The Toronto Maple Leafs were hot as a firecracker for 16 games. Now they’re not. That’s life in the NHL.
In fact, that’s exactly what Maple Leafs’ head coach Sheldon Keefe said after the team’s 3-1 loss to the New York Rangers. Keefe noted: “Everything has gone our way for a real long time. That is not the reality of the NHL. We will move past this one today.”
Well, it’s now two games in a row where things have not gone the Maple Leafs’ way. The final score of last night’s game was 5-2 in favor of the Washington Capitals. Maple Leafs’ goalie Ilya Samsonov allowed a couple of softies to begin the game, but his team came back to bring the score within a goal at 3-2.
Then there was the third period. Not so good.
In this game, it was hard for the Maple Leafs to overcome their mistakes, the soft goals, and the lack of an effective power play. Now the Maple Leafs come home to play two more games at Scotiabank Arena to see if they can get back on the winning track.
Takeaway One: It’s a Long Season, So a Letdown Is (I Suppose) Expected
I hate it when I am so naive, but I just expect the Maple Leafs to win these days. It’s hard to see the Maple Leafs have a poor game and lose. They’ve been so good lately. But that’s what happened last night. Even worse, it’s been a couple of games in a row now.
The team actually played well in New York, but the Rangers scored on two of the few high-quality scoring chances they had. In addition, the Rangers’ goalie stopped one more puck than the Maple Leafs’ goalie. It was closer.
Last night’s game wasn’t as close. There were too many turnovers and defensive mistakes. In the end, those mistakes cost the Maple Leafs last night’s game. It looked a bit like the team in October instead of the team in November.
All that said, the NHL’s regular season is a long one. And good teams lose games to other teams. We’ll see how the Maple Leafs respond soon enough. A couple of wins at home will soothe the pain as the holidays come.
Related: MAPLE LEAFS MARK GIORDANO: NHL’S BEST BARGAIN CONTRACT?
Takeaway Two: Ilya Samsonov Is Human After All
If Ilya Samsonov wanted to show his former team that they’d made a mistake not to qualify him in the offseason, he didn’t. Not that his former team isn’t watching and had to know that Samsonov was leading the NHL in save percentage and goals-against-average. They just didn’t seem to care or show any respect for their former teammate.
Samsonov had not given up a goal in his past two starts. But he gave up five goals last night. He looked pretty human.
His shutout streak lasted 163:46 minutes. That’s like two whole games and more than two periods of the third game. That’s good goalie play, which needs to be recalled when Samsonov has a poor night. He’ll play some more great hockey and will have a few more clunkers along the way. As I say, that’s life in the NHL.
In fact, Samsonov showed that he was really human. I’m sure he’d like the first two goals back, but good goalies let in soft goals. Samsonov was out goalied by one of his replacements – Charlie Lindgren. Lindgren was particularly outstanding during the second period when the Maple Leafs mounted a comeback. But that fell short; and, when the statistics were compiled, Lindgren had made 34 stops in the game. His record in his past seven games rose to 6-1-0.
Related: Maple Leafs’ Holmberg: Shining Example of Organizational Depth
Takeaway Three: Auston Matthews Scores Again
William Nylander scored his 18th goal of the season and Auston Matthews scored his 16th. Matthews had lost his scoring streak at eight games against the Rangers but started a new one last night. He also registered an assist on Nylander’s first-period goal.
Related: Is There Anyone Left Who’d Trade Maple Leafs William Nylander?
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December 18, 2022 at 9:48 am
I watch the Leafs every game and I could see bad habits coming back in there game, to many drop passes Matthews gifted Rangers a goalby dropping puck back. The Leafs also have been exiting the zone looking for a freebie instead of focusing as a five man unit on defense. The Leafs need to get back to what they were wnen winning.
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