June 5, 2023
Erik Kallgren, Toronto Maple Leafs

Game in 10: Maple Leafs take a 3-1 lead in Anaheim, lose another point to opponents eating on the ground

The Maple Leafs went into this game with a series of roster changes after losing in LA last night.

William Nylander was moved to the middle, Calle Jarnkrok was paired with John Tavares and NAK was swapped for ZAR on the fourth row but as usual the top row was untouched. This decision pre-empted the events of the game to a certain extent.

After building a multiple-goal lead against the league’s worst team in the third half, the Leafs conceded and lost in overtime to end their road trip with a five-game win (1-2-2). Back to Toronto, if this goes on much longer, it’s going to get ugly.

Your game in 10:

1. Given the scrutiny the team was facing, the coaching staff changing lines dramatically, and the quality of the opponent, I thought the Leafs’ initial changes were tentative. Anaheim generated the game’s first two shots and an early scoring opportunity in the slot that Adam Henrique tore wide. It was eerily reminiscent of the kind of starts this Leafs core typically comes out with during big/playoff games. Unlike those games, however, this Anaheim team is Yes, really Poorly.

Shortly thereafter, Austin Matthews went on a 2v1 and rang it off the rack. The Leafs then drew a penalty and scored a goal.

William Nylander, who started the season strong, sped the puck down the wing and found Matthews all alone in the slot, an easy end for him. The Leafs have fallen behind in games and caught up during their slow start. Your losses up to this point have not been the result of blown leads. An early lead in that game allowed them to settle in.

2. The Leafs started carrying the game after that and they should have scored another after scoring another Jarnkrok Street attempted a pass Alex Kerfoot what should have been a tap-in. Instead, he had his hands in the air and was celebrating when the puck hit the post. The puck went the other way Mitch Marner committed a negligent turnover at his own end, Anaheim quickly touched the puck and Jakob Silfverberg made no mistake.

There’s not much to say if you’re the goalie or the defender there. It’s a bad giveaway and Silfverberg is a legitimate goalscorer in the league. Not many goalies are going to stop him there in a bang-bang game up front.

And then there’s the matter of premature goal celebrations, which is what you’d expect from a little hockey or a brilliant game. This is the National Hockey League. They make sure the puck goes in when a goalie is in the net and the game is tied.

3. Anaheim is a really bad hockey team, and we can’t write these notes without specifically acknowledging it. They came into this game bottom in the league with the lowest goals per game average in the league and the third worst goals conceded per game. Both special teams rank second-worst in the league.

All in all, a team can’t get much worse. They play without structure. The neutral zone was open all night. You’d think it could be the kind of confidence boost the Leafs need — an opportunity to touch the puck often and create chances. And in the first third, the Leafs were credited with 15 shots on goal in the first and nine dangerous scoring chances according to the Natural Stat trick.

4. The Leafs’ second goal of the first half is a great example. Philip King – who was solid in his first NHL action – hesitated while carrying the puck on ice and fell. He slammed it into the wall to avoid further danger. Nick Robertson chipped it again, and William Nylander used his speed to get on the puck first and knocked it over to a streak Denis Malginwho went in with a breakaway and scored with a great forehand-backhand top-shelf move.

We’ve talked at length about Nylander’s merits in the middle, and while a game against the Ducks won’t prove much either way, part of the logic is to use his speed and skill in the middle of the ice — the most dangerous Part of the rink – instead of confining it to a wall. In that game he won a race on his speed and Malgin made no mistake.

Malgin has been productive and looked good against the weaker teams. I don’t think there are many doubts about his ability to play in the league. If he were on a bottom feeder like Anaheim, he could easily play all season and produce offensively similar to Alex Barabanov at San Jose. The question with the Leafs is whether he can carve out a full-time role here.

5. Armed with a lead going into the second half, it felt like the Leafs were taking control of the game. After going into an early power play with a high stick penalty, there was a commotion in front of the net on the power play and the puck eventually found its way Austin Matthews in the slot with the keeper on the ground but he couldn’t get it through all the traffic and into the net.

