The Maple Leafs California road trip rolled into San Jose tonight for another late game by east coast time. Kaapo Kähkönen started in for the Sharks while Erik Källgren was started in net for the Leafs to setup this battle for the äges. Yes, there will be puns in this recap. Give me a break, it’s past my bedtime already!
How did the first line look?
Overall disappointing at 5v5. The line goes as Matthews does, no matter who’s on the left wing, and he’s really struggling at the moment. He’s shooting from everywhere, skating to all parts of the ice, trying all kinds of plays. Nothing’s working at 5v5. They’re just getting smothered by the other team and unable to cycle or make small passes for chances. They need a different tool out of their toolbox, a new attack strategy, but I don’t think the coach has figured that out yet.
Here was one shift for the Matthews line in the second period. Skate into the zone. Pass, pass, pass, pass (these are all with the defenders), dump into the corner because they ran out of passes, puck out of the zone and regroup. This happened a lot and it just wasn’t productive.
They ended up scoring, but it doesn’t discount that they weren’t dominant on the ice and were pretty bad for most of the game. Matthews goal came on the power play which was a huge boost for him personally and will hopefully spark some better play in the future.
What about the rest of the team?
The third line looked pretty good. They were getting chances and moving the puck from the defensive end to the offensive end very efficiently. Kämpf on the fourth line scored and generally did well defensively. Engvall has been in and out of the lineup and he continued to struggle. Took a costly penalty, turned pucks over. None of those things are going to help him in the eyes of Keefe.
Notice how I didn’t mention the second line. They were okay for an average line, but for their standards they were also really bad. Nylander looked dangerous, but nothing was connecting in the final third. When our top six isn’t going, it’s really awful hockey to watch.
Justin Holl was the scapegoat on defense for this game. It was more-or-less rightly deserved.
Well. This is going well.
Sharks bite first 26 seconds in:
Logan Couture scores pic.twitter.com/IuBJnwj18f— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) October 28, 2022
the whole sequence of that goal against by Couture pic.twitter.com/X2szFZvH2f— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) October 28, 2022
Justin Holl is your guilty party. Poor Källy.
The Leafs follow up with some of the offence you’d expect against a team this lacking in lustre.
Beautiful Sandin/Malgin/Bunting line play, doesn’t score, but it was pretty. Calle Järnkrok is the centre there, and they look good so far.
The Leafs top centre gets a goal with some help from Mitch Marner (and Holl).
DAVID KÄMPF 🚨— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) October 28, 2022
the game is tied pic.twitter.com/9MpwrYN1GJ
incognito Karlsson— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) October 28, 2022
luckily this went wide pic.twitter.com/4Uu3JFRF3n
The Leafs, everyone:
what a hit lol pic.twitter.com/EBdq610Fri— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) October 28, 2022
Gio saves a goal on Erik Karlsson, which, you know, Leafs, I love you, but have you noticed other teams have good players? Like at all? And you should defend against them. Try it out.
MARK GIORDANO FOR VEZINA pic.twitter.com/dWHfAUY83g— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) October 28, 2022
We secretly replaced his coffee with the new decaf Justin Holl blend, let’s see if he can tell:
Matthews: you spin my head right round right round pic.twitter.com/6Cq2nQxhXT— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) October 28, 2022
There’s a too much man penalty, and everyone is shocked it’s not the Leafs.
Leafs just shoot it wide, and San Jose’s successful PK continues to succeed.
This Bunting on the third line thing is the bright spot in this game. He’s great there.
Hi, Hardev here for the second period taking over for Katya who has gone to sleep.
Mete drew a tripping penalty from Simek, sending the Leafs to their second power play. The first unit got stuck going around the outside and didn’t get a chance for themselves. The second unit couldn’t keep the puck in the offensive zone and just kept getting sent back to their goal line.
Two penalties on the same shift
Then Engvall took a hooking penalty, giving the Sharks their first power play of the game... Oh no... and Brodie joins Engvall after taking tripping penalty on the same shift. That’s a rare full two minutes at 5v3 for the Leafs to kill. Spoiler, they didn’t kill either.
