By Stan Smith
In the name of domestic peace, I don’t watch many Toronto Maple Leafs games live. I record them and watch them after my partner retires for the night. Sometimes my video recorder fails. For that reason, I did not see any of the Maple Leafs’ 4-1 loss to the Detroit Red Wings.
After watching replays and scouring through game reports, and game statistics, it appears to me that this was just “one of those games.”
The Game Starts Sour for the Maple Leafs
It started 55 seconds into the game when it appeared that Bobby McMann scored his first NHL goal in his second NHL game. According to the website Hockey-graphs.com, the team that scores first wins 67% of their games.
On top of that, the thrill of a 26-year-old undrafted player that took this long to make it to the NHL scoring his first goal on the annual Father’s trip would have been a huge boost for the team.
It wasn’t to be though.
After a video review, it was determined that the goal was created by a distinct kicking motion by McMann even though he did not kick the puck in the direction of the goal. McMann attempted to kick the puck to his stick. Olli Matta, who was skating back toward the net, had the puck go in off the toe of his skate. By the letter of the NHL rule, the goal did not count.
To me, it could have just as easily been ruled that Matta accidentally kicked the puck into his own net. But it wasn’t.
Then the Red Wings Score
Then, at 8:48 of the first period, Lucas Raymond scored to give the Red Wings the lead.
If McMann’s goal counts, either Raymond’s doesn’t happen, or at the very least, the period ends 1-1.
Looking back at that Hockey-graphs.com stat, because of those two events the Maple Leafs went from having a two-to-one chance of winning the game to a two-to-one chance of losing it.
Detroit Gets Luckey Bounce
The teams exchanged goals in the second period and the score remains 2-1 until with two minutes left in the game Sheldon Keefe pulls Ilya Samsonov in an effort to tie the game. Ben Chiarot attempts a pass from behind his own net to Tyler Bertuzzi along the boards near his blue line. He misses but the puck bounces off the boards, goes the length of the ice deflects off the goalpost of the Maple Leafs’ goal and goes into the net.
To put an exclamation mark on the game, 42 seconds later William Nylander takes a high-sticking penalty and Moritz Seider scores a power-play goal with just 20 seconds left.
Odd Game for Ilya Samsonov
This was a bit of a strange game for Samsonov. On the one hand, he allowed three goals on 19 goals on just 22 shots, a Save Percentage of only .864%. On the other hand, 12 of the 22, or 55% of the Red Wings’ shots were High-Danger shots according to Naturalstattrick.com. Detroit had a number of great scoring chances. Samsonov kept the game much closer than it could have been.
There was an example of Samsonov’s competitiveness late in the game. When Seider scored his power-play goal with 20 seconds left, the game was already over. The goal meant nothing. Despite that, Samsonov’s reaction to the goal was one of anger and anger at himself for giving it up.
Bobby McMann Played a Great Game
Bobby McMann was robbed of a moment of a lifetime when his goal was disallowed. By the numbers, he played a fantastic game though. At five on five, he was on the ice for ten shots for and only one shot against. He was also on the ice for zero Expected-Goals Against.
Mitch Marner failed to set a new consecutive home scoring streak. His 18-game streak still goes in the record books along with Darryl Sittler’s 18-game streak.
The Maple Leafs have a tough test in Boston Saturday night when they take on the Bruins. The Bruins have an astounding home record of 19-1-3 this season. The only game Boston has lost in regulation at home once this season just happened to be their last game, 3-0 to the hot Seattle Kraken.
Auston Matthews, who has missed the last two games, has a double whammy going. He has a nagging injury that, according to Sheldon Keefe, is something he has been dealing with for a while. On top of that, it was announced that he woke up feeling ill the other day. Even if he is cleared to play against Boston, it is hard to believe that he will be feeling 100%.
The Maple Leafs may be a little battle weary as this will be their 7th game in 12 days.
I still expect a great game for the Maple Leafs. I think they will be up for it; and, if Matt Murray, who I expect to get the start, plays anything like he did against Nashville, it should be exciting to watch.