The Toronto Maple Leafs won their second game in a row when they came into Edmonton and beat a struggling Oilers 5-1 last night. Although fireworks were predicted – how could it be otherwise with Auston Matthews, Connor McDavid, and Leon Draisaitl on the ice at the same time – they didn’t explode. At least, the top two point-getters in the NHL (McDavid and Draisaitl) didn’t come through for their team.
Instead, Auston Matthews had two goals and the Maple Leafs’ depth and defense added the other three goals. Wayne Simmonds scored from in close; T.J. Brodie got his first goal of the season; and, Morgan Rielly scored again for the Maple Leafs. The Maple Leafs now have a road record of 8-4-1 and lead the NHL with 42 points, although other teams have games-in-hand.
In this edition of takeaways, I’ll look at my three takeaways from this game.
Takeaway One: Jack Campbell Is Still Good
Make no mistake, starting goalie Jack Campbell only suffered a tiny bump in his great season. Last night he stopped 35 shots en route to a 5-1 win over the Oilers. Campbell came into the game on a bit of a hic-up by allowing 14 goals during his last four games, but he was back to his normal self last night.
It wasn’t as if he was tested too hard, although the Oilers outshot the Maple Leafs 36-25 during the game. However, the Oilers have been slumping; and, that remained the case. It seemed like the Oilers put a “quiet” 36 shots on the net.
Although Campbell had given up an average of 3.5 goals per game over his last four games, he still has won four of his last six and is 15-5-2 on the season. He has a stellar goals-against-average of 1.94 and a save percentage of .937 in his 23 games thus far.
I’m guessing Campbell will play on Saturday against the Canucks, who just came from behind to win their fifth game in a row against the Columbus Blue Jackets. The Calgary Flames game was postponed.
Takeaway Two: Auston Matthews Is on a Huge Roll
Given Auston Matthews’ slow start to the season, I predicted there was no chance he’d once again win the Rocket Richard Trophy as the NHL’s leading goal-scorer. I was wrong. Matthews is absolutely on a roll and has a good chance.
Last night, he scored two goals on only four shots on goal. He’s on a 10-game point-scoring streak that has netted him 13 goals and five assists during those 10 games. Thirteen goals in 10 games? Amazing.
The two goals Matthews scored last night pulled him up to 20 goals for the season. He also has 13 assists (for 33 points) in 27 games. Of his points, Matthews has scored 15 on the power play. Most interesting to me, Matthews is scoring this season in a larger variety of ways – no more lurking around for a one-timer, even on the power-play. That versatility bodes well for the Maple Leafs.
Takeaway Three: The Maple Leafs Have Strong Depth
There have always been concerns about the Maple Leafs’ pay structure. In fact, almost every day a Maple Leafs’ reader critiques the team for the disproportionate money it spends in salaries for the Core Four, because it means that the remainder of the team isn’t paid nearly as well. You can’t have that pay structure and win, the argument.
It is true enough that much of the money goes to the stars on this team. However, I’m here to say that the depth on the Maple Leafs’ team is really strong. Tonight it was clear that the Maple Leafs have far better depth players than the Oilers.
Mitch Marner is out; but, in skates Ojdrej Kase – who has been really good on the wing with Matthews in Marner’s place. He’s established a home for himself for at least a couple of weeks and contributed two assists last night. Wayne Simmonds banged in a rebound in close for a goal. And others contributed as well.
The stars are carrying the team, which is the plan. However, the depth players are holding their own as well. It seems like a solid team from top to bottom.
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