This roadtrip is almost over. Tonight’s matchup is against the Oilers who are neither as terrible as you want them to be, nor as good as their record. Let’s see how this goes.
The most notable thing about the game as all four lines get rolled in is that I’ve uncovered a Jim Hughson tic. He always says, “lug the puck in” when it’s Cody Ceci carrying the puck.
Ah ha ha.
Edmonton gets a McDavid vs Gauthier matchup. McDavid needed a fraction of time so small to get the puck off of Gauthier, it’s been named one nanoConnor.
Whoa. Koskinen closes the door at the last second on Engvall. That was a gorgeous chance from the Leafs third line.
Pierre Engvall nearly scored before Kerfoot did but missed the net #Leafs x #LeafsForever pic.twitter.com/JEXhzyGw3E— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) December 15, 2019
Next, with Tyson Barrie wailing away from the blueline, Morgan Rielly, who set up Engvall up there, is making the puck dance around to the forwards and Alexander Kerfoot makes it 1-0 Leafs.
Great shift by Rielly on that goal , with everything from him the ideal Mo.
Wow. McDavid out-bodied Jake Muzzin. Gets a grad-A+ chance, and Freddie is there for us.
Freddie Andersen puts the stop on Connor McDavid #Leafs x #LeafsForever pic.twitter.com/ZCqIOBbHDY— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) December 15, 2019
And then there’s an Activated D™ moment where Muzzin joins the rush and gets the only shot off.
Freddie stops James Neal, too, as the Oilers are getting a lot of chances back off of some good Leafs offensive push. It’s not exactly a shock that the Oilers live off of the transition after they’ve let you wail on them for a bit.
Barrie blocks a shot and has left the bench. Rielly is now playing with Muzzin as emergency right-side D.
This is what sent Tyson Barrie to the locker room#Leafs x #LeafsForever pic.twitter.com/wHTrPqoWyx— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) December 15, 2019
Tavares gets a couple of chances off the rebound #Leafs x #LeafsForever pic.twitter.com/d8QGUggfPP— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) December 15, 2019
Tyson Barrie testing himself out on the ice during this TV timeout. Morgan Rielly comes over with a supportive stick tap. https://t.co/NEWSDMEip6— Kristen Shilton (@kristen_shilton) December 15, 2019
He left after. This does not look good for Barrie.
Not gonna lie: Let’s Go Oilers, Go Leafs Go is rolling through the rink, and I love this. Imagine a second Toronto area team where we got this all the time? Imagine the hate.
Ceci moving up to play with Rielly. I don’t think Barrie’s coming back tonight.
Holl with a shot off the post, and it’s Gauthier in there who can’t find it to pop it in. That was a good shift driven by Spezza, and this is the time when Activated D™ is a good plan, with the fourth line.
The #Leafs fourth line nearly made it 2-0 #LeafsForever pic.twitter.com/QJpEKnBoev— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) December 15, 2019
Leafs get a two on two and have to cycle around until the Oilers are all back. There’s no rapid shooting from this team off of broken plays like that. Then they give it up and the Oilers get a rush.
Example Matthews shift: They have offensive pressure deep, and Matthews flips the puck low-to-high to Dermott, and the entire play dies on his attempt to get the puck back in play, and ends up as a turnover by Dermott.
Dermott getting a little too fancy in the defensive zone #Leafs x #LeafsForever pic.twitter.com/MzSQF5U63B— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) December 15, 2019
And that’s the first period done.
- Connor McDavid spends the intermissions texting Taylor Hall highlights to Ken Holland.
- The Leafs look simultaneously way better than the Oilers carrying the puck, while turning it over a tonne.
- Tavares line was hot! Matthews shot the puck twice, and Gauthier has higher expected goals.
- It’s fun playing on the bottom six when you face the Oilers depth.
- Leafs with much better quality of offence than they had early vs Calgary, with the usual wide open high-danger slot as their gift back to the other team. All-in-all a very good period:/
No Barrie to start the second.
Freddie, Freddie, Freddie.
Ilya 'Souperman' Mikheyev to the rescue. Clears the puck here#Leafs x #LeafsForever pic.twitter.com/Oj5m8XHuvV— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) December 15, 2019
Leafs get away with one there.
Maple Leafs defenceman Tyson Barrie will not return to tonight's game in Edmonton due to injury (ankle). #LeafsForever— Leafs PR (@LeafsPR) December 15, 2019
Everything about this, the shot off the foot, the way he tried twice to skate on it, it all looked like Marner’s ankle sprain or Johnsson’s exit a few games ago.
