Updated: Oct 9, 2019
The 2019-2020 NHL season began this past week, and the Toronto Maple Leafs were tested early at home versus the defending Stanley Cup champions, St. Louis Blues. Toronto is a team packed with talent; however, it was the Blues experience which proved to be too much for the Leafs as they lose this home battle 3-2.
The game remained scoreless through the first period, with both teams missing opportunities to take the lead. It wasn’t until the half-way point of the second period that Blues forward Oskar Sundqvist buried the puck from the top of the circles, sneaking a slap-shot under the left arm of Toronto goalie Frederik Andersen. This 1-0 lead wouldn’t be the only one St. Louis had throughout the remainder of the game. Four minutes later, Toronto tied up the contest 1-1 with a scramble in front of the net ending in Jason Spezza knocking the puck out of mid air and Frederik Gauthier finishing the rebound for a score.
By this point in the second period of the game, the Maple Leafs young stars were firing on all cylinders. William Nylander recorded his first goal of the season after carrying the puck into the zone and passing the puck off to Cody Ceci. Ceci then threaded the puck back to Nylander who finished with a slam dunk goal in front of the net. It’s plays like this, where hockey fans around the world can admire the speed and skill of the game played at the highest level.
With seconds winding down in the second period of the game, the Blues took puck possession into the zone of the Maple Leafs. After a series of shots and pucks passed from corner to corner behind the net, Blues forward Brayden Schenn buried the puck on the doorstep of the net. The Blues continued to jam the puck down the Maple Leafs throat, ending the game with a 3-2 victory after the regulation third period.
Will the Toronto Maple Leafs win the Stanley Cup this year? When looking at the star-studded roster of the Maple Leafs who feature athletes such as Auston Matthews, Jonathon Tavares, Mitch Marner, William Nylander, Jason Spezza, Tyson Barrie and Cody Ceci; one would think so. These forwards are some of the most skilled players in the NHL. However, after playing the defending Stanley Cup champions it seems Blues experience beat the young talent of the Maple Leafs.
It’s impossible to base the success of a team’s entire season from one game. The Blues were last in the Western Conference Playoffs heading into December 2018 and they turned their season around to become Stanley Cup champions. Toronto has the skill to win a Stanley Cup, it’s up to them this season to develop the mental ability to finish games strong and build the character to compete in a deep playoff run. Time will tell, but it seems smart to have Toronto on the radar of most NHL teams.