Photo credit:Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports
The good, bad and the ugly of the Maple Leafs in November
By Shane Seney2 months ago
The Toronto Maple Leafs finish off the month of November with a shootout victory over the Seattle Kraken. It was Mitch Marner’s night as the shifty winger led the Leafs with a hat trick and the shootout winner to seal the deal.
Toronto finishes off November with a 7-3-2 record and sit three points up on the New York Islanders for a Stanley Cup Playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. The month was full of highs and lows and it was 30 days and 12 games of good, bad and ugly for the Maple Leafs.
November Had Lots of Good
16 points as a team in a calendar month is impressive and has kept the Maple Leafs in the playoff race. The best stretch of the month came in the tune of a four-game winning streak that started in Toronto and carried itself across the pond and into Stockholm, Sweden.
The Stockholm trip was no doubt the highlight of the month as a collective and more specifically for William Nylander. He was a rockstar in Sweden and absolutely lived up to the hype, playing his ass off and of course scoring the overtime winner against the Minnesota Wild to end the entire week with a storybook finish. Nylander finished November with 15 points in 12 games.
Auston Matthews led the Leafs in goals with seven in 12 games in November. The only issue was he didn’t necessarily spread out the production as he started the month off with a hat trick and only scored in four of the Leafs 12 games. Look for #34 to be more consistent in December and spread out of the love.
Nick Robertson also deserves some recognition for his success in November. He was recalled ahead of the Tampa Bay matchup after the Leafs lost two games in a row. Robertson found himself a home on Toronto’s third line along and recorded four points in his first four games and ended the month with five points in 10 games. He’ll look to stay consistent ahead of the Christmas break and solidify his lineup spot in ink alongside Calle Jarnkrok and Max Domi on the third line for head coach Sheldon Keefe.
Another Maple Leafs who deserves some praise for their play in November is Morgan Rielly. He’s taken his game to the next level and the Maple Leafs blueliner is playing like a true #1 defenseman. Rielly recorded nine points in 12 games last month and is country miles ahead of any other of the Maple Leafs d-men. While he’s now running the first power play thanks to John Klingberg hitting the shelve, Rielly continues to produce 5vs5, collecting eight even strength points during the 12-game stretch.
Lastly Marner is worthy of a shout out as well. Even with some of Leafs Nation jumping all over him for all the wrong reasons of late, he found a way to break out and finished the month with 15 points in 12 games. The only issue really was consistency as Marner only recorded points in six of the 12 games in November. Hopefully a new home on the second line with John Tavares and Tyler Bertuzzi will be just what the doctor ordered as December is upon us.
Lots of Bad for the Maple Leafs
At surface level, losing to the Ottawa Senators 6-3 on home ice after an emotional victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning is a game the Maple Leafs would want to have back. Same goes for blowing the lead in Chicago and losing to Connor Bedard and the Blackhawks 4-3 in overtime, which ended the Leafs’ four game winning streak.
The Maple Leafs goaltending wasn’t consistently good in November so fall under this category for today’s piece. Joseph Woll won five games last month and led both goalies in games played, meanwhile Ilya Samsonov appeared in five games and had slightly better numbers than his counter part. At the end of the day though, both goalies played to a .904Sv.% and frankly that’s not good enough at all. It needs to be well over .915 for Toronto to have any chance at doing damage in the postseason.
Some more ‘bad’ to consider from the Maple Leafs includes Max Domi still having no goals on the season, he also got pumped in a fight against Sam Bennett of the Florida Panthers, which wasn’t a great look.
Injuries also creeped their ugly head into the picture last month including John Klingberg, Timothy Liljegren and Mark Giordano. ‘Gio’ is likely out a month with a broken finger, Klingberg may never play another game in Toronto due to his hip and Liljegren is just starting to put skates back on after suffering an ankle injury before the team’s trip to Sweden. ‘Lilly’ managed to get involved with the fans even though he missed out on all the off-ice activities.
November Was Ugly at Times
Where to begin for the ugliness of the Maple Leafs last month? Line changes, maybe? Yes, the Maple Leafs can’t seem to keep to make a proper line change and were called for too many men on numerous occasions. They lead the entire NHL in bench minors this season and have led the league in ‘too many men’ calls the past three years.
Some more ugliness of November included blowing two leads in Pittsburgh against old pal, Kyle Dubas and the Penguins. It was a game the Maple Leafs should have won and another one that slipped away thanks to not being able to shut-down defensively to end a period. It cost the Leafs in a major way thanks to Erik Karlsson scoring in the dying seconds.
Overall, the month of November was a success for the Maple Leafs who are head into December on a two-game winning streak and with a record of 7-2-1 in their past 10 games. Toronto needs more consistency across the board and they need a couple of their depth players to start helping out more with some secondary scoring. Regardless, the Global Series in Stockholm was a massive highlight and something the team and many of us who were lucky to attend will never forget. Bring on, December.
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