Arizona Coyotes snap Toronto Maple Leafs' 7 game win streak with a 4-1 win

andersen vs yotes.jpg

Spencer Lussier

With the Leafs coming into Monday’s matchup against Arizona with more wins in their current winning streak then the Coyotes do all season, it was a sure thing to pick the Leafs in this one. However, Arizona was the one to extend to their win streak, making it three in a row with a 4-1 win against the Leafs. Arizona has been awful this season, but are on a roll sweeping the Eastern Canadian swing, reminding us all in the process that this team can be good when all their early first round picks are playing together as a team. One of the many first rounders is Clayton Keller who stole the show Monday night with a pair of assists. Keller is leading the NHL rookie race early in the season, generated scoring chances and was super fun to watch when he had the puck last night. Brandon Perlini snapped Frederik Andersen’s shutout streak at 141:28 on the power play, while Oliver Ekman-Larsson was the other Coyote to beat Andersen, also on the power play. The Leafs lone goal sorcerer was James Van Riemsdyk for his 11th on the season, and 5th goal in as many games. The Leafs thought they had tied the game at two when Auston Matthews fired one past Raanta. Coyotes challenged the call for goalie interference and won, as Zach Hyman appeared to have speared the net minder, preventing him to make the save on Matthews. Judging from the replay, it looked like Raanta had enough time to get up and get into position but the referees thought otherwise and it turned out to be the deciding goal in this game.

Performance of the Night:

Well other than Raanta’s performance on the disallowed goal, the performance of the night goes to the Leafs goalie Frederik Andersen. Despite his shutout streak being snapped, Andersen was key for the Leafs to stay in this game. He made the ridiculous save on Dvorak when the Coyotes was laying on the pressure. I chalk this game up to being a fluke game that is not telling of Andersen’s past performance. He looked calm and in position most of the light and will continue to be a force in the coming games.

 

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Game #22- Arizona Coyotes vs Toronto Maple Leafs

Auston+Matthews+Arizona+Coyotes+v+Toronto+PKt_WoFssvXl.jpg

Spencer Lussier

The Toronto Maple Leafs come back home winners of six straight to take on the Arizona Coyotes. The Leafs made it look easy against the Montreal Canadiens with a 6-0 win on Saturday led by the returning Auston Matthews, scoring two goals. Tonight, the Scottsdale, Arizona native will square off against his childhood team with Matthews recording two points in two games against Arizona last season. The Coyotes come into this game winners of two straight, beating both Montreal and Ottawa, and are hoping they can find some magic to beat the remaining Eastern Canadian team. Frederik Andersen is on a bit of a streak himself, having back-to-back shutouts in his last two starts and will look to extend that further tonight against the third lowest scoring team in the league. Toronto’s goaltending has been unreal during their six-game winning stretch and were the biggest factor for the team’s success without Auston Matthews in the lineup.

Player to Watch on Arizona:

It has to be rookie Clayton Keller. The 19-year-old is the early season favourite to be Auston Matthews successor as  the Calder Trophy winner. Keller is a smaller player but is really quick with the puck and is shifty in the offensive zone. Keller is Arizona’s points leader with 18 while leading the team in goals with 11, five more than anyone else on Arizona. Honestly check this kid out because he is certainly fun to watch and will be for a very long time.

Watchability scale:

I will give this game a two out of five on the scale. The reason why is that despite the good young talent on both teams, the game shouldn’t be competitive. With Toronto having their full offensive arsenal back and Arizona missing two key defencemen with Hjalmarsson and Chychrun out with injuries, Toronto’s offence should pile on the goals. As I mention too, Andersen has been lights out in November.  

Lines:

Toronto

Hyman – Matthews – Nylander

Marleau – Kadri – Komarov

JVR – Bozak – Marner

Martin – Moore – Brown

Rielly – Hainsey

Gardiner – Zaitsev

Borgman – Carrick

Andersen

 

Arizona

Perlini – Stepan – Rieder

Keller – Richardson – Fischer

Domi – Dvorak – Rinaldo

Martinook – Cousins – Duclair

Ekman-Larsson – Demers

Goligoski – Hanley

Connauton – Schenn

Raanta

Leafs dominate Habs in 6-0 thrashing

Zack Cook For 30 minutes, it looked as though Toronto and Montreal were headed towards another scoreless game, much like the one vs. the Devils on Thursday. A Ron Hainsey point shot and Nazem Kadri nifty back hand changed that. Both goals were less than a minute apart, and that was all the scoring the Leafs would need against the fragile Montreal Canadiens. Instead though, they'd add four more in the third and thump the Habs 6-0.  The Leafs got their superstar back in the lineup for this one, and Auston Matthews certainly didn't disappoint. Matthews tallied a pair of goals and looked relatively himself again in the victory.  The key to the Leafs six game win streak starts and ends with Freddie Andersen. Andersen has been fantastic over this six game stretch and it really provides insight as to how good this Leafs team can be if he continues to perform like this.  Before the game, we talked about how this game was the perfect recipe for a Saturday night. Well as long as you're a Leaf fan, it probably did turn out to be a 4/5 on the watchability scale. The Leafs came to play offensively and were certainly opportunistic. Most of their scoring changes come from high danger areas, and that really goes to show you how offensively gifted this young team is. If the Leafs can add a top pairing puck moving defenseman, look out rest of the National Hockey League.  Up next: Arizona Coyotes vs. Toronto Maple Leafs Monday @7PM ET  

Zack Cook

For 30 minutes, it looked as though Toronto and Montreal were headed towards another scoreless game, much like the one vs. the Devils on Thursday. A Ron Hainsey point shot and Nazem Kadri nifty back hand changed that. Both goals were less than a minute apart, and that was all the scoring the Leafs would need against the fragile Montreal Canadiens. Instead though, they'd add four more in the third and thump the Habs 6-0. 

