Leafs Postgame: This Hour has 56 Minutes

Photo Credit: Timothy T. Ludwig/USA TODAY SPORTS

The Toronto Maple Leafs played a bizarro-world game today, at least if your previous world was wrapped around last week. They grabbed a lead early, they held it throughout, the goaltending support was brilliant and they won despite bad fancy stats. When the narratives flip, they flip hard, it seems. Here’s what went down.

The Rundown

While the third line had been much-maligned after their efforts earlier in the week, Mitch Marner wasted no time flipping the narrative tonight, cradling a pass from Tyler Bozak and depositing it past Robin Lehner just past the four-minute mark of the first period. It was a statement for the team, though it was also one that perked up the Sabres, who began to fire on all cylinders.

Thankfully, Frederik Andersen came to play and turned away all fifteen shots he faced in the first period, and kept going throughout. This gave Marner just enough time to pot another, this time getting his own rebound after stripping away the puck in the slot.

The Sabres did eventually strike back, as Marcus Foligno managed to take advantage of a poor defensive effort from Martin Marincin, grabbing a rebound off Andersen to crack his shutout. But from that point in, Freddie stood tall, and the Leafs were able to just enough to maintain the results.

Why The Leafs Won

No real massive pinpoint. They got a lot of help from Andersen, scored a couple of opportunistic goals from danger areas, and while they bled on the shot count, they did so while spending most of the game ahead. It helped that they didn’t get into much penalty trouble either; just two calls were made against them (Buffalo took none at all).

Blue Warrior

Frederik Andersen gets the nod this time, hands down. 41 saves, some of them absolutely vital. I don’t know if its a return to style, a return to good health, or a return to the, in his words, “fuck you” attitude, but something is working for him over this past week and it’s good to see him play like the team had hoped he would. 

See You Next Time

Now that the Leafs are 0.500 again, they have a chance to get into the good side of the standings books for the first time since the home opener. On Saturday, they’ll be taking on the Vancouver Canucks, who started off undeservedly hot and have seen their eighteen wheeler waltz away at record speed.