Normally when I write these, I write a recap of each period, throw in some witty banter, and we all have some fun. I’m going to do that tonight too, although I’m not sure how much fun we’re going to have. Gather around Leafs family, it’s time we have a meeting, we’re going to have to talk about some hard things. It may not be pleasant, but I hope it’s at least therapeutic.
The game started out as most games have started out of late. The Leafs buzzed around the Sens net, created some great chances, and were not rewarded for it. They had a power play where they generated next to no pressure.Then the next thing you know the puck is in the back of their net. It’s happened a lot lately and it seems to just completely take the wind out of their sails every time. The sequence that led to the goal, started by Jake Gardiner getting his pocket picked by Mark Stone, and even though Gardiner wasn’t even on the ice anymore by the time the puck ended up in the net, I think this one has to be on him. I like Jake Gardiner. I think Jake Gardiner is a good player, and that we’d be worse off without him. But the reality is that the last month or so has not been kind to him. He has to be better. 1-0 Sens. Sorry I meant 2-0 Sens, because before they could even announce the first goal, Ben Smith sort of won a defensive zone faceoff, but his stick was tied up. His solution to this problem was to feed Marc Methot at the point for a one timer. The issue with this decision is that Marc Methot plays for the Ottawa Senators. Ryan Dzingel deflected Methot’s shot past Freddie Andersen, and before the Leafs knew what hit them, it was 2-0 Sens, and that’s how the 1st period would come to an end.
It was like a completely different game in the 2nd. The Sens came out and got a few chances, got a 5-3, and the Leafs held the fort. Then Auston Matthews won an offensive zone faceoff, the puck ended up on Morgan Rielly’s stick at the point, and then it was in the back of the net. Sidebar, has anyone else noticed that within minutes of the broadcasters saying that Matthews has been quiet in a game, he does something good. This is at least the 3rd time this season that I’ve seen it happen. Minutes later the Leafs got strong pressure in the offensive zone again and after several chances the puck ended up on Nazem Kadri’s stick behind the net. Kadri proceeded to bank the puck off of Ryan Dzingel’s head and into the net to tie the game at 2. There were quite a few critics of the Leafs’ decision to sign Kadri for 6 years at the beginning of the season, but they’ve mostly become crickets of late. The Leafs would continue to pressure the Senators for the rest of the 2nd period, which came to an end far too soon with the score 2-2.
I feel like this period encompasses my life as a Leafs fan. An early power play, a beautiful shot from William Nylander, and a 3-2 lead. So much hope and then….Mike Hoffman beat Freddie Andersen on a shot that he had absolutely no chance to stop. It was an absolute bullet and I don’t think you can fault Freddie a bit on it. Sometimes you just get beat. That made the score 3-3. Less than a minute later, Nazem Kadri was called for holding in the offensive zone. It was at best a very generous call, and of course just seconds into the power play, Derick Brassard managed to slip the puck under a prone Andersen after he collided with Nikita Zaitsev. From there the Leafs pushed and pressed and had chance after chance, but like always seems to happen, the goalie in the opposing net turned into Dominik Hasek circa 1999. The Sens would add 2 empty net goals to make it a 6-3 final score. This may honestly be the most disheartening loss since game 7 in Boston. I don’t think I’m exaggerating, and don’t think I’m getting too caught in the moment. That is the last time I can honestly remember a hockey game making me feel like this. To quote Bill Simmons book “ Now I Can Die In Peace” If the Leafs were a significant other, we’d break up with them for causing us this much emotional trauma, but you can’t break up with your favorite team, you just have to live through the pain and agony and hope it’s all worth it in the end. The Leafs will be back in action tomorrow night against the Carolina Hurricanes. I’ll be watching and we’ll talk after. Hopefully it’ll be a happier conversation.
Ottawa Goal 17:26 C. Wideman (4) assisted by D. Brassard and M. Stone
Ottawa Goal 17:46 R. Dzingel (12) assisted by M. Methot and M. Stone
Toronto Goal 14:38 M. Rielly (3) assisted by A. Matthews and W. Nylander
Toronto Goal 17:52 N. Kadri (24) assisted by J. Leivo
Toronto Goal 2:04 W. Nylander (16) (power play) assisted by A. Matthews and L. Komarov
Ottawa Goal 5:32 M. Hoffman (19) assisted by K. Turris and E. Karlsson
Ottawa Goal 6:26 D. Brassard (10) (power play) assisted by M. Stone and E. Karlsson
Ottawa Goal 18:10 M. Stone (21) assisted by K. Turris
Ottawa Goal 19:15 D. Brassard (11) assisted by K. Turris and M. Stone
SHOTS ON GOAL
By the Numbers
Mike Babcock – Post Game