The Leafs got their superstar back in the lineup for this one, and Auston Matthews certainly didn't disappoint. Matthews tallied a pair of goals and looked relatively himself again in the victory. 

The key to the Leafs six game win streak starts and ends with Freddie Andersen. Andersen has been fantastic over this six game stretch and it really provides insight as to how good this Leafs team can be if he continues to perform like this. 

Before the game, we talked about how this game was the perfect recipe for a Saturday night. Well as long as you're a Leaf fan, it probably did turn out to be a 4/5 on the watchability scale. The Leafs came to play offensively and were certainly opportunistic. Most of their scoring changes come from high danger areas, and that really goes to show you how offensively gifted this young team is. If the Leafs can add a top pairing puck moving defenseman, look out rest of the National Hockey League. 

Up next: Arizona Coyotes vs. Toronto Maple Leafs Monday @7PM ET

 

Game 21: Toronto Maple Leafs vs. Montreal Canadiens

Zack Cook The Toronto Maple Leafs have gone 4-0 without Auston Matthews in the lineup but it looks like they'll be getting some reinforcements tonight against the Habs. Matthews is listed as a game time decision but all signs point to Toronto's superstar returning to the lineup.  Without Matthews, the Leafs have relied heavily on their offensive depth, and as of late, Freddie Andersen. Since Matthews injury, Andersen has been exactly the type of goalie that the Leafs have been looking for. Issues will continue to be there on the back end, but Andersen has done a good job masking that over the past five games.  Who to watch on Montreal Jonathan Drouin has showed Canadiens fans what it's like to have a skilled number one center again. Drouin has been the best Canadiens forward this season, and look for him to play a big role in tonight's original six Hockey Night in Canada showdown. Alex Galchenyuk has quietly played better as of late. He always seems to get up for games against the Leafs so keep an eye on him.  Watchability level It's the Leafs, it's the Habs, and it's Saturday. What more could you ask for in a combination of good things? Order yourself some pizza and wings, pick up a six pack, grab some couch and enjoy this historic rivalry. Even without Carey Price dressing for the Habs, these two teams always seem to provide entertaining games when they meet. There is nothing quite like the atmosphere in the Bell Centre when these two clubs meet, Leaf fans travel down the 401 and it always ends up being a loud back and forth "GO Habs GO" and "GO Leafs GO" between the fan bases. Seriously, there's nothing like it, these are the kind of match up's hockey fans live for. Watch this one, you won't want to miss it, I'm giving it a 4/5 stars on the watchability scale.  Leafs Lines Hyman-Matthews-Nylander Marleau-Kadri-Komarov van Riemsdyk-Bozak-Marner Martin-Moore-Brown Rielly-Hainsey Gardiner-Zaitsev Borgman-Carrick Andersen Habs Lines Pacioretty-Danault-Shaw Galchenyuk-Drouin-Byron Hudon-Plekanec-Gallagher Deslauriers-De La Rose-Froese Benn-Weber Alzner-Petry Mete-Morrow Lindgren

Zack Cook

The Toronto Maple Leafs have gone 4-0 without Auston Matthews in the lineup but it looks like they'll be getting some reinforcements tonight against the Habs. Matthews is listed as a game time decision but all signs point to Toronto's superstar returning to the lineup. 

Without Matthews, the Leafs have relied heavily on their offensive depth, and as of late, Freddie Andersen. Since Matthews injury, Andersen has been exactly the type of goalie that the Leafs have been looking for. Issues will continue to be there on the back end, but Andersen has done a good job masking that over the past five games. 

Who to watch on Montreal

Jonathan Drouin has showed Canadiens fans what it's like to have a skilled number one center again. Drouin has been the best Canadiens forward this season, and look for him to play a big role in tonight's original six Hockey Night in Canada showdown.

Alex Galchenyuk has quietly played better as of late. He always seems to get up for games against the Leafs so keep an eye on him. 

Watchability level

It's the Leafs, it's the Habs, and it's Saturday. What more could you ask for in a combination of good things? Order yourself some pizza and wings, pick up a six pack, grab some couch and enjoy this historic rivalry. Even without Carey Price dressing for the Habs, these two teams always seem to provide entertaining games when they meet. There is nothing quite like the atmosphere in the Bell Centre when these two clubs meet, Leaf fans travel down the 401 and it always ends up being a loud back and forth "GO Habs GO" and "GO Leafs GO" between the fan bases. Seriously, there's nothing like it, these are the kind of match up's hockey fans live for. Watch this one, you won't want to miss it, I'm giving it a 4/5 stars on the watchability scale. 

Leafs Lines

Hyman-Matthews-Nylander
Marleau-Kadri-Komarov
van Riemsdyk-Bozak-Marner
Martin-Moore-Brown

Rielly-Hainsey
Gardiner-Zaitsev
Borgman-Carrick

Andersen

Habs Lines

Pacioretty-Danault-Shaw
Galchenyuk-Drouin-Byron
Hudon-Plekanec-Gallagher
Deslauriers-De La Rose-Froese

Benn-Weber
Alzner-Petry
Mete-Morrow

Lindgren

Andersen shines, Leafs win OT thriller vs. Devils

freddie2.jpg

Zack Cook

I'll certainly take some slack for this one, but I did mention in my preview that this one had the potential to have a ton of offense in it. I wasn't wrong in the sense of scoring chances, but man did both goalies steal the show in this one. Freddie Andersen and Cory Schneider both stood on their heads all game long heading into overtime where William Nylander would be the eventual hero. Both teams constantly traded offensive chances and on a lot of other nights, we would have likely seen upwards of ten goals in a contest like that. The Devils are a surprising team to some, and they're really changing the identity of what many have known to be Devils hockey over the last few decades. This team is young, it's fast and creative and it's certainly entertaining, which is what we are all here for right?

