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Game 6 takeaways: William Nylander is worth every cent for the Maple Leafs

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Photo credit:Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports
Arun Srinivasan
1 month ago
We’re going to Game 7. William Nylander scored twice, Joseph Woll was nearly flawless and the Toronto Maple Leafs have staved off elimination for the second consecutive game. We’ll be back online as the series shifts to TD Garden on Saturday night.
Without further ado, here are four takeaways from the Maple Leafs’ 2-1 win over the Bruins in Game 6
William Nylander is worth every cent the Maple Leafs pay him, from here to eternity 
If you view hockey through the prism of cap gymnastics, William Nylander’s ongoing contract saga must’ve been exhilarating through the first half of the season. Nylander eventually signed an eight-year extension worth $92 million in January, sending the General Manager Industrial Complex into a tailspin. Who cares about them now! Nylander is worth every cent the Maple Leafs pay him, from here to eternity, or at least through the next eight seasons. Toronto’s superstar winger scored two goals, dominated as a playmaker and if the Maple Leafs complete the comeback, this game will be atop Nylander’s career highlight reel.
The 28-year-old missed the first three games of the series with a migraine and registered eight shots cumulatively through Game 4 and 5 of the series. Nylander looked like an All-Star again on Thursday night, a much-needed development for a Maple Leafs squad already down Auston Matthews due to an undisclosed illness. He finished with a team-best five shots, seven individual chances, generated three rebounds and his speed and spatial sense in the neutral zone put the Bruins on their collective heels.
Nylander brought out the best in his linemates as Matthew Knies authored his second consecutive strong performance in a row, while Tavares was completely engaged in the offensive third, driving the net with purpose. Knies-Tavares-Nylander outshot their opponents 6-2 while controlling 64 percent of the expected goals at 5-on-5 via Natural Stat Trick.
It was an excellent performance and when you consider how the Knies-Tavares-Mitch Marner pairing worked as a shutdown unit with limited offense, it’s worth noting how Nylander elevated its offensive ceiling. Knies set up Nylander for the game-winner, seizing a loose puck, then took a hit from Charlie McAvoy while No. 88 sprung in alone.
“He’s a heck of a game-breaker,” Tavares said of Nylander post-game via Sports Illustrated’s David Alter. “When he’s got the puck on his stick, he can make something happen at any time. Two elite finishes for us tonight, obviously came at a great time in a huge way, so not surprising. We love having him here
So now, one time for every million dollars Nylander gets paid per annum over the next eight years: BILL! BILL! BILL! BILL! BILL! BILL! BILL! BILL! BILL! BILL! BILL! BILL!
This series is probably over without Joseph Woll
I didn’t think Ilya Samsonov was the problem in Game 4, but perhaps I was wrong. Joseph Woll has changed the tenor of the series entirely and will be the Game 7 starter on Saturday, barring disaster. Woll was terrific for the Maple Leafs, only allowing a Morgan Geekie goal with 0.1 seconds left on the clock — many believed the game was officially over and for all intents and purposes, it was.
Woll wasn’t tested in the first period, facing just one shot. Boston responded with a much better effort in the second period and Woll was tested several times, first stopping David Pastrnak to begin the proceedings. He made a terrific glove save on Charlie McAvoy with 3:04 remaining in the second and as the Maple Leafs held a tenuous 1-0 lead entering the third period, the game felt like it rode on Woll’s steady hands.
And now we can author the legend of Joseph Woll, or at the least the opening chapter of his growing Maple Leafs’ lore. Woll was phenomenal in the third period, robbing Brad Marchand, Charlie Coyle and seemingly the entire Bruins’ team, one shift after John Tavares fired a partial breakaway chance over the net. Scotiabank Arena was rocking and gave Woll an ovation.
Woll saved 2.26 goals above expected. It may as well have been all of them, really. He was outstanding and without Woll, the Maple Leafs’ season is probably over. Game 7 presents another chance to further Woll’s growing legend.
Jake McCabe-Simon Benoit are operating as a shutdown pair 
Simon Benoit and Jake McCabe have genuinely functioned as a shutdown pair over the past two games, and it’s paying off. McCabe, who scored Toronto’s opening goal in Game 5, was all over Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak, while Benoit quietly contributed to subtle zone exits throughout the contest. McCabe held Marchand to a 45 percent share of the expected goals at 5-on-5 while Pastrnak registered a mere 11 percent share. Benoit was even better, keeping Marchand at 39 percent, while Pastrnak registered a ghastly seven percent during their shared minutes.
McCabe and Benoit are both known for their physicality, but they deserve tons of credit for erasing open space and tracking back throughout Game 6. It’s been a terrific series for McCabe in general and this pairing deserves a ton of credit for keeping Boston’s two star forwards in check.
Max Domi submits another quietly terrific game 
Max Domi has been asked to fill the shoes of a 69-goal scorer while being defensively responsible against elite opponents and he’s excelled in this role during Toronto’s past two wins. I’m going to ignore the stat sheet here. Domi picked off Marchand during the first period, then spun around and almost scored.
Domi then pushed him down after the whistle, a sign of things to come as Boston’s captain spent most of his time flailing around helplessly.
Domi sprung Jake McCabe for a golden chance in the second period but Toronto’s defenseman couldn’t get it past Jeremy Swayman.
Domi was never going to be Auston Matthews, but he’s making clever plays for his teammates, he’s been far better defensively than he was during the regular season and he won 53.8 percent of his faceoffs throughout the night. Mats Sundin told The Leafs Nation that Domi would be a big part of the team’s playoff run. So far, Sundin’s assertion is proving to be correct.

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