It’s hard to blame the Toronto Maple Leafs for the 2-1 overtime loss to the New York Rangers on Monday night. They overran the Rangers all night long, but they simply couldn’t beat Igor Shesterkin for a goal. He stood on his head all game and faced 41 shots. Only one got pushed through him, and that was by newcomer Michael Bunting.
In this post, I’m going to take a look at three takeaways from the Maple Leafs 2-1 loss to the Rangers.
Related: Can Maple Leafs Sheldon Keefe Win with a Different Team in 2021-22?
Takeaway One: It’s Tough to Beat a Hot Goalie, and Igor Shesterkin Is Hot
The only person to blame if you’re a Maple Leafs’ fan is young Rangers’ goalie Igor Shesterkin. He’s the simple reason the Maple Leafs lost. It’s the second great goalie performance the Maple Leafs have faced this season. In a 3-2 loss to the Ottawa Senators, goalie Anton Forsberg made a career-high 46 saves to also beat the Maple Leafs.
Shesterkin was simply awesome in the net. If he plays like he played last night, he gives the Rangers a chance every time they take the ice. The 25-year-old Shesterkin now has a 2-0-1 record with a goals-against-average of 1.62 and a save percentage of .949.
It had to be a frustrating night for the Maple Leafs’ offense, and at one point even Auston Matthews hung his whole body over the boards in discouragement.
Takeaway Two: Auston Matthews Is Back, But Didn’t Score
Speaking of Auston Matthews, there’s no doubting he came to play. He just couldn’t score. In the end, he had fired eight shots on goal without a result. He played well in his regular-season debut. Alas, he wasn’t rewarded.
On top of his game-high eight shots, Matthews also dominated in the face-off circle, winning 13 of 15 faceoffs (86.7 percent). Perhaps more than the downside of his lack of scoring, the upside of his faceoff prowess suggests that his wrist is strong and probably completely healed.
For those who follow Maple Leafs’ head coach Sheldon Keefe’s philosophy, any thoughts that Matthews and his partner Mitch Marner would get more rest this season seem out the window. Last night, Matthews ended up being on the ice for 22:53 minutes, while Marner logged a high total of 24:26 minutes.
Takeaway #3: Jack Campbell Deserves to Be the Starter
Even in the loss, Maple Leafs’ starting goalie Jack Campbell is proving that last season’s breakout is not a fluke. He gave up two goals on 23 shots in the 2-1 overtime loss, but he played well and made key saves when called on all night long.
Campbell did a lot of standing around while his teammates were buzzing in the Rangers’ side of the ice, but Campbell isn’t the reason for the loss. When he needed to be on his game, he was. He now has recorded a 2-0-1 regular-season start, with a goals-against-average of 1.18 and a save percentage of .953. He’ll be called on to carry the team with partner Petr Mrazek on the shelf with a groin injury.
Next: Maple Leafs’ Pierre Engvall Is Back, But Is He Really? And, for How Long?
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