The Toronto Maple Leafs skated to a 5-2 win over their old rival the Boston Bruins last night.
A week and a half ago, the mood with Toronto Maple Leafs’ fans was dour. The team had fallen to a record of 2-4-1 and the players who were supposed to lead the team on the scoresheet and the win column were not doing so.
Fast forward a week and the team has won five straight games and now has a record of 7-4-1. The big guns are firing and – in addition – Jack Campbell in goal has proven to be everything the team could have hoped for.
Probably the only thing that has not changed is the mood of some Maple Leafs’ fans. If I know them at all after covering the team for three years this month, they are simply waiting for the wheels to fall off or the team to slide back into the quicksand. [Obviously, I’m not talking about all Maple Leafs’ fans; however, I do have to guess that there are some who can’t enjoy the current run because – well – they believe it’s simply fruitless to get one’s hopes up.]
But, I’m here to enjoy it – even if it only lasts until Monday, which is the next game against the Los Angeles Kings. In this post, I want to share my four – just couldn’t stop at three – takeaways for the game.
Takeaway One: Jack Campbell and Neo Are Both “The One”
Maple Leafs’ goalie Jack Campbell had yet another great game in the net. Earlier this week, in thinking about Campbell I remembered the movie The Matrix, where Neo realizes that he is “The One.” It wouldn’t be Campbell’s way to believe he’s “the one,” but I’m sure he’s starting to answer the questions Maple Leafs’ fans had at the beginning of the season.
In his last game against the Vegas Golden Knights, who have since won two games, Campbell made 26 saves in a shutout. Against the Tampa Bay Lightning, who also have won since, he saved all but one of 25 shots to lead his team to a 2-1 win. Last night he made 42 saves on 44 shots for a 5-2 victory over the Bruins.
Campbell has now won four straight games and only allowed five goals over the course of those four games. As noted, it isn’t as if the Maple Leafs are playing easy teams. In succession, those wins have been against talented teams, including Vegas, Tampa Bay, and Boston. In short, he’s helping his team win game after game.
Takeaway Two: John Tavares Is on Top of His Game
John Tavares scored the first goal against the Chicago Blackhawks to start the comeback. He scored the game-tying goal against the Lightning. And, he scored the first goal of the game last night.
He also scored another goal and threw in an assist on Mitch Marner’s empty-net goal at the end of last night’s game. By the way, Tavares could have scored his hat trick goal, but he gave Marner the freebie at the end.
Tavares and Marner now each have 12 points in as many games. Both have put up points in five straight games since being reunited by Maple Leafs’ head coach Sheldon Keefe. Shades of 2018-19, when the two players shared the same line for most of the season. It was Tavares’ best NHL season ever with 47 goals.
Takeaway Three: Mitch Marner Has Simply Exploded Offensively
In his last five games, Marner has 11 points. He totaled four points (a goal and three assists) against the Bruins. He’s now a point-a-game player, which he’s been for the past couple of seasons; however, he went six games this season without scoring. So he’s made up ground quickly.
To say that Marner and Tavares have chemistry seems an understatement. It was there in the past, and it’s been discovered yet again this season.
Takeaway Four: Auston Matthews Looks Like the Sniper of Last Season
Only a few games ago, Auston Matthews sat with a single goal and hope seemed scarce that he’d have a chance to win the Rocket Richard trophy this season like he did last season. Smart money is still on someone else given his slow start; still, the two goals Matthews scored on the power play tonight put him behind Leon Draisaitl and Alex Ovechkin for the NHL lead and showed just how strong the Maple Leafs’ powerplay could be when it’s working.
Matthews now has three two-point games in a row and has totaled four goals and two assists in those games. He’s back, even if he isn’t skating with Marner as his partner.
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