In a tribute to his Toronto Maple Leafs’ teammate Zach Hyman, defenseman Morgan Rielly admits that he often has a smile on his face when he’s watching Hyman do his thing on the ice. And, by “doing his thing,” Rielly means the way that Hyman “dogs the puck.” He’s after it hard and won’t let any opponent have it.
In the video below, Rielly talks about how crucial Hyman is to the Maple Leafs’ top line and to the team in general. He says that watching Hyman play often makes him smile.
What Rielly Appreciates About Hyman as a Teammate
Morgan Rielly really appreciates Zach Hyman for being a “dog” on the ice. While he admits that seeing Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner play together is “pretty fun to watch,” really he values Zach Hyman as a “crucial, crucial (he repeated crucial two times) player on this team.”
Rielly then went on to add that Hyman “can really bring people’s game to the next level when he’s being competitive and he’s playing the way he can.” He believes Hyman has a massive impact on that line (when he plays with Matthews and Marner on the team’s first line).
Rielly adds that what makes things work is Hyman’s “compete level.” He added that “he’s just a dog” on the puck. By that he means, Hyman’s desire for the puck is like a hungry dog’s desire for a bone.
In addition, Rielly sums it up by saying that Hyman is “truly just a great teammate to have.” He notes that “I just enjoy watching him work … I really admire what he does.”
Watching Hyman “just hound the puck the way he does often makes me smile on the bench.” In his final tribute to his teammate, Rielly admits that “I’m glad I don’t have to deal with him.”
The Current First Line Is a Threesome that Really Works
In an article today by TSN’s Mark Masters, head coach Sheldon Keefe also lauded Hyman’s work. As he should. The Maple Leafs’ top line is working well together with Hyman back on left wing partnered with Matthews at center and Marner on the right side. The threesome worked well in Toronto on Monday against the Edmonton Oilers. They had great puck possession against the line of Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl.
Then, on Wednesday, that line overwhelmed the Winnipeg Jets during the first period and, by the time the ice chips melted, they had combined for two goals before the Jets hardly registered a shot on net.
Rielly Is Not Alone in Praising Hyman’s Work
As Keefe noted about the first line, “They had a lot of jump, they were around the puck and they attacked the net. Nothing too fancy about it, just work from all three of them.”
Marner agreed that it was a real “blue-collar effort” that was made possible because they were playing a “strong cycle game.”
Marner went on to say that “All three of us were working around the puck well, and when we were on the wall, we were finding ways to get it off quickly and trying to find people going down the wall or holes.”
Even goalie Jack Campbell noticed and raved about their work in front of him. He noted, “As incredible as they look offensively, it’s amazing how strong they are and how hard they work defensively. All of them come back, take pucks away, stick check, take the body. They just make amazing plays. For them to play together, they just seem to have amazing chemistry.”
Will Hyman Stay with the First Line?
To my way of thinking, watching Hyman play on the first line – as noted here – or run his own third line is a bit of a toss-up. Either way, he’s a benefit to the team. I like his offensive power when he’s the go-to guy on the third line. At the same time, he’s invaluable working to get scoring powerhouses Matthews and Marner the puck.
Whatever line he’s on, certainly he’s one of the key members of this Maple Leafs team.
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