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Photo Credit: © Tom Szczerbowski | USA Today

Leafs Postgame: Even Auston Matthews couldn’t quite beat the Avs

The Colorado Avalanche rolled into town on a nine-game winning streak, so we knew it wasn’t going to be an easy one. Actually, the game was a lot of fun, up until the losing part.

Morgan Rielly was placed on IR earlier today, and Rinat Valiev was called up, but he did not play tonight. The expectation is that Rielly will be back after the All-Star break (and it’s certainly the hope). While it’s great to see the young guys getting more ice time, you can tell the Leafs are missing Mo on the back end.

Too bad Corsis don’t decide hockey games…

(via corsica.hockey)

1st Period

The first 2:20 of this game was a pretty good indicator of things to come. First, a great chance for Auston Matthews is denied by Jonathan Bernier. A minute and twenty seconds later, Colorado’s fourth line dumps the puck and then somehow creates a goal. Leafs’ fourth line is on the ice. (This will be relevant later.)

Thanks to William Nylander’s increasing skill at drawing penalties, Soderberg went to the box, and then the Leafs got a five-on-three power play, and then after that they didn’t touch the puck for a while. The Avs didn’t get a whole lot of shots off during that time, but they kept the Leafs hemmed in their own zone enough to make it hurt.

The Leafs were able to end the period on a high note, though, with a shot from Travis Dermott very nearly making it past Bernier, and overall impressive stuff from the Matthews line (because of course).

2nd Period

This time, the Leafs’ early scoring chance turned into an actual goal. Patrick Marleau used his amazing Dad Speed to get out ahead of the defence and there was no stopping him. (This was also Leo Komarov’s second assist in as many games, a significant step up from the rest of the season.)

Auston Matthews definitely should have had the go-ahead goal slightly earlier than he actually did, after sneaking behind Bernier (who had no clue where the puck was) and tapping it in, and then getting hug-tackled by Zach Hyman.

But the Avs challenged and won, and literally no one has any idea what goalie interference.

Auston Matthews is all of us:

That line is still really good okay, as Auston Matthews reminded us again on their very next shift. And we even got the celly of the year out of it.

I’m not one of those people who throw around “GOAT” but, like. Auston Matthews.

If anyone on Colorado had to tie it up, at least it was Nail Yakupov. I’m genuinely glad he’s doing well again. In the future, if he could do well against not-the-Leafs, that would be great. Not that I didn’t kinda see it coming, but this game was Stressful.

Obviously not perfect, but this period was super fun. Let’s do it again sometime.

3rd Period

….Not this time, I guess. After such an exciting second period, I didn’t have much to say about this one…until I did.

Blake Comeau got position on Matthews and put the Avalanche up 3-2. (Does this mean Auston Matthews is getting moved to the fourth line?)

The Leafs kept the pressure on after going down a goal, but they couldn’t quite make anything happen. In the last few minutes, Mitch Marner was even bumped up to play with Kadri and Marleau (because Babcock actually realized Komarov might not help them score??).

Colorado had several chances at the empty net after Andersen went to the bench with under three minutes left, but Gabriel Landeskog finally got one on target, and that’s all she wrote, Leafs lose 4-2.

This was the tenth game in a row in which the Avs scored first and won, and their 23rd game this season. To put that in perspective, they only won 22 games last year. I haven’t had a chance to watch the Avs much but wow they are really reaching their potential these days. Remember last year, when we were all like “but why are they so bad, they have MacKinnon and Landeskog and those guys aren’t BAD?” Still can’t answer that question, but at least we aren’t asking it anymore. We get it, Colorado, you’re good, you don’t have to win ten in a row to prove it. (Really, we would have preferred you did not.)

Notes

  • Hi, I’m Hayley, and I like seeing Connor Carrick and Travis Dermott on the ice together.
  • The Leafs made it official today: no Mo until after the break. 🙁
  • The Avalanche unfortunately extended their win streak to ten games, but Nate MacKinnon didn’t get a point, so there’s that.
  • Other things that are probably cool if you’re an Avs fan: Ten games is the second-longest streak in franchise history, Jonathan Bernier’s nine wins in a row is his career best, and that makes him the third Quebec/Colorado goalie to hit at least nine.
  • The fourth line matchup here did not come out in the Leafs’ favour. Like, at all. Colorado’s first goal was scored with both fourth lines on the ice. (Their second was also against Martin-Gautheir-Marner.) The Avs fourth line combined for eight shots on goal; Mitch Marner had all two for the Leafs’ fourth line. James Mirtle shared Leafs’ lines possession numbers after two periods… “Matthews 74% Kadri 45% Bozak 64% Goat 18%”. Not a good look.

