Photo Credit: David Banks-USA TODAY Sports

Leafs weekly review: Progress

Record 2-1-0

Toronto entered last week on the back of a impressive comeback win against the lowly Ottawa Senators. This victory and the manner of it gave Leafs fans hope that the downward skid we were enduring had ended.

Then came the hottest team in the NHL – Colorado. Now the Avs are having a great season and before Monday night’s game were sitting in a wildcard spot – not bad for last seasons worst team. But on Monday we saw why they are a potential playoff team. Their top line was electric and caused us no end of problems.

A 4-2 home loss was not what the doctor ordered and the turnaround victory against Ottawa seemed like it might have just been a false dawn.

Back to back games followed with the Leafs travelling to Chicago on Wednesday and Dallas on Thursday.

The Blackhawks are struggling, sitting in last place in the Central division. Joel Quenneville is even under pressure despite being one of the greatest coaches in NHL history.

It was a good game in Chicago with both sides applying plenty of offense. A 2-2 final seemed a fair result and we headed to OT – OT with this Toronto team is always fun.

William Nylander immediately found himself on a breakaway just seconds into OT before he was apprehended and earned a penalty shot. And, well, just watch to see what happened.

Buds win 3-2.

Dallas was next. For some reason I never fancy any team to get a win in Dallas, they just seem like a difficult team to beat on their own patch.

Wow though. The Buds came out rolling and got themselves ahead in the first period through Kadri. The second period was more of the same with the Buds netting two however a Tyler Seguin goal late in the period led us all to believe that the inevitable Leafs third period meltdown was going to happen.

The beautiful man that is Auston Matthews though seemed to have put the game beyond doubt early in the third as he netted a slapper past Ben Bishop in the Stars net. Buds win 4-1. Back up Curtis McElhinney saved 39 of 40 shots – he has a .925 save percentage this season and a shutout.

Player stats

With Morgan Rielly out with an injury it was important that one of the defence guys chipped in with some points. Jake Gardiner netted himself five points this week and has really stepped up to the plate in regards to his offensive play.

William Nylander also had a big week with one goal and three assists – Willo is looking like his old self in recent weeks.

Nazem Kadri has really struggled recently but had a bounceback week with three goals. Though some of his goals were a bit fortunate, he has earned that after enduring a torrid run of pointless games.

Paddy Marleau ended a goalless run in 2018 with a goal against Colorado – though I am still a bit concerned about his lack of production over the last month.

Season stats

Player Goals Assists Points
Auston Matthews 22 15 37
William Nylander 10 26 36
Mitch Marner 7 27 34
Morgan Rielly 5 26 31
JVR 19 11 30
Jake Gardiner 3 26 29
Nazem Kadri 17 11 28
Zach Hyman 9 17 26
Tyler Bozak 8 18 26
Patrick Marleau 16 9 25

Jake Gardiner is shooting up the rankings. JVR is looking on course for 30 goals this season, Kadri could do the same if he goes on a hot streak.

Zach Hyman is continually showing his worth to the team with effective penalty killing – he is also the only guy in the top 10 who gets no power play time.  

Player of the week

Jake Gardiner. Sometimes in a season players need to step up to the plate. Gardiner has done that since Rielly got injured.

Division standings

The Buds sit 15 points ahead of fourth placed Detroit – though the wings have three games in hand. The team I was most concerned about was Florida, but they dropped three in a row last week meaning that they it 17 points behind the Leafs. In regards to the whole Eastern Conference the Buds are ranked fourth – not bad considering how bad 2018 has been so far.

Coming up

A home game with the Islanders tonight. Then a game at Madison Square Garden against the Rangers before visiting Boston on Saturday in a pretty big game if we have any aspirations of getting the second spot in the division. Three pretty huge games and three big results could go a long way to cementing our place in the playoffs.