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KOSHAN’S LEAFS TAKEAWAYS: Tavares leads, doable take a look at six D for playoffs, Marner will get his head into it


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That’s the way you head house after an extended journey away. 

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The Maple Leafs put a tidy cap on their five-game journey on Sunday, beating the Nashville Predators 3-2 at Bridgestone Enviornment.

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Don’t be fooled by the shut rating. The Leafs had been the higher crew after Nashville carried the play within the opening minutes.

John Tavares did what captains are presupposed to do, and it got here into sharper focus because the journey wound down.

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Tavares led, scoring two targets — together with his a hundred and fiftieth with the Leafs — and aiding on a 3rd. Late within the second, Tavares was hit by a puck, left the sport and was proper again for the ultimate interval.

Sure, the Predators scored two targets late within the third. And one got here as Tavares served an interference minor. It didn’t matter ultimately.

Coach Sheldon Keefe had stated after the Leafs misplaced in Carolina towards the Hurricanes on Saturday that it might need been Toronto’s finest sport of the season. 

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Unsure the sentiment would have been the identical after this one, however that’s not the purpose. The Leafs clamped down on a Predators crew hit by accidents — the Leafs didn’t take their lesser opponent frivolously — and stored most alternatives to the surface.  

A few of our takeaways from the Leafs’ forty fourth win, one which improved their street file to 19-13-4:


On an evening that Mitch Marner celebrated his five hundredth sport within the Nationwide Hockey League with an help to run his level streak to 10 video games, and a heads-up play you needed to see to consider, the Leafs received the required effort from everybody.

It wasn’t simply that Tavares had three factors. Or that Auston Matthews had a pair of power-play assists. Or one other objective by Alex Kerfoot, who has two in his previous three video games after going 25 with out one. 

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The Leafs let the Predators have their enjoyable, as the house aspect had 9 photographs on objective earlier than Toronto registered one. Then the Leafs went about doing what one of the best groups do. Toronto snuffed out their hosts, giving goalie Joseph Woll each probability to see what was coming at him. Not that it was quite a bit. Nashville had 9 shot makes an attempt at five-on-five within the closing 40 minutes. 

Defensively, the Leafs are getting previous some hiccups that include inserting new gamers into the lineup following the commerce deadline.

They adopted the sturdy effort in Carolina with one other strong one, this time towards a crew that’s preventing to get right into a wildcard spot within the Western Convention. 


Did we occur to get a take a look at the six Leafs defencemen for Recreation 1 of the Stanley Cup playoffs?

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It appeared that manner.

Timothy Liljegren was the odd man out on the blue line as Keefe went with the standard lineup of 12 forwards and 6 defencemen. 

The Leafs have 9 video games remaining. We assume that extra defencemen will proceed to be rested within the closing weeks of the common season, although Keefe goes to need to choose his closing group at some point. 

Whether or not it’s the precise pairs that Keefe used towards the Predators, that could possibly be up for debate.

Jake McCabe and TJ Brodie had been collectively once more, previous mates Mark Giordano and Justin Holl had been a pair and Morgan Rielly was with Luke Schenn.

If everyone seems to be wholesome for Recreation 1 towards the Tampa Bay Lightning, we all know that Rielly, Brodie, McCabe and Giordano are in. 

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You’ll be able to in all probability put Holl in that group. His underlying numbers are higher than the attention check he supplies, and when it comes all the way down to it, does anybody actually assume that Keefe goes to bench the man that leads the crew in ice time whereas shorthanded? Unlikely. 

We appreciated Holl’s crushing hit on Rasmus Asplund within the second interval. Extra of that might assist. 

If Holl is in, then it’s one in every of Schenn or Liljegren to spherical out the highest six (apologies to Erik Gustafsson). 

Go along with the skilled Schenn over Liljegren. That’s taking nothing away from the latter’s development this season. We simply assume Schenn, who will probably be fazed by nothing that Tampa throws at him, is the rugged presence that the Leafs want within the post-season. If it’s important to transfer Lightning gamers from the entrance of the online, would you fairly have Schenn, who leads the NHL in hits, or Liljegren on the ice?

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It’s to not say Liljegren can be a spectator for each sport. However the Leafs needed Schenn for a purpose after they acquired him from Vancouver. It wasn’t to pay him to observe Recreation 1.

As for the pairs, to begin, it is likely to be finest to have Rielly and Brodie collectively. We’ll see if that’s the way it shakes out. 


Let’s not get carried away with the efficiency of Woll. 

There’s no denying that Woll was actually good — with a little bit assist from the iron behind him — within the victory.

Remember that each of the Predators’ targets got here off deflections, denying what would have been Woll’s second NHL shutout. 

One good sport, although, doesn’t put Woll within the dialog for the Leafs’ playoff plans in internet. Not severely, anyway.

Ilya Samsonov has accomplished all he can to be the starter. The plan for Samsonov now ought to be to offer him the correct variety of video games to make sure he’s prepared for the playoffs. Nothing extra, nothing much less.

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There stays some doubt in Matt Murray, who has allowed 4 targets in seven of his previous eight appearances. In nevertheless many begins Murray has remaining, he has to get his sport buttoned down. 

Again to Woll. His confidence was clear on Sunday, and if Murray has one other harm pop up, maybe Woll may be dependable. 

The web is Samsonov’s, although. That didn’t change over the weekend.


“At five-on-five defensively, I assumed we had been glorious. 4 slot photographs towards at five-one-five, it’s the bottom we’ve given up all season. Not going to complain about that effort.”

— Keefe 

“I’m simply making an attempt to deal with enjoying effectively and executing by all three zones and being related there. I do know I speak about that quite a bit, however that’s actually the place my focus is. I belief my skill and my instincts to make performs and capitalize on my alternatives.”

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— Tavares, who received the post-win belt 

“You see that neck motion? That’s absolutely intentional. I knew what I used to be doing there. Making an attempt to advance the puck.”

— Marner, on purposely utilizing his head to re-direct a flying puck to ship Matthews and Calle Jarnkrok in on an odd-man rush. For the entire magical performs Marner has made this season, we’re undecided any would arise towards that. Marner having the presence of thoughts (no pun supposed) to re-direct the puck together with his head was one factor; that it labored was fairly one other 


Matthews had 5 photographs on objective and 9 makes an attempt after he had 15 photographs on objective in Carolina, and was 10-3 within the faceoff circle …

Schenn had a game-high seven hits, whereas ahead Noel Acciari had 4 hits and 4 blocked photographs … Gustafsson stays away from the crew, Keefe stated, due to a private matter … When the Leafs play of their subsequent sport — at house towards the Florida Panthers on Wednesday — Matthews will probably be seeking to rating what can be a big objective. He has 295 targets in his profession with Toronto, and yet another will tie him with Frank Mahovlich and George Armstrong for sixth on the franchise listing. The large distinction — Matthews has performed in 473 video games with the Leafs. Mahovlich performed in 720. Armstrong performed in 1,188.


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