After an overtime win against the Boston Bruins, the Toronto Maple Leafs followed that up with another trip to overtime against the Columbus Blue Jackets. This time, however, it ended in an overtime loss thanks in large part to a Gustav Nyquist penalty shot in the extra frame.
With that, here are a few takeaways from the game in which the Maple Leafs escaped with a single point in the standings.
Marner: Giveaways and Disappointment
Only a couple nights after being one of the heroes against the Bruins, Mitch Marner had a couple tough breaks against the Blue Jackets that ultimately cost his team.
The first came on the Jackets opening goal – a shorthanded tally by Riley Nash. Skating back in his own end, Marner gave up the puck which eventually landed on the stick of Nick Foligno. Foligno tossed to back over to Nash and within minutes, the Blue Jackets led 1-0.
The second mistake came in overtime when Nyquist was sprung on a partial breakaway. Marner got his stick in the hands of Nyquist and ultimately covered the puck up in Frederik Andersen’s crease – either infraction could’ve led to the penalty shot that ended the contest.
While he did have an assist in the game, Marner finished the contest with a penalty and a costly giveaway in just over 18 minutes of ice-time – both numbers you’d like to avoid.
Just under six minutes into the game, the Maple Leafs were down 2-0. A giveaway and a lack of effort in keeping Pierre-Luc Dubois from the front of the net and with just two shots on Andersen, the Blue Jackets had two goals.
It’s not as if these goals weren’t preventable either. In fact, take away the giveaway and a slightly more stingy effort on defence and the game is still tied early on. Either way, the Maple Leafs are going to have to find a way to quit giving up the early goals that put them behind to start off games.
Part of that is on their defensive efforts.
Time to Move on From Marincin
The Maple Leafs could desperately use Travis Dermott in their lineup or maybe they shouldn’t have sent down Rasmus Sandin. Either way, it’s time they consider removing Martin Marincin from the lineup.
Sure, he might’ve had a good summer at the international level playing in the World Championship, but it hasn’t translated back to the Maple Leafs and it’s starting to cost the team in their own end.
He played just over eight minutes against the Blue Jackets, but the damage was done. He stood idle in front of the net on the Blue Jackets second tally which allowed Dubois to cut in and get the shot off and lost far too many battles in his own zone.
Whether it’s Dermott or Sandin, the Maple Leafs need help on their back end and they need it fast.
Blue Jackets’ High-Quality Chances
Continuing with the Maple Leafs’ defensive efforts, they gave up 11 high-danger shots against on Andersen, in which he had eight saves and gave up three goals. While Andersen wasn’t at his best, the opportunities faced can also land on the shoulders of the team in front of him.
On top of that, he faced 11 medium-danger shots against – making 10 saves on those opportunities. That accounts for 22 of the 38 shots he faced over the 62 minutes he played against the Blue Jackets, according to Natural Stat Trick.
That’s nearly 60 percent of the shots he faced at a high- or medium-danger level. To win games, sure the Maple Leafs will need Andersen to come up big in those opportunities, but they also can’t give up that many high-quality chances in a game. That falls on the defence.
The Shorthanded Sniper
While Kasperi Kapanen is continuing to find his groove at five-on-five, he certainly knows what he’s doing when the Maple Leafs are down a man. The 23-year-old has two goals in 10 games to start the season, both coming shorthanded.
And while the Maple Leafs would like to see the young forward find that offence at even strength, having him put up some numbers and make their penalty kill that much more dangerous is definitely helpful to the club.
Also Worth Noting…
Nick Shore and Frederik Gauthier both won 78 percent of their draws taken. They seem to be the go-to guys when the Maple Leafs have defensive face-offs.
Once again, Trevor Moore was the heaviest hitter for the Maple Leafs in this contest. He led the team with four hits – impressive considering his size. Either way, he continues to be one of the hardest working Maple Leafs on a nightly basis.
Michael Hutchinson is set to suit up for the Maple Leafs in their second half of the back-to-back on Tuesday night when the Maple Leafs head to TD Garden in Boston. The 29-year-old is 0-1-1 in three games this season with a 3.97 goals against average and .886 save percentage.
Andrew is in his 8th year reporting for The Hockey Writers covering the Toronto Maple Leafs. He began his broadcasting with CBC’s Hockey Night in Canada team as well as being part of their coverage of the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi. He’s the former play-by-play voice of the London Jr. Knights for Rogers TV and currently hosts the Sticks in the 6ix podcast. You can follow him on Twitter at @AndrewGForbes.