The Toronto Maple Leafs started the second half of their season with a bang. Like, a bang of a colliding fists. Not what anyone bet on by any means, but the same could be said for their odds of winning Thursday night’s game. Despite having not defeated the San Jose Sharks in their previous ten attempts, the Leafs eked out a shootout victory against them on home ice on Thursday night.

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.

Fists and Fistfuls

This was probably the most exciting start to a Leafs game in a long time. I’m not usually one to root for the after-faceoff fights, but I’m all for the ones where people are legitimately mad at each other, and especially so because it was two star players. The moment of “oh, shit” from Kadri after the gloves dropped was great, and of course, everyone’s talking about the beard incident:

Kadrinho

Later in the night, Kadri ended a twelve game point drought by scoring his 14th goal of the season. To be honest, I’m still a little iffy on this one, as happy as I was for him to break through his wall. While it’s not a full out soccer kick, there is definitely more of a continuous motion coming from his foot than most redirection-based goals. I would not have faulted the officials at all if they decided to waive this off, but you take it.

Also, its a shame he didn’t get the assist to match the goal and fight. A Gordie Howe Hat Trick would’ve been awesome.

Freddy Flub

For the second consecutive night, Frederik Andersen made a costly mistake that led to an opposing goal while trying to play the puck. With this one, you can’t help but laugh, especially since he was able to rebound by stopping every other in-game shot for the rest of the night and managed to be excellent in the shootout. But still.. I’d be happy to not see any more of these for a long time.

Overmatched

This was definitely a game where the bench looked like they got over-focused on matching and routine. Playing the 4th line and 3rd pair against San Jose’s 1st line and 1st pair seemed like a good way to suck up momentum, and it certainly did, as you can see above. Then there’s the Leo Komarov issue, that’s been dissected heavily across social media already. Komarov led all Leafs forwards with ice time, and it wasn’t by a small margin: his 24:22 of deployment was nearly six minutes ahead of second. Yes, he had penalties to kill, and is Kadri’s flank on the shutdown line but he also played nearly four minutes on the powerplay, had as much even strength time as Auston Matthews, and played two shifts of 3-on-3 overtime.

Babcock didn’t even believe the numbers when brought up to him yesterday morning, and said it was too much. Hopefully that’s something taken in consideration tonight, especially against a team like Vancouver who have a depleted lineup and not a ton of depth to begin with.

Protection Watch

Again, not going after anyone for not preventing this hit from happening, just pointing out that these hits will happen no matter who dresses. Also, I have no idea how this wasn’t a penalty, and how Hyman wasn’t really looked at on the bench when it happened, but those are discussions for another day.

Boz’s Biscuit

Tyler Bozak might be struggling in-game this year, but it was nice to see him get the call in the shootout. The veteran was one of Toronto’s most lethal options for years, and while he’s fallen down the pecking order, he still seems to have a good nose for the net in 1-on-1 situations. In this case, a well placed shot into the top left was what sealed the deal for the buds.

Coming Up Next

All things considered, this wasn’t Toronto’s freshest, most dominant win, but given the history with the opponent, you take it and run. The hope is that they can carry some of that momentum into tonight’s game against the Canucks; puck drop for that will be at 7:00 PM.

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