Tweets

Tonight’s celebrity guests at the ACC included tennis star Denis Shapovalov, Nick Kypreos, and Apple CEO Tim Cook. Leafs Twitter was very concerned with Tim Cook’s presence…

We’re going to be talking about that Auston Matthews celly for a while, I think.

And now for a cause very close to my own heart:

 

Next up, the Leafs will be facing two more Central opponents as they head out on the road for a back-to-back. They’ll be in Chicago on Wednesday, so we will see you then.

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  • leafdreamer

    It’s ok. Avs are as hot a team as there is in the NHL right now. Their core of young guys are all reaching their maturity at the same time, whoever heir coach is has them playing amazingly structurally-sound hockey and they have a pretty hot goalie right now. We’re missing out first defensive pairing. Remember when all our games seemed to be 4:2 there for a while?

  • jimithy

    I’m telling you, Nylander has to put on 50lbs, grow a moustache and drop the gloves by the end of the month or don’t expect the Stanley Cup parade this June.

  • lukewarmwater

    Hi Hayley I’m Lukewarmwater and like I really like your articles. They are so cool. Your are soooo right we dominated in Corsi and man that is what counts. So glad to see our coach speak of Bill Belichick who probably is also a $50 million dollar coach but he JUST WINS. I was even more impressed with Chris Johnston and the other guy, what ever his name is, when they stated they were impressed that 6 foot 3 and 215 lb. Auston Matthews has only 4 minutes in penalties. Yesiree sure wouldn’t want him to retaliate when he is slashed or actually use his big physique to body check opposing defenceman. Auston the Lady Byng is yours. Haley your home work assignment is watch what Syd the kid did to Methot to let any player know that they use the stick on him, they get it back twice as hard. Or you could ask P.K. what it felt like having his head banged repeatedly on the ice in last years playoffs Yep playoff hockey is a war and the league players know they can hack, chop, slash Matthews with little fear of retaliation. Btw you were probably gushing too much but did you notice how soon to be 32 years old Blake Comeau skated away from Matthews which resulted in the winning goal as Auston just gave up on the play.
    So we have a hat trick now, as in two recent o.t. games both Marner and Nylander gave up on plays that resulted in the winning o.t. goals against the leafs. Tonight tired 20 year old Auston couldn’t quite keep pace with the speedy about to be 32 year old Comeau.
    As you stated Haley one of the coolest, greatest, most exciting games in a long time. Keep up the great work.

    • Kanuunankuula

      I’d rather they out-Corsi a botched call decided match, than get outplayed but win 2-1, like most of the last 20 games. You can hate on Corsi on principle all day long, but most of you have to admit that even by eyetest the Leafs have not been playing good.

  • Capt.Jay

    Remember that time when we won games irresponsibly and we didn’t always out Corsi teams but found ways to win because good teams do that? Me too

    I’m so glad we play more responsible and out corsi teams now. Makes the loses that are piling up easier to digest.

  • Glen

    You can talk about winning the Corsi if you want, but the goal count is what counts. And how about a big save when the game is on the line. Get exited about Kadri’s defence if you like but how about a goal or two, again defence is nice but some offence puts something on the scoreboard. Bernier was the best goalie on the ice and that is not good.

    • lukewarmwater

      Well said Glen, we have been playing against some sub standard goalies and we still can’t score. With the exception of Ottawa, we just don’t score more than two goals.

  • I thought they played pretty well, and it could have easily went in the leafs favour. They ran into a hot team and are missing two of their better defensemen – which is a pretty big blow when the leafs defense is pretty shaky to begin with. The other thing over these last 2 weeks, and it’s pretty hard to blame Andersen as he has been good, but it would be nice to be bailed out every now and then. Seems like every time there is a mistake, it’s in the back of the net. Also, the leafs are getting great chances that seemed to always go in earlier in the year and are getting pretty unlucky lately, making the opposing goalies look amazing.

  • Bob Canuck

    Hayley,

    Thanks for a nicely-written recap. I liked that your piece included a good balance of analytics, observation (“Blake Comeau got position on Matthews and put the Avalanche up 3-2.”, humour (“Does this mean Auston Matthews is getting moved to the fourth line?”), and enthusiasm.

    Keep up the good work.