Toronto Maple Leafs Barely Squeak Out a Win in Their Best Game

Mitchell Marner #16 of the Toronto Maple Leafs skates holding his True Brand Project X stick (Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images)
Mitchell Marner #16 of the Toronto Maple Leafs skates holding his True Brand Project X stick (Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images) /

The Toronto Maple Leafs defeated the Anaheim Might Ducks in a shootout last night.

The final score, however, does not come anywhere close to describing the utter dominance displayed by the Toronto Maple Leafs  in what might have been their best, most complete, game of the season.

The Leafs thoroughly destroyed the Ducks in a way I haven’t seen done without an eight-bit Nintendo and a light gun.

If last night’s score was 12-1 in Toronto’s favor, the Ducks could still say the score was complimentary to them.

Some might say “oh the Leafs blew another two goal lead,” but that would only be accurate in the technical sense.  Yes, the Leafs blew a two goal lead.  Anaheim also scored on both of their scoring chances.  If a team gets a lead then the other team starts to crush them, and they blow the lead because they played poorly, that is a bad thing.  What happened last night was that the Leafs had a two goal lead, and then played almost perfect hockey. The Ducks scored on the only two chances the stingy Leafs defense allowed them to get, hardly a situation where the Leafs “blew it.”

Toronto Maple Leafs Have Their Best Game

The Leafs outshot the Ducks 31-18 at 5v5, which is almost 64% of the total shots, and even though all three Leafs goals came on the power-play, the most impressive thing was their dominance at even-strength. (all stats

In the 1st period, the Leafs had 70% puck-possession, and finished the game over 60%, which is impressive.  They’ve already done that seven times this year, and their record in such games is 5-2.   They lost to the Lightning and the Coyotes in games they deserved a much, much better fate.  If you finish a game with puck possession over 60% it’s practically a guaranteed victory, but this is hockey and sometimes goalies don’t care which team was the better team.

Last night, the Leafs game very close to getting “goalied.”  John Gibson was unbelievable, including one save in the first period that I still can’t believe was not a goal.  Jack Campbell, on the other hand, was not very good.

The new-look Leafs lineup was fantastic.

Auston Matthews , together with Bunting and Kase were over 70% puck-possession.

Then, they’d leave the ice and Tavares/Marner/Mikheyev (sometimes Nylander) would pop out and be equally dominant (also 70%).

Nylander wasn’t too hot when he was with Kampf (predictably) but he was used as a kind of line-hopping rover, and he posted a 66% puck possession rating overall.

All four of the big guys had two points, though all on their ridiculous 3 for 3 power-play which honestly deserves it’s own post.  For the last 45 penalties the opposition has taken, the Leafs have scored on a third of them.

Oh and they’ve got the NHL’s best PK since sometime in December.

The Toronto Maple Leafs have won three of their last four, including two in a row.  Since October 27th , when they turned their season around, they have picked up almost 80% of the points available to them, and are the NHL’s 2nd best team, posting a record of 24-6-2, with five of those eight loses coming without Mitch Marner in the lineup.

Next. Goalie Swap?. dark

Marner is one of the NHL’s most complete players, and he’s playing like he wants a Hart Trophy nomination.  A little shooting luck and he’ll likely get one.   This team is just fun to watch.