Maple Leafs’ News & Notes: Tavares, Simmonds, Nylander & Galchenyuk

From a Toronto Maple Leafs’ perspective, it doesn’t take long to talk about last night’s Game 1. In fact, two sentences summarize the key points as far as the Maple Leafs are concerned. They lost to the Montreal Canadiens by a score of 2-1 in the first game of their Stanley Cup path when Carey Price had a spectacular game. During the game, Maple Leafs’ captain John Tavares was injured.

Related: Maple Leafs’ Takeaways: Tavares, Toughness & Losing Game 1

As goalie Jack Campbell noted after the game, “It’s (the Tavares’ injury) tough to see. We love each guy on this team. Any time one of your brothers goes down it’s pretty gut-wrenching.”

In post, I’ll expand some of the points emerging from the game.

Item One: John Tavares Spent the Night in the Hospital

Probably by now, every Maple Leafs’ fan has witnessed the scary video of John Tavares being spun around after a hit on the ice and then taking a second devastating hit to his head by Corey Perry’s knee. Tavares was taken to the hospital after leaving the game on a stretcher. In news just prior to this post being published, the Maple Leafs tweeted.

On a personal note, Keefe noted that “I’ve experienced a lot of different things, a lot of tough injuries like that in my time. In an empty building like that, it’s probably the most uncomfortable situation I’ve been a part of on the ice. It was really tough to get through.”

Item Two: Wayne Simmonds “We Gotta Get This One for Johnny”

It was clear to see that Maple Leafs’ players were rattled by the Tavares injury. During the intermission right after the injury, Wayne Simmonds was interviewed and spoke about the team reeling from the injury their captain suffered. When he was asked about how the team would regroup to finish the game, Simmonds noted that “Now it’s on us. We gotta get this one for Johnny.”

The Maple Leafs obviously didn’t pull out the victory in this game, now they’ll concentrate on Game 2 of the series.

Item Three: Nick Foligno Shows Commitment to His New Team

Whether one thinks that Perry threw a knee on purpose or not I suppose matters less than what the culture and expectations NHL hockey demanded. Both Nick Foligno and Perry knew the rules and acted them out after Tavares’ injury. Foligno engaged Perry to a fight that Perry knew had to be coming.

Related: Maple Leafs Three Most Surprising Players for 2020-21 Season

The one thing it did show Maple Leafs’ fans was that Foligno had taken up the role as a de facto leader on his new team; and, probably by doing so, he cemented his place with the team. By the way, Foligno registered an assist on William Nylander’s game-tying goal in the second period.

Item Four: William Nylander Scores the Maple Leafs Only Goal of the Game

Canadiens’ goalie Price was a difference-maker in this game, but you can’t say Nylander wasn’t working hard in this game. Teammate Auston Matthews was front-and-center for the Maple Leafs, but to my eyes Nylander and Morgan Rielly were the next best players on the team.

William Nylander, Morgan Reilly
Toronto Maple Leafs Morgan Rielly celebrates with teammate William Nylander. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Hans Deryk)

Nylander was at the right side of the net to quickly slap in a rebound for the team’s only goal. However, just before he scored, Nylander had also created energy for his team by making a big hit. And, later in the game he sent a great pass Mitch Marner’s way on a two-on-one. That Price made a great blocker save on what looked like a sure goal didn’t detract from Nylander’s strong play on the night.

What’s Next for the Maple Leafs?

Sitting out Game 1 was former Canadiens’ player Alex Galchenyuk. I don’t know what coach Keefe will do to replace Tavares – it seems like only a miracle would allow the captain to play during this series – but I have to believe that Galchenyuk will draw onto the second line with Nylander.

Related: Maple Leafs’ Tavares Shakes His Head at Matthews’ Incredible Skill

Perhaps this will be a chance for the one-time, third-overall draft pick to deliver against the team that drafted him. It might be that Pierre Engvall could draw in, but I’m personally hoping that Galchenyuk comes in and has a great rest of the series.