Martin Marincin delivers far sweeter memory after another unpredictable Saturday

TORONTO, ON - FEBRUARY 29: Martin Marincin of the Toronto Maple Leafs and Zach Hyman celebrate after defeating the Vancouver Canucks at the Scotiabank Arena. (Mark Blinch/NHLI via Getty Images)

A lot can change in a week.

After the darkest moment of the season to date last Saturday with the infamous EBUG appearance, it was exclusively smiles and laughter from the Toronto Maple Leafs, as an almost equally improbable moment at Scotiabank Arena set the stage for 4-2 triumph over the Vancouver Canucks.

Martin Marincin’s golazo 18 seconds into the third period was both the difference in the game and a source of genuine amusement to the Maple Leafs, who had a great deal of fun revelling in the most unexpected goal of the entire season to date.

Frederik Gauthier, Auston Matthews and Zach Hyman also registered goals, while Frederik Andersen shook off another less-than-ideal start, stopping the final 24 shots he faced to secure the win.

The Maple Leafs will travel to California on Sunday to embark on a three-game road trip beginning Tuesday in San Jose.

Until then, three points:

The full Martin Marincin experience

Often times with Martin Marincin, you think your eyes might be deceiving you.

That’s why at a point in the second period I was reluctant to wade into the online discussion with effusive praise of the veteran defender, who seemed to be acquitting himself considerably well in another bullpen appearance for the injured Morgan Rielly, Jake Muzzin and Cody Ceci.

Instead, it was just this:

Naturally, it wasn’t before long that this found confidence seemed completely and utterly misplaced.

Hemmed into the zone late in a second period largely dominated by the Canucks, Marincin knocked down a point shot and the puck dropped right in front of him, setting up for what should have been an easy clearance. Instead, he muffed the attempt and it softly slid into the path of Jake Virtanen, who collected and fired a hard shot that beat Andersen, only to connect with the post.

That was a potential swing in the game right there, and it was that moment that had me spending the entire intermission reflecting on the defenceman’s entire body of work to that point.

That all came to a halt 18 seconds into the third period when Marincin provided a moment that seemed too good to be true. As the Leafs expertly broke out of their zone, Marincin was launched through neutral ice with speed and space on a John Tavares feed.

And with that momentum, a toe drag, a shot, and a follow-up, Marincin provided the most unlikely, most hilarious goal, and maybe the most important one he’s every scored.

Here it is, enhanced by the Titanic theme:

Even after this, it still seemed like the mind was playing tricks. Like the time Marincin stepped in to block a shot on the penalty kill and fanned on another clearance attempt, only to see it find the perfect path through bodies and travel 200 feet down the ice anyway.

It was a weird night, but it was Martin Marincin’s night.

The full-on experience.

The reaction

It’s honestly a damn shame the entire bench wasn’t bugged.

Marincin’s facial expression alone was too funny, but the reactions to the goal, and the responses post-game, were nearly just as good. Hyman, Matthews and Travis Dermott could not stop themselves from smiling and laughing between answers when discussing the goal, which was quite the juxtaposition to grating experience it was in the Leafs room last Saturday night when their own practice goalie stood tall for the Carolina Hurricanes.

Second star

It’s not a stretch to say that the player with the most pressure on him with Rielly and Muzzin injured is Travis Dermott, and with it he’s delivering his best hockey of the season.

There are lots of small things that he’s been doing to help the team survive while playing at such a disadvantage and thankfully for the purposes of illustrating them, two examples led directly to goals.

Watch the head and body fake he uses to shake the forechecking Elias Pettersson here. The move buys himself all the time and space in the world to command the breakout that would lead to Matthews’ 45th goal of the season.

Then with the Vancouver net empty and the Leafs nursing a one-goal lead, Dermott knocks down a centering feed, directing it into a space for himself to retrieve. He then uses another fake to create some breathing room for himself while circling the net. Dermott finds Mitch Marner, who relays to Hyman to ice the game into the empty net.

Dermott has logged heavy minutes against tough competition in each of the last two games, maintaining a positive influence in each. He’s been so crucial in the club’s three-game win streak.

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