Effectively, it looks like it’s been without end because the Toronto Maple Leafs took to the ice in a daily season recreation, nonetheless the staff final performed on Dec. 14 earlier than the NHL took a brief break to try to management the COVID outbreak that seemingly took over the league.
However, with new protocols in place and golf equipment south of the border already getting again to taking part in, the Maple Leafs took on the Ottawa Senators on New Years Day in entrance of practically no followers at Scotiabank Area in Toronto.
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Whereas the Senators have been with out Josh Norris, the staff got here out and seemed rusty, taking far too many penalties and giving the Maple Leafs far too many alternatives.
Nonetheless, it wouldn’t be a Maple Leafs recreation with out it being damaged down and analyzed a bit additional. So, with that in thoughts, right here’s what we will take away from the Maple Leafs’ lopsided 6-0 win over the Senators.
Maple Leafs’ Mikheyev a Spoonful of Expertise
After breaking his finger in his ultimate preseason outing, Ilya Mikheyev performed in simply his second recreation this season with the Maple Leafs on Saturday. He patrolled the staff’s third line many of the evening with Ondrej Kaše and David Kämpf.
In reality, he completed the sport having performed over 16 minutes, with 4 minutes of energy play time and practically two minutes on the penalty kill. He had a team-high seven photographs on purpose – and, oh yeah, he completed the sport with two objectives as effectively.
Mikheyev’s play didn’t simply begin and finish with the objectives nonetheless. He performed a few of his finest hockey since taking place with the grotesque wrist damage in his rookie season that sidelined him the rest of that 12 months.
Whereas we’re not totally conscious of the place it got here from, Mikheyev appeared to play with a excessive degree of confidence towards the Senators which ought to play into his favour. He’s a participant that feeds off of the optimistic power and might skate just like the wind – one thing he confirmed on Saturday incomes himself numerous harmful alternatives and partial breaks all through the evening.
Clearly it’s far too early to inform, however Mikheyev appears like he could possibly be totally again to type and if he continues to play with that sort of confidence, this can be a participant that might put up some key offence for this staff – even when it means taking part in on the third line.
Maple Leafs’ Campbell Stands Tall
With Mikheyev taking good care of enterprise on the offensive facet of the puck, Maple Leafs’ goaltender Jack Campbell was capable of deal with his job and safe the staff a shutout – his fourth of the season.
The win additionally secured Campbell his sixteenth win of the season, and dropped his numbers to a .939 save share and a 1.86 objectives towards common. Even with the dearth of photographs for the Senators the psychological drive for Campbell to remain dedicated to his recreation proved admirable as he was capable of assist the Maple Leafs seize the 2 factors.
Of these 23 photographs, Campbell noticed 5 high-danger alternatives and 9 medium hazard alternatives, making up 65 % of the whole photographs he confronted on Saturday. As for the Senators, they didn’t report a shot on purpose till 10:47 into the primary body.
There’s nonetheless a ton of hockey to be performed, nevertheless it’s secure to say that Campbell has earned the respect of the league as a beginning gosling within the NHL and he ought to get consideration for the Vezina if the season continues to unfold the way in which it has.
Maple Leafs’ Brodie Leaves His Mark
Lastly, it wouldn’t be proper to stroll away with out recognizing what TJ Brodie did on Saturday evening. The hardly ever offensive, defensive-minded specialist led the Maple Leafs in ensuring that pucks weren’t discovering their approach by onto Campbell.
Brodie performed just below 20 minutes. In that point, he broke up numerous performs in his personal finish, however in doing so, added some offence to the Maple Leafs which got here as a pleasant shock to those that know what Brodie’s recreation is all about.
Nonetheless, the veteran defenceman scored a pleasant wrap round purpose on Matt Murray to associate with his two assists that got here on the Maple Leafs first two objectives and it marked the second recreation in a row that Brodie scored. That coming after he went 46 video games with no purpose previous to Dec. 14 towards the Oilers.
Regardless, one in all his assists got here off a robust defensive play through which he blocked the go throughout within the defensive finish which is at all times a pleasant approach to see a participant get on the scoresheet and that comes whereas he was nonetheless anticipated to kill penalties – seeing over two minutes of penalty kill time.
These are the gamers the Maple Leafs need to see and must see contributions from transferring ahead, nonetheless, if in reality they need to shed the first-round curse.
Additionally Price Noting…
Alex Biega performed in his first recreation with the Maple Leafs. The 33-year-old performed 13:53, together with 39 seconds on the penalty kill and completed with a blocked shot, a shot on purpose and three hits. No information is sweet information and Biega flew below the radar towards the Senators.
The Maple Leafs’ captain John Tavares notched an help in his 900th profession common season recreation within the NHL. That, alongside together with his 73 % success charge within the face-off dot, Tavares did numerous different good issues on the ice to indicate simply how invaluable he nonetheless is after 900 video games performed.
Nick Ritchie was a wholesome scratch towards the Senators, making room for Mikheyev within the lineup and beginning hypothesis as to simply what his future appears like in blue in white with the staff getting wholesome.
The Maple Leafs opened the scoring with two straight shorthanded objectives from Mikheyev and Justin Holl. The Holl haters gained’t like that he received on the board, nevertheless it was promising to see the Maple Leafs make some large stops on the penalty kill and get these alternatives.
As for what’s subsequent for the Maple Leafs, keep tuned as postponements are nonetheless a difficulty within the NHL for now. However right here’s to hoping that hockey is again and the common season might be performed out as deliberate this season.
Andrew is in his eighth 12 months reporting for The Hockey Writers protecting the Toronto Maple Leafs. He started his broadcasting with CBC’s Hockey Evening in Canada staff in addition to being a part of their protection of the 2014 Winter Olympic Video games in Sochi. He’s the previous play-by-play voice of the London Jr. Knights for Rogers TV and at present hosts the Sticks within the 6ix podcast. You’ll be able to comply with him on Twitter at @AndrewGForbes.