Leafs Postgame: 79-2-1


Hockey is a game of inches. Inches away from being offside. Inches away from getting your stick on an airborne puck. Inches away from covering the man. Inches away from your off-the-post shot going the other direction. Inches of hair away from your scalp as you rip it off your head in anxious frustration.

The Leafs provide a lot of anxious frustration. At times, the end results brought that tonight. But they played another game of fine hockey and were rewarded with their first win of the season, outscoring the Columbus Blue Jackets 6-3.

The Rundown

The Blue Jackets opened the scoring in this one, just as the two teams were starting to get a feel for each other. Four minutes into the first, Cam Atkinson through a puck towards James Reimer seemingly just to keep it in the offensive zone, but some serious dexterity (and ill stick placement by Jake Gardiner) allowed Boone Jenner to deflect a puck into the back of the Toronto goal. It held up as the period’s only goal, but the Leafs were quick to change the momentum from there, controlling the offensive zone and pouring pucks on Sergei Bobrovsky.

It was just a matter of time until one of their shots went past Sergei Bobrovsky, the goalie with the league’s worst save percentage. Sure enough, Jake Gardiner tied the game just 29 seconds into the second period with a cannon of a slapshot to tie things up. They didn’t stop there, either. James Van Riemsdyk followed it up a few minutes later with a wrister off the rush, and Nazem Kadri collaborated with two of the three Mississauga Miracle Men (Brad Boyes and Shawn Matthias, with Daniel Winnik being the uninvolved third musketeer).to add insurance.

At this point, tempers flared a little, and we got to lay witness to the worst fight in the history of the National Hockey League. No offence to Dion Phaneuf, but when you’re the one falling down in an altercation with Leafs legend, Water Bottle Police Chief, and Mimico Prime Minister David Clarkson, you’ve not had a good showing.

With an attempt at a literal fight out of the way, the Blue Jackets weren’t ready to go out without a metaphorical one either. Nick Foligno took advantage of a weird rebound behind the Leafs net to tuck a puck past Reimer in the closing moments of the second period, and Scott Hartnell took advantage of poor positioning by Danel Winnik to tie things up. The Leafs needed a response, and they needed one fast.

Thankfully, Joffrey Lupul was there to answer the bell. Leo Komarov followed things up with one of the weirdest goals you’ll ever see (more on that in a second), and double dipped with an empty netter to secure the victory.

Blue Warrior

Leo Komarov is our blue warrior tonight for a lot of reasons, but let’s talk about this goal. Komarov hops on the ice for the line change, but hesitates to touch the puck because he’s not sure if his man has actually gone back on the bench yet. In his defence, the Leafs have about a hundred players on the ice when he begins to chase the puck.

Rather than skate after the puck, Jenner takes the body, and by the time he’s done doing so, Leo still has a chance to take the puck and go. Jenner takes his time to get re-oriented, Komarov is on a breakaway, and Bobrovsky, well.. continues to not look like the star goalie of previous years.

Komarov added an empty netter on top of this and had a 72.41 CF% at even strength. Granted, he started the bulk of his shifts in the offensive zone, which is a rarity for him, but he took advantage of his opportunities to tilt the ice in Toronto’s favour. He even got to play a bit on the powerplay! It just goes to show how Mike Babcock has been willing to give players fresh starts and has let some audition in different roles. We’ll see how long the Top-6 Komarov experiment lasts, but for now, it worked out decently. 

Also, mini-Warrior to Mike Babcock. Not only for the above reason, but also for notching his first win as Leafs coach.

See You Next Time

The Leafs return to the ice tomorrow night against the Pittsburgh Penguins. I’m interested to see how they shut down Phil Kessel, who they haven’t faced in seven years. As many know, the 28-year-old refused to report to Boston Bruins training camp at the start of 2009/10 season, disappeared from the public eye for several years, and kept himself fresh by occasionally playing for the United States National Team. Kessel, who was a UFA signed a seven-year contract worth approximately $6.8 million a year with the Penguins this year, in hopes that he’ll be the Jaromir Jagr to Sidney Crosby’s Mario Lemieux.

Tomorrow’s game will be played in Pittsburgh at 7:00 PM and broadcast on CBC.

Screen captures and GIFS via TSN

  • Gary Empey

    The Leafs dominated a pretty good team tonight. Blue Jackets got two lucky goals. Hartnel’s goal was a good power play rocket.

    Whoever said Babcock couldn’t make a silk purse out of a pig’s ear was wrong.

  • V

    I don’t remember seeing kessel since he’s been a Bruins.
    Was he playing in the khl or some third teer league in Europe somewhere?

    The only thing I have heard about him in the last few years is his love of a off season hot dog in Toronto. (Side note, hot dogs are not sandwiches!)

  • V

    You guys see how the leafs started gaining confidence and just blossomed when Bozak went down with an injury. They blew the game wide open.

    This is why Bozak needs to get off this team. He makes everyone on the ice worse. They need to put him on LTIR like Horton. Or failing that waive him to the AHL. This Bozak guy is not good.