Maple Leafs depth scoring vs. the Jake DeBrusk show: The Game 1 +/-

Photo credit:Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports
Jon Steitzer
5 days ago
The last thing anyone wants to hear about the Leafs and the playoffs is that there are lessons to be learned. Learning lessons and handshake line respect won’t cut it this season but nevertheless, if the Leafs are going to improve throughout the series they will need to learn their lessons even if no one wants to hear the Leafs talk about them. It’s in that spirit we’re going with a +/- look at the Leafs in the previous game. What went right that they should be doing more of and naturally, what went wrong? I’m going to challenge myself to balance the pluses with the minuses despite the outcome.


  • 1 goal from the fourth line. There is a passionate plea to be made for the benefit of sitting Ryan Reaves based on his team low ice time, decision making on the first goal against, and the officials not being interested in game management, but when the fourth line is the only line that scores it seems highly likely that everything stays intact. The goal belongs to Kampf but both Dewar and Reaves picked up assists in the process. The fact that the Leafs benefited from their most rested and sheltered players against the Bruins’ bottom six is one of the few things that went right and with Nylander questionable and the short leashes for both Robertson and Knies (on the ice for three goals against despite only playing 10:31), I think we see the fourth line return.
  • The big three weren’t scored against. It’s a small thing but Matthews, Marner, and Tavares were the only Leafs who weren’t on the ice for a goal against. The problem is they weren’t on the ice for a goal for either, but in a 5-1 loss we are going to be reaching for the pluses.
  • One assist from Pastrnak on an empty net goal. The Leafs at least shut down the star of the Bruins and held him to three shots. At 5v5 Pastrnak was on for a goal against but not a single goal for and had a xGF of 40.59%. Now it is just a matter of Jake DeBrusk not playing like Pastrnak to make up for it.
  • The 5v5 balance wasn’t out of control. The 3rd period was very much a product of the Bruins sitting back a little and letting the Leafs have control and that will be important context in looking at any of the numbers in this game, but what is encouraging is the Leafs had positive shot differential, shot attempt differential, unblocked shot differential, high danger differential and expected goal differential over the first two periods as well. That might not matter a lot when those opportunities didn’t turn into goals but they do offer some hope that the Leafs aren’t in a mismatch. If there is a (sigh) lesson to be learned from the game for the Leafs it is to look for greasy fourth line style goals instead of hoping that their offensive zone curls will yield something better than crashing the net. If there was one flaw in Swayman’s game over the regular season it was his HDSV% and the Leafs are going to need to look to players like Bertuzzi, Knies, Tavares, etc. for those chances.


  • Samsonov’s save percentage (.826) left a lot to be desired and makes a pretty strong case for Joseph Woll getting a look in Game 2. While the first goal in no way should be hung on Samsonov as the 2 on 1 was well executed and Beecher placed his shot perfectly out of reach of the shifting Samsonov, the volume of goals emphasized that while you can make cases for why Samsonov didn’t stop the puck, the absence of the big saves required to keep the Leafs in the game was a problem.
  • The penalty differential certainly sunk the Leafs (-2). Some calls seemed surprising by playoff hockey standards but the Leafs didn’t do much to adapt to the style of game the refs were calling and as a result, they gave up 2 goals on 5 Boston powerplays.The last thing anyone will accuse the Bruins of being is clean, but they had a better read on how the game was being called. The Bruins toned down their extracurricular activities and relied more on cleanly finishing their hits than using any stickwork or creating a scene in front of Samsonov.
  • The balanced time on ice. I’m not sure you can make a case that Marner, Matthews, or Tavares earned extra icetime but whether they deserved it or not, finding extra shifts for them seems like a good idea. Special teams certainly has an impact as well and 5 penalty kills cuts into the time that you’ll be putting Tavares, Bertuzzi, and Domi on the ice.
    On the blueline the limited usage/success of Edmundson and Lyubushkin likely points to T.J. Brodie coming in for Game 2. Edmundson, Benoit, and Rielly were all on for 2 goals against (Rielly was on for the empty netter), and given that Edmundson wasn’t effective on the penalty kill and the extra icetime he had over Lyubushkin coming from that difference, I’d say he’s the better choice for sitting, especially since Brodie will likely absorb that responsibility and bring his shot blocking expertise to the role.

Oddest stat of the night

Every Leaf had a hit last night except for Joel Edmundson. (Simon Benoit led the way with 8). Considering that Joel Edmundson was brought in to be the 6’5 deterrent and he has 184 hits in his previous 82 playoff games, the Leafs don’t look to be getting the player they signed up for.

What’s next?

Well…I think there is a strong case to be made for T.J. Brodie coming in, especially for Edmundson.
While Holmberg and Knies overall looked decent, the goals against with them on the ice might point to Kampf and Dewar seeing time with Jarnkrok instead and functioning as the third line with Knies-Holmberg-Robertson being a sheltered scoring fourth line or parts that can take shifts in the top nine as needed.
If Nylander is able to go for Game 2, I’d say that sitting Ryan Reaves looks like the most beneficial swap for Toronto and that might involve some reworking of what I suggested above to optimize the lineup to increase Toronto’s scoring opportunities. Nylander’s puck carrying was sorely missed.
The Maple Leafs get their opportunity to right their wrongs and return to Toronto with a split on Monday night at an Ontario friendly puck drop time of 7pm ET. 
Stats from NHL.com and Natural Stat Trick

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