Before we get into the game, let’s take a moment to recognize Börje Salming.
What a massive round of applause and moment to see him arm in arm alongside Darryl Sittler and Mats Sundin. There couldn’t have been a dry eye in the house.
Start 💙 pic.twitter.com/XNG34beQXb
— Toronto Maple Leafs (@MapleLeafs) November 12, 2022
The game itself was up and down and ended with a whimper. The Leafs were outplayed in the first. In the second they played with burning hair. In the third they scored nothing and eventually lost to Erik Källgren by a feeble winner.
Your game in 10:
1. After giving up a series of odd-man rushes against Vegas — some of which resulted in goals — this was sure to be a major topic of conversation for the Leafs between games. So it was disappointing to see them give up an early 2v1 just a few shifts into the game.
Jarnkrok Street and Pierre Engvall both watched the play instead of ducking for cover Justin Holl Pinch. Even with Michael Bunt also cover, they were outnumbered. The puck was chipped by Bunting, sending the Penguins to a 2v1.
Midway through the period, Jason Zucker also competed in a mini 2v1. The Leafs had some power plays in the first half – Evgeni Malkin was undisciplined a couple of times – and they created chances during that period. In the 5-on-5, however, the Penguins created almost at will – Natural Stat Trick recorded the scoring chances 9-3 in their favor.
2. If you’re a Leafs fan, there are few greater certainties in this life than an ex-Leafs returning to Toronto and scoring against them. It was pretty much set in stone at this point. Examples abound, but the Penguins didn’t dress any former Leafs tonight. Kasperi Kapanen was a healthy scratch (no less for the second game in a row). For once, the shoe was on the other foot.
Zach Aston Reese, playing against his former team, scored the 1-0 goal for the Leafs. The shift really owed everything Denis Malgin, we seem to be saying that more and more often lately. He made the turnover on the forecheck, made a play with the puck, netted it, and Aston-Reese just hit a rebound that happened to net. Anyway, it’s nice for the leaves to be on the other side of one of these.
On his next shift, ZAR had a big hit and a pre-check. It energized him.
3. The Penguins didn’t deserve to lose after 20 minutes, and at the end of the first they got a lucky shot they deserved, in the middle of a dominant shift that saw the Leafs have the puck on their sticks a number of times — including Austin Matthews and Mitch Marner – but always gave it away.
The Leafs’ situation hockey has been really bad this season, something Sheldon Keefe alluded to regularly. It’s the last minute of the period when the team leads 1-0 at home. You have to be able to take the lead at the break.
The destination itself was a bit random, sure; It was a point shot that deflected to a wide-open Malkin who simply had to shoot it into an empty net. But the Penguins dominated the shift where good things usually happen to a team.
4. The tale of odd-man rushes and going into the neutral zone continued for the Leafs early in the second game. There wasn’t much to do here. Marcus Pettersson simply cleared the zone after fumbling the puck by laying it off the wall. It has prevailed William Nylander and then Justin Holl seemed to think he had more time than when he showed up.
Malkin chipped it from Holl before sending the puck down the boards. Instead of TJ Brodie Retreating and covering the pass, he stepped over and challenged Malkin along the wall. Had Brodie not gone down to block a possible pass, you might have wondered if he knew someone was behind him. There was no one on the other side of the ice but Jason Zucker, and even though Malkin is getting old, he’s still Evgeni Malkin. All he had to do was get the puck across the ice. It’s easy to say from the couch, but Brodie didn’t have to challenge Malkin from a safe place over on the boards.
Zucker just pounded the puck home. You can’t really fault anything Erik Källgren for one of the first two goals.
5. After the Penguins scored to take the lead, the Leafs turned on and made a big push to level the game. The “fourth” line created another big shift, and Denis Malgin narrowly missed hitting a bouncing puck into an open net. John Tavares made a great cut and found streaking William Nylander, who was checked late before Tavares was robbed in the follow up shot.
A few shifts later Morgan Rielly joined the rush and got a good shot from the top of the circle. Nick Robertson then had a chance in the slot where Casey DeSmith made another good save. The urgency has definitely increased. They just couldn’t finish.
6. As much as the Penguins deserved to equalize first, the Leafs definitely deserved to tie it back at 2-2. They just kept going before the puck finally went in.
