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Friday FTB: Recapping Nick Robertson’s breakout two-goal game and what it means

Three recaps!

Dallas Stars v Toronto Maple Leafs
TORONTO, ON - OCTOBER 20: Nicholas Robertson #89 of the Toronto Maple Leafs celebrates his goal against the Dallas Stars during the third period at the Scotiabank Arena on October 20, 2022 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
Photo by Mark Blinch/NHLI via Getty Images

Let’s begin with the hilarity of last night, as both Katya and I wrote parallel universe recaps for last night’s Leafs vs Stars game. And it’s a good thing we did because the joy and elation from Nick Robertson’s two-goal game definitely required more than one article.

Actually it required more than two, so here is a quick recap of Robertson’s game and what it means for him, Denis Malgin, and Brandon Pridham moving forward.

Robertson’s Night

Goals

Nick’s first goal was the benefit of his hard work to evade his check, sneak around, and get to the slot before anyone could catch him. From there, putting the puck in the net was just mechanics.

And on the winner Nick reminds us all he scored 50 in the OHL.

Chances

In the non-goals, Robertson showed his tenacity while trying to score with three Stars on his back. One thing that’s benefitted Robertson a lot in his development is his efficiency in getting to the places he needs to go. He’s not doing wide arcs or jumping around a lot. When he gets to the dangerous areas quicker, it gives him better chances to score.

And when he can get to open spots quickly (like in his first goal), he gets to show off his hard shot like this. Nick missed two of these on the short side before nailing it on his game winner.

We don’t often talk about the top notch vet giving the young kid every chance to look great and succeed in the NHL. Usually it’s Ryan Getzlaf, Sidney Crosby, or Victor Hedman. But Nick Robertson, William Nylander is the guy for him. Nylander genuinely set up a dozen chances in this game, and a lot of them for Nick.

Unfortunately Omar missed the end of this shift, which was Robertson jumping up from the front of the net to deflect his brother’s pass to what was at the time a wide open Miro Heiskanen. If Nick hadn’t caught what was happening and made the play to stop it, this game would’ve been over and he probably would’ve looked at fault for it.

Celly’s

Vibes

Stats

Robertson finished the night with two goals on five shots (0.46 ixG), all five of his shots coming from scoring chance areas. In 12 minutes of 5v5 ice time, Robertson was 60% in shot share and similar in expected goals. And on a night where the first line got caved in by the Stars third line, the second line led by Tavares and Nylander finished 12-7 in shots.

Denis Malgin

Brandon Pridham

This was just one game for Robertson where he scored two goals, it’s easy to get carried away with this. But in comparing Robertson to last year and the year before, we are seeing a much more complete player. He’s not showing the tendency of going off on his own system anymore, his work ethic has continued to stay strong, and he’s getting good chances thanks to his skating and timing (and also William Nylander).

The Leafs couldn’t fit Robertson into their opening night lineup, but I suspect they wanted to. Instead, they went with Denis Malgin and with the benefit of LTIR were only recently able to bring Robertson up. Malgin has played decently — scoring a goal in his debut as well — so he is worth keeping if possible, but Robertson is just inherently a more dynamic and difference-making player. Funnily enough, this is something the masthead was talking about during the boring parts of last night’s game when it came to Mason Marchment.

It would be great to keep both Malgin and Robertson, but I think if push comes to shove, and Robertson continues to work so well in this 2LW spot, then the Leafs will have to make the tough decision and waive Malgin. Now, before they do that, there’s one thing in the way that might change things.

Robertson vs Malgin is mostly a self-contained battle, the Leafs will need to trade someone for the sole reason of getting Timothy Liljegren off LTIR. That needs to happen regardless of what happens to Robertson. The alternative to trading a player is assuming someone else will go on LTIR. Currently Matt Murray is there. Jake Muzzin is only on IR and we are getting mixed messages from the team (Keefe, Marner, Brodie have all spoken with different levels of tragedy). It could be Muzzin who is out long term, it could be Matthews after a tough night where his wrist, foot, and head were all knocked. Don’t shoot the FTBer, I’m just saying.

All that’s to say Brandon Pridham and Kyle Dubas have a decision to make, but it’s not one that involves Robertson. After this debut, he’ll get to decide his own future, and a bright future it’s looking out to be.


Various Leafs and Branches

Recap: Nicky Nicky can’t you see, your two goals just hypnotize me | by: Hardev + Omar

Nick Robertson bests the Stars in overtime | by: Katya + Omar

Poll

Who’s Leafs recap was better?

This poll is closed

  • 17%
    Hardev
    (25 votes)
  • 35%
    Katya
    (52 votes)
  • 47%
    Hardev’s FTB recap
    (69 votes)
146 votes total Vote Now

Some say you can’t run two candidates, and to those people I say I have publishing powers.

The Leafs (and the rest of the NHL) came out with their Reverse Retro jerseys for this season. What do you think?

And what do you think about the hockey pants the Flyers will be sporting in warmups during some games this season?

Big opportunity for young Joe Miller over at Haaaaavaaaaahhhhhdddd.

And Naz has started his career in Calgary with five points in his first four games. The Sabres ended the Flames undefeated record tonight, though.