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.
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.