It was a wet and windy weekend as the Torontos faced off against their rivals the Montreals as the 401 Derby crosses multiple sports. Saturday night saw a back and forth sloppy game that Auston Matthews ended with his second goal of the night in a 4-3 Maple Leaf overtime victory. Follow that up Sunday when TFC defeated the Montreal Impact on Jozy Altidore’s 16th minute tally TFC.
In the grand scheme of things, these latest chapters in one of Canada’s biggest rivalries (Edmonton/Calgary ranks up there as well) really weren’t all that important. For both the Canadians and the Leafs, it was only the 5th game of the season. No one desperately needing the points to make the playoffs yet or to jockey for position. The Habs have won the last 14 or so games in a row, but there really only has been a handful of losses with this current Leaf roster. TFC on the other hand have already claimed top spot in MLS and the Impact already know they won’t be in the postseason for the first time in three years. So the points really didn’t matter for the standings, but it might have mattered to the Reds as their win gives them 68 points and ties them with the most points ever in a season… and they have one game left when they visit Atlanta next week.
So what’s the big deal? People… this is Montreal vs Toronto. It is ALWAYS a big deal with the winner ALWAYS being the fans. Sure their wasn’t much of anything riding on the result of the game, but each team had questions they needed answering and all four teams gave it their all providing two superbly entertaining matches… again. It really doesn’t matter if there is anything on the line when these two cities meet, is there?
Some of the sloppiness of both games might be attributed to the raw emotions from both players and fans charging each other up. Mind you, the wind at BMO Field was atrocious with Environment Canada issuing warnings. But it wasn’t the wind that made Sebastian Giovinco hit the post on that penalty shot. Nor was it the wind that made him also miss the retake either. Excitement indeed!
The game was absolutely crazy including some TFC defensive lapses that nearly cost them the game and a Montreal shot that went off both posts behind keeper Alex Bono but somehow, thankfully did not find the back of the net. The fortunes were certainly shining on TFC throughout the match as Altidore’s goal was shortly after a foul on a Montreal player that was not called. Everything was going the Reds way…I mean how good did it taste for Toronto to not only be presented with the Supporters Shield, but to have it done right in front of their best rivals. It must have been delicious.
The night before in Montreal there wasn’t any trophies to be won or presented, but the teams did have questions to answer. How would the Maple Leafs respond after that stinker versus New Jersey and for Montreal, after only scoring five goals in the first four games, can the Habs hit the twine more often? Surprisingly, the answer seemed to both questions was yes. Yes the Habs lost, but they did score three goals including Jonathan Drouin notching his first as a Hab. If it wasn’t for a spectacular third period by Leafs Goalie Frederik Andersen, Montreal would have won.
The Maple Leafs weren’t perfect and they weren’t pretty. They battled when they had too and got lucky the rest of the way. Oh, by the way… that Matthews kid, he might be good. The city is still in awe from his overtime snipe versus Chicago earlier in the week and then he scores a pair tonight in wondrous fashion. His first goal of the night wasn’t picture perfect, but look at the skill he shows in getting the puck out of the zone, batting it out of mid-air and then that sublime shot of his. His second was about controlling and shooting a puck that was both bouncing and rolling and he made it all look so easy.
All in all it was another fantastic weekend of sport. Thank you to all the players and teams for putting on such a spectacle. One final note and that is a shout out to MLS. Everyone knows that the first place team wins the Supporters Shield and it was a classy touch that the award was presented to a group of fans representing TFC Supporters. Then have those same supporters present the trophy to the team itself. Class.
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