MapleLeafs.com recently asked Toronto Maple Leaf's team photographer Mark Blinch to pick for us his favourite photos from the 2017-18 season and share the stories behind capturing the moments that defined a year. The 20 images chosen cover incredible goals and hits, celebration and concentration at the Air Canada Centre and at major events in the season that was.
"This is my absolute favourite picture of the season. I love the way the Senators are all lined up as JVR pops the puck in. This picture was taken by a camera mounted up on the roof which I fired from ice level using a remote."
"Goal celebrations are often the hockey pictures that get the most use. I love the emotion the players displayed after Hyman scored in Boston during the playoffs. Unfortunately the Leafs lost this game, but this is one of my favourite celebration pictures on the year."
"When Marleau got to the Leafs, it was evident the younger players on the team really gravitated towards him. You could see the great relationship Marleau had with his younger teammates on and off the ice in this photo of Marner celebrating Marleau's overtime winner."
"I always try to take really tight, closely-cropped pictures when the guys are ready to face off. Using a 400mm lens allows me to get right in close from my spot in the corner. I usually wait to take this photo until later in the period when we are more likely to see sweat dripping down the player's visor."
"I love how hard William Nylander is working in this picture. It shows him using every last bit of room available to make a pass to his linemates."
"We don't often see the coach put these three on the ice at the same time, but I am glad Nylander scored so this moment could happen."
"This is one of those strange moments in photography where something offbeat happens. I remember the puck coming straight at me after the face-off, but I didn't realize it made for an impactful picture until I looked at it later. The internet had fun with the photo, creating several humorous memes."
"Auston Matthews usually doesn't show too much emotion when he scores, unless it's a big goal. We always try to make sure we have great celebration of players when they score, but they don't always go towards your lens. This play happened fast and I was happy to get it."
"I always try to tell the story off the ice as well. At our home rink, the Leafs walk off the ice and go towards the dressing room in lighting that is both moody and dramatic."
"I think it's important to tell the story with pictures before and after the game. I like the way Marner is taking the ice for the game."
"The joy for this big goal is infectious. I love the jubilation on the players' faces."
"This moment happened right before the guys took to the ice to play the Capitals in the outdoor game in Annapolis. You could tell the mood was tense while they were walking, but someone cracked a joke and everyone was able to relax a bit."
"This picture was taken during warm up. Sometimes it's a good idea to change your angle a bit. I try not to sit in the same spot every warm up, to try and get different perspectives."
"It seems big hits happen less often these days in the game, but here Hainsey was able to land a big one in the outdoor game."
"When the lights are dim at the rink the light turns blue, which makes for some nice images. This was from opening night."
"It's funny to see how many of player's pre-game rituals repeat every warm up. Marner and Brown did this before every game for a good part of the season."
"This was a pretty crazy night at the rink. A lot of first goals for rookies, including Dermott celebrating his first with the bench. I love the emotion in this one."
"This picture was taken remotely with a camera attached to the rafters, but I had some pretty lucky timing. Auston Matthews' stick bent just before he scored on the Devils."
"Prior to this moment, Auston Matthews had a goal disallowed by the on-ice officials. When Matthews scored again, he made sure to give his own goal sign."
"This picture was taken with a net cam -- a camera placed inside a clear plastic box mounted in the net that I can fire remotely. The spotlight hit Andersen perfectly as he came back to his net for the second period, wearing the Arenas jersey, to commemorate the Leafs 100th anniversary in "The Next Century Game."