The Toronto Maple Leafs played one of their best games of the season beating the Boston Bruins by a score of 6-4 last night. The usual stars rose to the challenge. Both Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner scored. In addition, the Maple Leafs’ new-look defense – all four of the defensemen who were left standing at the end of the game – played well.
The Maple Leafs’ win ended Boston’s four-game winning streak. Even better, frustrated the Bruins who took a number of chippy penalties. It was a look-in-the-mirror game, and the Maple Leafs were the fairest of them both last night.
In this edition of Maple Leafs’ takeaways, I’ll look at three takeaways from the game and discuss possible implications for the near future. The team left the game with two areas of injury to overcome – the goaltending and the defensive corps. How the team will rise to overcome those injuries is a concern.
Takeaway One: Last Night the Goaltending Did What It Was Supposed To Do
Petr Mrazek left the game during the first period with, unfortunately for both him and the team, yet another groin injury. Rookie Erik Kallgren stepped in and played well. The goalies did exactly what they were supposed to do – that’s to stop the shots that should have been stopped.
Obviously, the Bruins scored four goals by the time the game was over. But, by and large, these were goals that would likely have been scored – bounces that went the wrong way and scrums in front of the net where the Bruins got lucky and the goal went in. But really, there was not a stinker I could remember.
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In the end, Kallgren stopped all but three of the 26 shots he faced during the 6-4 win. He entered the game early after Mrazek was forced to retire. The 25-year-old was solid. As I noted, the Bruins put three goals past him, but these goals were of no consequence to the final score.
With Mrazek out now for, likely, a while and starting goalie Jack Campbell just returning from a rib injury that has taken weeks to heal and rehab, Kallgren (and perhaps even another rookie) might be forced into more extended action. On the season, Kallgren has a 3-2-1 record, a goals-against-average of 2.64, and a save percentage of .911.
Takeaway Two: Auston Matthews Will Hit the 50-Goal Mark First
Auston Matthews scored a goal and added an assist in last night’s win over the Bruins. He traded goals and assists with his first-line partner Mitch Marner. First Matthews set up Marner’s career-best 28th goal of the season. Then, just over five minutes later, Marner did the same for Matthews.
For the 24-year-old Matthews, the goal was his NHL-leading 49th. He now has 49 goals and 36 assists (for 85 points) in 61 games. That’s amazing really given Matthews’ slow start for the season after coming off surgery and missing a few games at the get-go.
Matthews’ late second-period goal was the fourth of five straight scored by the Maple Leafs, who held a 6-1 lead. As I noted, the Bruins seemed to get frustrated and were drawn into a series of retaliatory hits and penalties.
Takeaway Three: The Maple Leafs Are a More Physical Team this Season
Speaking of hits and penalties, the physicality of the Maple Leafs has jumped up this season. The Bruins are a tough team, but the Maple Leafs hung in there. The Blue and White did not get pushed around, although the Bruins were chippy.
Taylor Hall just punched Lyubushkin in the face. Brad Marchand was cross-checking John Tavares, in particular, all night and then went on to draw a 10-minute misconduct penalty. I have to think that Kyle Clifford was a factor in the game and was used to tone down any retaliation. I also have to think that Wayne Simmonds will play during the next Bruins’ game.
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