After a several-week hiatus, The Aftermath is back! I have shown up to write this thing! I’m not super sure if too many Leafs showed up to play yesterday’s game, though. While it wasn’t a horrific effort against the league’s front-runners, Toronto still skated away without a goal in an unfortunate loss at the Air Canada Centre on a night that you would’ve hoped to be at least a little more inspiring.



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.

For Johnny

Last night’s game opened with a ceremony for the late Johnny Bower and I feel that the team did a really good job with it. Rather than speak too much about it, I’ve embedded it above and encourage you to watch it, as well as his celebration-of-life ceremony this afternoon.

Defend the Tendy

I’m not usually one to defend Roman Polak, and there are a lot of things you can say about most of his game yesterday (in short: pretty damn awful all around), but this is the one aggressive penalty of his that I can sympathise with. Frederik Andersen ties up Vladislav Namestnikov here, but I don’t think that’s something that he sees at full speed in his peripheral vision. Instead, he just sees his goaltender go down and acts accordingly, which I’m fine with once in a while. Did he give a shot too many? Probably, but the ref’s arm was up by that point anyway, and it was the heat of the moment.

Speaking of heat of the moment: many were wondering if Lightning defenceman Jake Dotchin would get roughed up a little given his history against the Leafs. Two hits against according to the game sheet, neither of which were noticeable or memorable, and no semblance of a challenge. I guess the high road was kept, which makes sense given that the game was never out of reach.

Trapezoidal Freddie

This wasn’t Frederik Andersen’s finest moment. Major misplay of the puck and it cost him dearly. Chris Kunitz deserves credit for the forecheck, and maybe you can discredit Polak and Tyler Bozak a bit for how open they left him and Cedric Paquette to go to work, but a better pass or clear attempt from Andersen negates much of the problem.

With that said, I wouldn’t be so quick to use this as proof that Andersen is a bad puck-handling goaltender. He’s had some strong passes throughout the year; inconsistent is likely fair but he’s not quite at “puck is lava” heights.

In-And-Out, Call It Out

This was a really interesting sequence. The Lightning didn’t really put up a major fuss about having scored, the play went the other way, the Leafs almost got a tally of their own, and several seconds down the line, a horn sounded. The NHL’s situation room had zeroed in, found a loose puck behind the red line, pinged the timekeeper, and decided not to waste anyone’s energy because they knew they had a goal. And, once you see the frame, it’s hard to blame them.

Magic Mitch

Mitch Marner’s underlying numbers didn’t look that great tonight, but one can point to his linemates not giving him much help as a major factor behind that. Particularly in the second period, the sophomore seemed possessed to try to get the Leafs on the scoreboard on his own, creating all sorts of opportunities for the team.

Was he their best player on the night? No, I think you give that distinction to Nazem Kadri, Morgan Rielly, or if you’re willing to excuse the GWG, to Andersen. But this was certainly a single-game case of the eye test overriding the numbers, featuring a player determined to carry his whole line.

Coming Up Next

Here’s the thing with this game: It’s nice to see that the Leafs held a team as strong as the Lightning to two goals. It’s nice that they neutralized Nikita Kucherov. It’s nice that they looked to have some jump in their step over a few extended stretches in this game. Yes, there are a few positives to take out of it. But, now 9-9-2 in their last 20, I still want to avoid calling this “good enough”. If Toronto has any chance of being one of the heavy hitters in the spring, they need to return to being threatening and imposing sooner than later.

They’ll get their next chance to do that tomorrow night when they take on the San Jose Sharks. Puck drop is at 7:00 PM.

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