Game 1: January 15th 2021-5-3 Loss to Ottawa
This game was a wake up call for not just the Leafs, but the entire North division. This Ottawa team is without a doubt not the Senators that everyone is used to.
With 9 players making their debut as a Senator, this is a newer, older and much improved team. Key additions such as Matt Murray, Josh Norris, Auston Watson, Tim Stutzle, Erik Gudbranson and Derek Stepan are likely to make a huge impact for the rest of the season. The additions of proven goaltender Matt Murray and 3rd overall draft pick Tim Stutzle will surely make a noticeable difference. With the stability and trust that Murray brings, along with the opportunity to house and develop one of the most exciting and dynamic players of last years draft, this team really does have a bright future.
For the past few years, every Sens fans favourite comeback is always “Look at our prospects!”, and well they may have been right. Thomas Chabot has proven that he can handle the responsibilities of being a #1 or #2 D man. He averaged the most time on ice out of any player in the LEAGUE last year. Plus Josh Norris starting his rookie season after dominating in the AHL last year. Again Tim Stutzle will be a star in this league in years to come. Brady Tkachuk is another year older and the clear star on the team alongside Drake Batherson. Tkachuk continues to play the role of the modern pest perfectly. Last year he led the team in hits and was an offensive threat every shift.
For the game, the Sens new presence seemed to have taken the Leafs by surprise. The Leafs managed to play somewhat decent in the first period but it was obvious that this was not the game they were expecting.
Hyman got the opening goal on an unreal mid-air tap in on the power play, those off-season hand-eye drills seemed to have payed off. At the End of the period, Thomas Chabot tied the game up with a matching power play goal with a one-timer from Drake Batherson.
The second period is where this game fell out of the hands of the Leafs and shit hit the fan.
Kerfoot opened the period with his first goal of the season about halfway through the period, after this is where the Leafs lost the game.
Tkachuk, Watson and Tierny all scored 5v5 goals in just over 5 minutes apart. The Leafs looked lost. There was no possession, there was no fight, they looked defeated and didn’t seem to want to fight to get back into this game.
In the third period the Leafs came out a little bit hungrier, but it just wasn’t enough. Derek Stepan scores and builds Ottawa’s lead to 5-2. Less than a minute later Tavares scores on the power play to make it 5-3. But that goal would not end up being enough to lead the comeback.
This game towards the end got very chippy and certainly left a bitter taste in the Leaf’s mouths.
5-3 Final. Ottawa wins.
Game 2: January 16th 2021-3-2 Win against Ottawa
Before the game:
Barbanov (Tor) was moved to the taxi squad and Nick Robertson was set to make his regular season debut.
The Sens decide to carry on with Murray in the back-to-back and the Leafs roll with the backup, Jack Campell. I was nervous of this decision to not play Anderson even though he has seemed shakey the past couple games. I get that to preserve his health and energy he can’t play every back-to-back. But after losing the first game to Ottawa and seeing how tight this division was really going to be, this game was a MUST win.
Nicholas Paul opens the scoring just over halfway into the period. This guy seems to have come out of the clouds if you haven’t watched the Sens much. This guy is good and brings a ton of size to this line-up.
JUMBOOOO! Joe Thorton opens the scoring with his first goal as a Toronto Maple leaf becoming the second oldest player in Leafs franchise history to score a goal in a Leafs sweater.
Nick Roberston leaves the game with an apparent sore knee after taking an awkward hit into the boards. This was tough to see a promising star not make it to the second period of his first regular season game. Im guessing this means Barbanov will be back in the line-up from the taxi squad on Monday.
In the second period, Mitch Marner pots his first of the season just over a minute into the period to bring the Leafs lead to 2-1.
As the third period comes around Auston Matthews has looked good and has had countless scoring opportunities. He is shooting the puck phenomenally. But then just under 3 minutes into the period the Leafs are on the power play and Marner with the slick little through the legs drop pass gets it to Matthews for him to score his first of the season from the top of the circles.
Later in the period, as Ottawa continues to grind for a chance to come back, Tim Stutzle scores his first NHL goal on a nasty one timer from a pass that seemed to have literally fallen from the clouds. This will be the first of many that we see from this kid.
The first line had a terrific game. Marner led the boys with 3 points (1G 2A) and Matthews and Jumbo followed along each with a 2 point night (1G 1A).