Toronto Maple Leafs 3 at Chicago Hawks 5 – 2023-02-19 recap

I don’t really have a huge problem with how this game went, from Toronto’s perspective.

I think the old adage “sometimes she goes, sometimes she don’t go” applies to this game.

In any given season, there are probably 5 games that you’re going to win no matter how badly you play, and 5 games that you’re going to lose no matter how well you play (the 2022-23 Boston Bruins the exception here). This was probably one of those games for the Leafs. While they didn’t get a good result, and I don’t want to type excuses for a team losing to a draft lottery team, I figure that if you’re going to have a game where you’re all around the net and shots don’t fall, may as well be a team you’re not directly competing with, less than 24 hours after the puck drop of your last game, with a goalie suffering from ‘splody pants, well.

I took Sunday off (I once shamelessly wrote a post at Leafs Nation bragging that I had a girlfriend, and Sunday we celebrated our 9th anniversary, if you’re wondering how that’s holding up) and just wanted to get this game up and posted before puck drop, so I’ll keep it to a few observations:

  1. Is Sheldon Keefe going to experiment at all with Ryan O’Reilly? It appears that, at least going into the Buffalo game, he’s going to stick with the same line combinations. The Leafs have a lot of options, and I’d like to see them throw some wrinkles into the combination during what is essentially an extended training camp between now and playoffs. At some point we have to see the Matthews 1C, Tavares 2C, and O’Reilly 3C look.
  2. I get that Ilya Samsonov was dealing with a stomach issue, so why was he playing anyway? Joseph Woll didn’t have a lot of work against Montreal the previous night, and Erik Kallgren sat on the bench behind him. At the very least, the team gave Kallgren a run of games last season and may as well have used him here. Samsonov didn’t look especially comfortable.
  3. I’ve enjoyed Noel Acciari so far. That line with Aston-Reese and Kerfoot is an interesting little line. I may have made the point before that nobody is complaining about the average height being under 6-foot. They’re doing a good job of turning over pucks and turning them into scoring chances.
  4. After killing Patrick Kane after Wednesday’s game in my recap, Kane came out and scored a hat-trick. He was a little better in his own end, but didn’t have the puck on his stick much in the attacking zone.

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