5 Thoughts from Tonight’s 6-5 shootout loss to Montreal

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Well this was a mess, wasn’t it? The Leafs looked to have a solid 4-1 lead in the third, proceeded to blow it and almost lose the game in regulation, but a late goal from Auston Matthews got them a pity point in an eventual shootout loss.

And honestly, it was deserved. The Habs had a 58% 5v5 CF% and slightly outscored them in 5v5 expect goals at 1.63-1.47. With that in mind, let’s look at five notable things from this evening.

Matthews continues his hot streak

What probably wasn’t surprising for anyone is that Matthews scored a couple more times again today. His two goals gives him five goals in three games to start the season, which is another hot start for him.

This should be expected to be the norm at this point. Last season, he had 10 goals and 16 points in his first seven games, seven goals and 12 points in his first eight games in 2017-18, and six goals and 10 points in his first six games in his rookie season. So, not only does he consistently start strong, he seems to be improving, and maybe we should expect a bit more from him in these next few games.

Hutch was solid, until he wasn’t

When I first wrote this down as a point during the second period, I was going to rave about how we may have a solid backup goalie this year.

And then, Hutchinson was not solid. He allowed four goals on only nine shots, and in terms of penalty shots/shootout attempts, stopped two of four.

Now, he didn’t get much help. The Drouin goal was an own goal, the Gallagher and Danault goals were a bit of a cluster in front of the net, and the Petry goal was a penalty shot. Would it have been nice to see him stop them? Yes, but they probably shouldn’t have happened in the first place.

All in all, not a great start for Hutch, but he could’ve gotten a lot more help from his teammates.

More Power Play Opportunities

It’s a bit early to call the power play revitalized (this time last year, it looked unstoppable), but at the very least, it has been pretty successful at 26.67% through three games.

The more important note is that it has been getting a lot of practice, as the Leafs have drawn 15 penalties, something that they couldn’t seem to do last year. Not that they weren’t capable of it, but it seemed like the refs liked to keep it even for penalties, and with the Leafs not taking a lot of penalties, it meant they didn’t draw much either.

Maybe the refs have decided to start calling games the way they should, or maybe it’s just early in the season, we’ll find out soon enough. But hopefully, it stays this way.

Kappy Karma

It’s time for a bit of a throwback.

That is Kaspari Kapanen and John Tavares chirping the Habs, after the Leafs came back from a 3-0 deficit to win 6-3 last season.

Well, the Leafs had a 4-1 lead partway through the third period, and blew it insert result here. Part of that comeback? The game tying goal, a penalty shot goal from Jeff Petry, caused by Kasperi Kapanen throwing his broken stick at Petry.

Max Domi, of course, had some fun with that.

It was a really stupid decision from Kappy that resulted in a shootout loss. Had he not done it, the Leafs may have won, and it wouldn’t be a story, but now it probably will until the Leafs play again on Monday.

Another Early Season Barn Burner

Another tradition the Leafs seems to have established with the new core, is an early season goal fest. In 2016-17, it was a 4-0 lead in Winnipeg that turned into a 5-4 OT loss. In 2017-18, it was a 5-1 first period lead against the Rangers, that got blown in the second period, and then saw the Leafs score three in the third to win 8-5. Last season, it was the Leafs having a 5-4 lead into the final minutes in Chicago, allowing the tying goal from Patrick Kane, scoring again with a minute left, and then allowing another tying goal from Kane, only to win 7-6 in OT.

This year, it was a 4-1 lead, that saw four unanswered goals from Montreal before a late game tying goal from Auston Matthews, before a 6-5 shootout loss. I was kind of hoping that we wouldn’t have this so Babcock didn’t try to implement chip and chase hockey, but alas.