Leafs Lose Game 1 And Their Captain All in One Go

Just a lot of Pain

Before I get into anything about the game, I just want to say that I really hope that John Tavares and his wife and kids are doing okay. Such a freak, unlucky, bullshit accident, and of course, it happens in the first game in the first period. Thank god he was feeling good enough to give us a thumbs up; that was really, really heart-wrenching to watch. 

Well, that was fun?! Right? No, it wasn’t. It was fucking awful. In fact, I think I’ve reached a point where all I can do is laugh after playoff losses where every Leaf says, “But we were the better team!” You know what, we were the better team, and where did that get us? Where has that ever gotten us? I think maybe we should try being the other team. The team that chases the puck all night and gets complimented for their high number of hits despite that analysis making quite literally no sense because if you have to make a lot of hits, IT MEANS YOU NEVER HAD THE PUCK. But hey, at least those teams win games, right. But hey, at least those teams don’t have to deal with Joe Thornton on POWER PLAY ONE! Anyways, long series, tons of hockey left all that bullshit you know and love, let’s get into some player ratings.

Congrats you are Player of the Game: Auston Matthews – 8.2: Player of the game was tough tonight, but I have to give to the Leafs best player. All three of Matthews, Marner and Hyman were pretty good tonight, but I thought Matthews was the most dangerous. He had eight shots, he hit the post, and his line gave up just six shot attempts. Similar to his first game last year against Columbus, which means we should expect at least one goal from Papi on Saturday, 

William Nylander – 7.7: Willy had some excellent shifts and a couple of bad giveaways, but he was always on the puck and creating something when he was out there, so he is our second-highest rated player. Plus, he scored the only goal of the night, which I think is good, actually. Scoring goals is #good. 

Jack Campbell – 7.4: The Habs weren’t generating really any high danger chances, but they still threw enough on goal to keep Campbell honest, and they finished with an expected goals of 2.69. Here was Campbell’s best save of the night.

Zach Hyman – 7: Hyman had the Leafs’ best chances tonight and had an individual xG of over 1, but like the rest of his linemates, it just wasn’t his night. It’s great to have him back, and he’s going to need to step up again with the absence of JT. He needs to keep playing like he did tonight to draw some attention off of Matthews and Marner.

Mitch Marner – 6.8: Marner was solid enough. He got absolutely robbed

He struggled to find anything of note on the power play, and I don’t think he likes playing on his off-side. At the very least, it looks uncomfortable sitting at home watching.  He did a good job penalty killing as well. Honestly, maybe he deserves a higher rating but whatever, who really cares. 

Morgan Rielly – 7.1: Morgs was really good, and he only had like 3 turnovers that made me yell at the screen, so that’s a plus.

This save was really cool too. Rielly had an xG of 69% {Nice} when he was out there at five on five, which was a great sign. I honestly think he should have jumped up in the rush a little bit more than he did, but then again, that can cause more problems than it solves. 

Jumbo Joe – 1.3: Just please, for the love of good, if you’re going to play him, play him 7 minutes a night and NEVER PUT HIM ON THE ICE WITH MATTHEWS OR MARNER AGAIN.  I appreciate your career, Joe, and I would love nothing more than for you to win a cup with the Leafs; and I know it isn’t your fault that you’re playing on PP1, but please, either play better or fake an injury. 

The third line – 4: Just incredibly mediocre and not even worth writing more than two sentences about. I get that the point of Riley Nash is nothing happens when he is on the ice, but like man, having a 3rd line that can get some chances and some zone time is fantastic too, IDK, just saying. 

Muzzin – Holl pairing – 5.7: I thought they had a great first, and Holl’s point shot led to the goal, but they seemed to get tired or something. They ended up with an xG share of around 41%, which obviously isn’t great but, I think this is just one where the stats and my eyes disagree. They were fine, but like everyone else could be much better.

Simmonds and Spezza – 5: They certainly weren’t good, but I do feel like they’re being hampered by the fact that their left-winger is about as fast skating as I am running. It doesn’t look like that’s going to change anytime soon, though. They should be winning the battle against Montreal’s 4th line, which didn’t happen tonight. 

Rasmus Sandin – 6: I really liked his puck movement on the power play. He set up Matthews perfectly a couple of times right in the sweet spot. He has an uncanny knack for knowing where to be on the boards and things like that, so I’d love to see him stay on PP1. The goal was just bad luck for him; he was caught going one way, expecting the puck to go deep; It didn’t, and he couldn’t get back in time. He was a net-zero at 5 on 5 xG wise, which is fine for your 3rd line defencemen. I wouldn’t mind bringing Dermott back in for Bogo, though.

Zach Bogosian – 4: First game back in over a month being a playoff game is obviously not easy, and it showed for Bogo. His foot speed wasn’t really there, and he and Sandy got split for the first goal. I wish he would stop shooting off the rush, too, because there is always a better option than a wrist shot from the right top corner of the blue line. Wouldn’t be mad if he stays in, but I think Dermott could be a better option.

Coaching staff – 2.5: I didn’t really understand the line movements after Tavares went out. He kind of just played Kerfoot more? Of all the Leafs’ forwards, Kerfoot would be pretty far down on the list of players I’d want to give the extra ice time to. And of course, Joe Thornton, PP1, just… never again, please. 

One word to sum up the game: Many choose the word Classic. Oh, baby, was it a classic Leaf’s performance. 

What do to for game two

I’d keep the first line the way it was, bring Engvall and Galchenyuk back in. Move Kerfoot to centre Nylander and Galch. Play Engvall with Mikheyev and Nash, and I guess keep the fourth line the way it is. Where is little Nick Robertson when you need him? Gameplan-wise, I’d just continue to get the puck behind the Habs defence and utilize the stretch pass more. The Leafs have the speed advantage, and their defensemen are way better at moving the puck, let’s try and exploit that, maybe? I’d move Nylander to the bumper on PP1 and switch Matthews and Marner back as well. If that doesn’t work well, perhaps the power play is doomed to fail for eternity because Hockey makes zero sense, and it’s stupid anyway. Let’s win for Johnny.

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