Morgan Rielly is a different hockey player this year. The signing of veteran Ron Hainsey has really helped solidify Rielly's game. Rielly seems immensely more confident on the back end and after assisting on the overtime winner, he's already up to 17 points on the season. 

Despite only one goal in the game, you'd find it hard pressed to not have enjoyed this hockey game. It was filled with scoring chances and highway robbery from both goalies, which to me really sums up a great hockey game. Therefore, I'd like to praise myself and say it was worthy of the 3.5/5 stars on the watchability scale. 

The Leafs are back in action on Saturday when they travel to Montreal to take on the Habs. The game could be without some star power though, as both Auston Matthews and Carey Price are unlikely to play. Don't ask Mike Babcock about that though, you probably won't like his answer. At the same time, Hockey Night in Canada, Habs Leafs, there's really nothing better than that. 

Enjoy hockey fans! 

Game 20: New Jersey Devils vs. Toronto Maple Leafs

 

 

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Zack Cook

Yes, don't bother asking Leafs Head Coach Mike Babcock whether or not Auston Matthews is playing tonight versus the Devils. He's not. Matthews will miss his fourth straight game, while Nikita Soshnikov will be in the lineup after being called up on Monday. Putting a clause in your contract where you can leave for the KHL if you're not up with the big club by a certain time period is quite the negotiating tactic. Without Matthews in the lineup, Nazem Kadri and Morgan Rielly share the Leafs point lead with 16.
 

Who to watch on the Devils
The duo of Nico Hischier and Taylor Hall. The two have combined for 32 points and have an insane amount of creativity that makes watching a usual boring Devils team quite fun.
 

Watchability level
Thank god that these aren't the Devils of old, or I would have found pretty much anything else to do than watch this game. The old trap and hang around waiting for the other team to make a mistake is the worst type of hockey to watch, and it looks like that era of hockey for New Jersey is coming to an end. The Devils are now a young, high scoring team and are getting one of their top centers back tonight in Travis Zajac, who's making his season debut. The Devils lead the Metropolitan division with 24 points, while the Leafs sit second in the Atlantic with 24. Even without Matthews in the lineup, this one should be a back and forth offensive affair. I mean, you can watch this, or you can go color blind after watching Thursday Night Football's color rush uniforms. I'm going to hope that William Nylander or Mitch Marner have one of those nights where they remind you why they were both top 10 picks in the draft. With all that being said, I'm going to give this game a 3.5/5 stars on the watchability scale. Realistically, just because were excited about the possibility of this match up, it's probably going to be a dud, but you should watch along with us anyways. 
 

Leaf Lines

Hyman-Marleau-Brown

Komarov-Kadri-Nylander

Van Riemsdyk-Bozak-Marner

Martin-Moore-Soshnikov

Rielly-Hainsey

Gardiner-Zaitsev

Borgman-Carrick

Andersen

Devils Lives

Hall-Hischier-Palmieri

Bratt-Zajac-Stafford

Henrique-Boyle-Wood

Gibbons-Coleman-Noesen

Greene-Santini

Moore-Severson

Butcher-Lovejoy

Schneider

McElhinney stops 38 to lead Leafs to sixth straight win over the Bruins

leafs_bruins.jpg

Spencer Lussier

Make it six in a row for the Toronto Maple Leafs as they once again beat the Boston Bruins by the score of 4-1. Curtis McElhinney gave up three first period goals in his last start against the Kings nearly two weeks ago, but the Leafs courtesy of Mitch Marner and James Van Riemsdyk gave the backup goaltender an early lead to settle into this game. McElhinney made 38 saves for his best performance of the season.

Three Takeaways….

Turning a new Leaf….After many years of dominance by the Boston Bruins, Toronto has had the Bruins number the past year. Last season Toronto swept the season series winning all four contests, and this year the Leafs extended it this past weekend with two more wins. The sudden turnaround has a lot to do with the Leafs being a young up and coming team who are looking to be contenders for the next coming season. Boston on the other hand have nice young pieces, but are still skating an older and slower lineup that the Leafs easily capitalize on.  With Boston being one of the better teams the past decade, that translated into higher picks and not the same quality of young players than a team like Toronto, look for this recent trend of Maple Leaf dominance to continue.

JVR is the man advantage … The Toronto Maple Leafs own one of the most dangerous powerplay units in the NHL. With a lot of shooters and creative players showcasing their talents with more space, it’s the man down low doing the most damage. James Van Riemsdyk has established himself as one of the most dangerous players on the powerplay players, using his size to create traffic in front of the net, while using his soft hands to score rebounds or tip in goals. Last night the powerplay clicked, with JVR redirecting one home. The 28-year-old has 15 points on the season, with seven of them coming on the man advantage. He continues to be a focal point on the powerplay for the Leafs as a security blanket down low, and if they can get shots through, JVR is usually there generating scoring opportunities.

The rich only get richer….. Not only is it six straight wins against the Boston Bruins but it is four in a row for the Leafs, including three of them without Auston Matthews. With four days off before their next game against the New Jersey Devils, the Leafs will likely get their star player back in the lineup on Thursday. The Leafs played well over this stretch, with multiple players filling the void Matthews left. If Matthews does not played Thursday, then it will be more telling on the severity of his injury, but we don’t envision that being the case.

Performance of the night:

I give the Performance of the Night to goaltender Curtis McElhinney. I said a couple of days ago to ride Andersen this weekend to make sure that they win both games. McElhinney stepped in and stole the show and a big reason is getting the lead early, allowing him to settle in and be comfortable in the crease. This game was the exact reason why the Leafs went and picked him up last season, to have a backup goalie who can still keep his team competitive while giving Andersen a rest.

