Leafs play poorly, still dominate with studs

Alternative title 1: Likely worst game Leafs play all season ends in three points and a show by the best center tandem in the league.

Alternative title 2: Best Habs can muster not good enough against piss-poor Leafs.

Alternative title 3: Leafs play like shit, get two points anyways.

Alternative title 4: Matthews shows Tavares Leafs are his team; Rift between two superstars?

…Sorry, ignore that last one this isn’t the Toronto Sun.

Regardless of how you spin it, that opening performance was less than impressive for Toronto but it ended with three points. I suppose it’s an early lesson learned for the Cup favourite Leafs – the league has a lot more parity than they may have assumed, and every team is dangerous. Just not that tire fire Ottawa.

Montreal were never going to be as bad as everyone assumed they were going to be in the offseason. They won’t make the playoffs and will finish right around Detroit in the division, safely out of the bottom but nowhere close to the points total needed for the playoffs.

They have two solid kids who showed up in this match and looked solid. Call it beginners luck for Jesper Kotkaniemi, and a career game for Lehkonen.

The highly-touted Kotkaniemi looked good in the game:

  • 1 assist (PP)
  • 15:05 ice time
  • +/- 0
  • 2 shots on goal

Lehkonen, too:

  • 1 G
  • 16:38 ice time
  • +/- 0
  • 3 shots on goal
  • 2 penalty mins.

Montreal looked good playing a fast-paced game, changing players in their lines (Lehkonen/Domi/Drouin to center or a wing) all game to keep things fresh and unpredictable.

Despite their teams’ solid play, without the best goalie in the world, Montreal loses this game in regulation 5-2 (minimum). Price only faces 26 shots in the match, but Toronto has a lethal power play and incredible skill 5on5 so the shots he faced were quality scoring chances rather than ‘pucks on net’ attempts.

Forget Montreal though, Toronto looked slow but let’s keep some perspective on a few things:

  1. It was one game.
  2. They won.
  3. Matthews and Tavares scored.
  4. The PP clicked.
  5. Anderson was awesome.
  6. and this doesn’t mean the Leafs need to overpay Nylander to get him in here.

The most important part of this game was that both Matthews and Tavares got goals and the top two lines looked solid all night. The time-on-ice was similar, too with Matthews at 17:39 and Tavares at 18:05 scraping up a few extra seconds on that second penalty kill unit.

Was it a bad game for the Leafs? Yes – they looked sluggish and slow, but it was just one game and Babcock is probably taking a strip off them as we speak. What we as Leaf fans can take away from this is that despite playing poorly all game the Leafs took three points, oh and also, if a game goes to OT the league should just give the Leafs the points. Sheesh!



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