May 28, 2024

The Ugly

I couldn’t identify any aspects to categorize as positive in the Toronto Maple Leafs’ 7-3 victory against the Rangers in New York. Now, I find myself labeling two-thirds of this game as negative.

It’s ironic how the dynamics of this game unfolded. The initial expectations I had for the game in New York against the Rangers were met in a completely different manner. In that matchup, the Maple Leafs delivered their most impressive first period of the season, establishing a 4-1 lead and ultimately securing a four-goal victory.

However, back at home against a team ranked second to last in the East, the Maple Leafs experienced two of their most lackluster and disheartening periods of the season, trailing 5-0 after the second period.

Leafs' stunning rally falls short, lose 6-5 to Columbus in overtime |  Belleville Intelligencer

Toronto essentially handed the Blue Jackets their first three goals. Max Domi executed a skillful pass behind the Maple Leafs’ net to set up Columbus’ Kent Johnson for the initial goal. Morgan Rielly, somewhat recklessly, played the puck along the boards from behind his net, inadvertently setting up Andrew Peeke for the second Blue Jackets goal. Jake McCabe missed a pass from Conor Timmins behind the Toronto net, resulting in the puck reaching David Jiricek and culminating in the Blue Jackets’ third goal.

The fourth goal witnessed TJ Brodie backing away, losing position on Yegor Chinakhov, who took advantage and maneuvered around him. The fifth goal, scored during a Columbus power play, saw a shot by Johnny Gaudreau deflecting off Brodie’s skate, altering its trajectory enough to elude Ilya Samsonov.

The Bad

Ilya Samsonov

After recovering from his illness, Samsonov achieved a shutout against the Nashville Predators in his initial start. However, in his two subsequent games, he has let in 10 goals out of 63 shots, with six goals conceded on 35 shots in the most recent match. While the team’s skaters have contributed to the goals against him, the Maple Leafs are relying on Samsonov to enhance his performance.

Having previously lost the starting role to rookie Joseph Woll, Samsonov regained it due to Woll’s injury. Nevertheless, he now faces the risk of relinquishing the position to the team’s third-string goalie, Martin Jones. If Jones starts the upcoming game against the Pittsburgh Penguins and emerges victorious, there’s a possibility that Jones could dominate the net in the foreseeable future.

Ryan Reaves

At about the midway point of the first period, Ryan Reaves went awkwardly into the boards and appeared to jam his left knee. He attempted to skate off the ice on his own but was unable to. He left the game and didn’t return. After the game, Sheldon Keefe stated that he expected Reaves to be out awhile.

Play To Their Opponents

It has been an age-old problem for the Maple Leafs. Playing to their opponents. They completely dismantled one of the best teams in the league in their own barn; and, then they come home and let one of the worst teams in the league do the same thing to you for two periods.

The Good

In New York, the Maple Leafs played one of their best periods of the season. In this game, they played one of their best periods in franchise history. I’m not going to go into details of how the five goals were scored. Needless to say, it was the guys that are being paid to score that led the way.

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