect to do well. You can’t do that against the Bruins.
  • The Lindholm line was pretty invisible, which considering how low-quality the Bruins depth is, is not good.
  • The Bruins are a totally top heavy team. Points up at their goal scorers. And that is a weakness for real, but sometimes they just roll over you.
  • I don’t like Sparks, but I won’t call him a failure after three games. Nor should anyone.
  • Blech, Bruins./

Next game is in California, so this is now history we should forget.