Toronto Maple Leafs: Anatomy of a Winning Streak

MONTREAL, QC - APRIL 28: Jake Muzzin #8 of the Toronto Maple Leafs celebrates his goal with teammates Adam Brooks #77, Joe Thornton #97 and Justin Holl #3 during the second period against the Montreal Canadiens at the Bell Centre on April 28, 2021 in Montreal, Canada. (Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images)
MONTREAL, QC - APRIL 28: Jake Muzzin #8 of the Toronto Maple Leafs celebrates his goal with teammates Adam Brooks #77, Joe Thornton #97 and Justin Holl #3 during the second period against the Montreal Canadiens at the Bell Centre on April 28, 2021 in Montreal, Canada. (Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images) /

The Toronto Maple Leafs have won four games in a row, prior to last night’s results. (This article was written ahead of time).

The Toronto Maple Leafs have been able to assert their dominance physically and been able to  outplay their opponents for the most part resulting in convincing victories. 

Not only are the Leafs beating everyone, they are dominating, having lost just three times in regulation in the last 18 games, and scoring in 15 straight periods.

Here we are going to take a look at some of the latest trends with the Leafs throughout their latest winning streak.

Power Play Scored?

This historically bad stretch from the powerplay could be coming to an end. Prior to the game, against the Habs, the Toronto Maple Leafs had only scored 3 goals since March 9th on the powerplay. Now that is up to 4 goals since March 9th a slight improvement but still not very good.

William Nylander was able to pick the pocket on Allen to start the game with a lead. Because of the quick passing between all 5 players on the ice this opportunity was made possible.

The Leafs Twitter account sums up the goal well here

It is also important to mention how the top unit is made up of the Leafs top 5 offensive players which should prove to be a good decision. The powerplay has looked more smooth and less static as of late. They are making quick passes and getting quick shots off as was seen last night.

Many critics have noted that the powerplay was shooting at an extremely low level and the players were too hesitant to shoot. Tonight they hesitated to shoot less which is a good sign moving forward. There still is plenty of work to be done to get out of the disastrous PP.

Rasmus Sandin has also been an excellent addition to the second unit with his smooth and silky passing ability. It appears as though Sandin won’t be taking over for Rielly on PP1 quite yet though, especially since when Bogosian returns he may not be in the starting lineup.

Toronto Maple Leafs Goaltending Rebounding

Jack Campbell has been looking poised and steady in the net as of late after a rough stretch. Over his past 3 games, he has garnered a 945 Sv% which is looking to be the same Campbell we saw at the start of his 10 game winning streak.

It is extremely important that Campbell is rolling in these last few of games heading into the playoffs. Riitich also had a great redemption game against the Canukcs and only allowed 1 goal which is a good sign.

 Data from

Penalty Kill

Marner, Foligno, Holl, and Muzzin have been leading the way on the penalty kill, the units look strong overall. The Leafs were able to create plenty of 2 on 1’s against the canucks. Though they did end up getting scored on thanks to JT Miller.

These past four games have been impressive for the Leafs penalty kill as a whole which is a good sign moving forward. Campbell has been flawless on the penalty kill as of late which has been positive. Given Andersen’s biggest weakness this season has been his play on the penalty kill Campbell has helped the team significantly in that department.

Fourth Line

The line of Thornton-Brooks-Spezza has been a pleasant surprise after some concerns with how the team has played in the bottom-6. The trio has played over 19 minutes together at 5v5 and has controlled the game at a respectable level. They have been able to outscore their opponent which is always a plus.

Brooks scored his third NHL goal Thursday from a quick nifty Spezza pass from behind the net.

Would also like to mention how good a job Spezza has done this season. This tweet from Nick DeSouza illustrates that pretty well.

And to update this tweet, after the Canucks game he added to his total 5v5 points and now has more points than anyone on the Flames and Canucks at 5v5.  Moving on let’s also take some time to appreciate how fantastic of a career Thornton has had. Jumbo recorded his 1100th assist to become 7th in all-time assists.

He also added to his assist total against the Cancuks to add up to 1101 total.

Thoughts on Simmonds Fight

At the beginning of the game, Simmonds came down the ice and fought Edler who had injured Hyman the previous game. Simmonds convincingly won the fight without a doubt.

The question is, was the fight needed? The panel on TSN had some mixed reviews, would be interesting to see in the comments what the takes on it are.

Auston Matthews Appreciation

Matthews has been on an absolute tear. Ray Ferraro said it best, he is scoring every game and we are so fortunate to be watching this go down in real-time.

Matthews has three goals in his last four games and is unstoppable. He is truly a special player.

New Faces in the Lineup

Timothy Liljegren played his first game of the season against Vancouver and it was a very impressive showing. He showed off his ability to make very effective first passes and was effective at controlling his gap. Liljegren finished with over 78xGF% at 5v5.

Ben Hutton played his first game in a Toronto Maple Leafs uniform and it wasn’t the most impressive showing for the defensemen. I figure this is likely because he was playing slightly above his weight as he is truly only a 6th defensemen. I wonder what he would look like with Dermott or Sandin instead of Holl, as Holl has been going through a rough stretch himself.

Hutton wasn’t great nor was he terrible so there is nothing too notable to dwell upon he is just a depth piece.

Final Thoughts

The Toronto Maple Leafs have 6 games left in the regular season (five after last night) and will play their most likely first-round opponent Montreal 3 more times. These games will prove to be a good measure of how the first round may go. So there is no time to put on the breaks.

I think it would also be useful to implement some more load management. The season has been so compacted so it’s important for players to get some rest so they can be as healthy as possible for the playoffs.

It was an extremely smart decision to give some players a maintenance day in my books since the team has already clinched and it doesn’t look like Edmonton or Winnipeg is catching them anytime soon.

Next. Did An Injury Cost Bogosian His Job?. dark

I wonder if some of the players who have been logging big minutes and the older players get a rest day before the playoffs begin.

The countdown to the playoffs begins.