Toronto Maple Leafs Oct 11 Game Report
Thursday, October 12, 2017
After starting the season 3-0-0, Toronto appeared ready to make it four wins in a row against the 2-0-0 New Jersey Devils. However, Mike Babcock warned his team not to underestimate this newly improved New Jersey lineup.
Aside from Nico Hischier, the number one overall pick in this past draft, the Devils have added plenty of skill and youth to round out their team.
For Toronto, this would mark the 6500th game played for the Maple Leafs franchise as a whole.
There would be no major lineup changes, although Mike Babcock still seems undecided concerning his permanent 4th line centre. It looks as if Domenic Moore and Eric Fehr will continue alternating every game.
Andreas Borgman and Calle Rosén remained a pair on the back-end, as Connor Carrick continues to battle an upper-body injury.
Recent reports have suggested Van Riemsdyk is willing to take a pay-cut on his impending contract renewal if it meant staying with the Maple Leafs. Despite this, his only request appears to be in a contract length upwards of 8-years. This would take him to his age 36 season, which might be enough to shy Toronto away. The fact that he keeps scoring could be the only thing hurting Van Riemsdyk’s chances of returning at a low cost. He scored for the second straight game to give Toronto a 1-0 lead 8:33 into the opening frame of this one. In classic fashion, the slick power forward roofed the puck over Cory Schneider from beside the net.
Momentum quickly shifted the other way as New Jersey responded just 0:34 seconds later. Miles Wood redirected an initial shot by Steven Santini from the blue line and past Frederik Andersen to even the score 1-apiece.
New Jersey kept the pressure at an all-time high and forced a mistake in their favour. Upon the dump-in, Calle Rosén fumbled the puck and allowed Miles Wood to take it down on a breakaway. As you can expect, he made no mistake and the Devils soon had a 2-1 advantage.
It wasn’t long before Toronto’s potent offence stepped forward to reprimand their team’s recent defensive blunder. Domenic Moore found the scoresheet for the second time in as many games, giving him 2-goals in 2-games this season. Moore would redirect Ron Hainsey’s point-shot upstairs and over Schneider to tie the game.
If Toronto believed they were now in the driver’s seat, they were surely wrong once the Devils came out to play for the second period.
A trio of young-guns played Toronto into a corner and converted on a crucial power-play opportunity. Marcus Johnsson, Jesper Bratt, and Pavel Zacha looked like a cycling machine before finding the back of the net. A one-touch pass from Bratt to Zacha made all the difference in beating Frederik Andersen.
Bratt has come into his own after being selected in the 6th round of the 2016 NHL draft. It should be noted that he is the lowest drafted player to play for his team as a teenager in over 20 years.
Later in the period, Toronto look poised to tie the game up during a 2-man advantage. Again, they would be mistaken as New Jersey flipped the script in their favour.
A collapse in the offensive zone led to Toronto’s demise and ultimately another goal against. Jake Gardiner failed to hold the blue line and allowed the Devils to break down the ice for a shot on goal. Andersen handled the first shot with ease, but decided to kick-out the rebound in an attempt to break out of the zone. That was a mistake. The puck went directly to Brian Gibbons and he easily finished the play for a 4-2 lead.
Toronto opened the third period in a similar position to Monday night, when they trailed the Chicago Blackhawks 2-1 entering the final 20-minutes. Eventually the Hawks scored to increased that lead to two, which is the advantage New Jersey held tonight.
Instead of scoring to get things back on track, Toronto suffered another setback when Blake Coleman notched his 1st career NHL goal and increased that lead to 5-2.
Calle Rosén continued his rough night with a blatant giveaway trying to flip the puck out of the zone. Coleman intercepted the flutter pass and whizzed a shot past Andersen from the high slot to silence the hopeful Toronto crowd.
Toronto would be gifted with yet another opportunity for a 2-man advantage thanks to a delay of game penalty, and would make good use of it this time around. With what seemed like all the space in the world, William Nylander found Auston Matthews with a back-door feed to climb within two of the Devils.
Both the Maple Leafs and Air Canada Centre Crowd looked to have been injected with some much-needed life following the goal. The second man-advantage carried over and soon the Maple Leafs were buzzing all over the ice, but ultimately they would come up short.
Pavel Zacha added his second goal of the night to end the hopes of a second straight comeback victory for the Maple Leafs. Not to mention the dream of an 82-0-0 season…
The final score would stand 6-3 on the back of Cory Schneider’s 47-save performance. Despite the offensive output, Toronto fell victim to far too many mistakes in the defensive end and left Andersen in some tough situations. That being said, there were also some pucks he should have stopped.
With the loss, Toronto falls to 3-1-0 and maintains a slim lead over the Tampa Bay Lightning for 1st in the Atlantic Division. Tampa Bay (2-1-0) holds one game in hand and trails by 2 points.
Saturday will feature a marquee matchup between the Maple Leafs and Montreal Canadiens. With their first meeting of the season falling on Hockey Night in Canada, we should all be in for a highly entertaining chapter in this historic rivalry. Puck drop is set for 7:00 PM.
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