Game 19: Toronto Maple Leafs vs Boston Bruins

Marleau Marner.jpg

Spencer Lussier

Now this piece will be two topics in one. Not only will you get to see the preview of tonight’s rematch but there will be analysis from Toronto's 3-2 overtime win. Last night’s reaction and today’s thoughts go hand in hand based off of what I saw from last night. Auston Matthews did not travel with the team to Boston, indicating he is out again tonight, hopefully for the final time with the Leafs next game on Thursday night.

Three Thoughts:

Even matchup…. Last night we saw an exciting game between the long-time rivals. Both teams had identical number of shots, same faceoff percentages, similar hit numbers and judging by the 3-2 overtime score, it just continues to show how similar both teams are. One glaring difference however is the fire power on offence. The Leafs have a balanced attack with a mix of skill and grit on each line. For Boston, they loaded up their offensive talent on one line, sticking Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron and David Pastrnak together. All three players recorded a point last night, but the damage was limited. These guys are true game breakers and deserve all the Leafs attention tonight.

Tonight’s thought… I expect nothing but the same from last night. Toronto was able to capitalize with Boston’s backup in net, which means Boston has that opportunity tonight with Curtis McElhinney getting the start for the Leafs. The game was physical and was enjoying to watch despite some key name out of each of the lineups. Toronto will now have to play tight defensively with their back up in net as well as shutting down Boston’s dynamic offensive line.

 

Marner on the rise?... Mitch Marner arguably played his best game of the season last night. He was buzzing in the offensive zone, and looked comfortable doing it. Marner saw an increase in minutes from his usual 14 minutes a night to close to 17 and a half minutes…. a full 2 and a half minutes more than William Nylander. Not to mention he delivered that pretty pass to JVR tying the game up and then assisting on Marleau’s overtime winner. Obviously without Matthews other players needed to step up and Marner caught my eye as the one who rose to the occasion.

Tonight’s thought…. Boston is the perfect team for Marner to get on a bit of a consistent game developed. As I mentioned above, Boston is as close to a one line team as you get in the NHL. With that being said, Head Coach Mike Babcock should and will most likely protect Marner from being on the ice against that top line, giving Marner a better matchup against less established NHLers on other lines, giving Marner time and space to play his shifty and crafty offensive game.

 

Runnin Rielly….. Morgan Rielly has quietly had a good start to the season. He added an assist last night pushing his point total to 14 points through 18 games. His point total is impressive but what I am more impressed with his new found defensive game making him an all around defenceman. A career minus player, even last year when the Leafs were good, he finished minus 20, this year Rielly has been floating around even, which in itself is a huge turnaround. For me this is where Ron Hainsey plays a factor, giving him a veteran presence to calm him down and allow for him to simplify his game. Hainsey has allowed Reilly to play against the top lines, which is evident in last night’s matchup against the Bruins. The Leafs will approach each game with a committee to matchup against star players, with a formidable second pairing of Gradiner and Zaitsev who can hold their own against the top players. It is an added weapon now that Reilly isn’t a liability on the ice against tougher matchups.

Tonight’s thought…. Rielly has not given me a reason to doubt his game. I expect another solid outing from the 5th year player who led the Leafs last night with close to 24 minutes of ice time. The last three games, Coach Mike Babcock has given Rielly more ice time, and even on the penalty kill. It wouldn’t be a surprise to see Rielly lead the team in ice time again tonight.

Be Prepared to be......Excited to Watch

Given the tight game yesterday, the rivalry between the two teams and the Hockey Night in Canada primetime matchup, I give this game 4/5 stars on the Watchability scale

Lines:

Leafs:

Hyman - Marleau - Brown                                  Rielly - Hainsey

Komarov - Kadri - Nylander                               Gardiner - Zaitsev

JVR - Bozak - Marner                                         Borgman - Carrick

Martin - Moore - Leivo                                        McElhinney

Bruins:

Marchand - Bergeron - Pastrnak                        Chara - McAvoy

Heinen - Szwarz - Bjork                                      Krug - Carlo

Schaller - Nash - Acciari                                     Postma - Miller

Beleskey - Kuraly - DeBrusk                               Rask

Game 18: Boston Bruins vs Toronto Maple Leafs

nazem-kadri-zdeno-chara-nhl-toronto-maple-leafs-boston-bruins.jpg

Spencer Lussier

Toronto is hosting game one of a two game home and home series with the Boston Bruins tonight. The two division rivals square off for the first time this season after Toronto swept the season series last year taking all four games by a combined score of 18-9. However, the Leafs are playing shorthanded, with Auston Matthews potentially missing the back to back games as he remains day-to-day with an injury.

Three Thoughts:

The Bruins are hurting too… The Leafs are likely going to be without Auston Matthews, but the Bruins are down some key names as well. Who’s out for sure is long time Bruin David Krejci, a youngster on the rise in Ryan Spooner and two physically imposing players in David Backes and Adam McQuaid. Now the unlikely’s who still have that chance of playing are two time 30 goal scorer Brad Marchand, who hasn’t played in the last two games with an upper body injury, and another physical threat in Noel Acciari, who broke his finger early in the season and is close to coming back. So, Leaf fans maybe Matthews may miss this game, but given the names that are still in the lineup and who are out of Boston’s, I say advantage Leafs offence.

Keep Calm and Naz on… Nazem Kadri has been the biggest contributor this past week. Kadri has moved into Matthews’ first line role while making an impact scoring three goals in the last two games. Kadri is an emotional player, especially against Boston where he tends to be a little out of control. Tonight, Kadri needs to keep his emotions in check to continue his recent point streak. He needs to be a factor in this game, and won't help if he's taking penalties.

