It was a disappointing loss for the Toronto Maple Leafs on Saturday night against the Carolina Hurricanes. After an unfortunate five-on-three penalty kill at the start of the game, the Maple Leafs went down by a goal. Then they went down by two goals.
Still, the Maple Leafs came back and dominated the game and probably should have had a better fate. But the Hurricanes came back to take a 4-3 lead and the Maple Leafs after a breakdown in coverage. That was the game.
Despite a strong performance from Toronto for the majority of the game, the Maple Leafs were unable to come away with the win. The team now has a 2-2-0 record on its current road trip.
All that said, there’s little angst to go around. The fact is that the loss didn’t have much impact on the team’s position in the standings. The Boston Bruins handed the Tampa Bay Lightning another loss, and no points were lost in the race for second place in the Atlantic Division.
Now, the team looks forward to finishing its road trip on a positive note. The Maple Leafs play a quick back-to-back game against the Nashville Predators tonight. They retain a five-point lead on the Lightning for second place in the Atlantic Division with two games in hand.
Takeaway One: Auston Matthews Sets Team Record with Shots on the Net
Auston Matthews had another great game on Saturday night, scoring two goals. He also recorded an amazing 15 shots on the net. Matthews now has 36 goals on the season. He’s been on a hot streak lately, with 10 goals in his last 13 games. Following Matthews’ lead, the team matched a season-high in shots on goal with 44.
Even Matthews’ head coach Sheldon Keefe could not stop the praise. Keefe called his productive forward “one of the most dominant players in the league.” In fact, the entire first line kept having dominant shifts. The team’s first line of Calle Jarnkrok, Matthews, and Mitch Marner all had outstanding games.
But make no mistake, the line was led by the big center. Matthews set an NHL-high for shots in a period with nine (in the second period). By the end of that period, Matthews had tied his previous career-high of 12 shots. But he didn’t quit. By the end of the game, Matthews had tied Dave Andreychuk’s franchise record of 15 shots.
His 13th shot tied the game at 3-3, but that was all the Maple Leafs could score.
Related: Maple Leafs News & Rumors: Jarnkrok, Holl, Matthews & Liljegren
Takeaway Two: Calle Jarnkrok Starting to Cook on the First Line
Calle Jarnkrok has been a great addition to the Maple Leafs. He’s exceeded expectations in his first season as a Maple Leaf and has been fantastic in filling a “depth player” role. However, given what’s happening on the first line, Jarnkrok is now more than a depth player.
Jarnkrok has now scored 18 goals and 36 points; and, both of these marks represent career highs. His versatility is also an asset to the team. What a trio he’s making with Matthews and Marner. Their chemistry has been palpable. Jarnkrok has become one of the team’s most valuable contributors.
Related: 5 Reasons Maple Leafs Erik Gustafsson Is a Great Power-Play Add
Takeaway Three: Sheldon Keefe Grabs the Bigger Picture
Interestingly, during the post-game interviews, Maple Leafs’ head coach Sheldon Keefe couldn’t help but look at the bigger picture and not just at the game’s final result. Sure the team lost, but Keefe saw positive signs from his team’s performance. He specifically noted the team’s effort, execution, and overall play.
Good points by their coach. His team did put in a strong effort and for a long time in the middle of the game, they simply controlled the play. What shouldn’t be lost in any game analysis is that the Hurricanes are one of the best teams in the NHL; and, the Maple Leafs dominated them on their own home ice.
Yes, they quickly fell behind. But they did turn the game around and dominated it for a long stretch. However, they couldn’t score the final point, while the Hurricanes found a way.
Related: 5 REASONS WHY JARNKROK IS A PERFECT FIT WITH MATTHEWS & MARNER
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March 26, 2023 at 8:52 am
I thought the Leafs played very well last night, despite losing, and agree Jarnkrok is turning into a major contributor. My big beef today and a concern that will likely linger right up to the playoffs is the faith Keefe continues to put in two minus players, Tavares and Reilly. I know people say plus/minus is not a valid data point but I look across the league at their supposed equals on other good teams and see no one from this group – literally no one – in the minuses. I’d love to read the theories you or your readers have around this OP. I’m convinced the Leafs will lose a Game 7 in overtime and it’ll be these two skating off the ice with their heads down.
March 26, 2023 at 11:10 am
The biggest two reasons they are minus for Tavares he is usually against the other teams top line and he doesn’t have Kerfoot on his line anymore, with Nylander there he is not going to be a plus. The reason for Reilly he wa sput with Holl to much and a bunch of other defensemen he does not mesh well with. The reason Holl is a plus is because he is always out on defense with Matthews line plus minus can be a miscontrued point of play.
March 26, 2023 at 11:17 am
Interesting and good point. I can say I am aware that Rielly is lousy at defense!
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March 26, 2023 at 11:12 am
Jarnkrok is the best I’ve seen with Matthews and Marner so far including Bunting and Kerfoot. He should maybe back off just 5% though because, at times, he’s looking like he’s increasing his injury risk and he’s needed in the playoffs!
March 26, 2023 at 11:13 am
The choice of having Nylander and Tavares out just after Leafs score by Keefe was not bright, Murray lets out a big rebound and Nylander does not check Aho he lets him go and Aho scores.
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