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Three Maple Leafs Quick Hits from 5-2 Loss to the Sabres

The Toronto Maple Leafs lost by a 5-2 score to the Buffalo Sabres. What are the takeaways from the game? What will happen to Auston Matthews?

The Toronto Maple Leafs lost yesterday to the Buffalo Sabres once again. This time the score was 5-2. The last time the two teams played 11 days ago, the score was 5-1 for the Sabres. Again, it wasn’t a good game for the Maple Leafs. 

The outdoor venue doesn’t suit their smooth game. It was the team’s fourth loss in their last six games. They now have a record of 37-17-5 on the season.

However, there were some upsides. Auston Matthews scored his 45th goal of the season to extend his NHL lead for goals. It was Matthews’ eighth goal during a five-game goal streak. Ondrej Kase is not only back and playing, but scored the first goal of the game to put the Maple Leafs ahead early in the second period.

Related: Dubas Says Defense a Priority for Maple Leafs, Muzzin’s Probably the Guy

Takeaway One: The Maple Leafs Aren’t Doing the Little Things Well

Physicality is always a plus, but it’s something the Maple Leafs don’t demonstrate in abundance. They don’t always finish their checks. They seldom play an intensely physical game. And, one reason for the loss to the Sabres is that they didn’t win puck battles, block shots, or cover their opponents efficiently. As a result, the Sabres were able to break out of their zone well to go in on odd-man rushes. 

Petr Mrazek played better than he had, but he couldn’t stop everything. Partly that’s because the Maple Leafs weren’t practicing the little skills they should have been coached from long ago. Here’s saying that they need to get their work together before the playoffs come this season because they lacked that same skill last season. 

Takeaway Two: Petr Mrazek Gave Up Four Goals – Again

Petr Mrazek once again surrendered four goals during a game. This time it was a more realistic 37 shots instead of 12, but the result was still a 5-2 loss to the Sabres. He had a solid first period, stopping all 14 shots he faced. However, the third goal the Sabres scored was one he should have stopped and he went downhill from there. 

Petr Mrazek Maple Leafs
Petr Mrazek, Maple Leafs

Mrazek completed the game yesterday, but his record fell to 10-6-0 on the season. He’s given up four goals or more during each of his last four starts. There has to be a chance that Erik Kallgren gets a chance to in the Maple Leafs’ goal.

Takeaway Three: Auston Matthews Has an Up and Down Game

Auston Matthews scored goal number 45 on the season, but the game got ugly for the Maple Leafs’ star center. When he crosschecked the neck or chin of Sabres’ defenseman Rasmus Dahlin during the third period, the NHL took notice.

The NHL’s Department of Player Safety reviewed the play today. And just before the publication of this post word came down that the NHL suspended Matthews for two games. At the time, both Matthews and Dahlin were given minor penalties for cross-checking. It’s interesting that Matthews doesn’t draw many penalties.

Auston Matthews UD Card Toronto Maple Leafs MVP
Auston Matthews UD Card Toronto Maple Leafs MVP

Prior to the Sabres’ game, the numbers were that the Edmonton Oilers’ Connor McDavid led the NHL in drawn penalties with 40. The Oilers’ forward is talented, so that number is not a surprise. Jonathan Huberdeau was tied for 44th with 18 penalties drawn. Matthews was tied for 362nd in the NHL with only seven penalties drawn.

Does that seem odd?

Related: New Lines for the Maple Leafs: Do These Mean Trades Are Coming?

9 Comments

9 Comments

  1. Afp1961

    March 14, 2022 at 3:24 pm

    Jim
    The issues are comprehensive and complex . It’s not a simple fix with adding 1-2 players. They could get Victor Hedmen and Vasilevski and still have major issues.
    1: structure has been abandoned
    2: discipline to the details is gone
    3: beyond Matthews who is scoring
    4: goaltending is not even beer league level. Gives zero confidence to the rest of the team.
    5: Keefe has done little to make any impact
    6 Dubas is frozen like a deer in headlights
    7: shanny is looking for corners to hide in
    8: Matthews cannot wait for the summer season
    9: likely many UFAs have no interest in coming to participate in The Gong Show
    10: gritty players still win games as was shown jn b2b sabres victories.

    I’m afraid this team may get cast aside easily come the playoffs. They are sinking like a stone and will have to battle for a wildcard spot. What a fateful fall from so called “grace.” Congratulations Dubas. You will forever be known as the GM who had the greatest assembly of core maple leaf players who accomplished NOTHING

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  6. Old Prof

    March 15, 2022 at 4:16 pm

    You might be right about the hopelessness of this team – but I don’t think so – and what makes this Dubas’ fault? That I don’t completely get – not arguing – just asking.

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