PIERRE ENGVALL, great play at the net here, and actually before that even. He’s having one hell of a game.
Mickey with his first goal in a while.
And he busted the in-net camera, so it’s time for a big pause while they fix it. That’s coming out of your cheque, Mickey.
You can see the glass come off #Leafs x #LeafsForever pic.twitter.com/sMp1NEx8z7— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) December 15, 2019
Leafs are getting hemmed in a lot as the Oilers press hard. They aren’t the old Oilers who just quit.
Nugent-Hopkins stops a Tavares shot on a breakaway. Totally legal. Remember when people claimed he was bad?
Mikheyev is on tonight. Breaks the puck out and sets up Kerfoot in front of the net #Leafs x #LeafsForever pic.twitter.com/9qu0Nd6kxq— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) December 15, 2019
“Leafs do that a lot,” says Hughson, “Bring a forward up high.” Yeah, and that’s part of what’s driving the locations Matthews is shooting from.
And we finally have a penalty as McDavid draws one on Muzzin. That’s been quite the battle all night. McDavid is winning it.
The Oilers power play is actually good. Yes, it has a silly-absurd shooting %, but it’s the real thing, and the Leafs are on their heels defending. They do a good job under heavy pressure.
- Mikheyev and Engvall are neck-and-neck to see who is going to have the best game.
- It’s fun watching a team with worse overall defence than the Leafs are capable of.
- Is this game perfect? Who cares, if the score holds, this is exactly how you finish a roadtrip.
- Except for this: /
So, the Leafs are largely just rolling, and the Oilers are not getting a lot of zone time.
I have to laugh at some discussion of Engvall’s “size” when he throws a hard hit. He’s tall, he handles himself. He’s plays hockey with his brain, though.
And the Leafs chuck the puck, and it’s an Oilers power play again.
Oilers score on a breakaway chance from a perfect short-ish stretch pass.
Nice little opportunistic play, there.
Leafs have 13 minutes to show they can close out a lead.
They start it with a very nice Rielly chance while he playing with the hot Kerfoot line. That line was ice-cold against Calgary, so this has to be fun for them.
Wow, Justin Holl checking McDavid tonight is something to see. They called him the most improved player in the NHL, and this is the first game I’ve thought he looked legitimate defensively for his ice time.
And the Leafs need to defend well, as the Oilers score effects shooting that was missing in the second period has shown up now.
Whooo hoooo! Gauthier with a beauty. I don’t know either, but they played that shift change to perfection.
Someone's upset #Leafs x #LeafsForever pic.twitter.com/Y4WhiqmSy6— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) December 15, 2019
The Leafs have five minutes to kill now.
The Oilers try to pull Mikko Koskinen, and he’s slow to go, and then, they take a penalty, making that all moot.
The Leafs have a power play for most of the rest of this game, and they show the orange-clad fans leaving the arena. Gotta love that.
Mitch Marner impersonates Zach Hyman and gets the ENG to cap this off.
#LeafsForever goal— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) December 15, 2019
Marner gets an empty-net goal #Leafs pic.twitter.com/lbpWFSKQRP
- Winning is fun./
Quick note on the cap implications of Tyson Barrie being injured. From now until New Year’s Eve, which is the earliest Andreas Johnsson is eligible to return, the Leafs can do whatever they want, and the only restriction is the 23-man roster limit. Barrie does not need to go on LTIR.
After Johnsson’s return, whenever that will be, the story changes, and without Barrie on LTIR, they would be running a 20-man roster of healthy players, and they’d likely need to cut Pierre Engvall to make that fit. Feel free to do the math yourself on that.
With Barrie on LTIR, if that’s applicable, then we’re back to all available options are open.
LTIR means you must be out for 10 games and 24 days (and no I don’t know if the Christmas break days count).
As mentioned on Saturday Headlines, the #leafs will revisit their pending decision on Rasmus Sandin's availability for the world junior championship after losing Tyson Barrie to an ankle injury in Edmonton tonight.— Chris Johnston (@reporterchris) December 15, 2019
Sandin is due to be loaned to Sweden tomorrow, I believe, for camp in Uppsala, Sweden next week.
If Barrie is out for a LTIR-length 10 games, would you...
|Just play Martin Marincin||165|
|Call up Rasmus Sandin, and to hell with the WJC||181|
|Call up Nick Schmaltz? (Kevin Gravel is hurt)||62|
|Make a trade right now for a depth defender.||26|