Toronto Maple Leafs: Good News, Nobody Got Hurt In Loss to Sens.

Feb 10, 2021; Montreal, Quebec, CAN; Toronto Maple Leafs goalie Frederik Andersen(31) makes a save during the first period of the game against the Montreal Canadiens at the Bell Centre. Mandatory Credit: Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports
Feb 10, 2021; Montreal, Quebec, CAN; Toronto Maple Leafs goalie Frederik Andersen(31) makes a save during the first period of the game against the Montreal Canadiens at the Bell Centre. Mandatory Credit: Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports /

The Toronto Maple Leafs lost 4-3 in OT to the Ottawa Senators in a game that was a bit of a snooze fest if you are a Leafs fan.

In terms of the game itself, it was a lackluster performance by the good guys, but Frederik Andersen made his first start for the Toronto Maple Leafs since March 19th and the team escaped without injury.

At this point in the season, I’ll take it.

 I’m going to use a bit of this article here to congratulate D.J. Smith and the Sens on an underrated season.  We all know that Smith got his first NHL coaching opportunity under Babcock with the Leafs, and if you were paying attention then, the success he is having with Ottawa should not come as a surprise.

Toronto Maple Leafs and Ottawa Senators

The Sens have played the Leafs tough all year long.  The Leafs won the season series 5-4, with a goal differential of +2.  The Sens ground the Leafs for every possible point they could and gave up absolutely nothing easily.  They fought hard right to the end of the year and play an attacking style that makes you work for everything that you get against them.  If they had more saves this year, they would have been much more competitive than anybody had imagined they could be.

A quick shout out to Connor Brown for the best season of his career.  21 goals in 56 games is a heck of an achievement.  Brown was a Leaf favorite when he wore the blue and white, and I am glad that he has found success under D.J. Smith as an Ottawa Senator.


Frederick Andersen made his first NHL start since March 19th.  Prior to last night, the only game-action Freddy has seen was 4.5 periods of play with the Toronto Marlies of the AHL.  The fact that he played a full NHL game without any set-backs physically was the main positive to take from last night.  In terms of his play in the crease, well, the guy is rusty.

I thought he played OK.  Which, under the circumstances, is probably all you are looking for in terms of performance.  Is he ready to start a playoff game?  No.  Not at all.  His reaction time is slow, his movements were not compact or efficient, and he over-committed on plays to try and compensate.

He stopped the pucks he was supposed to, but on the 2nd and 3rd goals it was clear that the game was moving too fast for him.  I don’t blame either goal on him individually, but he was completely out of position on both goals and never gave himself a chance to battle for either.  He just didn’t have the ability to contain his movements in a compact way that keeps him from being out of position after committing to a first save.

It takes time for a goalie to adjust to the pace of the NHL and the traffic in the crease, and Freddy has missed almost 2 months of game action.  The question for Freddy is, can he get there by practicing?  He’s out of runway in terms of game action.  That’s all he’s going to get.  The rest is between him and his goalie coach.  Very difficult to assess.  It does seem like the Toronto Maple Leafs are committed to Andersen as the #2 and he is going to get every opportunity to be ready if needed.  My fingers are crossed.

The PP continued to struggle.  Specifically, the first unit.  The Sens actually had 6 shots on net while the first unity was on the PP last night.  Keefe’s response to the PP during his post game:

"“It just needs to execute.  If you go back and look at each of the powerplays, our best players have the puck on their stick at different times and we just don’t make a play.  We either give it right back to them or they take it from us.”"

The 2nd unit scored the lone PP goal in the game for the Leafs and it underscored 2 areas where the 1st unit is struggling.  1)  They outworked the PK for the puck.  2)  They shot the puck from the middle of the ice with traffic in front.  PP1 is not doing either of these things.  It’s time to up the compete level and simplify the approach.  This is not a structural issue, it’s not a coaching issue, it’s a players need to do their job issue.

The PK is starting to look really good.  Over the last 9 games, the Leafs PK has gone 22-24 for a  91.7% success rate.  A couple of things to note here.  The PK is getting saves.  Saves are good.  Your best penalty killer is your goalie.

Also, Nick Foligno is a good penalty killer, and has calmed the PK down with his play.  This could simply be a boost in communication and simplicity, two things Foligno is known for, and it seems to have spread to the rest of the group.  They seem to have found some confidence and consistency at the right time.

Why didn’t Keefe rest certain players?  I was wondering this while watching the game.  If they were going to play a bland, disinterested game, then just sub in a few guys that have something to prove.  When asked about managing his roster during the last two games, Keefe said something in his post game that reminded me just how much the Leafs have juggled the salary cap this season.

"“We don’t have the flexibility to make sweeping changes and sit multiple people.”"

If you take a look at the Toronto Maple Leafs cap situation here, they just don’t have any room.  Even with only 1 or 2 games remaining, the decision to activate Andersen for a game has handcuffed Keefe in this area.  As much as I would have liked to see an infusion of energy from players who have something to play for, they just cannot make those changes.

The challenge for the team on Friday against the Jets will be to find a level of competitiveness that gets them ready for a playoff series, but try to remain healthy at the same time.  That is a difficult task for a coach.

Speaking of the playoffs, the schedule has been released for round 1.

dark. Next. The Leafs Power-Play Is Getting Hard to Watch

Time to put in a good effort against the Jets on Friday, and it would be really nice if the 1st PP unit got their stuff together and potted a couple of goals.  Other then that, just stay healthy.

Go Leafs!