Maple Leafs' Ryan Reaves drops Tanner Jeannot twice in the same fight

Mike Armenti
April 4, 2024  (10:48)

Leafs winger Ryan Reaves lands several heavy blows on Tampa's Tanner Jeannot
Photo credit: John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

Although the Toronto Maple Leafs suffered a 4-1 loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning on Wednesday, Ryan Reaves may have played his best game as a Leaf. He also dropped Tanner Jeannot twice in the same fight.

From the onset of last night's Atlantic Division clash between the Leafs and Lightning, Ryan Reaves was ready to play. It was apparent from his very first shift, about 3 minutes into the game, that Reaves was going to make an impact. It all started with two big hits on Tampa defensemen Matt Dumba and Victor Hedman.
The Leafs and Lightning are highly unlikely to meet in Round 1, but if the two teams do end up clashing in the playoffs this year, Reaves' message to the Lightning is simple: If you're going to come at him, you're going to need everyone you've got.
"Gotta bring more than that. More than f***ing five."
- Ryan Reaves following a brief post-whistle scrum in the first period of last night's game against Tampa

Shift after shift, minute after minute, Reaves continued to bring it last night against Tampa, posting a 70.6 Corsi-for percentage, winning his minutes handily. Unfortunately, it didn't translate to any goals for his line or any success for his team, as Joseph Woll had allowed 4 goals in the contest in one of his shakiest outings of the season. Reaves, however, has never looked better during his time in Toronto.
Maple Leafs head coach Sheldon Keefe was encouraged by what he saw from the veteran Reaves last night. Following the game, the Leafs' bench boss was very complimentary of his enforcer.
"Well, tonight was by far and away the most physical he's been in terms of just being able to get there on time, make the contacts, have them be impactful contacts that really I thought set a tone in the game. Not just that. He also got pucks back. And he's at the net-front. Reavo was leading the charge. So, that's terrific to see."
- Keefe on Reaves' play against Tampa

Not only was Reaves one of the team's best players on the ice last night, but he was the toughest guy out there for both teams. His 3rd period fight with Tanner Jeannot was evidence of that. Not only did Reavo drop Jeannot in the fight - he dropped him twice.
Unfortunately, Jeannot left the game shortly thereafter to undergo concussion protocol after being pulled from the penalty box by a concussion spotter. Thankfully, Lightning head coach Jon Cooper mentioned following the game that Jeannot was fine.
After the game, Reaves revealed that he wasn't even the one who initiated the scrap, as it was Jeannot who had approached him to request the fight. Reaves decided to oblige him thinking that it may provide his team with some extra energy in hopes of sparking a comeback in a 3-1 game.
"I didn't really think it was a time to fight, but he asked me & you look at the situation in the game, I thought, you know, if we're going to go, draw some energy for the boys. Yeah. That was that."
- Reaves on how his fight with Tampa's Tanner Jeannot started

For Reaves, this season hasn't gone as well as he had originally hoped when he signed a 3-year deal with the Leafs worth $1.35M per season this past summer. On top of having to endure a knee injury, Reaves also battled confidence issues this season, spending a lot of time in the press box in December and January.
"Compared to the beginning of the season, it's been night and day. It's what they've expected out of me the whole season. I'm glad that that's clicking. I'm glad that the line's clicking, playing more physical. We've had our chances in the offensive zone.

I think that month, month-and-a-half that I was out, I used that as a mini training camp. I worked. I worked hard. I bagged. I worked on everything that I could. I was doing two, three-a-days sometimes and just trying to get confidence back. Confidence is a real thing. You know, that's the first time I've probably gone through something like that in my career, where I just felt like nothing was going right, and I just felt like I had no confidence. I just used that opportunity to try and build it back. And coming off of the [All-Star] break, it felt like my game started getting a little bit better, and then just been building on it ever since."
- Reaves on finally finding his game for the first time as a Leaf

Auston Matthews has been very supportive of Reaves during his time in Toronto, even when Reaves has been out of the lineup. Following last night's loss, Matthews was asked for his thoughts on Reaves. Matthews gave a rave review of where he thinks Reavo's game is at right now.
"Over the last month or so, he's been playing some of his best hockey since he's been here. You see the impact he makes on the ice, the way he plays, his physicality, fighting. And then just on the bench, the energy that he brings in the locker room and everything like that... it's infectious.

In my opinion, he's had a lot more confidence with the puck and has made plays, and he sticks to his game still. I mean, he's been flying over the ice. And obviously when he brings up the physicality, when he makes those hits, you can hear the crowd get going."
-Matthews on what Reaves has brought to the table for the Maple Leafs of late

If Reaves hadn't secured a roster spot for the playoffs before last night, his performance against Tampa likely did the job for Sheldon Keefe. It's hard to imagine a scenario, injury aside, where Reaves is not in the lineup for Game 1. The level of play has come up to meet the expected standard, the physicality is there, the leadership is there, and the experience is there. At this point, I'd be very surprised if we don't see Reaves dressed on that 4th line when the Stanley Cup Playoffs commence on April 20th.
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Maple Leafs' Ryan Reaves drops Tanner Jeannot twice in the same fight

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