Let’s start with the most important thing on our minds following that loss to the Canadiens, that is the injury to John Tavares. You can find a summary of the incident here, and aside from Chris Johnston’s update that Tavares was taken to the hospital, we are still left wondering how he’s doing.
Now as for the game itself, the Leafs were victim to Carey Price playing like the Carey Price that used to be talked about as one of the greatest goaltenders in the world. His robbing of Marner on his one-timer attempt during a 2 on 1 with Nylander was the additional bad omen the Leafs didn’t need tonight. The Habs scored shortly after the Tavares injury, and the Leafs were able to hold on for the rest of the period, and actually rally as best they could in the second with a goal from Nylander, but Price was vintage Price, and that’s all they got before the predestined short handed goal by Paul Byron in the third that put emphasis on how toxic the Leafs powerplay has been this year. Arguably Jack Campbell should want that one back, but he’s probably the third person on the blame chart for it as it was a calamity of errors from Joe Thornton and Rasmus Sandin that led to that unfortunate attempt.
If we’re going to be optimistic, one game doesn’t mean Carey Price is going to own the series. One game doesn’t mean the Leafs will be so physically outmatched. Of course, we’ve also seen this show before and trying to be optimistic as a Leafs fan is now an exercise in insanity. At best we’ll chalk this up to a scary moment that would certainly rattle the Leafs, and we can hope they will come back determined and prepared for the rest of the series. Maybe we’ll even see some of that physicality that the Leafs promised us heading into this game.
Now whether we want to or not, here are the Three Stars…
3rd Star: Morgan Rielly
Rielly was buzzing tonight. Not only did he save one goal with his best defensive play of the season, but he had and created some of the better offensive opportunities in the final minutes of the game. If the Leafs did comeback, Rielly would have been a part of it for sure. Unfortunately they didn’t and he wasn’t, but that save was one of the high points of the game.
2nd Star: Jack Campbell
So that second goal wasn’t ideal, but 28 saves is a good night, and holding the opposition to two goals means that he did his job. There’s no reason to not feel good about Jack Campbell, and he certainly was a big part of holding the Leafs in the game following the Tavares injury. The Leafs played a sloppy first period and Campbell allowed them to head into intermission only down by one.
1st Star: Kyle Dubas
Dubas running down from the press box on his phone to get to John Tavares is a reminder that there is a lot to love about this team, and the man who built it. From the top down these guys care about each other and as frustrating as this loss was, you still want to believe that this group is going to win together.
40th Star: The height of the plexiglass
With three delay of game penalties for shooting the puck over the glass, it was a rough night for the Leafs when it came to the most basic of asks, and that’s keeping the puck in the rink. That certainly didn’t help the Leafs chances tonight, and while the quality of the ice wasn’t great, they’ve been practicing on it and knew what they were dealing with. It was six minutes the Leafs could have used to their advantage.
Update on Tavares
In his post game press conference, Sheldon Keefe relayed that John Tavares’ tests have come back negative, he’s been responsive, and alert in the hospital. He’ll be kept overnight for observation and receive further tests tomorrow. No one here is going to play doctor and speculate on anything, so we’ll just wish John Tavares the fullest of recoveries and as evident tonight, he will be missed.
As for the Leafs and Habs, they’ll be back at it on Saturday night at 7pm. Hopefully a more prepared Leafs team shows up.