The Toronto Maple Leafs got back to their winning ways on Tuesday night, defeating the Columbus Blue Jackets in a 5-4 victory.
The score makes this game seem like it was close, but the Blue Jackets were down 5-1 and the Toronto Maple Leafs let their foot off the gas. This game could easily have been a blowout.
The Leafs were down Mitch Marner, Travis Dermott, Petr Mrazek, and Jason Spezza.
Alex Steeves and Kristians Rubins were making their NHL debuts.
Toronto Maple Leafs beat the Jackets
Steeves played just 8:26 in his debut, and he had two shots, one of which was a pretty decent scoring chance. His numbers were good (positive corsi, positive expected goals) and though he wasn’t a game-changer, he didn’t look out of place on the fourth line of a first place NHL team. Especially considering that we are talking about a guy who has 12 AHL games to his credit and played college hockey and was never drafted.
To give you an idea of how impressive this is, there are four first rounders from 2018 (the first year in which Steeves went undrafted) who have not yet played an NHL game. Less than half (12) of the second rounders from that year have played an NHL game. Only seven third rounders have.
So by virtue of making his NHL debut at the age of 21, Steeves might as well be a second round pick from 2018. Sean Durzi, the Leafs actual second rounder from 2018 just made his NHL debut last week. (stats naturalstattrick.com).
Kyle Dubas ability to get free-agents to replace the picks he trades makes him the master of asset management, and a great NHL GM.
But back to the game – Rubins had a few shots and I didn’t notice him making too many errors, although the stats (as well as my attention) become less reliable during a 5-1 game. He’s no Sandin, but I’d like to see more of him.
Overall, not a bad game, considering the guys missing. The Leafs lost a coin-flip to the Wild in one of their better games of the season Saturday, and while the Jets game was a dud, you aren’t ever going to do very well with your fourth string goalie on the second night of back-to-back road games against a rested team.
The Toronto Maple Leafs are in a tie for first place overall, and will take on Tampa on Thursday in a battle for of two of the best teams in the NHL.