Leafs Postgame: A Dominating Win over the Canadiens

The lines tonight finally started to resemble an NHL hockey team, but with 4 preseason games left to play (including tonight) there’s still a lot of room for juggling and auditioning.

The two most interesting spots are the 3rd spot on left defense and 4th line center. Tonight we’re going to see Calle Rosén and Miro Aaltonen making their case for the job.

A couple players I was interested in watching for the Habs were Charles Hudon (unselected by Vegas) and Victor Mete (star D-man for the London Knights).

1st period

The Leafs got off to a great start in Ricoh Coliseum as a good shot from Matthews beats a completely unexpecting Al Montoya to give them the 1-0 lead.

Shortly after, Nikita Zaitsev took a penalty to give the first powerplay of the game to the Habs. Watching Calle Rosén, he had one attempt at zone entry defense, which he followed up with a good takeaway and clearing the zone. However, immediately after, he let the Habs walk right past him on a bad attempt at stepping up for a hit.

The Habs had a few good chances, but ultimately were unable to score.

Shortly after, the Leafs were dancing around the Habs in their own zone with Auston Matthews showing his offensive dominance. He put the puck in a good spot which found Nylander for a great chance that flies high in the air, and Matthews got it on the way back down to finish for the 2-0 lead on Matthews’ 2nd goal.

Midway through the 1st, Connor Carrick received a penalty for the Leafs as Jacob De La Rose attempts a break into the zone, a big opportunity for the Leafs to hold on to the 2 goal lead. The Habs would be unable to score.

After the kill, Calle Rosén caught Brendan Gallagher’s skate to the face on a faceoff play, but would ultimately be okay. ‘Twas but a scratch.

Not much else happened as the period ended with the Leafs leading 2-0.

2nd period

The 2nd period started much like the first, just 4 minutes into the period, Patrick Marleau finds the puck at the side of the net.

Halfway through the 2nd the Leafs were called for a penalty sending the Habs to another powerplay. There were a couple moments that were nervous for the Leafs, and finally the Habs got on the board on a great play from Mete to set up Jeff Petry. 3-1 Leafs.

The Habs were apply a lot of pressure late in the period on the Leafs. Score effects playing a factor, but to some degree their defense has been poor all game. Note that that’s team defense, not particularly the defensemen. However, the Leafs would hold on and lead at the end of the period, 3 to 1.

3rd period

Once again, the 3rd period started off much like the two prior, with a great Leafs goal. This time it was Auston Matthews scoring a hat trick, and I’ll let the gif do the talking this time:

And on the powerplay, Nylander added one more to make it 5-1, with 13 minutes still to go in the 3rd:

That’s about all for tonight, the Leafs routed the Habs 5-1 in this pre-season matchup.

Final Thoughts

The Leafs looked good enough here, but there are still a lot of things to sort out. Carrick had a pretty rough game, Bozak needed some better finish, and Hyman really struggled to help out Nylander and Matthews offensively tonight. Since this is pre-season, a win is not really a win; shaking out the rust and bad habits are still a work in progress despite the W.

My three stars for the night:

  1. Matthews
  2. Andersen
  3. Nylander
  • Matmarwill

    I thought the leafs were the better team, even if outshot, however it was closer than the score cuz the habs hit the post three times in the first. The leafs had the better goaltending for sure, but if price was in net this would likely be a one or two goal game.

    Although rosen and carrick were serviceable, i would like to see borgman + dermott on the third pairing for the next game, just to see.

    Aaltonen was fine as 4c.

    Marleau looks like a great pickup.

    When mitch starts getting his rhythm, this team will be difficult for any opposition.

    The neutral zone coverage needs work. The defensive zone coverage needs some work.

    Overall, this was an ok, but middling, effort. Its preseason, but it feels much more together then last year at this time.

  • The Russian Rocket

    What a treat to watch. How lucky are we to have Nylander and Matthews? You watch them skate with the puck and it’s clear that they’re better than 99% of the players out there.

    Also props to Nylander on the steal and setup for the Matthews hat-trick goal.

    • magesticRAGE

      That’s a big change of Nylander from a year ago, his defensive effort has been awesome. His first 3 strides in a backcheck covers so much ground. Plus, his board play has become much better, as he rubs out his opponents with much more meaning and occurrence. Himself and Matthews are both legit franchise players. Willie needs to be signed NOW!!!