Andy the crook….Frederik Andersen has been lights out for the Leafs, stealing two wins against the Golden Knights and the Wild. With Tuuka Rask recently coming back from injury, it looks like Anton Khudobin gets the start in one of the games. The Leafs should really consider riding Andersen this weekend in divisional games. Andersen is a big part in the survival guide without Matthews and has embraced the role, which I think should translate into a big weekend against a shorthanded Bruins squad. It also helps to know the Leafs have four days of rest after the game on Saturday.

 

So be prepared to be……mildly entertained

This game will clearly be effected by key injuries to both teams including possibly each team’s superstars in Matthews and Marchand. However, whenever these two teams meet there are usually lots of goals and lots of physicality….folks this is a nasty rivalry….for that I give this game a 3/5 on the watchability scale.

Lines:

Leafs:

Komarov – Kadri – Nylander                                                   Reilly - Hainsey

JVR – Marleau – Hyman                                                         Gardiner – Zaitsev

Brown – Bozak – Marner                                                        Borgman - Carrick

Martin – Moore – Leivo                                                          Andersen

Bruins

Bjork – Bergeron – Pastrnak                                                   Chara – McAvoy

Schaller – Kuraly – Heinen                                                      Krug - Carlo

Beleskey – Nash – Czarnik                                                      O’Gara - Miler

DeBrusk- Szwarz – Vatrano                                                    Khudobin

Andersen steals the show, Leafs tame Wild

Zack Cook 

The Toronto Maple Leafs played without Auston Matthews for the first time in his career and well, the result was good, but the product really wasn't. The Leafs defeated the Wild 4-2 , but the issue I had was with how the Leafs went about Mike Babcock's game plan. The entire second period felt like Minnesota was invading Toronto and that this was much more serious than just game 17 of an 82 game schedule. The Leafs don't seem to be expecting Matthews to miss multiple games, but there were certainly adjustments that needed to be made besides expecting Frederik Andersen to stand on his head. The one thing you can say about the Leafs efforts on Wednesday night was that they were opportunistic. The Leafs did have a few bounces go their way, but sometimes, being good is as simple as being lucky, and that's the sign of a good hockey team. You create your own luck, and when you're without the teams best player, you need a few of those to go your way. 

Back to Frederik Andersen, whose evil twin twin and alter ego finally took a night off, and Leaf fans got a preview of the number one goalie that they've been hoping for. Andersen stole the two points tonight, right out of the Wild's hand. It was really quite the theft.

Anyways, that's sort of besides the point. The Leafs got the goaltending they've desperately needed without upgrading their defense. Something eventually has to give, because the Wild sure got comfortable in Andersen's end, but for now, this performance will have to do, especially since it equated to the ever so vital two points. 

Much like we mentioned in the game preview, this one wasn't exactly an adrenaline rush of a game. It provided some theatrics, but I still think the 2/5 stars rating was an accurate one. 

Next Game: @Boston, Friday November 10th 7PM ET

 

Game 17: Minnesota Wild vs. Toronto Maple Leafs 7PM ET

Zack Cook The Toronto Maple Leafs will be without their franchise center for the first time in his young career tonight against the Minnesota Wild. Matthews won't dress after suffering an upper body injury. Nazem Kadri will takeover on the top line, centering William Nylander and Zach Hyman. Frederik Gauthier was recalled from the Marlies but it appears he'll be an extra for the leafs tonight. We're developing a new addition to our game previews, and that aspect is the watchability level. Before each game, we'll rate on a scale of one to five stars, how watchable the upcoming Leafs game will be. For tonight's contest against the Wild, this one has to have minimal expectations.  The Wild have scored 40 goals and allowed 40, and I really just don't expect much offense from their side of things tonight. Head Coach Bruce Boudreau has a solid system in place, but if the Wild take an early lead, this one has all the potential to be a snooze fest. On the other side of things, the Leafs are generally one of the more watchable teams in the NHL, but it'll be interesting with Matthews being out, who decides to take charge on the offensive side of the puck, specifically in transition. I expect Mitch Marner to have a standout game tonight, he needs to be a difference maker and find his way back into the good books of Head Coach Mike Babcock. I'm hesitent, but tonight, I'm going to give this one a 2/5 stars on the watchability scale as  I'm a little intrigued by who will step up in place of Matthews. Minnesota just doesn't really move the needle for me, especially with the amount of injuries they have.  Leaf Lines Komarov – Kadri – Nylander Brown – Bozak – Marner Van Riemsdyk – Marleau – Hyman Martin – Moore – Leivo Rielly-Hainsey Gardiner-Zaitsev Borgman-Carrick Andersen starts. Wild Lines Jason Zucker - Eric Staal - Chris Stewart Nino Neiderreiter - Mikko Koivu - Mikael Granlund Daniel Winnik - Joel Eriksson-Ek - Tyler Ennis Marcus Foligno - Matt Cullen - Luke Kunin Defence Pairings Ryan Suter - Jared Spurgeon Jonas Brodin - Mathew Dumba Kyle Quincey - Mike Reilly Devan Dubnyk starts

Zack Cook

The Toronto Maple Leafs will be without their franchise center for the first time in his young career tonight against the Minnesota Wild. Matthews won't dress after suffering an upper body injury. Nazem Kadri will takeover on the top line, centering William Nylander and Zach Hyman. Frederik Gauthier was recalled from the Marlies but it appears he'll be an extra for the leafs tonight.

