Knee Jerk Reaction: It’s William Nylander’s world and we’re living in it

Photo credit:Per Haljestam-USA TODAY Sports
Alex Hobson
7 months ago
There was always the belief that William Nylander was going to maintain his high level of play in a contract year, but he’s doubled the size of the step he was expected to take forward. I don’t need to remind you of his franchise-record-setting point streak to start the year (which he extended to 17 games tonight by the way), and his performance tonight marks his second straight multi-point effort to give him a whopping 11 points in his last five games. It ups his season total to 27 points in 16 games, bringing him into second place in league scoring and one point shy of the league lead. 
Nylander kept the streak alive early, with Auston Matthews picking up his rebound to even the game at 1-1 around the midway mark of the first period, and just for good measure, provided the Stockholm faithful with a highlight reel goal in overtime. 
The 27-year-old was the star of the show all weekend long. From snacking on treats in his home country, to answering questions from child reporters in the scrum, to sporting a tank top and a chain on a popular talk show, Nylander displayed star qualities both on and off the ice. He finished the weekend with two goals and five points in two games, giving his grandmother and the rest of his family members a reason to cheer. 
Much like I wrote the last time the Leafs and Wild faced, when Matthews stole the show with his second hat trick in as many games, we’re sort of running out of things to say about Nylander. He seems to somehow get better every single game, and each and every time he makes an impact on the ice, more pressure mounts on general manager Brad Treliving to get a deal done. If, and ideally when it happens, there’s not going to be any leaks from the media. The two sides made a pact to keep the negotiations sealed airtight, which certainly won’t ease the nerves of the fanbase. 

Some other thoughts: 

  • It seems as though the Leafs’ goaltending is starting to show signs of life. Samsonov stood tall against the Red Wings in a crucial game against a division rival, and while Woll probably should have had one or two of the goals he allowed today, the Wild peppered him with shots and he stood tall when it mattered most. Three goals or not, it’s hard to complain about a .917 save percentage. 
  • The fourth line continued to prove playable, further putting Ryan Reaves’ role on this team into jeopardy. The Leafs allowed goals at an alarming rate while he was on the ice, and with Bobby McMann further adding to the energy element brought by Noah Gregor and David Kampf, it’s going to be hard to justify ever dressing him for any more than the odd game where fireworks are expected. But even then, will the Leafs get the tough guy version they thought they were signing? 
  • Morgan Rielly added another three points, putting fellow puck-mover John Klingberg’s job in the same situation as Reaves’. That is, if he’s ever healthy enough to play again. Keefe commented the other day that there was concern over his injury turning into a long-term thing, which would be an unfortunate turn to an already rocky tenure for the Swede. 
The Leafs have now won four games in a row with five wins in their last six games, with another four days off before another afternoon tilt next Friday against the Chicago Blackhawks.

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