The Toronto Maple Leafs lost 6-1 last night to the Flyers.
On the surface, that’s a terrible outcome, but the Toronto Maple Leafs didn’t get crushed last night. They were in a 2-1 nail-biter until there were ten minutes left in the game. They lost a 3-1 game, not a 6-1 game, by which I mean the final score is extremely misleading about the kind of game the Leafs played.
They had a strong first period (a huge problem under Babock) and once again, were victims of a hot goaltender. Like the other game they lost under Keefe, last Friday after Buffalo, no one in the arena would have blinked an eye if the Leafs were winning by multiple goals after the first.
So, while neither game worked out, and some of the valid concerns about this roster raised their heads, it’s important to remember two things:
- Only two periods of outstanding goaltending by Heart and Hutton stand in the way of having a 6-0 record under their new coach.
- Any time you can go 4-2 while missing you’re 94 point winger, you should be pretty happy.
Oh and by the way Mitch Marner is maybe back tonight.
But good vibes aside, the Leafs coaching and strategy now seems a lot better, but it’s time to change lineup around a little bit.
Toronto Maple Leafs Lineup
One thing I really liked about last night’s game, was that when the team needed a goal, Leafs coach Sheldon Keefe put Tavares up with Nylander and Matthews to create a superline.
Almost 5 minutes with Matthew, Tavares put up a 75% Corsi, while the 3.5 minutes that featured all three stars saw them with a 100% Corsi.
One thing I hated about Babcock is that he’d go down in flames with the original lineup he started the game with most of the time. Being willing to make this kind of in game adjustment will really help the team over the long term.
So this is a good look, but not obviously a line they’re going to keep rolling all the time.
But the change the Leafs really need to make: Cody Ceci.
Last night he played a historically bad game. For once he didn’t lead the Leafs defense in ice time (which is insane by the way) but he was still 3rd.
The Leafs, at this point, owe us an explanation about Ceci. Why did they knee cap their salary cap to sign this guy instead of letting him walk? I’ve always maintained it was to flip him for a free asset.
But when is that going to happen?
He clearly isn’t a top pairing defenseman. In fact, it’s unclear if he’s an adequate #6 on a contending team.
He clearly isn’t worth his $4.5 and the Leafs could use the cap relief.
It’s time to move on. Trade him if you can, sit him if you can’t. It’s not working.
Morgan Rielly has became a top NHL defenseman and a legitimate #1 despite being paired with Polak, Hainsey and now Ceci for the majority of his career.
Excelling despite this is fantastic, but we have to ask how good he might be with a player who was actually suited to play on a top pairing? Go watch this clip and tell me you think this is an NHL defenseman? Jake Gardiner with one leg and a blindfold would never be that awful.
Last night Ceci had an 11% Corsi. An enforcer-level corsi is low 40s high 30s. 11 percent is just unbelievably bad. (All stats naturalstattrick.com). 23-3 were the shot attempts when he was on the ice. 12-2 in shots that hit the net.
It was one of the worst games in NHL history for an individual player. According to @evolvingwild it was 12th worst game out of 160 000 since 2007.
Last night when paired with Ceci, Rielly was a 14% player. In the five minutes he spent with a combination of Holl, Muzzin and Barrie, he was over 70%.
These two are awful together. As I’ve been saying since training camp, they don’t compliment each other and other teams are taking advantage.
Last night, as went crazy on twitter, Cody Ceci had a 1% expected goals share. That means that given the play when he was on the ice, the Flyers would be expected to score 99% of the goals.
Last night Cody Ceci played one of the worst games I’ve seen an NHL player make. He should be cut from the roster, and he definitely shouldn’t play tonight.
Enough is enough.