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Three Takeaways from Maple Leafs 4-0 Shutout Win Over the Stars

The Toronto Maple Leafs beat the Dallas Stars last night 4-0. What were three takeaways from the game? How did Erik Kallgren play?

After playing really poorly for a number of games, the Toronto Maple Leafs were everything they hadn’t been. It was the team’s best game in what seemed like weeks. They threw a great defensive game and a strong goalie performance against a rising Dallas Stars team to win 4-0. 

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

Takeaway Number One: Finally, Some Good Goaltending

In truth, Eric Kallgren seemed likely the only option for a Maple Leafs’ team that had been severely struggling. Starting goalie Jack Campbell was out with a rib injury; but, it wasn’t as if he were strong in the net before he went out. Backup goalie Petr Mrazek had been wobbly in the net almost every chance he’s had. 

Something had to give. That something was Kallgren. Coming into this game, Kallgren seemed like the Maple Leafs’ only chance for any good goaltending. He got the nod and ran with it. The team needed him.

Here’s how bad the Maple Leafs’ goaltending has been. Since January 1, the team’s goaltending has been the worst in the NHL. The team entered the game with the NHL’s worst save percentage (88.1%) in five-on-five play. 

Kallgren made 35 saves to earn a shutout in his first NHL start. Although it was his first start, it wasn’t his first game. The 25-year-old Swedish rookie had relieved Mrazek during Thursday’s 5-4 shootout loss to Arizona in his NHL debut and had made seven saves in regulation before he had lost in overtime. 

He was the first Maple Leafs’ goalie to record a shutout in his first NHL start since Garret Sparks on November 30, 2015.

Takeaway Two: John Tavares’ Game Has Returned

John Tavares scored one goal and added an assist in last night’s 4-0 win over the Stars. Tavares came out roaring in the first period. He had a beautiful assist on Rasmus Sandin’s goal to open the game’s scoring and then tipped in a William Nylander shot for a goal just a few minutes later. 

With his two points, over the 59 games he’s played this season, Tavares is slowly moving toward the point-a-game plateau. He now has scored 20 goals and  added 37 assists (for 57 points). 

Auston Matthews John Tavares Maple Leafs
Auston Matthews John Tavares Maple Leafs Upper Deck

Last night, because star center Auston Matthews was serving the first game of a two-game suspension for cross-checking, Tavares jumped up to center the first line. In that role, linemate Mitch Marner helped his success. That shouldn’t be a surprise, because when Marner had played with Tavares during his first year with the team, Marner helped Tavaris set the highest goal total in his career. He can have that effect on his line-mates.

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

Takeaway Three: Ilya Mikheyev Was Speedy All Night Long

Ilya Mikheyev has to be one of the fastest skaters in the NHL. In last night’s game, he sped up and down the ice working hard both offensively and defensively. He had a number of breakaways where he sped around the Stars’ defense and cut the edge right onto the Stars’ goalie; however, he failed to score. His goal came late in the game with the Stars’ goalie pulled.

Ilya Mikheyev, plays great defense for the team

The thing that’s so sad about Mikheyev is that he seems a strong possibility to be lost to the team if they cannot sign him next offseason. If he leaves, he’ll certainly be missed. There are few players as fast on the ice in transition than Mikheyev.

Other game reviews might not mention him, but Mikheyev was effective all night long. It’s his speed that separates him from other players.

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

4 Comments

4 Comments

  1. Jon Harding

    March 16, 2022 at 8:21 am

    Agree wholeheartedly Old Prof. Important that we (me more than you) cite the positives when we get the chance. I also really liked last night’s play from Sandin, Bunting, Kyle Clifford and Nick Robertson. It will be an interesting few days ahead. I heard something on the radio this morning that made me take a step back and appreciate the job Kyle Dubas is doing. With all the trade talk, one of the commentators was highlighting the college play of both Matthew Knies and Nick Abruzzese, adding that both Leafs prospects are almost, if not already, NHL ready. Dubas may be creating something pretty sustainable here and we can’t lose sight of that. I like the idea now of possibly adding an impact depth forward to cover off the declining play of Spezza and Simmonds. If Campbell can come back healthy and decent, if Kallgren can play himself into the role of backup, if Muzzin comes back somewhat normal then they don’t need to add much at a high cost. A lot of “ifs” but things may turn out OK. – thanks for the opportunity to comment. We’ll likely be back to doom and gloom on Friday.

    • Old Prof

      March 16, 2022 at 11:08 am

      Thanks Jon – for your really excellent addition to the post – don’t be surprised when you see me bounce off (and attribute) some of these points in another post somewhere else – thanks – Jim Sr.

  2. afp1961

    March 16, 2022 at 9:54 am

    Agree Jim with your Three points. Will also state that as I watch the game within the game, it becomes ever more evident that Nick Robertson is the NHL version of Pinball Clemens. Too small to make an impact on the forecheck, does not have good vision looking for his mates as Nylander was open several times but NR was circling tryin to get set for his shot, and BTW he cannot get his shot off quick enough so we will never see this ‘so called NHL shot’ Defensively he lost too many half wall battles against the bigger Stars. I see a trade or a future in the Swedish Hockey League.

  3. Old Prof

    March 16, 2022 at 11:25 am

    Thanks for that – he is noticable on the ice for sure – I didn’t look with so much attention – appreciate your addition – Jim Sr

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