The Toronto Maple Leafs entered the third week of the season looking to play a much better brand of hockey after displaying some really, really poor hockey in week two. Now I know they out-played the Rangers and lost in overtime, but they didn’t look all that pretty against the Sharks even though they did have some bursts of good hockey. It felt like every time the Maple Leafs did something good, the Sharks would match it and do something good as well or even score a goal on the next shift.
After the Rangers and Sharks game, we had the Penguins game. I don’t think I’ll explain myself too much because I know everyone knows that happened in that game against a Penguins team that didn’t have five of their best players, which makes it even worse if you’re a Toronto Maple Leafs fan. Well, fast forward a couple of days and Toronto is in Carolina to take on former teammate, Frederik Andersen, and the Hurricanes. A better game for them, but still played poor hockey at times and they ultimately lost 4-1.
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After a fourth straight loss and fans starting to get restless with this team, Toronto was in desperate need to win and not lose a fifth straight game early on in the season. They were in Chicago next to take on the Blackhawks and just like a handful of other games throughout the season, the opposing team scores first and Toronto is playing from behind. However, the Maple Leafs trailed by two and fought their way back to win 3-2 in overtime, and honestly, they looked like a completely new team coming out of the first intermission and that was good to see from them.
They ended their week last night hosting the Detroit Red Wings and it was a pretty good game from the Maple Leafs. They started on time and kept their foot on the gas for the majority of the first period, but slowly allowed the Red Wings to start applying pressure towards the end of the period. It was a back and forth game on the scoresheet. Whenever Toronto scored, Detroit soon responded with a goal of their own a couple of minutes afterward. The Maple Leafs did end up holding on to the lead and grabbed a 5-4 win on home ice.
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Record during week three: 2-1-0 | Season record: 4-4-1 (9 points)

 

3rd Star: Jack Campbell – 2 GP – 1 W – 2.50 GAA – .922 SV%

Despite only picking up one win in the two games he played this past week on the road, Jack Campbell was the main reason as to why the score in the Maple Leafs and Hurricanes game wasn’t more lopsided, as well as how they picked up a win against the Blackhawks too. Campbell has made some unreal saves throughout the early part of the regular season and has been a key piece in games so far by keeping them in it until the very end and giving them a chance to win every night. Well, maybe not the Pittsburgh game, but that’s about it.
Their game on Monday against former teammate, Frederik Andersen didn’t end how they would have liked, but it was a better game compared to the one they played a couple of nights prior in Pittsburgh when they got absolutely embarrassed by a Penguins team without Crosby, Malkin, Letang, and a couple of other regulars. Against the Hurricanes, Campbell did allow three goals, but he was faced with some great shots that probably would’ve gone in if he wasn’t in net and they’re lucky it was a two-goal game until the empty netter was scored.
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Campbell then suited up against the Blackhawks and allowed two goals in the first 12 minutes of the first period, but then shut the door the rest of the way and gave the Maple Leafs a legit shot to come back and try to pick up a win, and that’s exactly what they did as they tied the game at two to force overtime and won the game off a Nylander breakaway to pick up the two points.
 

2nd Star: Mitch Marner – 3 GP – 1 G – 1 A – 2 PTS

After a very, very slow start to the season for Mitch Marner, he has bounced back in week three in the three games against the Hurricanes, Blackhawks, and Red Wings. In three games, Marner registered two points, picking up one each against the Blackhawks and Red Wings while playing at a high level out there on the ice. Now, you may be thinking two points in three games isn’t that special, especially for someone like Mitch Marner, however, two points in three games after having just one point in six games to start the season is pretty good, and it looks like he’s getting his confidence back out there if you’ve been watching the games.
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He didn’t rack up the points like crazy on the scoresheet this week, but he did look like the Marner we all know. He was flying all over the ice these past three games, especially the last two against Chicago and Detroit, and created a lot of chances for himself and his linemates. The Marner we’re all used to is the player who is great on both ends of the puck. Someone who always has their feet moving and always creates something out of nothing, and that’s what we saw this past week.
He has improved his point totals to three points in nine games and that is only going to increase the more and more his game improves after his drought, as well as his line. Last night against Detroit, his line with Tavares and Kerfoot was flat out the best line on the ice and was just everywhere out there offensively and defensively. That entire line last night looked great in all three zones on the ice and that helped the Maple Leafs out a lot as they all combined for six points.
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1st Star: John Tavares – 3 GP – 2 G – 2 A – 4 PTS

What a week for the captain John Tavares, and more importantly, what a game on Saturday night against the Red Wings from him. On a new line with Mitch Marner and Alex Kerfoot for the last small handful of games, Tavares, along with his line, had themselves a good week and a game to remember as they were unbelievably dominant on the ice together. In three games this past week, Tavares registered four points and improved his point total to seven points in nine games to start the season, which leads the entire team in that department. He’s also tied for the team lead in goals with three along with William Nylander, Jason Spezza, and Michael Bunting.
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Tavares was blindsided by a hit in the early part of the game and looked shaken up a bit but obviously, he was good enough to stay in the game and that was a good thing given how he played for the remainder of the game. He, along with the other big-name players on the team, are going to have to be an important part of the team coming up this week as they start playing some of the best teams in the entire league with Vegas, Tampa Bay, and Boston coming to town. It’ll be a true test to Tavares and company due to the fact that they haven’t seen any of those teams in quite some time and Toronto will obviously be looking to continue their winning ways and continue slowly climb the Atlantic Division.
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It was kind of a slow start to the season for basically the entire “core four” except for William Nylander, and now they’re starting to show up on the scoresheet and starting to string some great games together. Whether the breakup of Matthews – Marner and Tavares – Nylander is responsible for the big boys play as of late, or if it’s just the fact that it was just a matter of time until they started finding the back of the net and on the scoresheet, it’s great to see them playing great again.