We're developing a new addition to our game previews, and that aspect is the watchability level. Before each game, we'll rate on a scale of one to five stars, how watchable the upcoming Leafs game will be. For tonight's contest against the Wild, this one has to have minimal expectations.  The Wild have scored 40 goals and allowed 40, and I really just don't expect much offense from their side of things tonight. Head Coach Bruce Boudreau has a solid system in place, but if the Wild take an early lead, this one has all the potential to be a snooze fest. On the other side of things, the Leafs are generally one of the more watchable teams in the NHL, but it'll be interesting with Matthews being out, who decides to take charge on the offensive side of the puck, specifically in transition. I expect Mitch Marner to have a standout game tonight, he needs to be a difference maker and find his way back into the good books of Head Coach Mike Babcock. I'm hesitent, but tonight, I'm going to give this one a 2/5 stars on the watchability scale as  I'm a little intrigued by who will step up in place of Matthews. Minnesota just doesn't really move the needle for me, especially with the amount of injuries they have. 

Leaf Lines

Komarov – Kadri – Nylander

Brown – Bozak – Marner

Van Riemsdyk – Marleau – Hyman

Martin – Moore – Leivo

Rielly-Hainsey

Gardiner-Zaitsev

Borgman-Carrick

Andersen starts.

Wild Lines

Jason Zucker - Eric Staal - Chris Stewart

Nino Neiderreiter - Mikko Koivu - Mikael Granlund

Daniel Winnik - Joel Eriksson-Ek - Tyler Ennis

Marcus Foligno - Matt Cullen - Luke Kunin

Defence Pairings

Ryan Suter - Jared Spurgeon

Jonas Brodin - Mathew Dumba

Kyle Quincey - Mike Reilly

Devan Dubnyk starts

Marner gives the Maple Leafs a shootout win against the Golden Knights

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By: Spencer Lussier

The Toronto Maple Leafs escaped with a 4-3 shootout win against the Vegas Golden Knights. Nazem Kadri got the Leafs out front early, but Vegas’ constant pressure and team effort rewarded them tying the game up going into the third. Frederik Andersen stole the show in the third, locking down the Leafs crease forcing the first shootout for both teams this year. Mitch Marner would be the lone skater to score in the skills competition, giving the Leafs what he called a “character win”.

Three Takeaways:

A Character Win…. Marner was right this win was a character win for the Leafs. With the team losing five of their last six games heading into last night’s contest, and then blowing a two goal lead in that game but still finding a way to win, was good for the Leafs considering their tough stretch. Mitch Marner scored a beautiful shootout winner and found his way on the score sheet with an assist, but recorded zero shots. I get it, Marner is a distributor before a shooter, but defences are reading him easily now. To find space, Marner needs to create it by shooting, which will keep defences honest allowing passing lanes to open up once again. Marner has 28 shots in 16 games so far this season, and until he shoots more he will continue to struggle.

King Freddy reigns superior…. Frederik Andersen has been another the Leaf to struggle recently. In a prime goalie matchup against rookie Maxime Lagace, I was looking for Andersen to really shine, which turns out to be the case. Andersen was brilliant in the third period making two game changing saves to give his team a shot to win. What really stood out was his confidence in the overtime frame and shootout. Maybe he was riding high after that third period but Andersen looked confident by coming out to play the puck, even if it was scary to watch sometimes, but by playing the puck he was springing his team forward in transition to offence. In the shootout where Andersen has struggled in his career, he made three big saves to give the Leafs the win, matching last year’s total for shootout wins.

Is he healthy, will he play?... After seven minutes of ice time at the morning skate, Auston Matthews status for the game was uncertain due to general soreness. It took him three shots in warmup to figure out he was good to go. Good thing too because the Leafs needed all of Matthews 21 minutes tonight as the leader of the Leafs made a spectacular play on JVR’s goal and remained a threat every time he was on the ice. Matthews led the Leafs forwards with 21 minutes of ice, so I don’t know what to make of his injury because it didn’t impact him in the game or how Head Coach Mike Babcock was utilizing him.

Performance of the Night

If I had to give it to an individual player it would be Nazem Kadri. He scored two goals and was effective on the fore check and around the Golden Knights net all game. The true performance of the night however is the spectacular overtime period that we were treated too. The pace was fast, there were lots of odd man rushes and it was exciting hockey to watch.

Game 16: Toronto Maple Leafs vs Vegas Golden Knights

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By: Spencer Lussier

The Toronto Maple Leafs are coming home after a 1-3 Western Conference road trip. The Leafs get their first taste of Las Vegas hockey as the expansion team comes to the ACC. Auston Matthews took part in today’s practice, but left early due to what the team is calling general soreness. He is listed as a game time decision for tonight.

Three Pre Game thoughts:

Next man up….Once Matthews left practice after feeling discomfort, William Nylander slid into the number one centre role with Zach Hyman and Connor Brown flanking him. Nylander was drafted as a centre but never got the chance to play up the middle with the Leafs…..understandably so. If Matthews does in fact miss tonight’s game, my eyes will be locked on Nylander to see if he can be responsible defensively while still creating scoring opportunities, something Matthews does so well.  

Can the Leafs scoring capitalize….. Vegas’ goaltending carousel has been at the fore front in recent weeks. Since losing the face of the franchise Marc-Andre Fleury to a concussion earlier in the season, Vegas has used three more goalies to fill the void. Maxime Lagace has been the starter since Oscar Dansk went down a week ago. Vegas has struggled since Lagace was given the reigns as a starter, allowing 12 goals in his three starts (excluding the four goals on eleven shots he surrender in relief against the Islanders). With Vegas’ goaltending lacking experience and shaky play, the Leafs and their second rated offence have a golden chance to dominate offensively and run up the score.

