In this edition of Toronto Maple Leafs Quick Hits, I’ll take a look at two key young players for the Toronto Marlies and one key player for the Maple Leafs – all defensemen. I’ll also comment on how each of the young defensemen is doing thus far in the AHL.
Second, I’ll look at the solid game right-shot defenseman Justin Holl had against the Buffalo Sabres on Saturday night. He gets a lot of critique, but he seldom gets noticed when he plays well. Saturday he played well and contributed to the Maple Leafs’ success.
Quick Hit One: Toronto Marlies Defensemen Coming On
On Saturday night, Joey Anderson and Adam Gaudette score their ninth goals of the season for the Toronto Marlies as their team beat the Abbotsford Canucks by a score of 5-3. Obviously, I’m interested in those two forwards because I believe they have a chance to contribute to the Maple Leafs this season. However, I’m also as interested in two young Marlies defensemen who are beginning to show well in AHL competition – Noel Hoefenmayer and William Villeneuve.
On Saturday night’s win, Hoefenmayer had his fourth multi-point game of the young season when he scored a goal and added an assist in the first period. He now has two goals and 10 assists (for 12 points) in 13 games. That total puts him in fifth place in scoring for all AHL defensemen. Villeneuve has a goal and four assists (for five points) in 10 games with the Marlies.
Marlies head coach Greg Moore reported after the game that “the [Hoefenmayer – Villeneuve] pairing was great.”
Moore added that “Villeneuve is coming along really fast. He has a lot of potential in his play and is a smart, cerebral player. Hoefenmayer has been consistent for us. He is playing hard minutes, especially compared to the role he played last year. He is stepping up big time and is a lot harder to play against.”
Quick Hit Two: Justin Holl Has a Solid Game Against the Sabres
Justin Holl gets regularly dumped on by fans. Just today I read in the comments section of a post “Why is he still with the team?” And, true enough, sometimes Holl makes mistakes on the ice.
Yet, he sometimes plays really solid games and contributes in a number of ways to a Maple Leafs’ victory. The team’s 5-2 win over the Buffalo Sabres was one of those games when Holl played really well. On the night, he finished a plus-two. He also logged the most time on the ice for any Maple Leafs’ player with 24 minutes.
Holl regularly plays on the team’s penalty kill; yet, on Saturday, he didn’t get caught on the ice for either of the Sabres’ goals with the man advantage. During the second period alone he had 12 shits and played almost half of the period (nine minutes of 20). Those nine minutes included more than three minutes on the penalty kill.
Holl also logged seven minutes against the Sabres’ top line of Jeff Skinner, Tage Thompson, and Alex Tuch. That line is loaded and even Auston Matthews and William Nylander had a tough time keeping them in check. Head coach Sheldon Keefe had to team up Matthews and Mitch Marner to gain effective defense.
My point here is that, while Holl is certainly NOT to every Maple Leafs fan’s taste, he does play some really solid games that contribute to the winning cause. He probably will never get much love among Toronto fans, but he still should be mentioned when he plays well.
Holl had a really good game Saturday night against the Sabres. Just saying.
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