Maple Leafs News & Rumors: Nylander, Murray & Samsonov

What a week the Toronto Maple Leafs had. The Blue and White played three games and won them all. Last Tuesday, they shut out the Dallas Stars by a score of 4-0. On Thursday, they also shut out the Los Angeles Kings by a score of 5-0. Finally, on Saturday night, they beat the Calgary Flames 5-4 in overtime.

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In this edition of Maple Leafs News & Rumors, I’ll take a look at the news of the week as well as some of the accolades that team members have collected. I’ll also report that Pierre Engvall has served his suspension and will play against the Anaheim Ducks on Tuesday.

Item One: Last Week the Stars Were the Stars

In last week’s games, Auston Matthews scored a goal in all three games. He also added three assists in the week. Mitch Marner extended his consecutive point-scoring streak to 22 games and collected four points in those games. 

Mitch Marner Toronto Maple Leafs
Mitch Marner, Toronto Maple Leafs (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

Although Marner continued his franchise-best streak of points in a game, he wasn’t the team’s best player. That honor would go to William Nylander. Nylander ended the three games with three goals and four assists. 

Although he didn’t collect a point against the Stars on Tuesday night, Nylander scored a goal and added an assist in the Maple Leafs’ 5-0 win over the Kings. He then had a career-high five-point game (scoring two goals and adding three assists) against the Flames. He had a hand in each Maple Leafs’ goal.

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The Maple Leafs’ 26-year-old winger had such a strong week that he was named the NHL’s third star

Item Two: The Maple Leafs’ Goalies Had a Great Week

It would be wrong not to mention the contribution of the Maple Leafs’ goalies to the solid week the team had. Certainly, the team is firing on most cylinders by scoring 14 goals in three games; however, what gave the Maple Leafs a chance to win every game has been the stellar play of its goalies. Last week, at least in two of the three team wins, the goalies were worth the price of admission. 

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At the start of the regular season, the team’s goaltending was the biggest question mark. Now the biggest question that remains is not skill, but health. If these two goalies can complete the season without major injuries, given their play thus far, the team has a better chance to go further than most other NHL teams.  

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Both Matt Murray and Ilya Samsonov had shutouts in two games in a row last week. Murray then, although he didn’t have his usual stellar game, still pulled out the win for the team against the Flames. Currently, both Maple Leafs’ goalies have played 10 games. 

Murray’s record is  7-1-2, his save percentage is .926 (which is fourth in the NHL), and his goals-against-average is 2.50 (tied for ninth in the NHL with Igor Shersterkin). Samsonov has been even better statistically in the net. He has a record of 8-2, a save percentage of .933 (which is second in the NHL) and a goals-against-average of 1.88 (which is also second in the NHL). 

Item Three: Pierre Engvall Will Be Able to Play Tuesday

Engvall’s one-game suspension (for high-sticking the Kings’ Sean Durzi on Thursday night) is now over. Engvall served his suspension by being held out of the Flames game. However, he’ll be able to play in tomorrow’s game against the Ducks.

Pierre Engvall Toronto Maple Leafs
Pierre Engvall, Toronto Maple Leafs (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

The upside of the suspension was that the team got a chance to see Joey Anderson play. Anderson looked good in the Flames’ game. In fact, he drew two penalties during the game for his energetic play. 

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What a turnaround in the team’s goalie play this season. When the team brought in Murray and Samsonov this season, it really improved their goalie depth. When both Murray and Samsonov were injured, Erik Kallgren played well enough to keep the team’s head above water. He’s more than adequate as a goaltender.

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Since Kallgren was returned to the Marlies, both he and Joseph Woll have played well. In addition, Keith Petruzzelli (who not long ago was backing up Kallgren for four games) has played well in his most recent game with the Marlies. On Friday, he stopped 34 of the 36 shots he saw in the team’s 5-2 win over the Syracuse Crunch. It was his first strong game after a couple of not-so-good outings.

The team is now third in the NHL in points. Only the New Jersey Devils and the Boston Bruins with 43 points have more points than the Maple Leafs’ 42 points.

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