All the points matter, but there’s certainly some extra incentive to making the divisional games count. Drop a clean pair to someone breathing down your back, and it has the chance to burn you in the standings come mid-April. If Toronto isn’t going to catch up to the Tampa Bay Lightning (something we shouldn’t rule out juuuust yet), then the Boston Bruins are a team they definitely have to worry a little about when they face them throughout the year.

Tonight didn’t go perfectly for them, but they certainly avoided catastrophe and still made a positive stride, coming out of the game with a 3-2, come from behind overtime win.



5v5 Possession: % of shots taken towards the net (Corsi, CF%) taken while the player is on the ice.

Game Score: A single-game performance metric created by Dom Luszczyszyn. Read about the methodology behind it here.


The Leafs have had a thing for contested goals lately; probably a byproduct of getting players into the slot in punches. Today was no exception, as both Nazem Kadri and James Van Riemsdyk believed they got the last touch on Toronto’s first goal of the game. Van Riemsdyk, ultimately, was the one who got credit.

Stride Away

This interference penalty to Jake Gardiner nearly looked like it would cost the game, already down by one with under five minutes to go in the third period. It was a very 50/50 looking one when it happened, but this time, Van Riemsdyk got the last touch.

The Shift

From James van Riemsdyk winning the footrace behind the net to the very same JVR tapping in his second of the night, the Leafs had the puck basically uninterrupted for 1:06 in the offensive zone. It was almost like watching Homer Simpson box, in the sense that they let their opponents chase them until they were gassed out and struck in their most vulnerable moment.

Clutch Patty

I was having a conversation with one of my friends yesterday about what makes a clutch player, and we agreed that a lot of it is self-fulfilling. Players that are known to be big-game players play on teams that play in more big game situations, and are constantly given opportunities to prove themselves.

In a sense, this is what happens with Patrick Marleau a lot; the Sharks were very good for most of his career, and he was their go-to scorer for much of his tenure, so it was inevitable that he’d get a lot of game winners.

That sort of applies to tonight’s overtime tally, though I have to imagine having the fast skating dude on the ice while Auston Matthews was hurt goes just as far as reputation.

Moving On Up

I’d like to see more of this from Nikita Zaitsev this year. He seems to be at his worst when trying to immediately give up the puck in the defensive zone; it leads to giveaways, suicide passes, puck over glass penalties, or, in the best case, failed dump and chases.

This carry-out? Maybe he held on a bit long, but using his wheels to advance the puck comfortably is no doubt better for the team.

Not So Edgy

Mitch Marner had a shift where the edges on his skates just weren’t going his way, yard-saleing himself twice in the span of about 20 seconds. A poor or worn out sharpening is probably at least a little bit responsible, but it also seemed like the ice wasn’t super great to latch onto tonight either. A lot of players were fighting their balance and a lot of pucks were bouncing.

That’s one of the issues with the Air Canada Centre being such an active venue; you can’t keep it distinctly prepared as a rink. Hopefully this doesn’t come back to haunt them down the stretch; a distinct possibility if them and the Raptors go on parallel runs.

Game Saver

As fun as the overtime goal was, we’re not talking enough about the play just before it. Sure, David Pastrnak could’ve done a little more (or, really, a little less) to ensure that he’d get through a little cleaner, but Marner made an excellent read and carry before his fake-shot-pass that led to the winner.

Coming Up Next

The Leafs are shipping up to Boston tomorrow night, in search of a rematch. Auston Matthews will remain out, Curtis McElhinney is expected to start in goal, and everything else should remain largely the same. It’s your usual 7:00 on Hockey Night In Canada puck drop.

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