The Toronto Maple Leafs rested a number of their players, and it might have shown on Sunday’s back-to-back against the Detroit Red Wings. The Maple Leafs rested players included Mitch Marner, Jake McCabe, and Mark Giordano. In the end, the team fell behind and couldn’t catch up. The final score was 5-2 for the visiting Red Wings.
All in all, the Maple Leafs had a tough night on Sunday. Goalie Matt Murray went down yet again with an injury. He seemed to be fighting the puck even when he was in the game. His team wasn’t great in front of him and started to push too late. They couldn’t pull out the win.
The Maple Leafs also had a significant advantage in shots on the Red Wings’ net, but their goalie Alex Nedeljkovic made 42 saves. He was the biggest difference in the game.
That was the game. I suppose the narrative will be that this was a game the Maple Leafs didn’t need to win; however, until the team officially secures the home ice advantage, I’m concerned. Despite the loss, the Maple Leafs remain four points ahead of the Tampa Bay Lightning with a game in hand for second place in the Atlantic Division.
Takeaway One: Matt Murray Injured Again in a Freak Injury
Maple Leafs’ goalie Matt Murray was injured in a collision with Lucas Raymond in the crease. Although he was tested for a concussion, there is currently no update on his status. Head coach Sheldon Keefe shared that an update on Murray’s condition should be available before Tuesday’s game against Columbus. Ilya Samsonov replaced Murray in goal after Murray left the ice.
This is a time when having Joseph Woll as an option in the AHL is a positive for the Maple Leafs. Woll has had a great season in the AHL and an equally solid NHL season, albeit in limited action. Woll’s record in two seasons with the Maple Leafs is 6-2-0 with a .922 save percentage and a 2.39 goals-against average. This season, he’s 3-1-0 with a .934 save percentage and a 2.03 goals-against average.
While it’s uncertain yet if the Maple Leafs will need to call him up to the NHL, having him as a competent backup option should provide some peace of mind for the organization.
Related: Maple Leafs News & Rumors: O’Reilly, Nylander, Kessel & Zohorna
Takeaway Two: Is Michael Bunting Being Unfairly Treated?
Michael Bunting has been drawing the attention of officials in recent games. He’s a pest and walks on, or sometimes steps over, the line. At the end of the second period, he was assessed a a 10-minute misconduct. Was it fair? His coach obviously thought not.
Maple Leafs’ head coach Sheldon Keefe shared his point of view after the game. He noted that Bunting had “eaten three crosschecks” and hinted that Bunting was protecting himself. He also believed that “it’s the way he has been officiated lately.”
Obviously, Bunting has been trying to play his aggitating game and navigate the treatment from officials at the same time. But, that’s a tough path to walk for the second-year player. He’s been taking a pounding recently by receiving crosschecks and punches to the face. Even when he was clearly crosschecked in Sunday’s game, he was also penalized for embellishing. He’s done something to anger the officials.
Keefe noted to reporters that general manager Kyle Dubas would “take up the situation with the league.” At the same time, Bunting needs to stay focused and keep playing. The truth is that there are probably some ways Bunting can mediate the officiating, but that’s a learning that comes with experience.
Related: Five Takeaways from Maple Leafs 3-0 Win vs. Senators
Takeaway Three: Ilya Samsonov Battled But His Team Couldn’t Generate Goals
When Murray went out, his goalie partner Samsonov went in. The made some great saves, but didn’t make enough of them. After the game, coach Keefe noted that Samsonov was put in a tough spot going in the back-to-back game.
He battled and coach Keefe believed Samsonov gave the team more than enough opportunity to come back in the game. But, Keefe also noted that the Red Wings’ goalie was really good. And that’s the truth.
Nedeljkovic didn’t allow the Maple Leafs skaters to capitalize on their chances.
Related: FACING THE MAPLE LEAFS FROM THE LIGHTNING’S POINT OF VIEW
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