That 5-4 OT win Saturday night was a bit of a rollercoaster. There’s a lot to take away from it, and quite a bit of it was troubling. I couldn’t get a preview up in time on the weekend since I was mixing in a few cervezas in Ottawa. Some things are bigger than sports.
Let me preface this by saying that, if the Leafs plan on actually beating Boston this year, Saturday was a must-win. Playing the against Boston’s back-up goalie at home with Freddy in net on their side of the ice. Toronto really had a chance to take it to ’em. The Leafs were able to squeak out a win in OT despite being outshot 46-29, with some real stretches of ugly play. Nobody asks how, just how many, right? Well for Toronto to have some sustained success over a full 82 games + playoffs the “how” will matter. There’s a lot of loose bolts to tighten up here.
To their defence, it was Toronto’s first game with John Tavares on the shelf so every team’s line was thrown into a relative blender. We got a look at Kerfoot on the second line. Matthews and Marner spent a good chunk of ice-time on the same line. Nylander even played some center. Toronto’s a deep enough team upfront that they can survive, hell even thrive, until JT gets back. But it’s a huge loss all the same.
The Blue Jackets are currently treading water at 3-3-2. They’re 30th in Goals Per Game with 2.25 and 17th with Goals Against Per Game with 3.25. They look to be pretty snake bitten seeing as they’re fifth in shots per game with 35.0 and 24th in shots against with 30.1. A .500 record given their inability to score the puck is resiliency at it’s finest. Don’t be surprised if their shots don’t start going in and the Jackets rocket up the standings.
Players of Interest
The Big Asses
Babs likes big butts and he simply cannot lie. Timashov and Moore have been revelations this year and I guess we’re finally putting a finger on just what makes these guys go. Folks we’re talking about a couple big asses that just won’t quit. Moore’s got 5 points in 9 games and Timashov has 4 in 6 games. That’s tremendous production for a couple of guys getting bottom six ice-time. Production from secondary sources has been a god send in the early part of the season.
36 shots on net and only 2 goals? That is the definition of snake bitten. A career 11.7 shooting %, there’s just no way Atkinson is going to continue to score at a 5.6 clip. Expect a lot of goals soon. Hopefully just not tonight.
Marner + Matthews
Babcock gave these two an extended look on the same line on Saturday and the results were largely underwhelming (other than the Matthews to Marner feed in 3-on-3 OT). I’m sure they will get another chance but, if they want to form their own super line, they need to look dominant when they’re given the chance. I for one think that Nylander looks more comfortable on Auston’s right wing, but if the Marn Dog proves me wrong I certainly won’t be upset.
The Jackets are getting Anderson back after missing the last six games with an upper-body injury. Ol’ Torts seems pumped about it:
“You’re [darn] right it does, he’s one of our best players. In the time he’s spent with me, he is one [heck] of a hockey player. There is so much there where in my mind where I can project what he can be. He can be something special.” — Blue Jackets coach John Tortorella on Josh Anderson
Sometimes it’s tough to get the train on the tracks. Missed the game 9 Saturday night write-up. No Phil’s thoughts tonight as he sweats out the Vodka + Mountain Dew Baja Blasts consumed on his trip to Queen’s homecoming.
It’s tough to get a full 82 game schedule into the blog game. Blogging the Leafs can be a game of load management, but I can’t afford to pull a full Kawhi. The Klaw is on a three year $103 million contract and I’m out here trying to stay alive in the blogging streets. It’s up to me to pick up this pieces, skate back to the bench and get ready for the next shift. Go Leafs.