The idea that the Toronto Maple Leafs “play down to their opponent” has to be one of the most ridiculous examples of “confirmation bias” in all of pro-sports, but how else to explain this team?
The Toronto Maple Leafs dressed a lineup that probably should get their entire front-office fired, against the best team in the NHL (going back more than a year, they’re basically one of the best team’s of all-time) and somehow they played their best game of the season.
Should the team’s GM be able to use injuries as an excuse when he looked at the crumbling blue-line he inherited and did nothing but add John Klingberg and Simon Benoit to?
Absolutely not, but for one night, at least, it didn’t matter.
Toronto Maple Leafs Play Their Best Game of the Season
A big reason why this game was so good is because for the first time in a while, Auston Matthews looked like Auston Matthews (2 goals) and Matthew Knies looked like a future star.
The Toronto Maple Leafs came out with a great first period, and followed it up with a great second period. The third period wasn’t so hot – but it was still the closets this team has come to playing a full, solid, 60 minutes all year long.
Bizarrely, the Toronto Maple Leafs have gone to Overtime in 50% of their 22 games this season. That’s the kind of bizarre thing that should remind people it’s not that weird to lose a bunch of playoff series you really deserved to win.
But I digress.
The Leafs first, and second lines were great last night. Their third line scored a big goal, despite the fact that it will pretty much never be good as long as the extremely overrated Max Domi is on it.
Still, credit for the sweet goal, his first in 22 games.
Damn, I would love to sit here and rip Jake McCabe because the GM should never have allowed a situation where McCabe and Lagesson are paired together in a four-point game against a top division rival.
But they were actually fine. Good even.
All three goals came against Rielly’s line but Rielly played 20 minutes, and 15 of them were against either Pastrnak or Marchand’s line. Considering this type of usage would be hard with a great partner, and he’s stuck with TJ Brodie, I can’t blame him for the rough game. (naturalstattrick.com).
The Leafs bottom-four defensemen were much better than anyone could have expected, but the fact is they still shouldn’t play another game with this lineup.