Who are the Toronto Maple Leafs? Do you really want to know? Well, so do we, and as much as we want to dive into the deadline adds, the Leafs have a game to win.
It’s been nothing but fire from the team going 9-0-1 in their last ten including this current six-game winning streak. Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner did their thing Saturday including 34’s third career hat-trick which was the 334th in franchise history.
AUSTON MATTHEWS HATTY— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) April 11, 2021
334TH HAT-TRICK IN LEAFS HISTORY! pic.twitter.com/ejXKau2bOC
Matthews hits the 30-goal mark for the fifth consecutive year while Marner has another 35+ assist season. It’s incredible what they’re doing, and in particular for Matthews, the scoring race is his to win.
Galchenyuk deserves a shoutout as well as he continues to make good on this opportunity to perform for the Leafs. Gally put up another two assists bringing his total to 6 points in 11 games. It’s easy to perform when playing with Matthews and Marner but he’s showing Keefe that he can be used on different lines and still make an impact, even if it’s a quiet one.
The makeshift second line with William Nylander did not score but were very effective against the Sens. Hyman-Tavares-Mikheyev led the team with a 11.79 Rel CF%. They did everything but score save for Hyman’s empty-netter and they’ll likely stick together for tonight’s game.
And then there’s the goaltending. All Jack Campbell does is throw victory screeches into the ether, and although the Senators game wasn’t his best in a while (5 goals against on 27 shots, .844 Sv%), he set an NHL record with his 11th consecutive win to start a season. David Rittich is part of the program now but it’s still Campbell’s crease.
Game 42: Toronto Maple Leafs vs Montreal Canadiens
Date: Tuesday, April 7, 2021
Time: 7:30 PM
Place: Bell Centre
Channel: TSN2, TSN4, RDS
Toronto Maple Leafs
Alex Galchenyuk - Auston Matthews - Mitch Marner
Zach Hyman - John Tavares - Ilya Mikheyev
Joe Thornton - Alex Kerfoot - Jason Spezza
Wayne Simmonds - Pierre Engvall - Alexander Barabanov
Morgan Rielly - T.J. Brodie
Jake Muzzin - Justin Holl
Travis Dermott - Zach Bogosian
Late breaking line changes:
#Leafs lines at skate— David Alter (@dalter) April 12, 2021
Extra, Barabanov, Brooks, Sabourin
Leafs power play units at morning skate— Mark Masters (@markhmasters) April 12, 2021
Matthews - Thornton - Marner
Spezza - Tavares - Galchenyuk
Mired in 1/34 slump with three shorthanded goals allowed @TSN_Edge
Things are getting spicy in Montreal. The team has lost four of their last five including a 5-0 shelling at the hands of the Winnipeg Jets. Marc Bergevin has made adjustments to the roster since that brutal loss choosing to waive defenceman Victor Mete and acquire Jon Merrill (not the Pokemon) from the Detroit Red Wings.
Bergevin loves his defensive-minded defencemen and he’s an upgrade on Mete in that category. Whether that helps a player like Alexander Romanov generate more is another question.
As far as the lines and defence pairs, coach Dominique Ducharme went full blender.
Tomas Tatar - Phillip Danault - Paul Byron
Tyler Toffoli - Nick Suzuki - Jake Evans
Jonathan Drouin - Jesperi Kotkaniemi - Josh Anderson
Artturi Lehkonen - Eric Staal - Corey Perry
Brett Kulak - Shea Weber
Joel Edmundson - Jeff Petry
Alexander Romanov - Otto Leskinen
via John Lu
The winger Kotkaniemi experiment is over as he’s back down the middle now with Drouin and Anderson. Speaking of experiments, the top-line Perry experiment is all the way over. Perry capitalized on his opportunity in the team’s last game against the Leafs scoring two goals including a tally that brought them within one late.
However, Corey Perry is still Corey Perry, not only in expected lineup usage, but also perception around the league.
Connor Hellebuyck has had it with Corey Perry. pic.twitter.com/ipN6TXfEZa— TSN (@TSN_Sports) April 11, 2021
The only sense of familiarity in this new blended Habs’ lineup is the reuniting of Edmundson and Petry. The two defencemen have spent 377:43 worth of time together and were Montreal’s most reliable pairing so it was odd to see them separated. But Ducharme will likely use them in those dangerous scenarios and perhaps Petry starts to look towards offence more being reunited with Edmundson as he hasn’t scored in 12 games.
These games are crucial for the Montreal Canadiens. The state of the North Division has allowed them to hold on to that fourth-seed with 43 points in 38 games despite being ice-cold. The Calgary Flames had a big game against the Edmonton Oilers bringing them six points back of the Habs.
Montreal has three games in hand on Calgary and face them five times in the next two weeks. These points will be difference markers and the Leafs can be a big deterrent here. However, considering the David Rittich deal, you wonder if the Flames have accepted their fate.
If it isn’t already clear given the acquisitions, the Leafs are going for it. Sheldon Keefe has talked about Stanley Cup habits all season and having another strong game against the Montreal Canadiens does nothing but add to the engine of possibility for this group.