The Toronto Maple Leafs simply cannot beat the Arizona Coyotes. For some reason, the Coyotes have their number; and, regardless of whether it’s on the road or at home, the Coyotes keep winning.
Last night started as if it were going to be different. The Maple Leafs dominated the first period and might have scored three or four goals in that period alone. But they didn’t. Then the Coyotes simply took over.
As Maple Leafs’ head coach Sheldon Keefe noted after the game, “That is two games in a row now that we have given up a lead in the third period. It’s two games we’ve been in control of. It got away from us for different reasons.”
In this post, I’m going to share my three key takeaways from the 6-3 loss.
Takeaway One: Matt Murray Has Had Better Games
Matt Murray has been playing well, but not so much last night. He let in four goals in only 21 shots to take the loss. The truth is that it wasn’t just Murray. The entire team just seemed not to have much jump as the game wore on. That allowed the Coyotes to run away and hide.
The 28-year-old Murray has taken turns winning and losing games over his last four. It’s a game the team should have won, and the unlucky 13 (it was his 13th game of the season) loss left Murray with a record that is now 8-3-2. He also sports a goals-against-average of 2.47 and a save percentage of .919. Neither Murray nor Ilya Samsonov has been playing as well in December as they did earlier in the season.
Related: Maple Leafs News & Rumors: Strange Fines, Rielly & Giordano
Takeaway Two: Morgan Rielly Returned to Game Action
Maple Leafs’ star defenseman Morgan Reilly returned to game action after missing 15 games with a lower-body (a knee) injury. Last night he was part of a very successful power-play unit – the team’s second power-play unit that scored on two consecutive power plays. Rielly registered an assist.
Although Rielly had missed more than a month of games, he just stepped back into his number-one role and logged more than 20 minutes of TOI in the game. The 28-year-old Rielly looks like he just played yesterday – as if he hadn’t been away at all. On the season, even with missing 15 games, he’s still collected 17 assists in 21 games. Seven of those have come – as his assist did tonight – on the power play.
Related: Three Takeaways in Maple Leafs’ 5-4 OT Win vs. Blues
Takeaway Three: Calle Jarnkrok Looks Like He Found a Second-Line Home
Calle Jarnkrok seems to like it in the Maple Leafs’ top six. He scored a power-play goal – from the high slot of course – and seems to be (at least for now) the answer to the team’s question about who plays the second-line left-winger spot.
Since he returned from his injury four games ago, Jarnkrok has been productive working in his new top-six role. In those four games, he’s scored three goals and added three assists. He’s on a nice little four-game point streak.
However, his goal as a member of the team’s second-unit power play was his first point with the man advantage this season. The Swede with a high hockey IQ now has scored eight goals and has added seven assists (for 15 points) in 29 games on the season.
Related: IS IT TIME FOR MAPLE LEAFS’ FANS TO CHEER FOR THE RED WINGS?
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December 30, 2022 at 3:03 am
Worst game of the season. Morgan Reilly did not defend worth a darn on the Coyotes’ game winning goal. The big four were largely ineffective and John Tavares has gone very cold over the last few games. It’s a long season but that performance was as disappointing as they come. Television coverage looked like a kids tournament on a local community cable channel.
December 31, 2022 at 4:31 am
That’s nothing new for Rielly!
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