Saturday night was the same song and a different dance for the Toronto Maple Leafs. The exact same score as they had against San Jose, the same end result on the standings sheet, and the same feeling of uncertainty left behind. Either way, though, it’s two points of bought time, so let’s look at their shootout victory over the Vancouver Canucks.



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.

Biscuits in the Chiclets

Toronto got themselves an edge that they probably didn’t plan early in Saturday’s game. A couple of deflections led to a Leafs point shot landing squarely in Canucks defenceman Chris Tanev’s mouth, re-arranging several of his teeth and placing them in different spots within his mouth and on the ice.

It was a gruesome thing to see, and it was enough to keep him out of the rest of the game. For those of us who play for fun, it’s a good reminder that we can likely stick to wearing cages for our beer league and pickup games (mine came in the mail a few hours before puck drop, fittingly).

Dermy’s Debut

Saturday was Travis Dermott’s NHL debut, and he did just about everything that he could to ensure that it wouldn’t be his last game. The 21-year-old showed 1000-game poise with the puck, made quick, bright decisions throughout the game, and led all Toronto defencemen in possession. Hopefully, that creativity doesn’t get sucked out of him by extended time up; he’ll get an opportunity to show it off again tonight when he plays with Jake Gardiner on the second pair.

The Box Is Lava

This was a sequence that almost cost the Maple Leafs their game. You can say that this is a semi-regular occurrence and that Alex Edler may have sold it a bit, and you’re probably correct. But given the score and time remaining, I’m probably avoiding as many grey-area situations as at this stage of the game.

The same goes for Polak here. Is he battling for the puck? Yeah, I guess, but a slash at each side is a big risk to take when you’re down one, there isn’t much time left in the game, and your team is already down a man.

And when you don’t show discipline, it comes back to bite you:

The Little Things

This goal was a great example of Matthews’ ability to string simple yet intelligent decisions together. Getting the puck out of Toronto’s zone with control, tapping it into a spot where Hyman can retrieve it, and getting to the front of the net to finish off the play all in the span of a few seconds is a great show of Hockey IQ from the youngster.

That’s My QB

This might not be Erik Karlsson to Mike Hoffman, but still, a heck of a play here from Morgan Rielly, to take advantage of vertical space and get the puck to Tyler Bozak, who made up for missing a few gimmes earlier in the game by scoring the equalizer, and later, his second consecutive shootout winner.

Hold Your Breath

The Leafs dodged a bullet it overtime; perhaps literally. Brock Boeser’s rocket of a shot beat Frederik Andersen in overtime, he tried to celebrate it, the refs blew the whistle, his teammates joined him in celebration and…

Both posts. So quickly that the slow-mo-cam could barely see it. One could say that the hockey gods were paying Freddy some karma back for the misplays he had with the puck in previous games, but whatever the case, it kept the game going.

Walk it Off

Andersen repaid the post’s favour by standing tall in the shootout, ending the game by stopping Thomas Vanek, one of the game’s top shootout specialists. This was the third consecutive night where Toronto’s starter was able to string together at least a 0.940 save percentage, two those performances requiring over 65 minutes of focus. Would’ve been nice to get a clean six points out of those, but I’m sure the Leafs will be happy with four.

Coming Up Next

The Leafs return to the ice tonight against the Columbus Blue Jackets. While not a necessary win, Columbus are close enough to the middle of the Metro that getting a bit of a Wild Card buffer in case one of the weaker Atlantic teams somehow catches fire would be nice. Puck drop is at 7PM.

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