Hockey is back! Even more importantly, the playoffs are back! For game one, you need to make your mark and gain the upper hand, especially in a best-of-five series. You can’t let it get away from you, every game matters that much more. Luckily, if you read Tristan’s series preview, you’ll know that if the Leafs are going advance, they need to establish their offense from the get-go. On the other hand, if Columbus is going to advance, they need to prove they can shut-down the Leafs’ offense.
From the drop of the puck, Toronto seemed to be shot out of a cannon. Conversely, the Blue Jackets were forechecking very aggressively. The key distinction between the two? Columbus was dominating. The Blue Jackets were keeping the puck inside the offensive zone for what seemed like forever. Columbus had set up the cycle and the Leafs couldn’t break it up. However, nothing comes of it and the Leafs were able to regain possession and they went on to exchange rushes again.
Even though they were dominant early, both teams kept trading chances back and forth, there were increasingly intense post-whistle scuffles and harder hits. Afterward, Auston Matthews and Zach Werenski exchanged shots that hit the post and the goalies were very sharp. During this period, Leafs fans who were worried about Frederik Andersen’s slow starts should’ve gained some confidence. To finish it off, Cody Ceci takes a penalty with less than a minute to go, Leafs kill it and Columbus doesn’t score.
At the end of the first, shots were 11-8 in favor of Toronto. Of course, this doesn’t tell the whole story as you may have guessed.
In the second, the Leafs looked much better. They seemed to be getting good chances, both qualitatively and quantitatively. So far, Toronto was able to limit Columbus’ chances to the perimeter and neutralizing their forecheck. Unlike in the first, where Columbus overwhelmed the Leafs and were able to set up their cycle, the Leafs were nipping it in the bud.
Although the Leafs had a power play, the theme of the game remained the same – a goaltending battle. Both Joonas Korpisalo and Andersen were very sharp and proving to their coaches that they made the right call. Each of them remained in a good position and didn’t give up juicy rebounds. However, credit where credit is due, the defensemen were a big help in clearing the crease and ending any other rebound chances before they became dangerous.
Here are some big examples of both goalies being sharp!
At the end of the second period, the shots are 22-19 in favor of Columbus. Much like the first, the shot clock doesn’t tell the full story at all.
Just over a minute into the third, Atkinson scores off the rush to make it 1-0 Blue Jackets. That sealed the deal, game over. The Jackets pad their lead with an empty-net goal with less than a minute to go, but the game ended after that.
Unlike earlier in the third, the Leafs were unable to make much of anything happen. They couldn’t capitalize on their chances – of which, there were few. If you’re a Leafs fan, you’re frustrated and if you’re a fan of any other team, you’re in awe at the 90’s throwback trap-style of play. To be frank, it was boring and infuriating at times.
Takeaways From Game One
If you’re a Leafs fan and you need some optimism, it’s only one game and there is a potential of five. Don’t overreact, they can bounce back:
On the other hand, if you’re a Columbus fan, you should feel confident. Your team was able to shut down one of the NHL’s most lethal offenses and Korpisalo was very good.
Swear Jar Counter
In case you didn’t see, The Leafs Nation’s Jon Steitzer started a “Leafs Swear Jar”. Of course, I had to sign up and will be donating $0.50 every time Cody Ceci makes me swear or makes me mad. Sadly, tonight my counter hit: 11. I will be donating this money when the Leafs’ season is finished.
3 Stars for Game One
In order to give recognition to each team, I will be doing a “3 Stars” for each team, every game. So, I present…
⭐️⭐️⭐️- Eric Robinson
⭐️⭐️- Seth Jones
⭐️- Joonas Korpisalo
⭐️⭐️⭐️- William Nylander
⭐️⭐️- Auston Matthews
⭐️- Frederik Andersen
Finally, to capture the mood, I will include a handful of tweets after each game, see below.
Follow me on Twitter at @RideThePine89 for more of my content!
Come discuss this and much more at the Overtime Heroics forums!