“Morgan Rielly may not be a number-one defenceman we hoped for just yet, but he’s the number one defenceman we need now. So we’ll criticize him, because he can take it. Because he’s not our hero. He’s a silent guardian. A watchful tank protector. A dark knight.”

On a serious note, it was a harsh lesson for Morgan Rielly tonight — don’t skate it in front of your own net with a minute and a half left in the game! — as he spoiled a good effort from the Maple Leafs, who won the lion’s share of the battles and handily outshot the Rangers in this game (37-20). Moral victories are the best kind of victories if you’re the Leafs right now.


– Rielly actually finished tops on either team in individual possession stats at even strength, brutal final touch aside. The team carried 74% of ES shot attempts with Rielly on the ice (23 CF, 8 CA) playing primarily against Mats Zucarello, Derick Brassard and JT Miller. Some sharp rushes as always, although a couple of times you’d like to see him do better with the shot while finishing the play.

– Good news: PA Parenteau extended his points streak to five points in his last three games, Brad Boyes to four points in his last four, and Colin Greening grabbed his first goal and second point as a Leaf. Greening’s played well enough to have a few more points to his name, as he’s been better than advertised — bringing an effective north-south game as a big-body who can skate and drive the net, he also retrieved the puck well in his powerplay opportunities tonight. Greening created the tying goal with his power move to the net front and was full value for his first goal since 2014.

Greening has been averaging about three shots per game and over five hits a night since the trade and call-up.

– Greening, Arcobello and PA Parenteau owned 70-80% of possession versus Viktor Stalberg, Oscar Lindberg and Kevin Hayes.

– Mix in Viktor Loov grabbing his first NHL point  — just eight minutes TOI for Loov, but, as Mark wrote earlier today, his skating looks to have taken a step — and nothing to show for all of it in the standings… this was mission accomplished, really.

– While Parenteau, Boyes and Polak are all playing some of their better hockey at exactly the right time for Leafs management’s deadline goals, Michael Grabner is mired in a brutal slump with zero points in his last 19. In fairness, Grabner hit a post tonight when the score was 1-0, but he also had a wide-open look in front in the second period and put the puck in the corner. While he’s still a positive contributor on the penalty kill, suitors aren’t lining up to pick up the remainder of a $5M (real salary) tab for a player with 11 points in 54 games, including two separate 18-plus game pointless streaks. It’s not at all uncharacteristic for Grabner; in 2013-14, he scored 18 of his 26 points in multi-point games in a season that included a 24-game pointless streak.

– Brendan Leipsic is going to get another look here shortly as Leo Komarov will almost definitely sit a game or two for his elbow clip on Ryan McDonaugh’s head. The Rielly gaffe obviously stood out, but Leo’s hit — assist to Spaling’s high-sticking double minor — turned the game against the Leafs in the first place, as his five-minute match penalty allowed the Rangers to gain their footing in the game. A rare instance of Komarov, who typically does such a good job of walking the line, crossing over it and costing his team: He had played all 56 games for the team and was seventh in total minor penalties (from memory, many were offsetting) despite throwing far and away the most hits of anybody on the team. This would be his first ever suspension, which should stand him in good stead in terms of the ruling on the length.

Game in 12


Mike Babcock Post Game

All Situations Shot Attempts

chart (21)

Leafs Player Stats — New York 4 vs. Toronto 2

M. Arcobello C0115100017:214:520:0012:29
B. Boyes RW0102110012:503:590:008:51
R. Clune LW000000234:540:000:144:40
F. Corrado D00-32200221:074:441:0615:17
B. Froese C000100008:360:001:556:41
J. Gardiner D0002110023:375:180:0018:19
M. Grabner RW00-23320120:053:473:0313:15
C. Greening LW1014210718:175:080:0013:09
P. Holland C00-12100117:384:540:3712:07
N. Kadri C00-33000021:145:360:0015:38
L. Komarov C0001001026:351:080:005:27
V. Loov D011110008:410:000:008:41
M. Marincin D0110100015:580:003:5212:06
P. Parenteau RW1014000022:315:410:0016:50
R. Polak D0001030722:190:034:2617:50
M. Rielly D00-14200122:554:460:3217:37
N. Spaling C0001124114:000:041:2212:34
D. Winnik RW0001000115:080:002:1912:49