The Leafs came up empty in a 4-0 defeat to the Nashville Predators on Monday night at Scotiabank Arena. Toronto had a solid opening 40 minutes during which the team hit two goal posts and also had an apparent goal by Auston Matthews called back because of an offside. But the home side had very little jump in the third period en route to their third loss in the past four games. Pekka Rinne (pictured) made 18 saves for the shutout.
- Matthews was the Leafs’ best player, getting a good scoring chance on the opening shift, then hitting the goal post, minutes later.
- Arguably the team’s second-best forward on the night was Frederik Gauthier. “The Goat” showed remarkable speed in entering the zone, particularly on a shorthanded rush in the third period.
- Psychologically the team wilted after Matthews’s apparent goal, which would have tied the game at 1-1, was disallowed. Elite teams who are at the top of their game simply have to be resilient when faced with adversity. The Leafs had no push back, from that point in the game onward.
- The Leafs went 0-for-3 on the power play, and the team’s efficiency is just 4-for-35 in the past twelve games (11.4%). Three of those power play goals came in one game, December 20 versus Florida, when Toronto converted each of their opportunity. It seems so long ago, now.
- The call on Matthew’s disallowed goal was correct. The process of using video replay on offside challenges has always been questionable; an opinion that this author has always held, regardless of whether the call goes in favour, or against, the team that plays at 40 Bay Street. The spirit of reviewing offside is not to disallow goals based on the width of a skate blade, and on which the infraction had no effect on the play. This tweet sums it up perfectly.
The offside that overturned that Auston Matthews goal occurred 26 seconds before he put it in.
— Chris Johnston (@reporterchris) January 8, 2019
In 2016, Rob wrote “Hockey’s Enforcers: A Dying Breed”, now available at Chapters and Indigo stores everywhere.