Postgame: Snizzb-ONE, but Ottawa Won

Photo Credit: Tom Szczerbowski/USA TODAY SPORTS

For the Toronto Maple Leafs, this wasn’t a night for the present, but one for the future. One where the focus wasn’t on tthe players who skated through the last sixtyish games kicking and screaming, but for the ones just starting their NHL careers in hopes of being ready next year. In a night that began as a look back at Dion Phaneuf’s tenure, it was the young blood that ran the show in a – wait for it – hard fought, thoroughly controlled, one-goal regulation loss.

After a touching tribute to former captain during the first TV timeout, the Senators almost immediately took advantage of the attention shift and pushed the puck to the net. In Bobby Ryan, they had someone who moved it a little bit further, stripping Matt Hunwick of the puck before roofing home the icebreaker.

Just a couple of minutes later, the focus was shifted to back to Phaneuf. This time, it wasn’t from the fans, but rather an angry Colin Greening; the two dropped the gloves with the new Leaf coming out ahead. Shortly after the two settled their differences, the moment that fans have all been waiting for finally happened.

That, my friends, was William Nylander’s first NHL goal, and it was a beauty. The reaction to the faceoff was quick, the wrister was quicker, and the celebration was fantastic. You can’t go wrong with that; especially when the man who sets you up, Brooks Laich, was the man who set your dad up for the last goal of his career.

The Leafs comfortably outshot the Sens in the first period, something which they did in all three periods. With that considered, it should come of no surprise that they struck again. This time, Nikita Soshnikov took advantage of a penalty against Zach Smith and used his lightning quick hands and release to roof his second of the season above Andrew Hammond. Toronto held that lead into the third period, at which point it all fell apart.

Marc Methot tied the game for Ottawa just three minutes into the final frame, taking advantage of an opportunistic bounce near the front of the net to shovel a backhand past Jonathan Bernier, who was otherwise stellar up to this point. With just as much time remaining in the period, a clear cut giveaway from Martin Marincin put the puck on the stick of Martin Stone, who had Smith in front of the net at his disposal to tap in the game-winner, creating a 3-2 final score.

Why The Leafs Lost


The thing about this game? The Leafs controlled it from front to back and looked like they were going to win or get a point for almost every second played. You can’t give a big picture evaluation here to pinpoint a reason for failure, really; it just wasn’t the intended result.

With that said, the icebreaker and the game-winner both came off of ugly, ugly defensive efforts. Martin Marincin’s giveaway on the winner, in particular, is a perfect example of why he’s such a polarizing player; you know the numbers run in his favour, but then he makes an extremely obvious mistake like that and costs the team a point. It’s a rough place to be in for him.

Blue Warrior

I’ve said it all year and I’ll continue to say it; Nikita Soshnikov is an NHL-calibre player. His stats with the Marlies, even if still quite solid, were also deceptive in the sense that he played tough defensive minutes on a shutdown/energy line. The rookie has a deadly release and very strong puck protection skills that he’s already begun to show at this level. Will he pot one in every four of those wristers for the rest of his career? Probably not. But don’t be shocked if he’s an effective full-timer on the team next year.

As for what makes him the Warrior tonight? Beyond the goal, he had the second highest CF% at 63.27, despite starting fewer than 40% of his shifts in the offensive zone.  Just a strong game in so many regards.

See You Next Time

Toronto now gets a day off before taking on the Buffalo Sabres. Tankers beware; after four consecutive one-goal regulation losses involving great performances against good teams, the Leafs might beat up on someone their own size on Monday. Puck drop is at 7:30 PM.

  • Metal thrashin dad

    Real mixed emotions on my part seeing Phaneuf, seeing him teary eyed, I really hope he finds success there. It was a tale of out with the old in with the new, Willie Nylander ripped a beauty and Sosh looks the business.
    Even with those positives the tank rolls on. This season has really worked out well.

    • magesticRAGE

      I so agree. I was a little concerned on the treatment Phaneuf would get, I’m relieved it was classy. I hope he’s horrible when facing us, but rip it up when not.
      Boy, these kids can snipe! I knew Nylander had a great shot, but I pitty the fool who gives Soshnikov room! That shot spilt atoms!
      I would like to see Nylander’s line stay together, then go down together, carry momentum together. I wouldn’t mind giving Soshnikov some more time, I have a feeling that Babs will be leaning on him in the very near future.

      • magesticRAGE

        Im so happy he wasn’t booed he really doesn’t deserve it. Yeah its brilliant to see the foundations are there the rest will come in time. Sosh looks ready to be a full time impact NHLer along with Hyman, Nylander and Kapanen will need a little seasoning but I think that’s just the age difference the former two being older.

  • Metal thrashin dad

    babcock is an impressive tank commander. note how he deftly puts out grenade tosser marincin in the last few minutes of the game to ensure the leafs lose the game. and note how he saddles leipseic with grabner to negate too much positive impact that he may have on the game.

    this is what world class tanking coaching can do for a team

  • Metal thrashin dad

    Bernier played really well again. Kind of reminds of Felix.

    I liked Felix better than Belfour, Fuhr, and Joseph. Last time Leafs were real contenders they had Felix.

    On the flip side….should ticket prices reflect Marlies ticket prices? For a team that has not yet won at least 10 home games…think there should be some kind of dicount or some kind guarantee to win night promotion, ie if the Leafs do not win everyone gets an identical free ticket for the next game 🙂

    • Gary Empey

      Couldn’t agree more. I lost track of the number of times a potential breakout was thwarted by a bad pass that resulted in a turnover. Corrado was the culprit on at least a couple and Marincin seems to be really fighting the puck. Hopefully more experience will raise their panic threshold.

  • Gary Empey

    Just a superb tanking job by the leafs tonight as the kids skate miles and give us a glimpse of the future which is bright.

    I’ll really know the leafs are a contender when our new goalie who ever he is comes up with oh so enormous save after a P.K. Subban type of give away late in the game. Bernier has developed giving up the big goal in the third period into a true art form.

    But that is perfect as the leafs cement their way to at worst the fourth pick. Edmonton with the wonder kid is gaining points, the Jets beat the hopeless Habs as Montreal lost its fourth straight and Calgary got a recent victory as well. Most clubs are now 7 to 10 points ahead of the leafs.

    Now this is the way to do a tanking job. But guess what, intelligent leaf fans hope the same thing happens next year as we keep adding to the foundation of a Stanley cup challenging squad. Good times are ahead leaf fans and their is a light at the end of the tunnel and no it is not a train.

    As I stated a top priority on the rebuild is gettng a goalie who doesn’t allow the five hole to become so big that a locomotive could go through it.