Game #8 – Leafs @ Flames: 1am (AZOT)

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The Leafs walked away with an ugly win against the Flames on Sunday evening, but the lucky bounces weren’t the story after the game ended.

This was:

Just a classic thing to blame you for indeed, Mr. Tkachuk.

It’s amusing to me that the players that say things like that aren’t known as stand up players or people, it’s always the guys that have some type of suspension history already. No, you won’t hear the likes of Patrice Bergeron, Mikko Koivu, Sidney Crosby, Nathan MacKinnon, Roman Josi or our very own Mitch Marner say “isn’t that just like the general public, blaming me for being a dirtbag again!!” because, simply put, they’re not dirtbags, so they don’t get blamed for being dirty players.

We have heard similar statements from players like Brad Marchand, Sean Avery and Steve Downie though.

Very curious, that.

So, with that obvious attempt to injure (might I point out that “falling into him” isn’t what people took exception to, it was how Tkachuk drove his knee into the back of Campbells head) in the rearview mirror, fans of the Leafs are seeking redemption.

NHL Player Safety!! You’re up!!


Okay, then. I guess….. no?

Next up, Wayne Simmonds!!!

I’m going to stop you right there.

I’m a fan of Wayne Simmonds, however, there’s only so much one man can do and there has been ample discussion about this issue from many fans for a long time.

General Manager of the Toronto Maple Leafs, Kyle Dubas, has notoriously placed one “pugilist” on an island on this team and asked him to do all of the lifting when it comes to defending players on the ice. It started in his first season, after jettisoning Matt Martin to the New York Islanders, the team was left without a player to help keep the opposing team honest. The fighting leader that season was Zach Hyman, with 2 bouts. They had 6 fights total, with Nazem Kadri, Josh Leivo, Ron Hainsey and Kasperi Kapanen registering a single fight each. That’s a sad list.

Last season was much the same. The team traded for Jack Campbell and Kyle Clifford in February and it was Clifford that ended the year with the most fights on the team. He fought 3 times before the season was halted due to the COVID-19 pandemic a month later. Kasperi Kapanen had 2 bouts last season, but was traded to the Pittsburgh Penguins in the offseason. Zach Hyman, Justin Holl and Travis Dermott were also credited with a fight each.

This year it’s Wayne Simmonds that is being tasked with taking on the entire NHL in defense of a team that is otherwise unable to defend themselves. With all due respect to Simmonds, when you’re going up against a team that employs the likes of Milan Lucic and Sam Bennett, you better make sure you’re up to the challenge, because they, too, can play dirty. Especially Lucic.

I’m a little jealous. In these two examples he lashes out in retaliation, after he feels his teammates have been wronged.

One last point on this.

For those that are going to say that they also have Zach Bogosian on the Leafs, I’ll respond by saying that Bogosian doesn’t fight as much as people think. He’s big, he’s physical, but he isn’t exactly a heavy weight fighter. He does it when he needs to, but, more often than not, when he fights players in the same class as Milan Lucic, he comes out on the wrong side of the tilt.

All I’m getting at here is that the Leafs could use a little more juice in their lineup. If you plan to have Wayne Simmonds playing on the 3rd and 4th line, then you could also employ another player with similar qualities in place of Jimmy Vesey, while also having Zach Bogosian or a player of his skill set that will fight a little more on the blueline. As long as those players can contribute to the offense and skill level of the team, it is only going to help the organization by having them there.

As for the game tonight, I wouldn’t expect much in terms of retaliation, but I sure hope I’m wrong.

We will see some lineup changes though. Both of Joey Anderson and Travis Boyd will draw into the lineup, while Mikko Lehtonen will replace Travis Dermott and Michael Hutchinson will dress as the teams backup, in place of the injured Jack Campbell.

Amazingly, it isn’t Campbells head that will have him out for weeks, but a leg injury that was sustained towards the end of the game.

There aren’t many back-to-backs in the near future, so they may ride Frederik Andersen for a while, but Coach Keefe seems content to turn to Hutchinson if need be:

Lastly, Jason Spezza will be scratched tonight due to the team wanting to get the veteran centre some extra rest.

Enjoy the game!!