Maple Leafs News & Rumors: Benn, Kallgren, Brodie & Matthews

The Toronto Maple Leafs beat the Vancouver Canucks last night by a score of 3-2. At first, it seemed like another one of those games, but it wasn’t.

The Maple Leafs started six Swedish players as a tribute to Borje Salming, and perhaps that fueled the team. They came out flying to start the first period.

Related: Maple Leafs Loss to Penguins Secondary to Borje Salming Salute

However, the team seemed stunned when Vancouver scored the first goal of the game. When the Canucks added a power-play goal to take a 2-0 lead, it seemed as if this would be another stinker where the Maple Leafs played down to their opposition. 

Fortunately, the first ten minutes of the second period changed all that. How about Jordie Benn for a hero?

In this edition of Maple Leafs News & Rumors, I’ll take a look at some of the game action from individual players. I’ll also try to help Maple Leafs’ fans keep up with some of the player movements on the team.

Item One: Erik Kallgren Proves Coach Keefe’s Trust Is Warranted

Young Swedish goalie Erik Kallgren is now back in the win column after holding his team in the game until they came roaring back. On the night, Kallgren made 27 saves on 29 shots. He might have been a bit wobbly in the first period (although the Bo Horvat tip-in radically changed direction), but he held his ground after those two goals.

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Kallgren then stopped everything and his team mounted a comeback. Late in the third period, he stopped Conor Garland’s breakaway. 

Kallgren’s record is now 2-2-3. His goals-against-average is 2.86 GAA and his save percentage is .893. Should Matt Murray be healed from his groin injury and be able to start on Tuesday in Pittsburgh, Kallgren will move to the backup role. When Ilya Samsonov returns from his knee injury, he’ll move back to the Toronto Marlies. 

Such is the life of a third-string goalie. Over his time with the team, he played well and deserved a better statistical fate.

Item Two: Matt Murray Might Return on Tuesday to Face His Old Team

Speaking of Matt Murray, from what I read things are looking good for his return to game action on Tuesday against his old Pittsburgh Penguins’ team. As most Maple Leafs’ fans know, on October 15 Murray suffered an adductor injury during practice. His timetable for a return was about four weeks. He looks to be on that time table.

Related: Maple Leafs Commentary: How Much Worse Are the New Goalies?

It seems fitting that Murray should get the start against his old Penguins’ teammates. Led partly by his play in goal, the Penguins won Stanley Cups in both 2016 and 2017.

Item Three: Coach Keefe Lauds Auston Matthews’ Leadership

After the game, Maple Leafs’ head coach Sheldon Keefe was asked about Auston Matthews’ power-play goal. He dutifully answered. However, then he turned the conversation around to what he wanted to highlight about Matthews’ play. 

Keefe shared that, An even bigger moment in the game for me: We gave up a sort of broken 2-on-1, and Auston was probably half a zone behind. The effort he put in to catch up, strip them of the puck, and make a couple of defensive plays after that — the work that he put in there changed the energy of the game for me.”

Auston Matthews Mitch Marner Celebrate Toronto Maple Leafs
Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner Celebrate a Goal (Photo by Mark Blinch/NHLI via Getty Images)

Keefe also added that Matthews’ defensive play “changed the energy in the building. The fans got into it from there. They recognized the effort that was put in. I thought everything just fell in line and in place from there. Everyone else started to match that sort of effort. That, to me, is leadership.”

The goal was Matthews’ first goal in four games; and, once again, it came on the power play. On Matthews’ goal, Mitch Marner made a great pass to his linemate who was on the right side of the high slot. It was a Matthews’ patented one-timer, quick-release, wrist shot that found space over the high glove side on Canucks’ goalie Spencer Martin. 

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At the time, Martin was playing lights out. That goal turned the momentum.

Item Four: Jordie Benn’s Game-Winning Goal Was Unexpected

Jordie Benn is not your usual hero. During his NHL career, which spans 596 games, he’s only scored 26 goals. During the 2018-19 season with the Montreal Canadiens, he set his career-high of five goals.

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That said, Benn looked like he’s done it before. He was in the right place at the right time and a rebound simply sat there for him. He snapped into the net probably like he’s done so many times in practice. That goal was the game-winner.

On the night, of the Maple Leafs’ three goals, two were what you call “dirty” goals. Going to the net with your eyes open reaps benefits. [By the way, I love this tweet that shows the Benn family below released by the Maple Leafs last night.]

With that goal, Benn helped his new Maple Leafs’ team (it was his first game in the Blue & White) beat a Canucks’ team he’d played for during the 2019-20 and 2020-21 seasons.

What’s Next for the Maple Leafs?

It was interesting to see TJ Brodie miss a game. He seldom does; and, when he does he’s rock steady on the blue line. Although the injury was undiagnosed, it might be a result of Brodie’s blocking a shot off the stick off the Penguins’ Chad Ruhwedel on Friday night.

Brodie was a late scratch for last night’s game. With Brodie out of the lineup, Benn replaced him and became an instant hero. Benn saw 17:28 of ice time. If Brodie can’t go on Tuesday, given his solid game Benn will likely remain in the lineup.