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Three Takeaways from Maple Leafs 2-1 Loss to the Coyotes

The Toronto Maple Leafs lost 2-1 to the Arizona Coyotes. What are three takeaways from the game? What record did Auston Matthews set?

The Toronto Maple Leafs took three of four points from the Colorado Avalanche and the Vegas Golden Knights, then lost to the Arizona Coyotes and to their hot goalie Karel Vejmelka. Who knew anything about this young Czech goalie? Not me.

The Coyotes’ goalie was the first and second star of the game. With the win, the Coyotes are NOT the team with the worst record in the NHL. That’s now the Montreal Canadiens. Hmmmm – how important is winning the lottery this offseason?

In this post, I’ll look at three takeaways from the game. The Maple Leafs had the play, but they didn’t have the energy and the push that would drive them over the top. When Matthews scored early in the third period, the team could have pushed harder. It didn’t. And the result was a loss.

Related: 3 Maple Leafs Takeaways in the 4-3 Shootout Win Over Golden Knights

Takeaway One: Karel Vejmelka? Who Is This Young Goalie?

Vejmelka was a fifth-round pick from Nashville but never signed. He was playing in the Czech league last season and was a free agent who had a chance to play in Arizona. This season, he’s became their number one goalie. Given what we saw tonight, this goalie is one to watch. 

During the first two periods, Toronto couldn’t solve Vejmelka, who stopped 35 shots before Matthews beat him early in the third period. On the night, Vejmelka stopped everything but that one perfect shot by Matthews. Obviously, there’s no shame giving up a goal to Matthews; and, in the end Vejmelka ended with 45 saves on 46 shots in the 2-1 win over Toronto.

Vejmelka didn’t just steal the show last night, he WAS the show. The 25-year-old rookie from the Czech Republic made 20 saves in the first period. Then he kept right on doing so. 

Except for Matthews’ goal, Vejmelka was perfect. That happens even to really good teams in the NHL every once in a while. A hot goalie will stand on his head and the better team will end up with the loss.

Forget about the 4-13-1 record. Playing against a very tough team in the Maple Leafs, Vejmelka came through with flying colors. He now has a goals-against-average of 3.18; however, with the team that’s playing in front of him and the quality of shots they give up, Vejmelka has a great .910 save percentage. And, that’s telling.

Takeaway: Auston Matthews Scores at Home in Phoenix

Not that it’s an uncommon occurrence, but Matthews scored a goal against Arizona. After what had to be a frustrating two periods for the Blue and White, Matthews came through as he so often does. The 24-year-old Phoenix native scored on a laser shot that Vejmelka had no chance to stop. 

The problem was that, after the Maple Leafs tied the game at 1-1 and had all the momentum, they couldn’t capitalize. That goal was the only chink in the armor of the other guy’s goalie. It wasn’t that Matthews didn’t keep trying and, with just seconds left in the game, he almost tied it, but couldn’t. 

Auston Matthews NHL Toronto Maple Leafs
Auston Matthews NHL Toronto Maple Leafs photo by Azadeh Kashani wiki commons

In total, Matthews played almost 25 minutes (he was at 24:24) and had five shots on goal. Matthews is now creeping up on the NHL’s goal-scoring leaders with 24 goals and 38 points in 32 games. Note that Matthews also set a franchise record with nine straight road games where he’s scored a goal. 

Takeaway Three: Petr Mrazek Plays OK, Just Not Good Enough

Petr Mrazek, who hadn’t played in a long long time – more than a month – gave up two goals on only 18 shots to the Coyotes. As bad as that looks, he’s not the sole problem for the team. As Maple Leafs’ head coach said after the game, Mrazek might have stopped one of the two goals. However, it’s hard to win when your team scores only one goal.

In fact, as odd as it seemed, although the Maple Leafs pumped a lot of rubber at the Coyotes’ goalie, they didn’t take advantage of their chances and couldn’t generate the kind of energy they needed to win the game. 

The two goals were on Mrazek, but not the lack of push. That was on his teammates.

Related: Why the Maple Leafs Need to Play Petr Mrazek Strategically



  1. Jon Harding

    January 13, 2022 at 7:30 am

    Does Jason Spezza still play for a Toronto, or perhaps he is injured? Haven’t seen him for three games now.

  2. Pingback: For Maple Leafs, COVID-19 Isn't Over Nearly Yet: Ritchie, Kase & Holl

  3. Old Prof

    January 14, 2022 at 1:29 pm

    He has played, but seems a bit slower than normal.

  4. Pingback: For Maple Leafs, COVID-19 Isn’t Over Nearly Yet: Ritchie, Kase & Holl – Hockey 1 on 1

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