Auston Matthews, Zach Hyman, and William Nylander: Is this thing stuck on repeat? Matthews, Hyman, and Nylander continue to be the best players on the ice, night in and night out. Matthews is as dominant a complete center as you’ll see in the NHL not wearing 87. Nylander would be the best player on about 20 teams in this league. The way he controls the puck, nearly impossible to push off of it, is mesmerising, and when Mike Babcock called Hyman the best forechecker in the game, it may not have been hyperbole. He absolutely wreaks havoc on opposing defenders in the the corners and behind the net. If he develops any offensive touch at all, he’ll score 20 in his sleep. You’d be hard pressed to come up with five better lines than this in the entire NHL.
Kadri and Marleau: These two have developed some serious chemistry, constantly creating chances around the opposition net. Kadri may have more points to show for it, but Marleau has been one of the best Leafs players night in and night out. This combination will continue to create mayhem for the opposition, and if Leo Komarov gets on a streak like he did a couple of years ago, burying every rebound in his vicinity, watch out for this line as well.
Morgan Rielly: I can’t emphasize enough what a huge benefit Ron Hainsey has been to Morgan Reilly. With Hainsey’s steady defensive presence, Rielly is freed up to do more of what he does best, skate with the puck and make things happen, as he did tonight on a play where he drew a penalty, and then scored seconds into the Power Play. Rielly was miscast as a shutdown guy last year, but seems to be thriving in his new role, as a top four, all around defenseman, with his new, steady partner.
Tyler Bozak and James van Riemsdyk: These two may be in the bottom 20 in the NHL in terms of defensive forwards. They need a gps, a map, and a lunch just to get to their proper position in the defensive zone, because that’s how far away from it they are. Yes they contribute offensively, and yes, at this point they are what they are, but it’d sure be nice if they weren’t sometimes.
Greg Millen: I’m not sure there is a worse in game analyst than Millen. Last week it was Cory Schneider having a good record against the Leafs because he’s comfortable against them, not because they Leafs have sucked for the better part of the last decade, and this week Millen became obsessed with the Leafs defending their lead about midway through the second period, while the Leafs were clearly still trying to pour it on against the Wings. Yes the Wings did outshoot the Leafs in the third, but it was hardly a case of the Leafs sitting back. Sportsnet could do so much better than Millen.
Gord Downie: I’ll admit, I was never much of a fan of The Tragically Hip, I was too young for their initial heyday, and I’d moved to the US by the time they became popular again, but I don’t know if I’ve ever seen an outpouring of emotion at the death of a celebrity like the one we saw today. The two instances that have been closest in my mind are the deaths of Princess Diana, and Dale Earnhardt. For someone to have influenced so many people, to have effectively become the voice of a nation, to continue to impact lives and inspire people while facing cancer with the dignity and grace, these types of people deserve to have a new category dedicated to them.
Rest Easy Gord, you are the icon.
GOALS BY PERIOD
GOAL SCORERS BY PERIOD
Toronto Goal 5:56 — N. Kadri (4) assisted by R. Hainsey
Toronto Goal 6:39 — Z. Hyman (3) assisted by M. Rielly and W. Nylander
Detroit Goal 12:10 — H. Zetterberg (4) assisted by N. Jensen
Toronto Goal 15:46 — A. Matthews (6) assisted by Z. Hyman
Toronto Goal 16:26 — C. Brown (3) assisted by J. van Riemsdyk and A. Borgman
Detroit Goal 7:02 — T. Tatar (1) assisted by D. Larkin and N. Jensen
Detroit Goal 8:36 — Jo. Ericsson (1) assisted by N. Jensen and D. Larkin
Toronto Goal 12:57 — M. Rielly (1) (power play) assisted by T. Bozak and N. Kadri
Toronto Goal 16:52 — W. Nylander (2) assisted by A. Matthews and J. Gardiner
SHOTS ON GOAL
MIKE BABCOCK POST GAME SCRUM
As most of you now know or always knew, I am a huge Tragically Hip fan. They inspired my 90’s and helped me live through the early 2000’s. Do not miss this documentary, a fan or not, I promise, you will be inspired. — DH
— CTV (@CTV_Television) October 18, 2017