May 29, 2023
Auston Matthews, Toronto Maple Leafs

Game 10: Maple Leafs’ battle of balanced offense and penalties continues with a loss to LA

The Maple Leafs continued to struggle with an evenly powerful offense on their way to a third straight loss Saturday night in Los Angeles.

Your game in 10:

1. I didn’t like the Leafs’ first period in this game either. They scored the power play goal over John Tavares and had some chances outnumbered (a Mitch Marner outlier, a Alex Kerfoot partial runaways), but they managed a shot on target of even strength overall in the 14 minutes of the 5v5 game. They were beaten 8-1 in the evening.

Just like in the loss to the Sharks, they didn’t play great, but they were in perfect position for 20 minutes – and then the penalties came in the second period (tonight, both came courtesy of the last player who needed it). it right in Justin Holl), resulting in two quick power play goals, just like in San Jose.

The Leafs have to be really careful about walking the line between games when they’re available to press offensively while undermanned and losing sight of the top priority of making sure pucks are sent safely across the ice. TJ BrodieKerfoot and Pierre Engvall – who wore the goat horns at the 2-1 goal – all forced plays at clearance opportunities that led to dangers in the zone of leaves on the PK.

I thought so too Ilya Samsonov could have followed the 1-1 powerplay goal better and conveyed it faster. Adrian Kempe was well outside the face off point and basically just hit the center of the net once.

2. Gabe Vilardi’s 3-1 in the second period began with a poor attempt going past the wall William Nylander get the puck out; He didn’t respond at all, just waving his stick at the puck and the pinching defender. but Justin Holl and Morgan Rielly – who were out there together after Dean Chynoweth had the pairs in a blender after penalties – were definitely pushing again and running around in their own zone. The Leafs were outplayed 10-5 at 5v5 in Rielly’s minutes and 6-4 in Holl’s minutes.

3. The Leafs again got bogged down at their zone exits too often this game or hesitated too often in the neutral zone, but the puck seemed to move more smoothly Rasmus Sandinon the side of the ice for the first 40 minutes… then he had a disastrous third period where he was embarrassedly stripped for the game-changing 4-2 goal and then it in the attacking blue line for a 2-on-1 -Opponent spat. It’s been a tough start overall for the Leafs blue line and I can only imagine we’ll see Timothy Liljegren and Jordie Benn their season debut next week to change the mix.

A year ago today, Sheldon Keefe scratched himself Justin Holl for a five-game run after a difficult start to the 2021-22 season, where he was down seven in seven games. The reset seemed to do him good – the rest of the way he was a +22 with 23 points in 62 games while playing over 20 minutes a night.

4. I thought the “fourth line” was a bright spot for the Leafs on this one as well (the fourth line is in quotes because it was used as the team’s third line tonight). It was their hard-working offensive zone shift that put the Leafs back in the game at 3-2 Pierre Engvall Goal in the second period and they seem to be playing a more direct game than the other lines at the moment.

That said Nicolas Aube Kubel‘s Stick has been the place where games die so far this season. The difficulty is that Engvall is struggling on his outside wing but is better off with the line Zach Aston Reese straight on it (maybe ZAR will shift to the right with Engvall fight next game).

Despite some starts in the defensive zone, the Leafs control almost 60% of expected goals with Kampf and Engvall on the ice, with a highly dangerous 7-2 chance count in the Leafs’ favour.

5. As for the “third row” (actually the fourth row tonight), it was a really awkward looking setup from the start Nick Robertson and Wayne Simmonds flank Calle Jarnkork, and ended up with Simmonds and Robertson playing a paltry 5:31 and 6:32. None of this made any sense at all from a stylistic point of view or when we consider that Jarnkork can’t win Bullys (20% since moving to center) and neither Robertson nor Simmonds can move to take over.

I felt it was a bit unfair of Keefe to play Robertson so little on his return to his hometown — even if the line clearly didn’t gel (which, again, was predictable), it’s not like the top lines really rolled to the point , where he could no longer be mixed in a little.

6. Another small plus tonight that comes with the fourth row: the approach of using four forwards at 5v5 for a pass in the offensive zone when falling behind late in the game resulted in a near goal and a penalty for the Leafs. Unfortunately, Austin Matthews‘ Really atypical start to this season included two penalties tonight. A wobbling puck on that late power play led to his penalty that all but ended the game.

