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3 Key Takeaways from Maple Leafs’ 4-1 Loss to the Blackhawks

Last night, the Toronto Maple Leafs lost to the Chicago Blackhawks by a score of 4-1. What were the key takeaways of the game?

Last night, the Toronto Maple Leafs played an ugly game and lost to the Chicago Blackhawks by a score of 4-1. The team was sloppy with the puck and allowed odd-man rushes to what should have been an over-matched Blackhawks team.

In the end, the big guns for the Maple Leafs didn’t score; and, while Joseph Woll played a good game in the net, he couldn’t stop enough pucks. Here are the three key takeaways of the game for the Maple Leafs.

Takeaway One: In the Goaltending Battle: Joseph Woll Shines

Woll was the bright spot in an otherwise disappointing game for the Maple Leafs. Despite the final score, Woll’s performance in the first period stood out. He faced a fluctuating (the official scorer kept changing their mind) shot count. However, regardless of the numbers, he stopped every shot he faced.

Related: 8 Questions & Thoughts About Maple Leafs First Game

Woll showcased his skill by making several really tough saves. Although he allowed three goals later in the game, these goals resulted from rushes when the Maple Leafs players turned over the puck. He couldn’t be completely blamed for any of the goals he allowed. In comparison to the first two games of the season, Woll was more stable in the net and outperformed Ilya Samsonov.

Takeaway Two: John Tavares Lead the Way for the Maple Leafs with a Goal

The outcome of the game reflects a collective team effort (or lack thereof). Team captain John Tavares played a good game; however, he just couldn’t shift the tide. Just over two minutes after Chicago took an early 1-0 lead, Tavares took a great pass from William Nylander and promptly tied the game with a well-placed wrist shot.

John Tavares Upper Deck Net Crashers Maple Leafs
John Tavares Upper Deck Net Crashers Maple Leafs

With this goal, Tavares now has put up an impressive six points in his first three games. He shares the team’s scoring lead with both Auston Matthews and Nylander. Mark Giordano also deserves mention for setting up Tavares’ goal with a long stretch pass. He played a solid game on the blue line.

Takeaway Three: The Maple Leafs Suffered Defensive Woes

During the game, the Blackhawks exposed some of the Maple Leafs’ defensive vulnerabilities. Specifically, the team gave up a number of odd-man rushes. This contrasted with their earlier performances in the season, highlighting the need for better transition defense.

Newcomer John Klingberg faced challenges in the game. He’s much better when he plays with the puck than when plays without it. The defenseman struggled in certain moments and appeared indecisive, potentially raising concerns about his defensive capabilities.

John Klingberg Maple Leafs injury update
John Klingberg, Maple Leafs

Max Domi and Mitch Marner, who should be key players, had tough games and had difficulties making an impact. Domi’s limited ice time and Marner’s inconsistent performance were evident. Tyler Bertuzzi, expected to enhance the team’s physicality and scoring, got into redundant penalty trouble. However, only one resulted in a power-play goal for Chicago.

What’s Next for the Maple Leafs?

The Maple Leafs now look ahead to their upcoming games in Florida. They hope to string some good games together on their upcoming five-game road trip.

Despite their 2-1 record, the team has yet to play a really strong game. Coach Sheldon Keefe may explore lineup adjustments as they face the Panthers and the Lightning, both teams struggling early in the season.

Related: Maple Leafs Matthews: Lessons Learned Playing in Switzerland

1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Randy Fraser

    October 18, 2023 at 5:03 am

    Being sloppy with their play is nothing new at this time of year. I think it takes about 2 weeks or so, for the stars to get into game shape and get their timing down. Let’s not forget that for the most part, exhibition is mainly used for rookies and AHL’rs to try to make the team and that regulars only see limited action. As an example, Samsonov I think only played 5 periods (maybe 6) out of the 8 games for exhibition. Where as, Woll and Jones got the bulk of the games, to see who would back up Samsonov.

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