Maple Leafs Player Reviews vs. Bruins

On Saturday, Oct. 19, the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Boston Bruins played a classic hockey game, with all the things that make hockey such a great game for fans. There was pressure back-and-forth, great offensive and defensive plays, good goaltending, lucky and unlucky bounces, and the excitement of a sudden finish.

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The Maple Leafs won in overtime by a 4-3 score. As I say, it was a good game to watch as a fan.

Several Maple Leafs players stood out during the game as noteworthy. In this post, I want to offer a brief review of what I saw on the ice during the game from a Maple Leafs perspective.

Player Review One: Rielly Is an Offensive Machine

Hockey is a game of bounces, some of them good and some less so. Tonight, Morgan Rielly had at least two fortunate bounces. Not that he played poorly: quite the contrary, he played well. He just got lucky.

Rielly scored two goals – the first goal and the last goal. Everything else was sandwiched between these. His first goal gave the Maple Leafs a 1-0 lead at 5:55 of the first period when he bounced a shot from the point off Bruins’ defenseman Brandon Carlo who was fighting for what he thought was a good position for his team. Instead, Rielly’s shot bounced off the Bruins crest on his chest, changed direction, and dribbled in.

Toronto Maple Leafs Ilya Mikheyev Alexander Kerfoot Morgan Rielly Rasmus Sandin
Toronto Maple Leafs right wing Ilya Mikheyev, centre Alexander Kerfoot, defenceman Morgan Rielly and defenceman Rasmus Sandin celebrate a goal. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Christopher Katsarov)

Rielly was only credited with the overtime-winning goal after video showed that Mitch Marner’s shot from the slot bounced in off Rielly shin-pad past Jaroslav Halak. Two lucky bounces: two goals.

Related: John Tavares Named Captain of the Toronto Maple Leafs

By the way, Rielly is leading the team in scoring (or is tied for the lead with Mitch Marner). He has 11 points in nine games.

Player Review Two: Marner Is Back to Being the Assist King

Mitch Marner had two assists in the 4-3 victory, perhaps not that he wanted the last one. It looked like his goal, on a great shot from an equally great feed from Auston Matthews. But, the shot bounced off Rielly and it was an assist and not a goal. Didn’t change the score, only the scorecard.

To my eyes, this was one of Marner’s best games of the season. There have been games when he seemed to disappear – but not tonight. He’s on a bit of a tear, with five points in three games. Is there a chance he could reach 100 points this season? If he keeps playing this way, indeed he could.

Player Review Three: Timashov Scores His First NHL Goal

It’s worth mentioning Dmytro Timashov. Not only did he score the goal that made the Maple Leafs lead 2-0 in the first period, but I thought he played strong the entire night. At least I saw him make a number of fine plays in the Bruins’ defensive zone. He was as excited as a kid scoring his first NHL goal, which was exactly what happened.

Dmytro Timashov
Maple Leafs’ Dmytro Timashov (Marc DesRosiers-USA TODAY Sports)

Congratulations, Dmytro. It seemed Timashov was rewarded with extra ice time by head coach Mike Babcock.

Player Review Four: Kerfoot Is Speedy

Less than a minute after the Bruins tied the game at 2-2, here comes Alexander Kerfoot putting his new team ahead 3-2 by banging home a rebound on Jake Muzzin’s shot from the point. It was good hand-eye coordination and equally good positioning.

Kerfoot plays tough offense for a smaller player. He has three goals and two assists (five points) in nine games so far. To my eye, he looked fast in the offensive end all night long. However, on the Hockey Night in Canada broadcast, I was interested listening to Kelly Hrudey explaining Kerfoot’s defensive lapses on the second Bruins goal. I missed it at first.

Player Review Five: Andersen Was at His Best

Frederik Andersen made 42 saves on 45 shots to keep his team in the game. They’re now 5-3-1, have won three of four (after a three-game losing streak), and finally beat a really strong team for the first time this season.

Last season, a bit later into the season, I wrote a post about Andersen being the best player on the Maple Leafs. I wouldn’t have written that post this season, because he hasn’t been nearly as good. That is, until Saturday night.

Boston Bruins David Pastrnak Toronto Maple Leafs Frederik Andersen
Boston Bruins right wing David Pastrnak scores on Toronto Maple Leafs goaltender Frederik Andersen. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn)

He was on top of his game. The back of Andersen’s head got smashed into the crossbar when the Bruins’ David Backes ran into him. But that didn’t phase him, and he looked comfortable in the win.

Player Review Six: Matthews Is Becoming a Better Two-Way Player

Auston Matthews got an assist in the victory, but that’s not what impressed me about his game. I thought he made a number of really good defensive moves and used his stick exceptionally well to knock pucks away from the Bruins and disrupt their offensive rushes. He uses his speed very well.

Related: Maple Leafs’ Zach Hyman: He’s Good, Eh?

Obviously, Babcock is coming to trust Matthews more on defense because he played his young center straight-up against Patrice Bergeron, and that’s something new. However, Babcock soon moved Frederik Gauthier against Bergeron on faceoffs instead of Matthews. Wise move. Gauthier won seven of 12 face-offs for the game. Again, the fourth-line shined.

Auston Matthews
Toronto Maple Leafs centre Auston Matthews (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Christopher Katsarov)

Matthews is getting better, but not all at once.

A Final Review

I kept my eyes on a number of different Maple Leafs players who did not appear in this review. Once again, Ilya Mikheyev was strong, fast, and almost scored. Watching him dart around, it looks as if he thinks on the ice really well.

Jason Spezza seemed to be on the ice, then gone. Justin Holl looked good in spurts. Kasperi Kapanen skated fast and shot the puck.

All in all, as I suggested, it was a fun game for a fan.