I can just picture it now. The day is January 1st, 2017. The Toronto Maple Leafs are taking on the Buffalo Sabres in the Winter Classic, hosted at the recently renamed and partially renovated Rogers Skydome. Morgan Rielly fires a stretch pass out to Connor McDavid. McDavid pulls a spin-o-rama to get past Jack Eichel, and fires a shot top shelf. Two minutes left in 3-on-3 overtime. Hat trick.
The crowd goes wild. The Leafs improve to 1-36-0. Until then, we’re stuck with these two god-awful teams, delivering realistic forms of disappointment to the masses.
Unsurprisingly, the 30th place Sabres opened the scoring in this one. Why is it unsurprising? Well, its a Leafs game in Buffalo, and hockey is a weird sport. In this case, Zac Dalpe took advantage of his position in front of the net and battled a wild puck between his legs and past Jonathan Bernier. More surprsingly, however, was that the Leafs were able to tie this one up before the end of the period, with a point shot taken by…
Eric Brewer? This is not an April Fools joke, folks. Brewer’s shot parted the seas and gave him his second goal in three games, restoring balance to the match up. From there, the Leafs carried the momentum into the second period. James van Riemsdyk slid a backhand through Anders Lindback’s legs in the opening minute, and Nazem Kadri soon followed with a gorgeous heavy wrist shot to give the Leafs a two goal lead.
All untanky things must come to an end, though. Thirty seconds after Kadri’s tally, Cody Hodgson responded with his sixth of the year to make it a one goal game once again.
The wheels fell off in the third period, which is about two periods later than they typically do with this team. Seconds after Jaokim Lindstrom headed to the penalty box, Matt Moulson blasted a knee-drop one timer past Bernier to tie things up. A minute and a half later, Matt Ellis picked up his first goal of the season, apparently needing 34 games to figure out how to dangle a goaltender into a different universe.
From there, the Sabres’ goal storm fizzled out, which put all the pressure on the Leafs. Everything appeared to be tilting in their favour; an empty net that their opponents couldn’t hit, a last minute powerplay, an innate ability to keep the puck in the zone, all of these things should have lead to an equalizer.
They didn’t. The Leafs lost to the Sabres. Again.
I think with everything considered today, you have to give this one to Alexander Radulov. I can’t remember him making a single mistake. Come to think of it, I can’t remember him doing much of anything…
Phil Kessel has taken a lot of crap lately, so it was nice to see him grab a couple of primary assists. which bring him to five points in the past three games. He also took eight shots on goal, which is a lot of shots.
Summing It Up
I’m running out of ways to say that this team is bad.