The Toronto Maple Leafs destroyed the St. Louis Blues last night, and it was glorious.
The offensive firepower of the Toronto Maple Leafs was on full display in last night’s first period.
If not for a post and a cross bar, the game would have been 7-1 at one point.
The impressive thing was the number of ways in which the Leafs showed they can come at a team:
A second power-play unit with Morgan Rielly and a Jason Spezza who is channeling his former 90 point superstar self.
Etc. etc. etc.
It was a pleasure to watch. When they’re on, the Leafs are the fastest team in the NHL, the only one with four scoring lines, and they just come at you in waves.
As much as people are frustrated with the team so far, let’s keep in mind that last night was one of the only games all year where they were able to run out Tavares and Marner right after Matthews and Nylander – and that makes a HUGE difference.
Toronto Maple Leafs Best Lineup
The Toronto Maple Leafs played their optimal lineup (well, without Trevor Moore) for the first time in almost a year the other night, and promptly lost their first line left-winger, Andreas Johnson to an injury that will keep him out for at least a month.
While Johnson is a useful player, as long as the team has Matthews, Nylander, Marner, Tavares, Rielly and Andersen, we can consider them more or less fully healthy.
What I especially liked about last night’s game was the absence of Frederik Gauthier, the absence of Timashov and the demotion of Cody Ceci.
Sub out Aberg for Johnson, and this is what the Leafs best lineup looks like.
The team has two of the best first lines in the NHL, then they follow it up with Mikheyev, Kerfoot and Kapanen, which is a) likely the single fastest line in the NHL and b) probably the best third line in the NHL.
Then their fourth line is just bonkers. Jason Spezza, who has nearly a point-per-game over the last little while, centering Nic Petan and Pierre Enval.
This is easily the most offensively talented fourth line in the league, and it’s just fun to watch a team do away with the unnecessary defense-only players.
Scratching Gauthier is the best thing a Toronto coach has done in years.
This should be the Leafs lineup going forward, as it’s totally awesome.
On defense, things are almost as sweet. Rielly and Barrie – as I suggested from the start – have been awesome together. Rielly looks like a totally different player when he has an NHL player for a partner.
Muzzin and Holl is a solid pairing that just embarrasses the former coach on a nightly basis for his ridiculous treatment of the clearly NHL capable Holl last year. (stats naturalstattrick.com).
And the third pairing? Well Dermott, like Rielly before him, is learning what it’s like to be anchored to Ceci, but hopefully that doesn’t last too long. Add in Sandin for the beleaguered Ceci and you’ve got the team the best team the Toronto Maple Leafs can ice – one in which will prove to be a strong Cup Contender before this season is over.
As for last night, demote Ceci, dress the all offensive fourth line I’ve been dreaming of all year, and what do you know – they beat the defending champs into the ground like they were the Ottawa Senators,