Hats off to the Vancouver Canucks. They delivered a 4-1 loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs last night. The tipping point was the third period when the Canucks got two short-handed goals from stars Elias Pettersson and J.T. Miller only 44 seconds apart. Until then the Maple Leafs were in the game despite Thatcher Demko’s strong game in the Canucks’ crease.
The Canucks also got goals from Andrei Kuzmenko and Nils Arman, while Brock Boeser added two assists. But perhaps the Canucks biggest star was goalie Thatcher Demko. He limited the Maple Leafs to a single goal by John Tavares and stopped everyone else 36 times.
In this edition of Maple Leafs’ game takeaways, I’ll look at the key players for Toronto in this game.
Takeaway One: Auston Matthews and the Maple Leafs Got Lucky
Auston Matthews left Saturday’s game late in the first period after taking a slap shot off the inside of his right knee. The shot hit him where he had no pads; and, for a few minutes, he was unable to stand. When he did leave the ice, he did so without the help of the trainer, which was good news.
Even better news was that he was able to return six minutes into the second period. He continued to play. Although it’s good to see him back on the ice, I wonder if he might need some time to recover. He should be carrying a nasty bruise for a while, even if he’s able to continue to play.
Related: Maple Leafs News & Rumors: Murray, Zohorna, O’Reilly & Woll
Takeaway Two: Matt Murray Makes Tremendous Saves in Loss
After being out since January 17 due to an ankle injury, Matt Murray returned to the Toronto net last night against the Canucks. He made 20 saves on the night, but the two third-period short-handed goals within less than 30 seconds did him in.
It was a tough loss; however, Murray made some impressive saves during the game. In an odd way, his showing was impressive. He looked (mostly) good, but the Canucks still won.
Murray’s health might become a crucial factor in the success of the team during the postseason. It’s likely that the Maple Leafs will need both Murray and Ilya Samsonov. At least that would be the best scenario for a team if they are getting ready to make a deep run in the playoffs.
Related: Ryan O’Reilly Looks Like a New (Better) Player with Maple Leafs
Takeaway Three: How Much Do the Maple Leafs (Already) Miss Ryan O’Reilly?
One blocked-shot injury to Auston Matthews was enough, but then the team lost newcomer Ryan O’Reilly for the third period of Saturday night’s game. The issue? He also blocked a shot with his hand late during the second period. There was no update from head coach Sheldon Keefe after the game. It’s probably too early to tell.
Perhaps the earliest update about O’Reilly’s status will be after practice on Monday. Should he have to miss any time, it will be a big loss to the team. Although he’s only played a handful of games with his new team, the team is coming to depend on him to carry a ton of responsibility.
In fact, coincidence or not, the team struggled when he was out last night. As noted, they allowed three goals in the third period.
Related: SEARCH RESULTS: WHATEVER HAPPENED TO EX-MAPLE LEAFS’ JOSH HO-SANG?
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March 5, 2023 at 1:15 am
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March 5, 2023 at 11:27 am
The 4th takeaway and all too familiar. When the Leafs play a bottom feeder they go into the game thinking all they have to do is show up at the rink. The fundamental issue with this team the biggest part of why they aren’t challenging Boston for 1st place. It’s the old Leaf nemesis of ‘entitlement’. Hard for the ‘prima donnas’ not to feel entitled when they have been coddled by management & coaches for years. Their fans play a role in this too. Name a fan base that has put up with this kind of mediocrity for 50+ years? Every year the fans, myself included, are like sheep returning to the flock. Perhaps it’s time for Keefe to employ the tactic Cooper used with TB yesterday!
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