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Three Takeaways from Maple Leafs’ 4-3 Loss to the Blue Jackets

The Toronto Maple Leafs lost their back-to-back with the Columbus Blue Jackets last night. What were the three takeaways from the game?

The Toronto Maple Leafs took it to the Columbus Blue Jackets for four of the six periods the two teams played over the weekend. However, they lost last night’s game because they forgot the way during the middle period big time, fell behind, and couldn’t catch up.

The result was that the Blue Jackets came roaring back from a 2-0 first-period deficit to take a 3-2 lead into the third. The Maple Leafs tied it but couldn’t hold on. The result was another loss by the Maple Leafs to a cellar-dwelling NHL team. That kind of losing to teams they should beat has become a pattern – and not a good one.

Takeaway One: It Wasn’t Joseph Woll’s Fault, But He Did Take the Loss

I can’t lie. I was looking for Joseph Woll to have an outstanding game for the Maple Leafs, especially given his strong play with the AHL Toronto Marlies and during the AHL’s recent All-Star weekend. He didn’t have an outstanding game; but, he didn’t have a stinker either.

Although he lost, Woll’s performance in the game against the Blue Jackets was an encouraging sign for the Maple Leafs. He stopped 36 of 40 shots and put up a solid effort in his fifth career NHL game. He let in one he should have had when he couldn’t cover a puck; however, that said, he was poised and confident in the net.

With Matt Murray out indefinitely with a knee injury, Woll should get more chances to prove himself in the coming games. It’s a good opportunity for him to show what he can do and to gain experience at the NHL level. His job will be to keep Ilya Samsonov fresh for key games as the season progresses.

Woll has shown promise and potential, and it will be interesting to see how he performs over the coming weeks. He was calm last night, but his team just didn’t play its usual solid defense and allowed 40 shots.

Related: Maple Leafs Future Will Determine Dubas’ Deadline Deals

Takeaway Two: Is Michael Bunting Pushing the Line?

Michael Bunting has been known to play an aggressive style of hockey. That gets him involved in verbal and (following the verbage) physical confrontations with opponents. In fact, that irritation makes him a tough player to play against. However, has his aggressiveness gone too far? In last night’s game, it was a negative difference.

It is important that a player maintains discipline and doesn’t cross the line into play that puts his own team in difficult spots. Bunting seemed to forget that. As a result, he took penalties that foiled his team’s ability to mount a comeback.

Last night, Bunting scored; and, that’s a positive. However, as the Blue Jackets mounted a comeback, he respond ineffectively to the Blue Jackets’ aggressive play. He seemed to let emotions get the best of him. You have to think that Sheldon Keefe will have a conversation with the feisty second-year player about maintaining his discipline on the ice.

Related: Three Takeaways from Maple Leafs’ 3-0 Win vs Blue Jackets

Takeaway Three: Having Morgan Rielly Is a Big Difference for the Maple Leafs

Having a healthy Morgan Rielly is key for the Maple Leafs’ success. He was slow in coming back from his knee injury, and that’s understandable. But it seems he is back. His recent performances are positive signs for the team.

Knee injuries are tough for any hockey player, especially a defenseman who depends upon his skating (like Rielly). Without his speed and agility, he’s playing at only half of his usual impact. Last night, it was obvious that he’s been able to regain that quickness in his stride. It’s a good sign for the rest of the season.

Morgan Rielly, Maple Leafs

It’s great to see Rielly contributing offensively, particularly on the power play. His third-period goal pushed his point streak to four games (two goals, two assists). However, his power-play goal was the first goal with the man advantage by a Maple Leafs’ defenceman in 69 games. That’s an incredible and almost unbelievable stat.

The team has played solid defense this season but has struggled to find scoring from its defense. The team will expect Rielly to continue his strong play. If he does, that should help lead his team to success in the latter half of the season.

Related: WHATEVER HAPPENED TO EX-MAPLE LEAFS’ JOSH HO-SANG?

6 Comments

6 Comments

  1. Jon Harding

    February 11, 2023 at 11:09 pm

    Really good to see Reilly play so well. Other than that, it’s games like this that make one say this team is what it is – pretty good some nights and lots of stinkers …. Maybe a team that can squeeze a round in the playoffs, or maybe not. I guess that’s what everyone wants.I guess that screams success in certain circles. Good luck with that.

  2. gfinale

    February 12, 2023 at 1:46 am

    Let’s investigate this thing about first pp goal by defenseman in 69 games. who is the only defenseman to be out on the pp most of the time, Reilly, probably 90-95%. So, that’s an unbelievable failure on Rielly’s part, not any of the other Leafs defensemen.

  3. gfinale

    February 12, 2023 at 1:52 am

    Pretty difficult for an AHL goalie who has not been getting that many AHL games to suddenly come in to face 40 NHL shots. These Leafs should have and could have supported their goalie better.

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