The Toronto Maple Leafs face the Arizona Coyotes, late to us in Toronto, and it’s the second game in two days for the Leafs.
The Coyotes have five players out with COVID and five out with injuries, so there’s a lot of call ups you have never heard of from their AHL affiliate, the Tuscon Roadrunners.
I'm calling everyone Yotes Guy in my head, because I barely know who these players are.— Pension Plan Puppets (@PPPLeafs) January 13, 2022
The Coyotes goalie is Karel Vejmelka who was drafted by the Predators, but they never actually signed him so he became a free agent and the Coyotes snapped him up.
The Maple Leafs still have players out themselves, notably Mitch Marner and Pierre Engvall who it’s reported will both rendezvous with the team tomorrow before the Leafs head out to St. Louis for their next game on Saturday.
So, here we go! It’s a SEGABABA for the Leafs against a terrible team. This is an easy win, right Jason?
Spezza: Fffffuuuuuuuuu.... pic.twitter.com/oTFGGRCCBL— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) January 13, 2022
Here are the Leafs lines at the start of the the game.
And here’s the live Species recap of the game.
And the game has started! TSN really let’s that commercial break go right up to the exact second before puck drop! Can’t you give at least a few seconds of warning to a basement dwelling blogger here, Gord? I wonder from where they are actually calling the game as they confirmed they actually aren’t at the arena in Glendale due to COVID precautions.
Time is passing quickly this game from the start. I think eight minutes have gone by without a whistle and only some boring back and forth on the ice, with the Coyotes backup-backup goalie making a nice save here and there. Honestly, there’s nothing more to talk about in the first nine minutes of the game than that.
As the game continues, you can see Ilya Mikheyev really wants another goal to add to his total of four in five games so far this season. It doesn’t happen here, but there’s plenty of time left for him to get one.
Lawson Crouse takes the first penalty at 10:39 of the period for high-sticking Jake Muzzin, which, ouch, looks really harsh. The Leafs get several good chances on this power play, but nothing actually goes in.
Ritchie and Bunting try to dig for those second and third chances off Spezza's initial shot pic.twitter.com/8T944HsKGy— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) January 13, 2022
The Leafs get another power play and Nylander is all over some of these Leafs scoring chances but the Coyotes’ goalie Karel Vejmelka is stopping everything from everyone.
Tavares gets a shot high on Vejmelka pic.twitter.com/7OOrsKf3jb— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) January 13, 2022
And it’s certainly not like the Leafs are holding back here. Look at Matthews’ stick here.
look at the flex pic.twitter.com/5CFZLkjdMb— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) January 13, 2022
Despite all that work and two power plays, it’s the Coyotes who score first. It’s Ryan Dzingle whom you may recall had the Leafs number on occasion when he played for the Ottawa Senators.
A lot went wrong here pic.twitter.com/svXYCBuZHw— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) January 13, 2022
Timothy “Thomas” Liljegren has been up and down this period, but he’s OK this period. I’m glad to see him back.
The period ends with two minutes of 4-on-4 because Michael Bunting was near a mess and the officials decided he must be responsible even though he wasn’t. At least all sides got a penalty.
Bunting got a penalty for having his jersey grabbed pic.twitter.com/o1gteJVeSw— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) January 13, 2022
The Coyotes are up 1-0 at the end of the first period.
The second period starts with a note that Phil Kessel, the guy who looks like he just walked in off the street, has the third longest unbroken game-played streak in the NHL, not missing a single game since he had shoulder surgery 13 years ago.
hi Phil pic.twitter.com/KGZTWEis7L— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) January 13, 2022
This is also when I realise Andrew Ladd is on the Coyotes. What an eclectic group of long forgotten veterans they have. This is game 976 for Ladd who was drafted by the Hurricanes in 2004.
Back to the game: this is a good question:
Where is the penalty? pic.twitter.com/d0JCdZNXCA— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) January 13, 2022
At the half way point in the game, the shots on goal are 27-10 for the Leafs, and the Coyotes are wining 1-0 (randycarlyle.gif)
Vejmelka is earning his pay tonight.
Bunting drives the net but can't beat Vejmelka pic.twitter.com/Pz3gYcxzkw— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) January 13, 2022
And Matthews shows once again he really wants to pull off the lacrosse stick move.
Matthews almost went for the Michigan pic.twitter.com/6pfwespvgI— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) January 13, 2022
The second period ends with Vejmelka making multiple amasing saves and the score is unchanged from the end of the first. It’s still 1-0 for the Coyotes.
Trio of dangerous scoring chances— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) January 13, 2022
Karel Vejmelka stops them all pic.twitter.com/FYuf0mNOYQ
I asked the hive mind at this point if they thought the Leafs were going to get goalied here, and the response came from the Overlord:
Wrong verb tense. It’s already happened.
We will see how that verb tense holds up through the final period.
And wouldn’t you know it, Auston Matthews gets one right away in the third period and ties the game.
Bullet pic.twitter.com/rK8NvXCaOr— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) January 13, 2022
Joey Anderson tries one too and can’t get it in the net, but he’s always making the most of his opportunities when called up from the Marlies. I hope we get to see more of him next season. He’s on contract through June 30, 2023.
Meanwhile, Travis Dermott is getting physical.
Dermott sent Soderstrom flying pic.twitter.com/lkYvmcsdYQ— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) January 13, 2022
And Willy’s stick is going high and he puts the Leafs on the penalty kill, but they get through it. Sheldon Keefe has now shuffled the lines a bit to leverage his high-octane players and break the tie, putting Bunting, Matthews, and Nylander together.
Ten minutes left in the game and all-situations shot attempts are 77(!)-34 for the Leafs, with shots on goal at 42-15.
And none of that matters as the Coyotes score on Mrázek again, and now it’s 2-1 with seven minutes left in the game.
Dzingel makes it 2-1 pic.twitter.com/GnpOfdbxAa— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) January 13, 2022
Can the Leafs turn this around and squeeze in a goal to force OT?
Here is the final 5v5 heat map for shot attempts in the game. Notice how huge the Leafs ratio is right in front of the Coyotes net, but, they couldn’t get more than one.
The curse of SEGABABA strikes once again. The Leafs got goalied hard. There were some regrettable mistakes made, but not any more than in an average game to keep them being unable to overcome those with their offence. They simply couldn’t get pucks past Vejmelka. This game was dumb. It was like the Coyotes went full Randy Carlyle and won. At least Auston scored one in front of mom & dad and his friends from Mexico.
Some of Matthews' relatives from Mexico will be at the game tonight. Says his little cousins there have picked up hockey sticks.— Lance Hornby (@sunhornby) January 13, 2022
The Leafs are now off until Saturday when they face the Blues in St. Louis on Hockey Night in Canada.
And now it’s past your bed time and mine. Go to sleep, and check back here tomorrow morning. At least this is the last late game for a while.