Toronto Maple Leafs Comprehensive: Player, Stats and Quotes of the Week

CALGARY, AB - JANUARY 24: Joshua Leivo #27 of the Calgary Flames fights Travis Dermott #23 of the Toronto Maple Leafs for the puck in front of the net of Jack Campbell #36 during an NHL game at Scotiabank Saddledome on January 24, 2021 in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. (Photo by Derek Leung/Getty Images)
CALGARY, AB - JANUARY 24: Joshua Leivo #27 of the Calgary Flames fights Travis Dermott #23 of the Toronto Maple Leafs for the puck in front of the net of Jack Campbell #36 during an NHL game at Scotiabank Saddledome on January 24, 2021 in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. (Photo by Derek Leung/Getty Images) /
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Toronto Maple Leafs
OTTAWA, ON – JANUARY 15: John Tavares #91 of the Toronto Maple Leafs  . (Photo by Matt Zambonin/Freestyle Photography/Getty Images) /

Player of the week

John Tavares.

The captain that has been overshadowed in the media by big personality additions like Joe Thornton and Wayne Simmonds, but he’s had a great start to the year.  All JT has done is quietly work his butt off in the background to improve his mobility and get his had healthy for another year.  Check out my article here on how I believed he was primed for a bounce back season.

With the growth of Matthews as a two-way force, and the new Kerfoot line showing some good results as a defensive line, Keefe has used Tavares in the offensive zone 57.1% of the time, a significant increase compared to the last two seasons .  Tavares has not let his coach down.  He has 7 pts in 7 games (4g, 3a), a 54.6 CF%, and 64.1 FO%.  He looks quicker and his shot looks lethal, much more explosive than what we saw for most of last year.

When the captain starts the season looking good and producing, it’s no coincidence that the Toronto Maple Leafs are 5-2.  Tavares has been the most impressive Leaf in the early going, and he earns my player of the week.

Toronto Maple Leafs News and Notes

Matthews is playing with an injury and he mentioned his hand is a post-game press conference following the 5-2 win over the Flames.  Sounds like something that is ongoing and will need to be monitored in the coming games.

Thornton is out at least 4 weeks with a fractured rib.  Zack Hyman is getting minutes on the top line with Matthews in the interim and he’s very capable of producing there.  The issue is his replacement on the 3rd line, currently Wayne Simmonds, as Zach really drove that line.  Of note, Simmonds did play well in that role on Sunday against the Flames.

The Toronto Maple Leafs are still without Nate Robertson because of a knee injury, original time-table was 4 weeks, and it has led to some trade rumors involving Kyle Dubas.  Apparently Dubas may be willing to part with a defenseman like Travis Dermott if he feels the team does not have the top 9 forward depth needed due to recent injuries.  Cap space will be an issue that may make it difficult for Dubas to acquire a player, which may mean that he will have no choice but to rely on the depth he already has.

Adam Brooks scored his first NHL goal Friday night against the Oilers.  For the record, the last time Brooks scored a goal in a professional game was on 2/15/2020, in a playoff series against Belleview in the AHL.  He scored the game tying goal late in the 3rd period.  They went on to win the game in overtime.  It was the last regulation goal scored by the Marlies in 2020 as the season was cancelled right after.  It was a total of 341 days.  A stark reminder of just how long we went without hockey.  Man I love this sport.