Tonight the Leafs played a similar style game as the one recently played against the Los Angeles Kings, a game which they lost due to the Kings capitalizing on what amounted to a single mis-step by the Maple Leafs. The team, which will be featured on HBO beginning tonight, gave Leafs Nation reason to cheer all over by delivering as convincing a win over the Stanley Cup Champion Blackhawks as they have all season. The only vindication the Hawks had in the loss was the goaltending, which was more or less AHL caliber.
The Leafs’ defensive adjustments need to be kept long-term. If your shutdown guys can’t clear the puck, you defend all night. The group tonight lacked size, but moved the puck out of the zone as effectively as they have this season. The corsi number defended their play, they outshot a good team, and they won in a fashion that should be reason to celebrate. The game was a carbon copy of the Los Angeles game Wednesday night which Toronto ended up on the wrong side of the win-loss column, and with luck there will be more games like this and fewer that resemble the drubbing by the St. Louis Blues Thursday night.
On to the game:
– Depth scoring has been a problem all year for the Toronto Maple Leafs. Only fitting when one of the NHL’s best teams comes to town they put on a depth scoring clinic.
– The Maple Leafs power play rolled on like the second best in the NHL tonight. They did give up a five on three goal, but penalty killing wasn’t horrendous. Special teams need to stay over 100 per cent combined (an old theory) for Toronto to stay relevant in the playoff race.
– As hesitant as I was to admit it, each game makes the Peter Holland trade look better and better. Jesse Blacker may become an impact NHL defenseman, but Holland has been playing effectively for most of his short time with the Leafs.
– Toronto has a habit of playing incredible Saturday night games against far superior teams (the Pittsburgh and Washington games are examples), here’s hoping this was a sign of things to come and not just a mirage.
– Tonight’s Maddies Mark player of the game is not one player, but a whole bunch. The team’s entire group of bottom-six forwards played fantastic, providing scoring and more importantly, not allowing the opposition back in the game which has become all too common an occurrence. This effort makes it a best day ever for the Leafs’ depth forwards. For more information on how you can provide “best days ever” for young sick children all over, please visit www.maddiesmark.org.