There was a lot to despise about the Maple Leafs’ last game. Jack Campbell was pulled, the Jake Muzzin - Justin Holl combination with a missing F3 to cover created scoring chances against, and Mitch Marner had his worst game in a while. That said, Nick Robertson had a very nice game, and it looks like that has rewarded him with a legitimate look in the Leafs’ top-six.

Robertson set a career-high in ice time with 14:19, while also earning his first NHL regular-season point on the Tavares goal. But what stood out to me was how much he stood out at both ends of the ice. Robertson was first to the puck on dump-ins and never shied away from the physical side of the game. All of that earned him a look with Tavares and Marner towards the end of the third period, and it’s transitioned to a temporary opening night spot against the Vancouver Canucks.

Not only is Robertson-Tavares-Nylander (assuming Nylander plays) a reward, but it’s also a good observation from Keefe. Alex Galchenyuk’s role on that line was to be the first player on the puck and to work the boards to retain or recapture possession in the offensive zone. Robertson may not have the aggression and the strength to overpower the opposition, but he’s definitely proved that he has the speed and determination to fight and win those puck battles.

Nylander returning to the lineup is huge given his ability to carry the puck into the offensive zone with speed — which Robertson has done sparingly — and to pick off pucks along the boards. I like what Robertson can do for that line when the Leafs have possession, and we already know how willing he is to shoot (even if the lane isn’t completely clear).

The kid has been playing with confidence and is aware that his situation isn’t locked in. And although it was an inter-squad match, these three have played together before. Hopefully, we get some similar results.

The plan:

The result:

It may take some time as Tavares will be getting used to a new winger in Robertson and re-introduced to Nylander, who hasn’t played in over a week, but I still think the line will be able to generate a lot of scoring chances. It doesn’t hurt having a trigger-happy puck shooter playing with you and Robertson is that.

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