Well, that was certainly worth the wait. After slightly more than five agonizing months since the Leafs fell to the Washington Capitals in the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, the season started off with what was supposed to be an epic showdown of the top two picks in the 2016 NHL draft, Auston Matthews of the Toronto Maple Leafs and Patrick Laine of the Winnipeg Jets. Well, it was epic for one of them!
The Unicorns: That’s the nickname I bestowed upon AustonMatthews, William Nylander, and Mitch Marner last year, because players like them are extremely rare, especially finding three of them on the same team. Last year, they all scored in the same game once. Tonight they equaled that number, as well as adding a combined three assists for six points among the trio.
The New Guys: Patrick Marleau scored a pair of goals, and Andreas Borgman added and assist as well as having a solid game, mixing in some on the penalty kill, the new Leafs fit right in with their counterparts. Marleau in particular was impressive, demonstrating the speed that has made him one of the great players of the past 20 years and making the 6.25 million that the Leafs are paying him over the next three years look like a bargain.
Welcome to the Team, Mr. Marleau
That hug. My heart. pic.twitter.com/s2OEwMbeyp
— Flintor (@TheFlintor) 5 October 2017
The Penalty Kill: It’s unfortunate that they got so many opportunities to be good, but an extremely dangerous Winnipeg power play went 0-8 in this one as the Leafs penalty kill took center stage. Between good goaltending and solid defence the Leafs managed to kill off all eight Winnipeg opportunities. If the penalty kill can continue to be improved from last year, it will bode well for the Leafs chances this season.
Freddie: Frederik Andersen picked up right where he left off last year, keeping the Leafs in a game until their offense wakes up and gets things moving. In this game, partially because of the multiple penalties that the Leafs took in the first period, it took them about 15 minutes to get untracked offensively. Fortunately, Freddie was able to hold the fort down through that time frame, and most of the game before giving up a couple of goals late in the 7-2 win.
The Leafs lack of discipline: On most nights, if you give an NHL team, particularly one with as much offensive firepower as Winnipeg, eight chances on the power play, you’re going to lose. Tonight the Leafs were fortunate to get good penalty killing, great goaltending, and poor execution by the Jets vaunted power play. If they continue to play as undisciplined as they did tonight, they’ll find themselves in some tough spots this season.
For some reason, referee Tim Peel elected to play the fashion police tonight, particularly against the Leafs. Leo Komarov was actually penalized for the way he was wearing his visor. Freddie Andersen was required to retape the knob of his stick with white tape instead of the light blue color he had previously been using, and several players were forced to untuck their jerseys under fear of penalty. All things considered the NHL has more important image problems to deal with than policing the players’ fashion on the ice.
The Leafs are back in action Saturday night against the New York Rangers.
TOR Goal 15:45 — N. Kadri (1) (power play) — assisted by J. van Riemsdyk and T. Bozak
TOR Goal 17:40 — J. van Riemsdyk (1) — assisted by T. Bozak
TOR Goal 18:23 — W. Nylander (1) — assisted by J. Gardiner and A. Matthews
TOR Goal 8:32 — P. Marleau (1) — assisted by A. Matthews and M. Marner
TOR Goal 0:36 — P. Marleau (2) — assisted by N. Kadri and L. Komarov
TOR Goal 8:07 — M. Marner (1) (power play) — assisted by J. van Riemsdyk and M. Rielly
WPG Goal 11:31 — M. Scheifele (1) — assisted by P. Laine and D. Byfuglien
TOR Goal 11:57 — A. Matthews (1) — assisted by C. Carrick and A. Borgman
WPG Goal 12:57 — M. Perreault (1) — assisted by B. Little
SHOTS ON GOAL
POST GAME BABCOCK