The Toronto Maple Leafs are like a Ferrari with a dent in it – still better than most cars on the road, even if it’s not as nice as thing it should be at the moment.
Last night the Toronto Maple Leafs lost in overtime, again, and while many people just want to do everything they can to twist everything about this team into negativity, it was a perfectly good result.
Some things do not require anyone’s opinion: In the NHL, an overtime loss is not the same as a regulation loss, it is the same as a tie. You get a point for it, and the OT period is played in such a way as to make results completely random. Whenever someone is framing OT losses as actual losses, they are being disingenuous and should be ignored.
There is a verb for this, and it’s called “Fox Newsing” and it means twisting an otherwise innocuous event or idea and twisting it in such a way as to rile up people who don’t know any better, with the intention of making them scared or upset.
So a loss in OT is not a negative outcome.
With that out of the way, here are some thoughts on the game:
Toronto Maple Leafs vs New Jersey Devils
It was a perfectly normal night in which……Jordie Benn was their best position player?
The rugged defenseman was mysteriously inserted into the lineup this past week and was inexplicably played more than Timothy Liljegren, the person who should actually be getting the most ice time.
Perhaps because he was the only player on the entire team who didn’t allow more dangerous scoring chances than the team got while they played, Benn came out of the game with the highest expected goals rating on the Leafs. (naturalstattrick.com).
Now I’m not one to pump the tires of an old, slow, grinder who likely shouldn’t be any higher than tenth on the depth chart, but if he performs he performs, and reputation be damned.
Benn is my new favorite player.
As for the rest of the game, I thought Nico Hishier was fun to watch. I’ve been enjoying several Devils games so far this year, and with 2 x #1 picks, and Dougie Hamilton, they are a definite team on the rise.
The Leafs are 5-1-3 in their last eight games. With a little luck they are 8-1 and people are talking about them like they’re the best team in the world.
The funny thing is, they’re posting that record with three different goalies. Also, while Matthews and Marner aren’t playing bad by any stretch of the imagination, they clearly have another level they can reach that they aren’t currently hitting.
Matthews has six goals and 12 points over his last nine games, which is good, but not great. Actually, it’s great for anyone on earth not named Matthews, McDavid, Drasosaitl, Kaprizov, Marner, or Rantanen.
Matthews and Marner both have another gear.
Matthews’ expected-goals on the season is down from 63% last year to a still incredible 59% right now.
The Leafs have points in eight of their last nine games, and while playing three different goalies, missing TJ Brodie and Jake Muzzin, and Auston Matthews is just at, maybe, 80%.
The Toronto Maple Leafs are Just warming up.
But before I go, I have to say that Matt Murray, somehow 12 years younger than me but looking like he could be my father, had one heck of a game last night. Several of those saves were preposterous. The Leafs single point from last night’s game is mostly because of him.