Chip on the shoulder….. With Vegas’ first appearance against Toronto, naturally we looked at who was taken off the Leafs roster in the expansion draft. That man is 23-year-old Brendan Leipsic, who never made a huge impact on the Leafs but was a key contributor for the Marlies for his two and a half years. As a smaller player with good hands, he was made expendable considering much of Toronto’s depth is those types of players. Leipsic said that he has a chip on the shoulder tonight against his former club, and despite only four assists in eight games, look for Leipsic to be flying around the ice and making an impact.

Leafs defensive struggles continue in 6-4 loss to Blues

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Despite jumping out to a 1-0 lead after an Andreas Borgman goal, the Leafs were unable to keep up with the Blues in St Louis's 6-4 victory. 

Post Game Takeaways

-The Leafs played one of their worst periods of the season during the second frame vs. St Louis. Constant defensive breakdowns and miscommunication between players saw the Blues score three second period goals to lead 3-1 after two periods. Leafs Head Coach Mike Babcock can't possibly be happy with the effort in the second period, and adjustments need to be imminent before we suggest personnel changes on the Leafs defense. 

-Although the Leafs were clearly inept with their defensive coverage, Frederik Andersen needs to find a way to make a save when things aren't rolling properly. Coming into the game against St Louis, Andersen had a solid Western road trip, but he fell back to some of his old habits tonight, allowing six Blues goals. This continues to be an issue with the Leafs because like Babcock said, they can't continue to outscore their mistakes, nobody can. 

-It was really a peculiar decision by Babcock to not challenge the Blues sixth goal. Andersen clearly got a stick to the mask before the goal which interfered with his ability to make the save. We'll see if we hear anything more about his reasoning behind not challenging it. 

Next Game: Monday vs. Las Vegas 7PM ET

 

Game 15: Toronto Maple Leafs vs. St Louis Blues 7PM ET

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The Toronto Maple Leafs didn't get the results they were looking for out in California, dropping two out of three games. They'll try to salvage a .500 road trip when they visit the St Louis Blues tonight. 

Three pre-game thoughts

-Leaf's Head Coach Mike Babcock probably doesn't appreciate the fact that his team is playing in so many high scoring games. Babcock said after the 5-3 loss to the Kings that "you can't out-score your turnovers". The Leafs have already given up 49 goals in just 14 games, and those trends can't continue if the Leafs want to push for an Atlantic Division title

-The question will be there until Leafs goalie Frederik Andersen puts together a nice stretch of games, but he got off to a good start in California. In his games against the Ducks and Sharks, Andersen stopped 64 of 67 shots. If Andersen gets rolling and the defence starts to play more consistently in front of him, look out. 

-Auston Matthews now has six points in his last five games, including a beautiful penalty shot goal against the Kings. The Hyman-Matthews-Nylander line continues to work and has been one of the loan constants for Mike Babcock early in the season. Matthews and Nylander have combined for 29 points in the teams first 14 games. 

MAPLE LEAFS LINES
Zach Hyman-Auston Matthews-William Nylander
James van Riemsdyk-Patrick Marleau-Connor Brown
Leo Komarov-Nazem Kadri-Kasperi Kapanen
Matt Martin-Tyler Bozak-Mitch Marner

Morgan Rielly-Ron Hainsey
Jake Gardiner-Nikita Zaitsev
Andreas Borgman-Roman Polak

Frederik Andersen
 

BLUES LINES
Vladimir Sobotka-Paul Stastny-Alexander Steen
Jaden Schwartz-Brayden Schenn-Vladimir Tarasenko
Dmitrij Jaskin-Oskar Sundqvist-Magnus Paajarvi
Scottie Upshall-Kyle Brodziak-Chris Thorburn

Carl Gunnarsson-Alex Pietrangelo
Joel Edmundson-Colton Parayko
Vince Dunn-Robert Bortuzzo

Jake Allen

Kings’ early game scoring spree leads to a 5-3 win over the Maple Leafs

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Los Angeles scored five goals in the first two periods which was too much for the Leafs to overcome. Self-inflicted wounds by the Maple Leafs proved to be the difference in this game, which put this game out of reach early despite a heroic comeback attempt.

Three Takeaways

Turnovers, Turnovers,Turnovers….As mentioned before, the Leafs didn’t do themselves any favours last night. On at least three of the goals against, Toronto turned the puck over in their own end. As one of the premier teams in the NHL, the LA Kings don’t need any favours finding ways to score. These turnovers were costly not only on the score sheet but for the flow of the game. Gardiner’s tumble caused the first goal which got the Leafs chasing the play, causing a JVR penalty which the Kings capitalized on for the second goal. Leafs Head Coach Mike Babcock will surely clean up his team’s defensive lapses.

Too little, too late…. After the Kings took a commanding 5-0 lead the Leafs finally played some inspired hockey, too bad fans turned it off before they could see their three goal effort. The Leafs have now lost four of their last five games, and during this tough stretch, the Leafs haven’t been playing a full 60 minutes. For the Leafs to get out of this drought, they will have to play a consistent game of competitive hockey and not allow the other team to gain moment by scoring the first goal.

Who is the backup?... Curtis McElhinney started his second game of the season and was lit up by the Kings offence. Now the defense didn’t help him with some bad defensive turnovers, but McElhinney looked out of position on some scoring chances. With Calvin Pickard in the AHL, and McElhinney’s early season struggles, it may be time to keep an eye on the Leafs backup goalie battle with McElhinney not providing consistency at the back up position when the Leafs need to rest Andersen.

Game 14: Toronto Maple Leafs vs Los Angeles Kings Preview

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The Toronto Maple Leafs finish the California portion of their current road trip tonight against the Los Angeles Kings. The Leafs will face arguably their toughest opponent of the season to date, as the Kings sit first in Pacific Division with only two regulation losses. The Leafs are on the back end of a back-to-back and will be starting backup Curtis McElhinney.

