The Toronto Maple Leafs ended their five-game Western Conference road trip with a 1-3-1 record when they lost to the Anaheim Ducks by a score of 4-3. It was a game for the taking, with the Maple Leafs ahead by a score of 3-1. Then they let it slip and slop away. In the end, they couldn’t keep the Ducks off the scoreboard.
The Ducks’ best player Trevor Zegras scored at 2:15 of overtime. It was his second goal of the game and carried the Ducks to a comeback win last night. Their win ended a seven-game losing streak. The loss moved the Maple Leafs to a four-game losing streak of their own.
In this edition of Maple Leafs’ takeaways, I’ll look at three key takeaways from the game.
Takeaway One: For as Good as He Is, Mitch Marner Had a Bad Game
Mitch Marner has not been playing poorly on the season. Although the statistics sheet won’t show it because he hasn’t been scoring at the same pace he’s used to, he’s been playing quite well. That ended last night when he had an uncharacteristic bad game. His turnovers proved costly to the team.
It got bad enough that head coach Sheldon Keefe benched him for a shift. During that time off the ice, Marner went down the tunnel and (the word is) broke a stick or two in frustration.
In a post earlier in the week, I noted that – in the face of losing – coach Keefe played his two stars (Auston Matthews, but especially Marner) more. Against the Los Angeles Kings, in that loss, Marner had 24:25 TOI. Against the San Jose Sharks, in that loss, Marner played 22:02 TOI. Against the Vegas Golden Knights, Marner played 26:45 TOI.
If they were productive, sure. But it seems illogical to play non-productive players more when production is needed. My call is that coach Keefe should have cut Marner’s time cut to see if that gets a response. It was telling that, when Keefe was asked about Marner’s turnovers after the game, he just talked generally about the need for players to control the puck. He never mentioned Marner’s name at all.
I’m looking forward to seeing how Marner plays on Wednesday against the Philadelphia Flyers. He can lead this team, but he isn’t doing it right now.
Related: Maple Leafs News & Rumors: Samsonov, Tavares, Marner & Kral
Takeaway Two: William Nylander Remains Productive
William Nylander had two assists in last night’s game. One came on the power play. Regardless of the drama that seems to surround the team, Nylander doesn’t seem to be fazed by much of it. He just keeps producing. Good for him.
Nylander has now scored four goals and added six assists (for 10 points) in 10 games on the season. He’s been nothing but consistent; and, he has scored at least one point in eight of his 10 games so far this season.
Related: 3 Takeaways from Maple Leafs’ 4-2 Loss to Kings
Takeaway Three: Don’t Blame the Poor Maple Leafs’ Goalies
This is not the first time this season I’ve said this, but this loss wasn’t goalie Erik Kallgren’s fault. Sure, he gave up four goals in the overtime loss. Sure, he hasn’t won a game this season and has a 0-1-2 record. Finally, sure his goals-against-average is at 3.62, and his save percentage is at .875.
From my perspective, it still wasn’t his fault. On the other side of the ice, John Gibson stood on his head to win the game. Kallgren wasn’t that good and it cost the team. But he did stand up under pressure.
His team didn’t make it easy for him. They gave up too many odd-man rushes. And, turnovers in front of him made him look bad. When Matt Murray rehabs from his injury, Kallgren heads back to the AHL’s Marlies. I hope he gets a game where the team plays well for him before he leaves.
Related: MAPLE LEAFS HEAD INTO KINGS’ GAME A FRUSTRATED TEAM
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