The Toronto Maple Leafs entered last night on the verge of securing their longest winning streak in almost exactly fourteen years, and their opponents were a group on a clear, distinct pace to be the first 31st overall team in NHL history.

The trap game to end all trap games. Sure enough, the Leafs dropped Monday’s bout by a score of 4-1, ending their run of victory at six games. Here’s a look at what went down:

Highlights

Spreads

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.

Crossed Out

The Leafs had an abysmal start to this game. For the first five or so minutes, you’d almost think they had forgotten to show up entirely, giving up nine of the game’s first ten attempted shots. The group constantly looked a step behind in the process, eventually leading to a Connor Carrick interference penalty, which then led to the above goal against.

There’s a lot of weird that goes on here. Toronto struggled significantly to get the puck out of harm’s way while on the penalty kill, including an odd between the legs effort by Ron Hainsey just before the goal.

What came next was a play that was as fortunate as it was skilled; there’s a certain brilliance in the appearance of Derek Stepan’s hard, cross-crease pass to Brandon Perlini, but a lot goes right for him too. Based on the reactions of both teams, it’s safe to assume that the intended recipient was actually Christian Fischer, but he wasn’t able to make contact in time, leaving a backup plan in place. Perlini doesn’t seemlessly recieve the pass, but he has so much time to re-collect that it isn’t an issue.

Fred’s Fine

Frederik Andersen’s 2+ game shutout streak came to an end with that goal, and if you’re just finding out about the game via the final score, you could be inclined to believe that the floodgates opened last night. That couldn’t be further from the truth; while the Ekman-Larsson tally looked like one of those long distance efforts he struggled with earlier in the year, it’s important to separate those first two goals from the empty netters added in the dying minutes, and consider that Andersen still shut the Coyotes out at even strength.

Reemer’s office

This will never not feel like a recording, but the Leafs scored yet another goal where James van Riemsdyk’s size and quick hands in the slot played to their benefit. If there are better net-front presences in the league, particularly on the powerplay, there can’t be very many of them. JVR is now on pace for over 40 goals this year, a rate that I can’t really see lasting, but would be a wild accomplishment if it does.

Tough Call

With two minutes to go, Auston Matthews played the role of hero once again, sweeping around the net and letting off a lightning-quick wrist shot that no goalie on earth was stopping.

That is, of course, until the play was challenged. Coyotes head coach Rich Tocchet argued that Antti Raanta was interfered with on the play, and after review, the officials agreed and overturned the goal.

I’m still struggling with this one. You can see Fischer and Ekman-Larsson guide Zach Hyman in towards the net, which makes the whole “avoiding the line of contact” thing a little difficult. Some could say that Hyman might have been able to place his stick a little bit better, avoiding Raanta’s chest, but at a certain point you’re eliminating a natural hockey grip. He could lower it, but that would still be interference on the pad. Go higher, and there are obvious consequences. His only real way out of it as a right-handed shooter with nowhere to go would have been to completely give up his stance and ability to interact with the play, pulling it in as if he was finished a shift.

You also wonder about reaction time. Raanta did not get back up to square himself up for Matthews’ shot, but had ample time to do so. At a certain point, you can’t let the goaltender dictate when he’s done being counted as interfered with, especially when he still sets him to face the shot; a 100% reset shouldn’t be a necessity, otherwise you’ll set a precedent where every bumped goaltender stays on their butterfly for 5-6 seconds in hopes of negating a goal if they concede.

I think this should’ve counted. I get the arguments for disallowing it, but I really think it should’ve counted.

Not A Bias

I will stress, though, that this wasn’t a “referees are out to get the Leafs” night, like some claim. There were some tough calls, particularly in the closing moments of the game, but I’ve always been firm in my belief that NHL games that are poorly called are a two-way street. Take a look at this sequence with Connor Carrick, for example; how that isn’t a trip with two officials watching is beyond me.

Flies On

To preface this: I think Matt Martin is playing very good hockey right now. I’m content with how he’s being used in the current circumstances, and if what we’ve seen in the past several weeks was what we had seen from the start of last year, the conversation surrounding him would be drastically different.

To further preface this: I don’t think Matt Martin should have fought Zach Rinaldo here. The hit was a little scummy, but it was clean, and there was still a puck battle happening that could have led to an individual scoring chance for Martin should Toronto have won it.

With that said: Many have spent the past several months saying that teams don’t throw big hits on Toronto’s young players because Martin’s presence intimidates them. I’ve always thought this to be a poor, magic-beans type argument to give in favour of a player that has merit as a player and not a social construct, and I’ve never really felt it to be true. As such, I’m going to continue to post clips and stills every time a young Leafs player gets crunched with him in the lineup/on the ice.

Again, this is not a criticism of Martin. It’s a criticism of an argument of what he supposedly is.

Good Pro

This wasn’t part of the actual game, but I always appreciate when Mike Babcock turns around and has a change of heart in situations where he is in the wrong. Its a reminder that no-one is infallible or unquestionable in their decision making or in their opinions, and it sets a good example for his players.

Coming Up Next

Today is a day off, before the Leafs begin a schedule shift that sees them make occasional appearances at home, but is by and large an extended road trip. Tomorrow they’ll take on the Florida Panthers in scenic Sunrise; puck drop is at 7:00 PM.

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