New York Islanders 3 at Toronto Maple Leafs 2 – 2022-11-21 recap

I came up with the idea a few years ago that icing the puck twice consecutively at 5v5 should result in a penalty. Doing so in overtime should result in an automatic loss.

I’d like to get to the statistical part of this recap since I have a lot to do today, especially since I don’t think there are any big lessons to glean from this game. The Leafs were the better team, winning in entry attempts (84-71), shot attempts (52-44) and scoring chances (18-12) at 5v5, and out-shooting the Islanders 34-24 in all situations.

Still, a couple of late mistakes did them in. Aside from being unable to convert on late scoring chances, the Leafs also didn’t work to create many, even as they were the better team through most of the game. They opted instead to lock down the game, and that works right up until your goaltender puts an easy clearing attempt on the stick of an attacker with three minutes to go.

That wasn’t the entire problem though, while Kallgren is getting his fair share of the blame, the turnover was made at the boards, and three Leafs simply let Josh Bailey walk right into the slot to take a shot. Pontus Holmberg, who I have actually quite liked since his call-up, read my research on how closing in on the shooter with your stick to disrupt the shot helps out the goaltender, and decided to ignore it entirely.

(Forgive the giant pause button, but even with the obstruction, I’m able to make my point.)

Holmberg and Calle Jarnkrok are defending against Bailey getting a cross-seam pass across to Timothy Liljegren, who I must admit is in a great shooting position. Jordie Benn is doing a good job with JG Pageau, so there’s really only one option for Bailey here.

It was a breakdown by the fourth line, which still counts, and negates the team playing 57 minutes of pretty sound defensive hockey.

And now the team is without Morgan Rielly for a while, which is going to lead to some interesting defensive pairings. I’d be worried about how his absence will affect goal-scoring more than it would defence: there were 34 players that garnered Selke Trophy votes last season. Three are Maple Leafs, and all of them play on different lines. Forwards have a much larger impact on team defence than commentators lead us to believe. Most of a defender’s job on the Leafs can be summed up as “get the puck on the stick of the good players” and there’s no reason Mac Hollowell can’t step in and provide that until TJ Brodie returns in a few games.

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