Auston Matthews shines, the Maple Leafs defence is dull: Game 2 +/-

Photo credit:Brian Fluharty-USA TODAY Sports
Jon Steitzer
3 days ago
A win is a win is a win, and nothing is going to take away the fact that Matthews showed up, put on a three point effort and dragged the Leafs to their first victory of Round 1 (with some big help from Ilya Samsonov). Of course, until the score was 3-2 for the Leafs and they exorcized some of the demons listed in the tweet below, not everyone was feeling great about the game and that’s why we’ll take a look at the +/- for the Leafs in Game 2.


  • The Leafs were the dominant team from the start. As you can see from the chart above there was a push from the Bruins to get back into the game during the second period but the Leafs held the overall advantage throughout the entire game or at least from Domi’s goal in the first onwards. You can really see where the Leafs came to life and the Bruins too many men penalty was a back breaker for Boston as it killed the momentum that made it appear the Leafs were done for in this series.
  • Look it goes without saying that Auston Matthews and Ilya Samsonov are pluses, but the extent that the Matthews line was dominant is important to note. Domi, Bertuzzi, and Matthews had the highest xGF% of the Leafs forwards excluded the heavily sheltered and limited use of Nick Robertson, they were on for 2 5v5 GF and not a single goal against. Matthews and company were being matched by Marchand-Coyle-DeBrusk, and if that situation continues throughout the rest of the series that seems like a good situation for the Leafs.
  • Playoff Morgan Rielly was on full display Monday night as well. He played over 23 minutes with four blocked shots and was on the ice for two Leafs goals and not a single Bruins goal. One of the things that is worth appreciating is that while Rielly wasn’t credited with a single hit, he took 5, and that is one of the areas of toughness that needs to be celebrated more on the Leafs, the willingness to take the hit in order to make the play and last night Rielly wasn’t backing down when pressured by the Bruins forwards.


  • I guess you pretty much have to start with Marner going pointless through the series so far. He would have had an assist if somehow the Bertuzzi high stick goal counted and there were moments on the powerplay when he looked to be comfortable, likely due to the increased space on the ice. In all situations, Marner’s individual expected goals for was 0.09, 8th amongst Leafs forwards behind Nick Robertson who played just 7 minutes and only .01 ahead of Connor Dewar. To make matters worse John Tavares had an even lower ixG at 0.07, something that you’d hope having Marner as your playmaker who help. Marner was the only Leaf on for both of the Bruins goals and Sheldon Keefe needs to find a way to fix this without disrupting the success that Matthews is having with Bertuzzi and Domi.
  • Joel Edmundson’s ice time of 22:37 is one of the biggest mysteries of the night. My eyes told me he looked bad and the stats agree as he had the lowest CF% of 42.11 out of Leafs defencemen and only Simon Benoit had a lower xGF%. While I’m sure his 6 hits brought back some credibility for Edmundson in what he is meant to bring to the table, though once again getting scored on while killing a penalty leads me to believe that bring in Brodie, who has been on the Leafs penalty kill throughout the season makes more sense than trying to force Edmundson so late in the year.
    I’m sure I could just as easily be picking on Simon Benoit right now but the reality there is that McCabe and Benoit have shown enough together that they can be forgiven for a bad Game 2 and asked to be better. Edmundson is just blocking Brodie from getting a chance in the lineup. I’m sure you could also make a case for sitting Lyubushkin too but I wouldn’t want to rock the boat on any of the things that are working around Morgan Rielly at the moment.
  • Nick Robertson’s 7:21 of ice time is another thing that stands out. You may want to shelter Robertson at 5v5, but it feels like the Leafs are wasting an opportunity by not having Robertson on the powerplay. Robertson is a shooter and one of the better natural goal scorers on the Leafs not named Matthews, Tavares, or Nylander. He also has fresh legs based on his sheltering and being able to put a water bug out on the ice against a short handed and possibly tired Bruins team seems like a win. This point is moot though as it is likely that Robertson will be replaced by Nylander in the next game or near future, but it also doesn’t change the fact the Leafs could have been doing more with him.
  • Oddest stat of the night

    I don’t know how you go with anything other than the Tavares line expected goal differential. Some of that is on bizarre deployment but it still screams for a lineup change.

    What’s next?

    After Game 1 it looked like an easy case for bringing T.J. Brodie into the lineup and while there is strong evidence to support that move, Sheldon Keefe having the final line change might mean that he wants to give his current setup another go with a bit more control over their deployment.
    Generally speaking it will be interesting to see whether Sheldon Keefe lineup matching is something we are going to see at all or if he’ll acknowledge that setting the pace in Game 2 was his best play and should continue to get his best players out as much as possible.
    The last thing to watch for will be what happens if William Nylander is ready to go. The combination of Tavares-Marner not working and having Nylander available could make for some interesting revisions. One pairing I wouldn’t mind seeing is Marner with Kampf, and allowing them to face the Pastrnak line while giving Nylander a chance with Tavares and either Knies or Jarnkrok.
    Game 3 is Wednesday Night back in Toronto. Puck Drop is 7pm ET.

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