With the Toronto Maple Leafs’ 5-2 win over the Boston Bruins last night in the last game of the regular season, the outcome assured that the Maple Leafs’ first opponent in the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs would be the reigning champion Tampa Bay Lightning. The Bruins looked happy enough to meet the Carolina Hurricanes.
During the game, the teams rested most of their bigger stars – well, except for William Nylander. Nylander looked to be playing at a different level than the other players on the ice. He was a man against boys. He was totally dominant in this game and scored two times as a result.
In this post, I’ll take a look at the players who did play and comment on three takeaways from last night’s game. Now the play gets serious. The Maple Leafs’ win last night added to its already stunningly good season.
The team finished with a record of 54-21-7. That was good for 115 points, which is a full 10 more points than the Maple Leafs’ team had ever collected in the history of this historic franchise. The previous record was 105 points set in 2017-18.
Takeaway One: William Nylander Dominated the Play all Night
As I noted, it just seemed as if William Nylander was playing at a different speed than everyone else on the ice. He looked out of place – too good for his opposition. Either the Bruins gave him tons of room on the ice, or he just took it. Whichever, the outcome was the same.
Nylander scored two goals on the night, and each one was simply his being fully in charge of the action. He knew what he had to do, and he simply did it. He went one way when the goalie thought he would be going another. It was just really interesting to watch.
Nylander had his best season ever and finished with 34 goals and 46 assists (for 80 points) in 81 games. It was simply a great game.
Takeaway Two: Erik Kallgren Has His Second Strong Game in a Row
Erik Kallgren is gaining confidence. Last night he saved 24-of-26 shots to carry his team to a win. It was his second strong game in succession. Perhaps that just means he’ll sit around and watch his partner in crime Jack Campbell play when the playoffs begin, but it had to be a good way to end the season for the youngster. He’s come a long way since his first start of the season against the Dallas Stars.
It would be tough to consider what Kallgren imagined would happen with his season, but it had to be far more interesting than he suspected it would be. The 25-year-old Swedish goalie looks like he could become a solid NHL goalie sooner or later. He stopped the shots he should stop and, over the course of the season, he put together a record of 8-4-1, a goals-against-average of 3.31, and a save percentage of .888.
Takeaway Three: Congratulations to Nick Abruzzese for His First NHL Goal
Last night, Nick Abruzzese scored his first NHL goal on a nice tip-in on a Morgan Rielly post shot. It was also his first game-winning NHL goal. Great hand-eye coordination from the youngster.
Morgan Reilly’s post shot was headed over the net when the Harvard University player re-directed it past Bruins’ goalie Jeremy Swayman. It was also the game-winning goal. Abruzzese was a prolific scorer in college, and he has an incredible hockey IQ.
It might be my imagination, but he has similar characteristics to Micheal Bunting. He’s got great reactions, good on-ice hockey sense, and isn’t afraid to inhabit the dirty areas of the ice to score. He’s young and needs some seasoning, but he might be a good player one day soon.
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