The Toronto Maple Leafs came back in the second period to beat the Washington Capitals by a score of 5-1 yesterday in a rare late afternoon start. The team now has one more game before the All-Star break and the bye week. They host the Boston Bruins on Wednesday.
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Then they don’t play again until they meet the Columbus Blue Jackets on Feb. 10. That’s the first of two back-to-back, away-and-home games against the Blue Jackets – they’ll play again on Feb. 11 in Toronto.
Item One: John Tavares Played the 1000th Game of His Career Last Night
Maple Leafs’ captain John Tavares played the 1,000th regular-season game of his NHL career. With a large group of guests attending the game to celebrate his accomplishment, Tavares was honored by the team with a ceremony before the game.
Tavares was selected first overall by the New York Islanders in the 2009 NHL Entry Draft. He played nine seasons with the Islanders, and this is his fifth season with the Blue and White. He’s the 375th player in NHL history to play 1,000 games. Although he noted that it was hard to put his feelings about the celebration into words, he did describe it as a “tremendous honor.”
Item Two: Morgan Rielly Scores His First Goal of the Season
Congratulations to Morgan Rielly for finally scoring his first goal of the season. And an important one it was. It stood up as the game-winner as the Maple Leafs exploded in the second period to win 5-1 over the Capitals. Rielly had been held scoreless in his first 35 games of the season but broke through to score the second Maple Leafs’ goal in the second period.
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The Maple Leafs’ defenseman has the reputation of being an offensive defenseman, but before yesterday he had only registered assists on the season. The goal was a big boost for Rielly and his team, who played without the services of both Matt Murray and Auston Matthews. On the season, Rielly has been putting up points and now has a single goal along with 21 assists (for 22 points).
Item Two: Matt Murray Will Be Out for a Few Games
Murray underwent further testing for an ankle injury he suffered during warmups of Friday’s game against the Ottawa Senators. Prior to the game yesterday, Maple Leafs’ head coach Sheldon Keefe announced that Murray would be out for the rest of the All-Star break and the team’s bye week recovering from the injury.
However, the injury is not expected to be anything long-term. With Murray unable to start Friday’s game or back up in yesterday’s game, Joseph Woll was called up from the American Hockey League (AHL)’s Toronto Marlies on an emergency basis to replace him. Although Murray is considered day-to-day at this time, because there are few games over the next two weeks he might only miss the Bruins’ game on Wednesday. Ilya Samsonov will start in his place.
Item Three: Joseph Woll Has Been Called Up to the Maple Leafs
With Murray sidelined, Woll was called up to the Maple Leafs from the Marlies just prior to Sunday’s game. He’ll serve as the backup for Samsonov until Murray returns from his ankle injury.
It isn’t Woll’s first time with the team. Last season, he was called up when Jack Campbell and Petr Mrazek were injured. He played well in four games with the big club last season, finishing with a record of 3-1-0, a save percentage of .911 and a goals-against average of 2.46. This season with the Marlies, Woll has been hot. He’s put together a record of 12-1-0 with a save percentage of .928.
Item Four: Bobby McMann Was Sent Back to AHL Toronto Marlies
Prior to the game yesterday, Bobby McMann was sent down to the Marlies. The move came after the team activated defenseman T.J. Brodie from injured reserve (IR) and recalled Woll.
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In eight games with the Maple Leafs, McMann has not looked out of place. However, he has not registered any points and averaged just one second under 11 minutes of ice time per game playing in a fourth-line role.
Item Five: Auston Matthews Moved to Injured Reserve (IR)
Matthews was moved to the injured reserve before the game. His knee injury will necessitate him missing at least three weeks. Fortunately, given the unique time of the season – with the All-Star break and the bye week, that won’t be a ton of games.
On the season, Matthews has scored 25 goals and added 28 assists (for 53 points) in 47 games. Even more incredible he has totaled 63 blocked shots and 60 hits. He’s playing a more physical game this season.
Item Six: TJ Brodie Was Activated from the Injured Reserve
Defenseman T.J. Brodie was activated from injured reserve on Sunday. Just like old times, he took a regular shift and registered an assist, with a plus-2 rating over 21:15 time on the ice. He had missed the last 10 games due to a rib injury.
Although Brodie didn’t miss a game last season, he’s only played in 29 games this season. He’s scored two goals and added seven assists (for nine points). To make room for Brodie, Conor Timmins came out of the lineup.
What’s Next for the Maple Leafs?
When the Maple Leafs meet the Bruins on Wednesday, they’ll be facing a snarly team. Oddly for this season, the Bruins are in a bit of a funk. They’ve lost their past three games on the road to the Tampa Bay Lightning, the Florida Panthers, and yesterday to the Carolina Hurricanes.
It would be nice for the Maple Leafs to head into the break with a victory. That said, look for a tough game on Wednesday.