The Toronto Maple Leafs ran into penalty and faceoff trouble en route to a 3-2 loss to the Anaheim Ducks on Monday night.
Your game in ten:
1) Another fast start at home by Toronto in this game, but they seemed to be slowly ground down by a heavy, veteran Ducks team as the game wore on. After a pretty good first period at even strength despite three penalties halting their momentum, the Ducks started to dictate the game (score-adjusted corsi below):
The shootout loss to the Sharks – another good and heavy veteran team – followed a similar pattern last Tuesday.
2) Faceoffs were a natural talking point throughout the game (67% in favour of Anaheim, one leading directly to the game-winning goal). The Leafs, while they were without their best faceoff men in Bozak and Smith, were prepared for Anaheim’s strength in this area – Babcock mentioned it to the media before the game — which made it more disappointing that there were so many “clean” wins by Ryan Kesler and Antoine Vermette. The Leafs centers should at least have been able to scrum some of those draws and get a tie-up on the center. Too often they were non-competitive in that area of the game.
3) Josh Leivo played 12:37 – 2:11 on the powerplay — in his season debut alongside Frederik Gauthier and Matt Martin at even strength and did pretty well with the opportunities afforded to him. He hit a post on the powerplay on a look from his offwing, had another chance in the slot shortly after, and then drew a powerplay with some good work on the cycle down low in the third period. He managed to break even in possession as well (8 shots attempts for, 7 against).
4) Unlikely that William Nylander did himself many favours tonight if he wants to play center for Mike Babcock sooner than later. Perhaps a little overexcitement about playing with JVR and Marner led to a couple of overly cute plays from that line preceding Nylander’s penalty in the first period. Obviously, he also needed to be harder on the puck in the neutral zone, and then manage the puck better at his own blue line, on the 2-1 goal by Nick Ritchie.
5) The JVR – Nylander – Marner line went up against the Ducks’ third line as their primary matchup and got buried by Vermett, Kase and Ritchie – Nylander was a 20% CF head to head with Vermette (5:10). This won’t be a line on Thursday if Tyler Bozak is still out.
6) All that said, that line shared the ice with the Jake Gardiner – Connor Carrick pairing for the majority of their even strength ice time and both were less than their usual possession-driving selves; Gardiner looked to be feeling the effects of the illness that made him a game-time decision, while Carrick appeared to be fighting the game on numerous occasions.
7) Not mentioned a whole lot on the broadcast was the fact that Mike Babcock was going head to head with the Auston Matthews line against Ryan Getzlaf, Corey Perry and Rickard Rakell at home from the first shift onward, with a couple of exceptions for a few defensive zone draws that Kadri’s line took. The results were outstanding – Matthews was a 73% CF in 9:16 of 5v5 time against Getzlaf. That was largely done in tandem with the Morgan Rielly and Nikita Zaitsev pairing, who had a good night up against Anaheim’s big line.
It goes without saying that the maturity of Matthews’ game is next-level and accelerating even more quickly than anticipated; or maybe not, given Babcock said he would be a dominant center by Christmas. He was a beast tonight and is now on a 40-goal pace through 31 games after this ridiculous finish:
— steph (@myregularface) December 20, 2016
8) It didn’t sound like Babcock was a huge fan of the Matthews and Marner line he assembled as the Leafs chased the lead late, though (our first look at the combination). He mentioned in his presser following the game that he preferred Matthews’ line with Brown on it.
9) The Leafs had a great start on the penalty kill – between Hyman and Komarov’s chances in all alone, they generated the better scoring chances on the first three kills, all in the first period. But they simply asked way too much of the units in terms of quantity of penalties taken (the too-many-men and the high cross check by Nikita Zaitsev were both bad penalties and it was tough to argue the calls). The Getzlaf goal was fluky and the Fowler goal came off of a lost draw – those type of goals are going to happen if a team continues to put itself in those situations against a good powerplay.
10) With another 35 shots tonight, the Leafs have averaged 43 shots per game over their past five games and are scoring just 1.8 goals/game over that span. They’ve scored just nine times on 213 shots (4.2%) as a team across all situations. Are they running into hot goalies, making good goalies look great, simply shooting from everywhere, or some combination therein? It makes for an interesting debate. They certainly had their chances between the Zach Hyman (x2) and Mitch Marner breakaways alone to make this a much different outcome.
Game In Six
Post-Game: Mike Babcock
All Situations Shot Attempts