The Toronto Maple Leafs continued their winning ways on Wednesday rolling into Detroit and beating the Detroit Red Wings by a score of 6-0. While the Red Wings struggled in net – with Jimmy Howard getting injured in the first period and Jonathan Bernier battling an illness – the Maple Leafs made sure they took full advantage of the situation and locked up a shutout for their goaltender, Frederik Andersen.
The Maple Leafs had five different goal scorers and got five points from their defence corps in the win. The big lead also allowed head coach Sheldon Keefe to rotate the lines and rest some of his big guns for yet another back-to-back this weekend to close out the month of November.
With that said, here’s what we took away from the Maple Leafs’ blowout victory in Detroit on Wednesday.
Will the Real Tyson Barrie Please Stand Up?
Well, he’s done just that. In fact, on Wednesday Barrie became the first Maple Leafs defenceman to score in three straight games since Tomas Kaberle did it in 2006. Barrie tallied his third goal in three games since Keefe took over the bench and gave his defence corps more freedom to roam the offensive end than that of his predecessor.
The 28-year-old defenceman added an assist giving him seven points in his last five games and bringing his season total to 12 points in 26 games so far with the Maple Leafs.
Barrie also saw a team-high 22:58 of ice-time, which was nearly three minutes more than any other player on the team – a testament to what he’s been doing under new head coach, Keefe.
While the team was able to hold the Red Wings to just 25 shots, it was the first time all season that the Maple Leafs were able to help their goaltender keep the puck out of their own net – handing Andersen his first shutout of the year.
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The Maple Leafs took no penalties and blocked five shots, while Andersen was able to make 25 stops for his 17th career shutout and first since Nov. 3, 2018.
The win also ties Andersen for first in the NHL right now with 12 and boosts his save percentage to .919 this season.
Maple Leafs Relief Under Keefe
The free-wheeling Maple Leafs also secured Keefe his third win to start his tenure as their head coach. Since going behind the bench, Keefe’s found a way to completely turn around a Maple Leafs squad that was simply not performing on a nightly basis – especially when it comes to their play in first periods.
He became the first coach in franchise history to start an NHL career 3-0 and when asked about it feels pretty good about the team’s record so far.
“It’s better than the alternative,” he said, according to TSN’s Mark Masters. “We feel good about how things have gone. The players have responded beautifully, they’ve played extremely well and certainly deserve all the credit here.”
Shots, Shots and More Shots
If it wasn’t bad enough that one goaltender was injured in the first period, the Red Wings’ back-up, Bernier, came in to close out the game while battling the flu. On top of that, the team playing in front of these two goalies wasn’t exactly helping them out.
The Maple Leafs fired 54 shots on goal, including 42 shots after the second period. It was just the fourth time in franchise history – since they started tracking shots by period (1965-66) that the Maple Leafs have had 40-plus shots following 40 minutes of play.
In fact, the game could’ve been far worse in terms of the score had Bernier not come in and made some of the saves that he did. The 54 shots was the second time the team reached the 50-shot plateau this season and their ability to control the puck in the offensive zone allowed them to pepper the Red Wings’ goalies with that many opportunities.
One Johnsson, Two Johnsson, Three
Believe it or not, Auston Matthews wasn’t the talk of the Maple Leafs tonight as he was one of the Maple Leafs held pointless in this game. That said, his linemate Andreas Johnsson took full advantage of his opportunities – scoring two goals and adding an assist for three points and his fourth career two-goal game.
With the game already well out of reach, Johnsson scored his sixth and seventh goals of the season giving the Maple Leafs their fifth and sixth goals of the game roughly two and a half minutes apart in the second period. His second tally was also a power play goal – leaving the Maple Leafs one-for-one with the man advantage on Wednesday.
His three points gives the 25-year-old seven goals and 15 points in 26 games for the Maple Leafs, putting him seventh on the team in scoring so far this season.
Also Worth Noting…
Wednesday’s game in Detroit also marked the first of two games for Alex Kerfoot that he will have to sit out following his two game suspension for a hit on Colorado’s Erik Johnson. Dmytro Timashov took his place in the lineup and tallied an assist on Barrie’s first-period goal.
Timashov wasn’t the only rookie to record points for the Maple Leafs either, as Ilya Mikheyev continued to make his presence felt on the team’s second line with two assists bringing his season total to four goals and 16 points in 26 games. He also has four points since Keefe took over behind the bench.
Now, the Maple Leafs will have to look ahead to the weekend, where they will take on the Buffalo Sabres in a back-to-back, home-and-home series on Friday and Saturday.
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.