The Maple Leafs are heating up: 5 Observations from Stockholm

The Toronto Maple Leafs and Detroit Red Wings face off in the NHL Global Series
Photo credit:Shane Seney - TLN
Shane Seney
3 months ago
‘Halla’ from Sweden as the Toronto Maple Leafs were able to use a huge third period to come back against the Detroit Red Wings and pull off a 3-2 win.
The Wings played the previous night, and it showed as they took advantage of a sloppy Maple Leafs squad early on. The first period was one of the more boring periods of hockey this season, however the Avicii arena was a vibe from the moment I walked into the building. Here’s 5 observations from Toronto’s first win in Sweden:

William Nylander Delivers on Home Soil

In front of 91 family members and friends, including his grandmother who was watching him play NHL hockey for the first time, Nylander came up clutch. On a broken play in the third period with his team down two goals, the temporary ‘King of Stockholm’ showed off his patience with the puck and drew in several defenders before giving Tyler Bertuzzi one of the easiest goals of his career. He’d then go on to bury an absolute beauty and tie the game, because of course, and then assisted on John Tavares’ game winner. Nylander extended his historic point streak to 16 games and was named player of the game. What a night for #88 as he couldn’t have scripted a better first game in Sweden.

Tyler Bertuzzi Has Arrived

After a very slow start to his Maple Leafs’ career, Leafs Nation can no longer complain about Bertuzzi not playing up to expectations. He’s been a force of late and has found his home on the second line alongside Nylander and Tavares. Bertuzzi’s using his tenacity to find open space, create it when it’s not there and against his old team in Stockholm, ‘Bert’ went home with the belt. Five points in his last four games, smile away #59:

Fourth Line Gaining Steam

The line of David Kampf, Noah Gregor and Bobby McMann have been using their speed to throw off opponents the past couple of games. Gregor was able to create some early chances for the Leafs in the first when there really wasn’t much going on and you can tell that head coach Sheldon Keefe is getting more comfortable with this trio. Keefe put them out with less than five minutes left in the game, up one, as they were defensively sound against the Wings. Ryan Reaves may have to buy a few more suits because it could be a while before he’s back in the lineup. Still have no idea why Brad Treliving signed him to a three-year deal, but that’s here nor there.

Ilya Samsonov Found His Groove in Time

After a shaky first two periods, and a night where he took a puck up high and needed some time to compose himself, Ilya Samsonov found his groove. Not much he could do on the first goal as a penalty shot is a coin flip and Daniel Sprong of the Wings made a great move to open the scoring. On the second goal, Samsonov was down way too early and out of position, giving Lucas Raymond a ton of space to bury it top shelve. From there, ‘Sammy’ stood tall though and made 10 stops in the third period. While Joseph Woll is expected to start on Sunday against the Minnesota Wild, Samsonov has won his last two starts and like his team in front of him, is heating up nicely.

Sheldon Keefe is a Hell of a Coach

Keefe is a true players coach and really understands the small details that go a long way in a dressing room. No wonder the Leafs love playing for him. In Stockholm, Keefe mashed up his lines and ensured to start all of his dressed Swedish players. Not only that, on Thursday night he invited Mats Sundin to dinner and asked him to read the lineup card before Friday’s game. It was one of the coolest moments in Maple Leafs history and you could tell how much it meant to Sundin and the Leafs. Especially for Max Domi, who is very close to Sundin, and essentially sees him as an Uncle figure in his life:
Chalk up three straight wins for the Maple Leafs as their Global Series continues Sunday against the Wild. It’s been a wonderful experience for a lot of us who have made the trip and Leafs fans that I’ve met have been all class. I can tell you this, the people of Stockholm are some of the nicest people in the world and man, oh man, what a city. Fantastic food, historic sites and a Maple Leafs win. Does it get much better? Four points may help.

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