Maple Leafs In-Depth Post-Game: v. Sabres

The Toronto Maple Leafs lost to the Buffalo Sabres last night by a score of 3-1.

The final score may have been bad news, but it was the best game the Leafs played in a while.  Such is hockey.

The Good

The Leafs put 43 shots on Sabres goalie Robin Lehner, and he was the only reason Buffalo won.

Mitch Marner scored for Toronto, his 15th of the year. He is having an amazing rookie season and is one of the most exciting players in the entire NHL to watch.

Marner is now tied for 20th in NHL scoring. He has more points than John Tavares.

Also good, was the Toronto Maple Leafs crushing the Sabres in the third period, out-shooting them18-4.  Overall, the Leafs attempted 25 more shots than the Sabres, good for a 61% Corsi-For.  (5v5).

Zaitsev, who I’ve been hard on lately, had a great game. He was 60% CF and was noticeable all-night.  It’s easy to get caught up on the standings and forget the Leafs are playing a rookie on their top pairing.  Zaitsev Is playing too high up in the line-up, but he’s showing a lot of potential for the future.

The Bad

Well, obviously it sucks to lose.  The Maple Leafs, however, aren’t too mad about this game. They’ve gotten points recently in several games they didn’t deserve to, so that’s just how it goes sometimes.

Obviously being down 3-0 after the first is a problem. While I think the Maple Leafs were pretty dominant this game, it’s worth pointing out that they played most of the game from behind. In the NHL, teams with leads enter shut-down mode and often get out-shot badly.

Babcock ended up playing Zack Hyman almost five more minutes than James Van Riemsdyk.  In a game where the Leafs lost specifically because they couldn’t beat a hot goalie, I think JVR has to be on the ice more.

I recognize that Hyman brings a lot to the table, and that he ends up on the ice with Matthews, thus increasing his ice-time.  That said, JVR, who is having a monster year, can’t play five minutes less than a player who isn’t a third as talented as he is.  As much as I like what both Brown and Hyman do, I’d really like to see Matthews paired with Marner or Van Riemsdyk on a more frequent basis.

Next up: The Islanders on Tuesday

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