Thee Thoughts:

Defend the crease...Last night Toronto snapped their recent three game losing streak but the only real positive of that game was Frederik Andersen play. Andersen finally looked calm in the crease really for the first time all year. Maybe it was because he was at his old stomping grounds in Anaheim but whatever the case may be he held the Leafs in the game. Same thing needs to happen tonight in Los Angeles, as Toronto will have few chances offensively to make an impact, with LA allowing the least amount of goals in the NHL.

No Carter, No problem....When Jeff Carter went down early in the season with a laceration to his leg, everyone seemed to write off this LA Kings team and figured they would fall back to earth after their hot start to the season. One person in particular that has stepped up huge for the Kings and has filled Carter's role is Adrian Kempe. The 21 year old has nine points in six games since Carter went down and has seen his time on ice rise almost five minutes a game. 

Vet down the middle....With his offence struggling Coach Mike Babcock made the move to put Patrick Marleau at centre, bumping Tyler Bozak down to the fourth. Marleau has played centre before in the NHL, with his career face off percentage at 47%. Last night Marleau won 63% of his draws, but his face off ability was not the only reason for his move. Marleau's defensive presence and skating helped lead that line to success last night, something Tyler Bozak has been struggling with recently, sitting at a -9 on the year. Marleau's move won't be permanent but it is interesting to see how long it will last.

Lines:

Toronto: 

Hyman-Matthews-Nylander

Komarov-Kadri-Kapanen

JVR-Marleau-Brown

Martin-Bozak-Marner

 

Reilly-Hainsey

Gardiner-Zaitsev

Borgman-Polak

 

McElhinney

Andersen

 

Los Angeles:

Iafallo-Kopitar-Brown

Pearson-Kempe-Toffoli

Cammalleri-Laich-Lewis

Andreoff-Amadio-Dowd

 

Forbot-Doughty

Muzzin-Martinez

Macdermid-Folin

 

Quick

Kuemper

 

Leafs snap streak at three, down Ducks 3-1

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The Toronto Maple Leafs were able to neutralize Anaheim's offence, limiting them to one goal in the Leafs 3-1 victory over the Ducks. Connor Brown, Patrick Marleau and Leo Komarov scored for the Leafs, while Ondrej Kase added the Ducks lone tally. 

Three takeaways

-In Frederik Andersen's first start against his former club, he finally started to look like the goalie that the Leafs traded for. After struggling in the teams first stretch of games, Andersen really found his groove against the Ducks, making 28 saves in the victory. This is very important in the grand scheme of things for Toronto, with a reliable Andersen, the sky is the limit for this Leafs team. 

-After Leafs Head Coach Mike Babcock shuffled the lines, the James Van Riemsdyk-Patrick Marleau-Connor Brown line came to play in Anaheim. Marleau's familiarity with the Western style of game played a factor, he scored the game winner on a feed from Ron Hainsey. The game winner was the 100th of Marleau's career. Midway through the first, Brown scored his fourth of the year on a nice pass from Van Riemsdyk, showing that maybe these three might have an encore audition together in Los Angeles. 

-Defence has been the main concern for the Leafs, but it had one of their better showings in Anaheim. They did a great job limiting chances, and were able to use active sticks to close lanes. Jake Gardiner played a very steady 24:29, and was solid in transition for Toronto. Ron Hainsey was in on two leaf goals, adding a pair of assists with his 22:52 of ice time.  Hainsey leads Leafs defenceman with seven even strength points, all assists. 

Next up: Toronto Maples Leafs vs. Los Angeles Kings 10:30PM ET Thursday

Game 13: Toronto Maple Leafs vs. Anaheim Ducks 10PM ET

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The Toronto Maple Leafs have lost three straight games and will look to get back in the win column tonight when they visit Anaheim for a tilt at the Honda Center. The Leafs finish up their Western road trip with games in Anaheim, Los Angeles and St Louis. 

Three pre-game thoughts

-It will be interesting to see how the Leafs handle their first bout with adversity this season. The "young" Leafs need to have better structure in the defensive zone if they have any hope of keeping the puck out of the back of their net. 

-Leafs goaltender Frederik Andersen hasn't been himself in the first stretch of the season. All the blame of the Leafs current losing streak can't be placed directly on him, but with a career save percentage of .916, Andersen needs to play more like that, rather than his current .896. Andersen doesn't exactly look confident between the pipes, and that may have a lot to do with the defence in front of him, but regardless, he needs to be better if the Leafs want to be a contender. 

-The Leafs are considered to be one of the fastest skating teams in the NHL, while the Ducks back end features a great transition game. Tonight's game could come down to how well the Leafs clog the neutral zone and use their speed to outmatch Anaheim's defence. 

MAPLE LEAFS LINES
Zach Hyman-Auston Matthews-William Nylander
Leo Komarov-Nazem Kadri-Josh Leivo
James van Riemsdyk-Patrick Marleau-Connor Brown
Matt Martin-Tyler Bozak-Mitch Marner

Morgan Rielly-Ron Hainsey
Jake Gardiner-Connor Carrick
Andreas Borgman-Nikita Zaitsev

Frederik Andersen
Curtis McElhinney

DUCKS LINES
Rickard Rakell-Kalle Kossila-Corey Perry
Andrew Cogliano-Antoine Vermette-Jakob Silfverberg
Chris Wagner-Derek Grant-Ondrej Kase
Logan Shaw-Dennis Rasmussen-Jared Boll

Hampus Lindholm-Josh Manson
Francois Beauchemin-Brandon Montour
Jaycob Megna-Sami Vatanen

John Gibson
Ryan Miller