7. The parallels to last season’s start are an interesting topic of conversation now, as they were also 4-4-1 in nine games last season and of course finished 72 games later with a franchise-record 115 points. I think this team will create a version of a similar turnaround story, although not to quite the same extent.

Through their 4-4-1 stretch last season, the Leafs led the league in expected goals for 22, which was six more than the 16 5-a-side goals they had over the month scored. This season, they’re on 19 expected goals for nine games, which equates to a rather mediocre 12th place in the NHL, but also six above the 13 they actually scored during the month.

Their special teams were also mediocre-to-poor last October and found their way throughout the season. After a couple of tough games in San Jose and LA, the Leafs are currently bottom of the league with 74.3% on PK, despite an expected clean sheets per 60 that’s pretty similar to last year’s tally and currently in the top five of the League is league.

8th. I got the sentiment from this team that they would/will put themselves in a tough spot before they show the desperation it takes to get out of it.

In the opening month of the season, there is an air of staleness and cheerlessness in this group. It’s been many years since we played it back with the same core group. They have endured many collective failures together – a unique series of disappointments that brought tremendous anticipation of successful regular seasons, only to flare up over and over again in the postseason over 1.5 to 2 weeks, five straight years (we’ll call the first playoff appearance of Matthews’ rookie season “play with house money”).

Peripheral changes always followed in the offseason before another kick to the can began, beginning with all the song and dance of an 82-game schedule in which convincing team wins were always followed by “yes, but” and such Defeats are a testament to the strength of this team as a real contender. We all know how little this team can change its reputation until playoff time. Does it creep into the players’ minds at some point?

There are only a handful of games a year – even if you’re a great team – that fit the true definition of a “60 Minute Effort,” but the Leafs have been a very long way from full 60 Minute Efforts in the majority of their October games . The other team looked more desperate than them pretty consistently throughout the 60 minutes. Today’s refrain from some players and the coach after the loss was about getting off the wall in the attacking zone – there’s no magic in terms of strategy or systemic adjustments; it just comes down to winning more puck fights.

Boston is a consistently good team that pulls a new coach out of the gates. The Buffalos, Ottawas and Detroits start the year with a crowd to prove, armed with the belief that they’re no longer the laughing stock of the league (we can throw in the Habs here, too, to some extent). The Leafs just sort of meander through October and go through the motions.

Is it really a damning indictment of this team’s character for such complacency to precede yet another first-round playoff elimination? How long will they stutter before despair sets in? Is it actually the opposite of complacency and is there actually a crisis of confidence here?

Is it possible that we see the beginnings that they turn off the trainer? Certainly, declining special teams, one-off offensive exploits, a lack of attention to detail on defense, a lack of urgency in puck fights can be telltale signs that a bench boss is losing his clout in the room.

We’ll only know with time, but I suspect this team in particular didn’t do it Yes, really felt the desperation to dig in and yet work his way out. Maybe there will be a flip tomorrow. We know for sure that they pack a punch.

9. I overheard Sheldon Keefe speaking after the game tonight about how they seem to get the best out of the other team. He also mentioned that everyone knows the Leafs had the number one power play last year. In the last training camp he said: “We have established ourselves as an elite team in the NHL.”

It’s an interesting bar that he made public. He would have every right to say, “We’ve had great regular seasons, but we haven’t won anything (a thing in this case includes not just trophies or playoff rounds, but even division titles and president’s trophies). , and we have to prove ourselves as real contenders in this league.” Even if you think your roster is basically as good as anyone else in the NHL, you could/should beat Tampa and you weren’t afraid of an opponent, who comes after, when advanced, who within the organization or outside the organization would take offense at this news?

Is it an indication of a legitimate group with an inflated sense of their own accomplishments, one that believes talent alone can show up and win a bunch of these games? There is certainly a group of fans and media in this market who believe that to be the case, proof of which is all the points lost to opponents coming from below. Or does it suggest that the Leafs are a fragile group – Keefe always called them that in his first season and a half here – that the head coach feels the need to constantly improve?

I honestly do not know. Maybe it’s the healthy self-confidence in a team that proves good enough to justify it. I realize I’m talking about a lot of unknowns and intangibles here, but there’s something that’s not right about this team at the start of the year and it’s hard to say exactly what.

10 In the midst of that dreary Leafs performance, we apparently had to hear Chris Cuthbert reciting this on the show:

What fresh hell are we living in here?

Heatmap: 5v5 shot attempts

Gameplay: 5v5 shot attempts

#Game #Maple #Leafs #battle #balanced #offense #penalties #continues #loss

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