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Photo Credit: @MapleLeafs

Leafs weekly wrap up: Four out of six ain’t bad

Introducing a new TLN feature – the weekly wrap up. Every week we are going to look at the results, stats and trends we can see to help preview the next weeks games.

The record

2-1-0

The Buds headed out for a difficult Western Canada road trip this past week and came away with a respectable four points from a possible six. On Tuesday, they headed down to the Saddledome in Calgary where they played one of their best games of the season to down the Flames 4-1. Freddie Andersen made 19 saves and was unfortunate to not get himself the shutout as Michael Stone scored a pretty unstoppable slapshot. Roman Polak also scored a beauty…

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On Thursday, the Leafs faced off against Connor McDavid and the Oilers at Rogers Place. The Buds started the stronger of the two sides and looked like they had the game won in the first period as they led 3-1. The Leafs are useless at holding leads as we know, so it was no surprise to see them pegged back by the Oilers and tied at 4-4 heading towards the end of the game.

Kris Russell though sealed his place in Leafs hearts with his first goal for the franchise as he fired a superb wrist shot past the Oilers goalie with barely a minute left on the clock. Nazem Kadri got the empty netter for a 6-4 win.

Saturday night saw the Buds travel to Rogers Place in Vancouver to face the surprisingly good Canucks. A brilliant first period by the ‘Nucks saw them take a two goal lead within the first 10 minutes of play. At this point it became Leafs offense against Jacob Markstrom who played the game of his life to save 35 of 36 shots. Arguably one of the seasons most frustrating games because the Leafs did everything but score.

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The stats

This week

Rk Player GP G A P
1 William Nylander 3 1 3 4
2 Auston Matthews 3 1 2 3
3 Nazem Kadri 3 2 0 2
4 Dominic Moore 3 1 1 2
5 Jake Gardiner 3 0 2 2
6 Roman Polak 3 1 0 1
Nikita Zaitsev 3 1 0 1
Patrick Marleau 3 1 0 1
Matt Martin 3 1 0 1
Leo Komarov 3 1 0 1
James Van Riemsdyk 3 1 0 1
Zach Hyman 3 0 1 1
Morgan Rielly 3 0 1 1
Andreas Borgman 3 0 1 1

14 different point scorers this week – with William Nylander leading the way with four points in three games. Do I include Kris Russell on the table after his goal on Thursday night? It was an interesting debate I had with myself. Also praise for Kadri as well who is continuing to score at an exceptional rate – two more goals this week.

So far this season

Rk Name GP G A P
1 Auston Matthews 24 13 13 26
2 Nazem Kadri 28 13 10 23
3 James Van Riemsdyk 27 13 7 20
4 William Nylander 28 5 15 20
5 Morgan Rielly 28 3 15 18
6 Patrick Marleau 28 10 7 17
7 Mitch Marner 28 2 14 16
8 Zach Hyman 28 2 11 13
9 Jake Gardiner 28 2 11 13
10 Connor Brown 28 8 5 13

Matthews is still averaging more than one point per game. Kadri looks like he could hit 30 goals again and maybe even a 60 point season. Nylander had a big week so he has put himself in the top four of point producers – he will want that form to continue so he can get a big-ass contract this summer. Mitch Marner is currently suffering a bit of a sophomore slump – netting just twice this season.

The fancy stats

The Leafs saw a slight improvement this week on their CF% – impressing particularly against the Canucks. Against the Flames we had a CF% of 51.96 though that dropped against Edmonton to a 47.13%. We saw that number skyrocket to 58% against Vancouver – as the Leafs dominated play after the first period.

Freddie had a pretty hot November and the stats say that should continue into December as he had a .929 save percentage this past week. Interestingly after his poor start to the season Freddie is back at around his career average save percentage – .918.

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Divisional standings

Montreal finally look like they are waking up and have slotted themselves into third position in the division after winning five in a row – including a 10-1 victory over Detroit on Saturday night. The Bruins currently have four games in hand against the Leafs and they sit in fourth place with 28 points. Division leaders Tampa Bay won two and lost one this week and they are currently sat three points ahead of the Leafs with two games extra to play.

Team GP W L OTL Pts
Tampa Bay 26 18 6 2 38
Toronto 28 17 10 1 35
Montreal 28 13 12 3 29
Boston 24 12 8 4 28
Detroit 27 10 12 5 25
Ottawa 24 9 9 6 24
Florida 26 10 13 3 23
Bufallo 27 6 17 4 16

At the bottom we see Buffalo propping the division up – they have lost four in a row. Florida, Ottawa and Detroit are all struggling but they can all hold realistic playoff expectations because of how weak the Atlantic is after the Lightning and Leafs.

Player of the week

The beautiful Swede.

Nylander scored four points this week, and is hopefully going to keep getting hotter as the weeks go on. His powerplay goal against Edmonton on Thursday was a beauty – showing exactly what he is capable of. In a contract year Willie knows he needs to come up big as the season goes on – so I think this week will be the springboard to a great middle of the season for him.

Conclusion

A pretty good week for the Leafs. Two wins from three away from home is never bad, and we had some fun in Calgary and Edmonton. The game on Saturday was unfortunate as we were deserving of at least a loser point. But hey, Buds are comfortably in the top two of the Atlantic Division standings. So it is all good in Toronto.

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Coming up

The Leafs have three games this week, with two of them being at home: we play the Flames on Wednesday at the ACC before travelling to the defending Stanley Cup Champions on Saturday night. On Sunday, the Buds host the Oilers – interesting to see who the backup goaltender will be.

I expect the Leafs to have a good performance against Calgary at home on Wednesday as we should be well rested. Saturday at the Penguins will be difficult but we will have had a few days off to practice, while the Pens will be playing their fifth game in nine days. Edmonton are struggling but they did beat Calgary on Saturday 7-5 – and they looked pretty decent against the Leafs for two periods this past week. Overall, I think two wins from three would make it a good week for the Leafs – and it is important to make use of those home games as we play nine of our next 12 on the road.


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