The Leafs played with more urgency and a very familiar last-minute desperation push made for an exciting finish but unfortunately for the home side resulted in a 2-1 loss. The improved play of Andreas Johnsson showed why the Leafs are so high on him after his Calder Cup MVP playoff last season. Spirited efforts from Justin Holl (first start of the year), Travis Dermott, Josh Leivo and Frederik Gauthier is exactly what the team needs but again one goal will not suffice from the rest of the lineup.
The Stars really didn’t mount any scoring threats but capitalized on two Toronto breakdowns coupled with an outstanding third period performance from goaltender Anton Khudobin that was enough to secure the win.
The Leafs are playing good but not great. Good keeps you relevant for a playoff spot; great places a team in the upper echelon of the league, which is the pre-season goal of this Toronto hockey club. I’ve stated time and again, this team has to force the play to be successful and players like Tyler Ennis, Andreas Johnsson, Josh Leivo have to seize the opportunity filling a void in scoring with the absence of Auston Matthews. Patrick Marleau, Connor Brown and Zach Hyman, never ones to take nights off and have played very well this year so far have 3-goals between the three of them.
John Tavares and Mitch Marner both fanned on shots during a two on one rush in the third last night. I can’t recall ever seeing two players of that caliber doing that before. The frustration is evident both on the ice and in the stands with many fans exiting Scotiabank Arena with five minutes to play. The Leafs on a last few minutes charge made it an exciting finish but the same result.
With five of there next seven on the road the Leafs can get back to a more controlled game with a level of desperation that compliments their skill set. They have a high-octane offense or as I like to say, a 6-gear team stuck in fourth for a good duration of the season so far.
If they were still using wooden sticks in the game today, the ice cleaners shoveling the ice between breaks, would’ve been scooping up wood shavings instead of snow the Toronto players are squeezing their sticks so hard.