Matthews’ line pulled together some dominant shifts in the second minute – controlling the game, locking Anaheim in their zone multiple times – but was unable to complete sequences with goals or even prime scoring chances. Matthews recorded four shots at the net, one goal and one post in two periods of the game.

6. As the half progressed, Anaheim began to generate more chances and actually played in the last five minutes. These included a number of Class A scoring chances. Erik Kalgren was really good.

Anaheim’s chances included a clean one-timer near the faceoff circle, an all-around try Rasmus Sandin seemed to save, a clean 3v2 that Morgan Rielly was able to stop, and a clear breakout for Derek Grant, which ended in a save and a penalty Austin Matthews after Kral was nervous with the puck again (the first opportunity at least resulted in a goal for the Leafs).

Overall, the shots at the net during that period were 14-7 in favor of Anaheim. They tilted the ice as the game went on, and while the Leafs ultimately survived, it was worrying to see such a poor team intruding on the Leafs in a tight game.

7. The penalty for breakaway Derek Grant proved to be a boon to the start of the season. TJ Brodie ripped a nice outlet through the middle of the ice while outnumbered Calle JankrokCreating a 2v1 with Alex Kerfoot. John Klingberg played it like he was waiting for the trade deadline of his expiring contract. Kerfoot made a good play to sell the shot, completely fooling John Gibson and giving Jarnkrok an empty net to finish.

They have been outplayed 2-0 on the power play since Anaheim’s first game of the season. The Leafs took advantage and gave themselves some breathing room.

8th. As John Gibson found out minutes later, he had no reason to be fooled by the threat of one Alex Kerfoot Shot. Kerfoot got a penalty (his second of the season) and shot it over the net. It would have effectively iced the game (and given Anaheim’s PK, a power play would probably have been a better choice).

It still felt like the Leafs were in control of the game until things got worse again Mitch Marner Giveaway resulted in a goal from Trevor Zegras that made it 3-2. This started a whole series of events that are difficult to understand.

The team is obviously struggling with some mental hurdles at the moment. Sheldon Keefe took a time out and very explicitly challenged Marner for the two goals conceded. Then he sat him on the bench (for a whole shift). Shortly thereafter, the Ducks equalized the game. In the next commercial break, Marner left the bench to go into the hallway and presumably vent (or maybe break a stick or something). When he came back, he was put back on the ice.

I don’t think Keefe took the time out to specifically call out Marner and just Marner, but it was a notable part of it. This game also started with every line being changed except Matthews-Marner’s. You cannot choose how you treat players and when you choose to coach or not coach them.

9. The tie wasn’t a good goal to give up, but Anaheim deserved it given how much they created. It was an all-round goal that should have been prevented – it’s a real shame because Erik Kalgren was otherwise pretty solid. He clearly misunderstood the play. Just observing him on goal, he wasn’t rushing from post to post and looked almost confused when the puck went in. Of all the opportunities Anaheim generated, this was a pretty harmless one.

It almost got worse when Anaheim thought they had scored again. It was called a goal on the ice before Keefe challenged it for goaltender interference. To be honest, I have no idea what the rule is anymore. It looked like a gate to me and it was called one on the ice. I didn’t think there was enough evidence to overturn it, but the officials did, and with the way the game went, it salvaged a point for the Leafs.

10 In overtime, the Leafs got off to a shocking start – to me anyway – Mitch Marner in layer one after everything that happened before. If you want to challenge him, use other players out there. William Nylander has been good this season – perhaps he should be given more opportunity if Marner is benched rather than slapped on the wrist before sending the top line straight back out to start overtime.

In fact, Marner almost scored in extra time and while some would have called it a redemption, to be honest it would have been a tragedy to see him drained, rewarded with more chances, coming back in and the winning goal scored Instead, right after he was robbed, the Ducks went down the ice and Zegras hit with a shot. Game over.

The Leafs lost a point to complete the road trip, but the storylines and heated discourse surrounding this team after a lousy trip is only just beginning with two days off before the team returns to home ice on Wednesday.

Heatmap: 5v5 shot attempts

Gameplay: 5v5 shot attempts

#Game #Maple #Leafs #lead #Anaheim #lose #point #opponents #eating #ground

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