Gio, Holl, and Kämpf did their best, but they couldn’t handle all the open players down low. Couture with his 300th career goal, assisted by Barabanov.
two penalties here— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) October 28, 2022
not enough skating on both pic.twitter.com/IiOyqsRfY4
Logan Couture again— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) October 28, 2022
300th goal pic.twitter.com/gqoa9lbq21
Kerfoot and Marner went rushing on the continued 5v4 and both players nearly scored. Unfortunately...
Two goals from two simultaneous penalties. Meier scored from in front of the net, tipping the Karlsson point shot home. All of a sudden the Leafs went down two after only two shots in the period.
Timo Meir. 3-1 pic.twitter.com/pSqmuo0Ov2— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) October 28, 2022
If I don’t finish this period, would anyone really notice? The Leafs were getting out-played, you don’t want to hear that.
Rielly became the perfect left winger on this goal as he set up Marner in front of the net to help bring the Leafs back within one just before the second period horn. The first line finally was able to get the defense off balance and score.
MITCH MARNER 🚨— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) October 28, 2022
TIC TAC TOE 🔥 pic.twitter.com/4wieSOCdpB
Everyone say hi to Species who will be sending this game to bed.
Oh I get the fun part where the Leafs complete the dramatic comeback and win it, right? Let’s see what happens...
Ah, there’s that fun kind of useless o-zone possession where the Leafs can hold the puck seemingly indefinitely, but can move it no more than one foot from the boards or back at the blue line.
And now Bunting goes to the box, but the Sharks go a man down too so we have some fun 4-on-4 play. That should be advantageous to the Leafs with Matthews and Marner out, and indeed there’s a shot right at the net by Marner, but nothing else comes of it.
The Leafs get lucky though with the Sharks taking a puck over glass penalty so there’s yet another PP opportunity for them, and they score!
3-3 Tie Game
There’s that patented Matthews goal we’ve all missed.
AUSTON MATTHEWS 🚨— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) October 28, 2022
THE ROCKET IS BACK pic.twitter.com/6oJM4k2gnU
The Leafs are letting Kallgren get peppered with shots now, which is not good for the comeback chances. They finally get control of the puck again and Matthews carries it down and shoots from about 60 feet away, misses, and then the puck is once again stuck at the boards for the Leafs as the clock ticks down.
The Leafs get lucky with yet another power play opportunity. The PP1 unit is having a lot of their plays flubbed by poke checks or passes that don’t connect. Matthews looks gassed and tired, making mental lapses like it’s 12:45 a.m. for him. No goal on the PP.
A wild Nylander-Tavares-Malgin line briefly appears, and they look awake and trying to get things going while the rest of the Leafs look sleepy. Hey, where have I read that line before? Bunting quickly rejoins them so it must have been a fluke line change timing, or I’ve gone back in time to March 6, 2020 at 12:45 a.m. in the Leafs cinematic multiverse.
Oh, look, Pierre Engvall is awake!
Engvall's backhand hits the side of the net pic.twitter.com/YE6wzanlNT— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) October 28, 2022
And now the minutes tick down and we’re going to overtime and let’s go straight to the horror show:
A bad, terrible, no good, unnecessary turnover hands Erik Karlsson the puck on a breakaway and there’s very few worlds in the multiverse where Kallgren could stop the puck from an Erik Karlsson breakaway. John Tavares simply can’t be bothered to catch up to him either. I guess it’s 1:00 a.m. for him now.
Erik Karlsson ends it— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) October 28, 2022
Nylander's pass attempt is picked off and the race ensues pic.twitter.com/CNp8kak1uY
This isn’t pod-racing, Willy. Spinning is not a good trick.
Well that’s it. The come back fails. We stayed up late for nothing. The Leafs salvage one point from the game for getting to OT at least. The whole game everyone looked off. Even the Leafs blob of doom was in the wrong place, migrating from the front of the net toward the faceoff dot. These are not the Leafs we know. What is happening?
The next game is Saturday at a more reasonable 7:00 p.m. ET. See you then!