Photo Credit: Tom Szczerbowski/USA TODAY SPORTS
I’d love for this recap to be a post about how awesome it was to see local boy Connor Brown play his first game for his childhood team and dominate. I’m sure he loved the experience, but his debut was one which saw him fly under the radar. In the meantime, his teammates put in a strong effort, but couldn’t deliver against Jaromir Jagr, Roberto Luongo, and pals. The Florida Panthers skated away with a 4-1 victory that further cements Toronto’s place at the bottom.
Once again, this was another game where the Leafs played hard and stayed competitive against one of the better teams in the league. In fact, if we’re getting technical about it, the Leafs actually outscored the Panthers in this game. It’s just that the first two Leafs goals ended up beating Jonathan Bernier, rather than Roberto Luongo.
Jussi Jokinen, on paper, opened up the scoring for the Panthers during an early second-period powerplay as Brooks Laich sat in the penalty box. In reality, Ben Smith redirected Jokinen’s pass into Jonathan Bernier’s five-hole to initiate the tank efforts. A few minutes later, “Jokinen” “scored” once again, this time actually taking a shot, bouncing it off of Nazem Kadri, and watching with a presumed grin as Bernier didn’t respond to the play at all.
Ben Smith, stealth tanker pic.twitter.com/2qJmD38cfC
— The Tank Nation (@TLNdc) March 18, 2016
Morgan Rielly gave the Leafs a bit of a chance by scoring his eighth of the season late in the period, but that’s as far as the comeback got. Jaromir Jagr and Teddy Purcell added empty netters to close off any hope of a comeback, pushing the Panthers closer to a division title and the Leafs closer to draft heaven.
People were worried about moving Martin Marincin up to the first pair, but he’s looked pretty solid since. The two compliment each other well; Marincin being the one more capable of neutralizing rushes into the offensive zone, while Rielly gets the puck back across to the other side. Tonight, Marincin led all defencemen with a 62.9% CF, though the two were largely used in offensive situations.
Honourable mention goes to Mike Babcock. He lost his coaches challenge, but the fact that he triggered an offside challenge on what was effectively an own-goal was one of the most hilarious, yet logical things I’ve seen this season.
See You Next Time
Toronto’s next game is on Saturday night, when they take on the Buffalo Sabres. The game is at the Air Canada Centre and starts at 7:00 PM. Hopefully, Robin Lehner is still mad about whatever happened with Ben Scrivens against the Habs and brings the crazy.