What a game. What a game. What a game. I’ll admit, I turned the game off after the first period, tried my absolute hardest not to turn the game back on until overtime was confirmed, and then watched with my jaw on the floor as the Leafs won the overtime and won the game off the stick of Kasperi Kapanen Auston Matthews.
That said, even though I “missed” most of the game, I read Seldo’s recap, I watched Omar’s highlights, and I’m ready to talk big! Here are the winners and losers from last night’s 4-3 OT comeback win that forces a win-or-go-home Game 5 on Sunday.
The only players on the ice for any Leafs goals included Matthews, William Nylander, John Tavares, Mitch Marner, Zach Hyman, and Morgan Rielly. Three pluses for Hyman, four for everyone else. Matthews was the cornerstone of that unit, making plays and finishing attempts, he genuinely did it all. He set up Tavares for the 3-2 goal. He set up Hyman’s 3-3 goal with a brilliant pass. And he won the game in overtime. Player of the night, player of the series, no matter how it ends up.
Morgan Rielly on PP1
I’ve been saying it for a long time and Sheldon Keefe finally did it. With the game on the line and one supergroup needed to do all the heavy lifting, Keefe made the pull and put his best offensive defender with his best offensive forwards to provide the offense the team needed. I have a lot of problems with the defense, namely their ability to defend. But when it comes to creating chances, Rielly has been the most dynamic defender for this team. Shockingly, Rielly got no points for his efforts, even though he was on the ice for all four goals the Leafs scored.
In terms of how he played his 34 minutes in the game, Rielly played with literally every defender on the Leafs except Martin Marincin. He got 13 minutes with Cody Ceci, six minutes with Tyson Barrie, five minutes with Justin Holl, and three minutes with Travis Dermott, and he was above 50% shot share with everyone. His worst partner was Tyson Barrie, with whom he was a -1.
Final thought on the defense, Marincin only played 13 minutes in the game, how long before we see Rasmus Sandin?
The Fourth Line
Kyle Clifford-Pierre Engvall-Jason Spezza was the second-most used line in the game and they finished the night with 16 shot attempts for, and only five against. It was a herculean game for the line that was tasked with hemming the opponent in their own zone long enough for reinforcements to get rested and come back for another chance to score. It was a brilliant, spontaneous move by Coach Keefe and it seriously paid off. The one line that was on the ice between all three of Toronto’s goals in the third was this line and I have no regrets about it at all.
Individually, Jason Spezza didn’t want to leave the Bubble without a run at the Cup so bad he fought a guy. He couldn’t let his kids down, at home or on the ice. Engvall looked really good, and had the fifth-highest individual expected goals in the game, fourth on the Leafs at 5v5. While I know expected goals from Pierre Engvall don’t mean as much as expected goals from Auston Matthews, Engvall was making the Blue Jackets work and he was keeping the puck as close to their net as possible. For a fourth line meant to kill time, that’s exactly what his job was. Job done.
I think Dermott is flawed in a few ways that keep his ceiling below what the Leafs need on the second pair, but he did a damn good job trying to prove me wrong last night. He may not have the best awareness, but he worked hard and put his body on the line and I appreciate that a lot. This block saved the season.
What a block by Travis Dermott pic.twitter.com/V64ghDBWzr— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) August 8, 2020
These will be short and snarky because I want them to be.
Nick Foligno (again)
STAY MAD! STAY MAD! pic.twitter.com/T96pgqIvQk— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) August 8, 2020
The last time the Leafs came back from down three goals to win a playoff game in overtime was 1993, and the winner was scored by Mike Foligno. Tonight it happened with his son in the penalty box.— Down Goes Brown (@DownGoesBrown) August 8, 2020
Unprofessional man-child can’t take criticism or failure.
Torts so far:— Jackie Redmond (@Jackie_Redmond) August 8, 2020
1st question: You got the answer there Hedge.
2nd question: You said it. I'm not going to explain anything.
3rd question: I havent talked to the trainers.
End Scene. #CBJ
KASPERI! KAPANEN! (Matthews). God, that call is going to be burned into my skull forever for every wrong reason in the dictionary. This isn’t even the first time Hughson has confused names, it’s genuinely become a calling card for him. William Nylander is Connor Brown is my favourite, but there are many others. Heck, Nick Robertson has been called Eric Robinson more times than he’s been called Nick Robertson. But the topper, Auston Matthews is Kasperi Kapanen. Unparalleled.
God that call was so bad........ https://t.co/9IjaCPyDPZ— Hardev Lad (@HardevLad) August 8, 2020
Thank you for a real goal call, John Forslund. Top notch.