By Stan Smith
The Toronto Maple Leafs lost 4-3 in overtime at home to the Ottawa Senators on Monday night.
The Very Good
I was going to sub-title this part “The Great,” but there is no Great in the title so I decided to go with just very good.
I realize it is just one game, but I cannot remember seeing an 18-year-old Maple Leafs draft pick come in and play like Easton Cowan did in this game. Cowan was the Maple Leafs’ best player in the first period of this game. He was better than Auston Matthews, better than Mitch Marner, and better than Tyler Bertuzzi.
Cowan had four of the Maple Leafs’ first five shots in the game. One was on a partial breakaway while he was getting dragged down by the Senators’ Tomas Hamara. One on the ensuing penalty shot. And, one on a down-low one-timer on a power play that beat goalie Mads Sogaard to put the Maple Leafs on the board. He also tipped a Topi Niemela shot from the point that bounced in the Ottawa net off of Joseph Blandisi.
Then, with 29 seconds left in the third period, Cowan drew an interference penalty from Ridly Greig. That penalty led to the game-tying goal by Mitch Marner with six seconds left in regular time.
Now that I think of it “Great” is a better way to describe Cowan’s game. As I stated, it was just one game though. It will be interesting to see how he follows it up in his next game.
The Good and the Bad Together
The rest of the “Good” comes mixed with a little “Bad.”
Similar to William Nylander and Max Domi on Sunday afternoon, Bertuzzi did show some chemistry with Matthews and Marner. The three created a number of scoring chances. However, they did have some finish and timing issues. As they get more ice time together that should improve. The potential was there.
Marner and Bertuzzi did work together well on the tying goal in the dying seconds of the third period. Bertuzzi provided the screen and got his stick on a John Klingberg point shot, getting the puck over to Marner. Marner then showed the touch of a goal-scorer by kicking the puck to his stick and tucking it behind Sogaard.
Klingberg Was a Bit Good with a Little Bad
Speaking of Klingberg, his good with a little bad mixed in was that he played 26 minutes and didn’t suck. Klingberg’s underlying numbers were some of the worst in the league last season. He did have some blunders in this game but also made some nice plays. His talent with the puck was noticeable at times. He led all of the players in the game with eight shots on net.
Nick Robertson Stood Out
Nick Robertson showed a lot of the same things he had shown in the past when he was healthy. His speed and his tenacity were obvious. He had six shots on the net in the game. On the downside, like his previous appearances, he did not finish any of his chances.
Jones Kept the Puck Out of the Net
Martin Jones shut out the Senators in the 30 minutes he played in regulation stopping all 13 shots he faced. But, he gave up a juicy rebound in the overtime that ended up on the stick of Jakob Chychrun along with a wide-open net.
For the second game in a row, the Maple Leafs gave up the first two goals of the game.
Joseph Woll gave up three goals on 19 shots in the first half of the game and posted a 0.864 Save Percentage.
Niemela gifted the Senators a goal the first time he touched the puck in the game. His attempt at a clearing pass up the middle from behind his own goalline ended up in the stick of Roby Jarventie at the top of the faceoff circle. Two seconds later it was in the Toronto goal.
This seems to be getting a lot of airplay so I figured I might as well chime in. Hearing Hall and Oates belt out “You Make My Dreams Come True” after Cowan scored was disappointing. Heck, that song wasn’t a great tune back in 1980, and it hasn’t gotten any better over the years. There is a rumour that a new goal song will be revealed when they score their first regular season goal. Here’s hoping that’s true.
The Maple Leafs take on the Buffalo Sabres on Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. in the 377-seat West Lorne Arena. The town of West Lorne, situated about 60 km southwest of London, Ontario, won the Kraft Hockeyville contest earlier in 2023. The prize for winning that contest was $250,000 in arena improvements, a $10,000 donation to purchase youth hockey equipment, and the rights to host Wednesday’s preseason game against Buffalo. It will be interesting to watch the TV coverage of that game.
The Maple Leafs then travel to Montreal to take on the Canadiens on Friday and Saturday night.