It was the second meeting in three days for the Toronto Maple Leafs and Calgary Flames on Tuesday and for the second straight game the Maple Leafs came out of it with two points and the win.
While it was another tight affair between the newly acquainted division rivals, the Maple Leafs and Mitch Marner came up with a third period tally to defeat the Flames 4-3 and improve to 6-2-0 through eight games this season.
That said, even with the same result, the Maple Leafs did it with a slightly different lineup – one of the many things we can take away from Tuesday night’s victory. With that, here’s a look at what came from the matchup between the Maple Leafs and the Flames.
Boyd, Anderson Draw In
The Maple Leafs added two offseason acquisitions to the lineup on Tuesday as the team looked to get some of their taxi squad into the regular season lineup. For this one, that included Joey Anderson and Travis Boyd, both of which were brought in during a busy offseason for the club.
Both players got limited ice-time, but contributed in their own ways. For Boyd, a fourth-year NHLer, that included scoring the team’s third goal two minutes into the second period. Boyd had one shot on goal and played just over 10 minutes of ice-time, but added some ruggedness to the Maple Leafs fourth line.
While Anderson wasn’t able to score a goal in his Maple Leafs’ debut, he did come as advertised from the New Jersey Devils. He finished with a minor penalty and three key blocked shots in just under 10 minutes of ice-time.
Sure, those numbers might not show on the scoresheet, but for a guy like Anderson to add those types of intangibles to the lineup, that’s exactly what the Maple Leafs are asking for from the 22-year-old. The offence? It’ll come and it’ll be a bonus when it does.
Simmonds Sizzles Flames, Again
A trip to Calgary might’ve been just what Wayne Simmonds needed to get going this season. Heading into the two-game set, the 32-year-old hadn’t earned a point in a Maple Leafs uniform in their first six games.
Now, two games against the Flames and Simmonds has two goals, including his 500th career point last game. But that shouldn’t come as a surprise if you look at Simmonds career versus the Flames. In fact, with seven goals and 15 points in 27 games against the Flames over his career, Simmonds is averaging just over a point every other game against them in his career.
With two goals in the last two games, and confidence rising for Simmonds, hopefully this is just the start of a consistently productive run for the Maple Leafs’ power forward.
Marner Continues Hot Start
One player that has been consistently impressive for the Maple Leafs to start the season is Marner, who continued to add to his point total on Tuesday with another two-point performance.
Marner tallied the primary assist on the Maple Leafs’ second goal by Auston Matthews and added his own in the third period which ended up being the eventual game-winner for his club.
As for what he’s done this season, Marner now has five goals and 12 points in eight games to start the year. He leads the Maple Leafs in goals, points and sits among the NHL’s best in scoring early in the season.
A Full Team Effort
Sure, you could argue that a team doesn’t want to give up three goals in a win. Let’s be honest, the Maple Leafs defence has been a long-standing question mark over the past number of years.
That said, the Maple Leafs had 11 blocked shots against the Flames on Tuesday – something that past Leafs teams have lacked in. As mentioned Anderson led the way with three blocked attempts, while William Nylander and Jake Muzzin each had two of their own.
As for the 26 shots that did get by the defenders in front of Frederik Andersen, he stopped 23 of them. Again, not great save percentage numbers, but the Maple Leafs were able to escape with the one-goal victory.
The Maple Leafs also added 11 hits and while they were out-hit by the Flames in this one, the fact that the Maple Leafs were able to hold of Matt Tkachuk and get under his skin by the end of the game showed that the team has a little more irritability to their lineup this season.
Also Worth Noting…
With the win, the Maple Leafs earned their first three-game win streak of the season and became the NHL’s first six-win team of the season. While other teams in the division have games in hand, at the end of Tuesday, the Maple Leafs lead the Scotia North Division.
The Maple Leafs got it done on Tuesday without the likes of Travis Dermott. Dermott was a healthy scratch in favour of Mikko Lehtonen who played just over 13 minutes. It was the first time since 2018-19 that Dermott was a healthy scratch for the Maple Leafs.
As for Anderson, it was his 250th start with the Maple Leafs and it came one start after he passed Curtis Joseph on the team’s all-time wins list. Not bad for the Maple Leafs backstop.
While he did miss a game in the midst of it, Matthews’ goal extended his point streak to five games. He will look to extend it further when the Maple Leafs take on the Edmonton Oilers on Thursday.
As for the Tkachuk storyline, let’s just say this is a rivalry in the making.
Andrew is in his 8th year reporting for The Hockey Writers covering the Toronto Maple Leafs. He began his broadcasting with CBC’s Hockey Night in Canada team as well as being part of their coverage of the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi. He’s the former play-by-play voice of the London Jr. Knights for Rogers TV and currently hosts the Sticks in the 6ix podcast. You can follow him on Twitter at @AndrewGForbes.