Toronto Maple Leafs 3 at Columbus Blue Jackets 0 – 2023-02-10 recap

And after all that, Ilya Samsonov didn’t have to hear the cannon. Good for him.

Columbus are a bad team, and I think because they aren’t expressly tanking their season, they’re one of the least irritating options to win the Connor Bedard lottery this offseason.

I believe this is a team that came by about their badness honestly, not with a massive sell-off of premium assets to accumulate losses with the expressed purpose of bringing one of the game’s bright young talents to a toxic locker room full of plugs that can’t hang around the league. This is a team that signed the biggest fish in the offseason, have arguably the best prospect pool in the game, that also saw their best defenceman leave for the season in November, needing shoulder repairs.

Boy, it is bleak watching this team, and despite not expressly trying to lose, I have some serious worry for their defensive group going forward. The Leafs moved the puck around at will in the offensive zone and recovered a lot of loose pucks and created lots of panic plays by Jackets defencemen. This is a team that has seen assets bleed from their NHL defensive corps for years and not re-stocked them with NHL talent, yet. One of the big pieces in the Seth Jones trade, Adam Boqvist, doesn’t look all that great to me so far. Players like Andrew Peeke and Erik Gudbranson have to be complimentary players in a good system, but both have struggled in top-four minutes this season. It’s not even like there’s anybody ahead of them on right defence, with Jake Bean the only RD currently on the shelf.

Columbus did have a chance in this game, but that was mainly because the Leafs were being assholes around the net and playing in spite of themselves. Until they got two quick goals midway through the third period, the Leafs were one shot away from being tied despite controlling the flow of play (though not all of it), not the position you want to be in. Ilya Samsonov played another excellent game. This could just as easily have been a 6-0 win as a 2-1 loss, which is hockey most nights. Samsonov made a series of good stops at the end of the second period.

The teams play again tonight, with Joseph Woll looking to get his debut. The Leafs will need to be more efficient around the net, and just as hungry pursuing pucks in the offensive zone. Columbus were on their heels a lot.

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