On a power play – created by another scoring chance – William Nylander should have scored sooner when he fooled Casey DeSmith with a Jason Spezza-esque shot freeze play, but he hit the post. On the next opportunity, however, he made no mistake and hammered home an absolute bombshell from a one-timer.
We’ve talked about Nylander in the one-timer spot for years, and this goal was an example of why. He has a great one-timer. He can lean against it and it explodes off his stick. It should be mentioned that Morgan Riellys awesome fake one timer pass back to Nylander set it up too. He fooled everyone and Nylander did the rest.
Some serious willpower 💪 pic.twitter.com/QrS3D8wExA
— Toronto Maple Leafs (@MapleLeafs) November 12, 2022
7. The Leafs started the game with Alex Kerfoot on the top line, but when the opening bulloff rolled around for the third period, that was it Michael Bunt play next to it Austin Matthews and Mitch Marner. They dominated the first shift of the period and could easily have scored several goals. Unfortunately, they didn’t, and a few shifts later, the Penguins scored a frustrating goal on some levels.
It started with turnover in the neutral zone Denis Malgin. It was a close game but you can’t flip the puck in the neutral zone because you tried to get the puck between a player’s legs. This just isn’t NHL hockey.
after sales, Markus Giordano was caught flat footed and Brock McGinn put a shot through his legs which also went through Erik Källgren. It was a bad goal for the goalkeeper to give up. There’s not much to say about that.
We all know Källgren only plays so much out of necessity – and he’s generally done a brave job – but that was a poor goal to give up. A bad target that comes from a bad turnover.
8th. With the Leafs trailing behind, they stirred up the defensive pairings: Rasmus Sandin paired with Morgan Rielly and Markus Giordano paired with Timothy Liljegren. It was the return of a defensive pairing that worked well for the Leafs next season (Giordano-Liljegren) and an attempt to shake them up to push an offense forward.
Swapped the first and third lines Michael Bunt and Alex Kerfoot. The second and fourth lines stayed the same, which could be a good sign Nick Robertson. He has aspects that he needs to work on to round out his game, but he can score and is dangerous with the puck on his racquet.
Keefe followed the original line shake by fully charging and playing the top line William Nylander on the left next to it Mitch Marner and Austin Matthews. Malign was then promoted to play John Tavares and Robertson (who still remained in this second line).
The Leafs were 25th in total 5v5 goals going into that game. They’ve really struggled to score goals so far this season. It looks like it’s finally coming to the coaching staff as this is the best line juggling I can recall ever doing under Sheldon Keefe.
9. After all the shuffling of lines was the trio that caused the most dangerous shift Michael Bunt – David fight – Jarnkrok Street. The recipe was pretty simple: they won fights to keep the puck in the offensive zone, and the whole five-man squad kept throwing pucks at the net. Eventually the puck worked its way to Jarnkrok, who scored a decent one-timer on the edge of the slot.
When Pittsburgh finally cleared the zone, the puck went to the Leafs blue line and both teams made substitutions. for some reason TJ Brodie tried to rush a pass on the other side Rasmus Sandin as if he had a possible outlier, even though he didn’t. The Penguins were right there, and even with the pass complete, Sandin had no support and no options.
Worse, it resulted in a frosting and killed even more clock on the leaves; Also, they couldn’t change the line (although Matthews still managed to sneak up). The Leafs eventually charged a unit with the goaltender drawn, but they created nothing. The Penguins should have scored at least three times in the empty net before they did. The Leafs put four shots into the net in the third period.
10 Notable Ice Age figures: Pierre Engvall was effectively benched and only played 7:49. Right now, he’s at his best when he’s on empty calorie shifts. In the worst case, he turns it around. TThe next lower hand was 10:52 (Nick Robertson), btw, so it wasn’t like Engvall’s entire line went down with him.
Mitch Marner 24:28 played. Austin Matthews Played at 11:45 p.m. Matthews and Marner have generally been productive this season — each moving about a point per game (Matthews just below, Marner just above) — but they’re not setting the world on fire. After the first shift in the third period, they were barely noticeable, but it seems they keep trotting out there together, no matter what.
On the other hand, Evgeni Malkin increased his point total in 41 career games against the Leafs to 67 points. He just dominates her every time.
Heatmap: 5v5 shot attempts
Gameplay: 5v5 shot attempts
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