It certainly wasn’t the Hollywood ending that the Toronto Maple Leafs might have hoped for. However, it was probably better than what was likely to happen given the schedule, the travel involved, and all the other contextual issues that happened to make it difficult for the Maple Leafs to have won the game against the Calgary Flames last night. It was a schedule that simply created a tough situation for the team.
In fact, looking logically at the result of the game, pulling a single point from a difficult contest was probably better than the team might have hoped for. I know Maple Leafs fans expect their team to win every single game that’s played, but it’s not that easy. I’m happy with the result.
In this post, I’ll spend some time commenting about what players contributed to the outcome and where they are on the season. Some good things happened; however, in the end, the Maple Leafs lost for the second straight night. On Tuesday night, the Maple Leafs lost 3-2 in overtime to a well-rested Calgary Flames team that was probably sleeping when their hosts landed very late the night before from Montreal.
Monday’s game snapped the team’s recent 9-0-1 winning streak, but the Maple Leafs did pick up a single point to push their lead to seven points on the second place Winnipeg Jets, who they play on Thursday night. The Maple Leafs also ended their regular season against the Flames winning the series with a record of 6-2-1.
Item One: David Rittich Tries to Stop His Old Friends From Winning, But Fails
As former Flames goalie David Rittich said about playing his old teammates, ”It was tough. I’ve got some (life-long) friends there.”
In his first game with his new team, Rittich gave up three goals on 28 shots in the 3-2 overtime loss to the only other team he’s played for. Only two days ago, Rittich was hanging out with his Flames’ teammates; and, then, trying to stop them last night? Sometimes, professional sports seems odd.
For his part, Rittich started slowly but played well. He had little to no chance to stop Johnny Gaudreau’s great move in overtime. In the end, it wasn’t the start either the team or Rittich had hoped for. On the season, Rittich record moved to 4-7-2 with a goals-against-average of 2.90 and a save percentage of .903.
Unless things go very wrong, he’ll become Jack Campbell‘s backup until former starter Frederik Andersen is back in the line-up. The Maple Leafs picked up Rittich from the Flames for a third-round draft pick in the 2022 NHL Entry Draft.
Item Two: John Tavares Continues His Scoring Ways
Maple Leafs’ captain John Tavares drew assists on both goals – one by Zach Hyman and the other by Alex Kerfoot. Tavares is now on a three-game point-scoring streak and has scored 13 goals and 23 assists (for 36 points) in 43 games on the season.
The Leafs captain is on a three-game point-scoring streak and has picked up eight points in his last six outings. The 30-year-old has 13 goals and 23 assists in 43 games this season.
Item Three: Zach Hyman Now Has a Six-Game Point-Scoring Streak
Zach Hyman is having a good season. In last night’s game he shot once and made it count to score yet again. Hyman got the Maple Leafs’ first goal of the game halfway through the first period, putting up a loose puck past goalie Jacob Markstrom who clearly thought the puck would bounce differently. He also added an assist on Kerfoot’s game-tying goal in the third-period of the 3-2 overtime loss.
Hyman’s been on the scoresheet in eight of his past nine games. The 28-year-old now takes a season-best six-game point streak (he’s totalled three goals and six assists in those six games) into Thursday’s Jets’ game against Winnipeg.
What’s Next for the Maple Leafs?
Sadly, the Maple Leafs’ power play needs some help. Unfortunately, the Maple Leafs had a great chance to take over the game but couldn’t score on a four-minute power play during the third period when the score was tied 2-2. If the team could only figure this one aspect of the game out it would win more often.
Do they miss William Nylander? What happened to their front-of-the-net presence that worked so well for the team during the first part of their season when their power play was crackling?
One thing I’m looking for is Joe Thornton’s next goal. He’s been on a bit of a drought lately, and when he scores he’ll be the oldest Maple Leafs’ player in franchise history to have scored a goal.
The Old Prof (Jim Parsons, Sr.) taught for more than 40 years in the Faculty of Education at the University of Alberta. He’s a Canadian boy, who has two degrees from the University of Kentucky and a doctorate from the University of Texas. He is now retired on Vancouver Island, where he lives with his family. His hobbies include playing with his hockey cards and simply being a sports fan – hockey, the Toronto Raptors, and CFL football (thinks Ricky Ray personifies how a professional athlete should act).
If you wonder why he doesn’t use his real name, it’s because his son – who’s also Jim Parsons – wrote for The Hockey Writers first and asked Jim Sr. to use another name so readers wouldn’t confuse their work.
Because Jim Sr. had worked in China, he adopted the Mandarin word for teacher (老師). The first character lǎo (老) means “old,” and the second character shī (師) means “teacher.” The literal translation of lǎoshī is “old teacher.” That became his pen name. Today, other than writing for The Hockey Writers, he teaches graduate students research design at several Canadian universities.
He looks forward to sharing his insights about the Toronto Maple Leafs and about how sports engages life more fully. His Twitter address is https://twitter.com/TheOldProf