Three Interesting Takeaways from Last Night’s Toronto Maple Leafs Game

Leafs vs Capitals (Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images)
Leafs vs Capitals (Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images) /

The Toronto Maple Leafs didn’t get any points against the Washington Capitals last night. We will highlight the most interesting takeaways from the game.

The Toronto Maple Leafs played their second game in two nights yesterday and it showed. They must have known that they would be in for a fight going up against a fresher Washington Capitals squad who had last played on Monday.

The difference of this game was a three and a half minute span in the second period where the Capitals managed to pot three quick goals.

The team’s play will provide the coaching staff a great deal of fodder for upcoming video sessions, but we will focus on the three most interesting takeaways from the game.

The Leafs Need to be More Disciplined

With the Maple Leafs on the road playing in a back-to-back game, the last thing that they needed was time to collect their thoughts in the solitary confines of the penalty box.

Toronto took five penalties in the game, putting the Caps on the power play each time. It’s never a good idea to give Alexander Ovechkin more room to operate, which is exactly what happens when teams are shorthanded in Washington. The Leafs were fortunate that Ovi happened to only pick up a power-play assist on John Carlson’s assist.

The Leafs need to be more aware on the ice. Taking penalties is always a recipe for disaster; taking bad penalties is worse.

Morgan Rielly took two of the team’s penalties, both of which were for tripping. Nick Shore made his mark on the game by playing eight minutes and also sitting for two. Cody Ceci put the puck over the glass and Auston Matthews put a slash on an opponent’s hands to round out the Leafs penalty troubles. It was too much in a game where the Caps only took one penalty with their team already leading by a pair of goals.

Not only did  the Toronto Maple Leafs take five penalties, but they also got away with an Ilya Mikheyev high stick that clipped Evgeny Kuznetsov in the face. The Leafs need to ensure that they aren’t taking unnecessary penalties this season.

A Change to the Top Line

For those with a keen eye, they will have noticed that Mike Babcock did a little tinkering last night. It isn’t on-brand for the coach who has been often criticized for his lack of in-game adjustments. The change was to allow Mikheyev to go out with more talented linemates.

There were three shifts last night when Babs tapped the talented Russian to go out on the top line. It was a show of confidence to the winger who turned 25 this week. It may also have been a tryout of sorts.

Babcock may consider moving Mikheyev up in the lineup on a more permanent basis to get him more ice time and better opportunities. It could lead to more offensive success for the team. Mikheyev did score his third goal of the season and ripped five shots on net.

This is something to keep a close eye on in future games

Goaltending Management

When ranking the top takeaways from the game, there were many considered. Kasperi Kapanen finally broke the ice, scoring his first goal of the season. Tavares was terrible on the draw, losing most of his faceoffs. Neither of those was as important or puzzling as the goaltending management that occurred.

Leafs Nation is left scratching their heads after Babcock decided to play his starting goalie, Frederik Andersen, against the hapless Minnesota Wild and then deploying the backup, Michael Hutchinson, against Washington.

The plan was surely to have each tender man the crease with back-to-back games on the schedule. It’s difficult to understand why Hutchinson wasn’t given the net against the single win team at home against the Wild and provide the Leafs a better chance to beat the Caps with Andersen.

Obviously, there is no guarantee that if the goalies swapped games that the Leafs escape with more than the pair of points they earned through those two games. However, rearranging their starts should have made things more difficult on the Capitals more elite scoring.

It is possible that Andersen was under the weather on Tuesday and Babcock didn’t want to share that with the media, but without that information, the coach will certainly be lambasted by the fanbase for the decision.

Hopefully, it’s a lesson from which Babcock can learn and it will ensure that he doesn’t make the same mistake again this season.

Next. How Hyman’s Return to Action Will Affect the Lines. dark

The Toronto Maple Leafs are back in action again on Saturday night. They will be taking on the Boston Bruins.