You wanted a response? You got it! The Leafs were the better team from puck drop and finally got rewarded for their hard work on the power play. Toronto outshot the Habs 33-22 and had an expected goals advantage of 2.84 to 1.17 at 5 on 5, according to moneypuck. They limited the Habs rush chances and didn’t allow them to get nearly as many odd-man rushes. Montreal generated just 2 high danger chances! It was a complete performance from the Buds, and it was the performance we expected in game 1 before JT went down. Player ratings are always a lot more fun when the Leafs play like this!
Player of the Game: Auston Matthews – 9.5: There were a ton of options for POTG, and they all would’ve been good picks, but once again, it’s impossible to deny who the Leafs’ best player was tonight. Matthews was buzzzzzzzing all night, and you could tell he was hunting a goal. I loved how responsible he was defensively tonight too, and he’s always a threat to force turnovers and create chances off of them like he did here. He finished with 3 takeaways.
He was 16 and 4 in the faceoff dot, had a 1.1 ixG and 10 shot attempts. When he’s doing stuff like this, you know he’s in the mood.
We all know how good he is, but it seems that he somehow gets even better come playoff time, and he’s show it every chance he’s gotten for the past 3 years.
Mikheyev-Kerfoot-Engvall line – 9: I wanted to talk about each of these guys individually, but they just played so well as a line tonight that I think it’s best if I link them together. As I said in the game 1 recap, the Leafs need their 3rd line to generate offence and give them some energy, and that’s precisely what these 3 did. Engvall specifically was an animal on the forecheck and had multiple great chances, including this one.
The line had an xG share of 99 percent at 5 on 5! I’ve said it many times, and I’ll continue to say it until I can’t anymore. The Leafs’ advantage over the rest of the Canadian teams is their depth, and with Tavares out, it applies even more; they need to rely on the 3rd line. They can’t just be out there doing nothing; they need to be a net positive, and tonight, they were, and more, great job.
William Nylander – 8: Willy had another solid game and managed to pick up a goal and an assist on Kerfoot’s empty netter, where he made a great steal and pass to help finish off the game. Admittedly, his line struggled to really get a foothold on the game at even strength, but that’s not surprising as Galchenyuk has been out for a while, and Foligno will need to re-adjust to playing centre. Willy can be better, but he’s shown great signs early on in this series.
Jason Spezza – 8.3: What more can I say about this guy that hasn’t already been said. I love him, you love him, his teammates love him, he’s just such an easy guy to cheer for. He and Simmonds had some great shifts, and of course, Spezza got the big tying goal. I want him to make more of an impact on the man advantage, but it’s hard to ask much more than what he’s given us.
T.J Brodie and Morgan Rielly – 7: I just remembered I forgot to rate T.J Brodie’s last game, and well, I’m sorry, T.J, there was no intent behind that slipup. I’m going, to be honest, I don’t really remember them being that involved in the game that much, which isn’t a bad thing, especially in games like these. Rielly had a few nice rushes and made an excellent pass to Engvall for a great chance, but other than that it was a pretty quiet, sound game from the 2 of them, and that is awesome.
Zach Bogosian – 8.5: What a fucking game from Bogo that was tonight, and it’s great to see. He had a fantastic puck battle win to lead to the first goal, using his body to bump the Montreal defencemen off the puck and then throwing it out front. He also used his skating ability to create this chance for Mikheyev
He was only on the ice for 6 shot attempts and zero scoring chances. He needed to play well tonight, and he did.
Zach Hyman and Mitch Marner – 6.5: This may be a harsh rating, but I think I need to be brutal when looking at how good Matthews has played compared to Hyman and Marner. They were decent tonight, but they weren’t their usual whirling dervish selves. Marner had four bad turnovers that have become a bit too regular in his playoff career. Hyman struggled to dominate down low, but they didn’t have that much-sustained zone time to be fair to him. They weren’t bad! Just need to be better.
Rasmus Sandin – 7.3: Great to see Sandy get his first goal in the playoffs, and it’s incredible to watch how comfortable he is running the point on PP1. You can just watch and see how intelligent he is. He knows what he’s going to do with the puck before he touches it, and he’s still just 21 years old.
Wayne Simmonds – 7: Hard to argue the Wayne Train’s impact tonight. He was throwing bod left, right and centre, and that’s what he’s here to do. Another guy I want to be more impactful on the power play, as he was so good earlier on in the season. His line had one awful shift in the 3rd where they just got shelled, but that’s going to happen now and then.
Justin Holl – 7.7: One outstanding play outweighed one lacklustre play from Holl tonight, and on the whole, he had another steady game. The shot pass to the far pad had everyone who ever played minor hockey smiling as that is a drill you run in practice probably a little too much, but it works! I didn’t like his effort on the Habs only goal, but man, he’s continuing to have a strong year.
Jake Muzzin – 7.7: Muzzin was just unflappable tonight, and he’s going to be so crucial if the Leafs are to win a cup this year. He finished with 5 hits which is cool if you’re into that sort of thing. And he was a beast on the penalty kill.
Jack Campbell – 7: He just really didn’t have much to do, and he had no chance on the only Montreal goal. Another strong showing, though, and he’s definitely quieted any doubters.
Alex Galchenyuk and Nick Foligno – 5.5: They both just couldn’t get anything going. The forecheck was non-existent, and they didn’t have a lot of time on the puck to make things happen. Be prepared for a huge game 3 from their line.
Jumbo Joe – 4: I really don’t want to seem like a hater here, but it’s just not good enough from Jumbo. He somehow had an xG share of 29 percent. 29! Galchenyuk was the next closest at 39%, and everyone else was over 50, including both of his linemates at almost 75%! How is that possible? I have no idea, but it’s honestly impressive. The dude is just so behind the pace of play, and he’s lost all ability to stickhandle. It’s becoming tough to watch.
Coaching staff – 7: Jumbo still on PP1, but the power play scored twice, and the lineup moves improved the team, hard to be genuinely upset with that.
Number of the Night: 2 – The number of power-play goals the Leafs scored. The Leaf powerplay has some issues yes, but going 5/96 or whatever the stat was, doesn’t just come down to set up, it comes down to luck, and the Leafs finally got some bounces tonight. The first goal was an example of how moving the puck quickly opens up space and shooting lanes. More of that, please!
Word of the Night: WooHoo!
GAME 3 MONDAY!