The Toronto Maple Leafs almost always open their seasons with an entertaining game, and this year’s was no different.
The Toronto Maple Leafs took down their rivals, the Montreal Canadiens, in a 6-5 comeback victory.
This will likely end as one of the most entertaining games of the entire season when it is all said and done. However, even with the terrific win, it was not a perfect game by any means for the Leafs, and there are plenty of areas to improve on.
Let’s go over some pros and cons of opening night’s victory.
Toronto Maple Leafs: Pros and Cons From Opening Night Win
Pros: The Stars Are Back in Business
The Leafs ‘core-four’ had themselves a game, obviously highlighted by Auston Matthews’ hat-trick. On top of this, Mitch Marner had an assist and the shootout winner, William Nylander had a goal and an assist, and captain John Tavares added 3 assists of his own. (all stats)
Another key point was made by Matthews and Marner, who threw themselves into a scrum and engaged in some shoving after a whistle, which is good to see from those two. This showed they were willing to get involved physically and stand up for their teammates, which they have been lacking in recent years.
Pros: A Strong Game From Noah Gregor
Newly signed Noah Gregor had a very strong debut with the Toronto Maple Leafs, including scoring a short-handed goal (which was the first goal for the team of the entire season), and looking strong on the PK all night long. It was a great debut for Gregor, who is signed to a great contract at only $775k for this season.
Cons: Shaky Night In Net
Now to the cons, where we start off with a shaky performance from Ilya Samsonov in net.
To be fair, he wasn’t terrible. Most of the goals he didn’t have much of a chance on, and he made a few great saves. But it was an overall inconsistent game for Samsonov, who finished the game with a 4.83 GAA and a .792 SV%.
Not the start you want from your starting goalie, who’s coming off a shaky preseason as well.
Cons: A Sloppy Game From Multiple Areas
It’s almost impossible to play a perfect hockey game, but there were numerous areas for improvement for the Leafs in their season opener.
First up is the defense as a whole could use some work.
John Klingberg was good on the power play, but he was terrible at 5on5. The Leafs also coughed the puck up too many times. 13 giveaways to be exact, including one which led to Montreal’s opening goal of the game.
The Leafs new additions (other than Gregor) also could’ve been better. Both Max Domi and Tyler Bertuzzi failed to register a point, and Bertuzzi’s discipline could use some work, as he took a costly penalty that led to a power-play goal for the Habs.
Rookies Matthew Knies and Fraser Minten both also had subpar games. This one is a little more excusable, as they’re both still rookies, especially Minten, who played in his first NHL game on Saturday. But the Leafs do expect a lot from these two, and while it is just a one-game sample size, both of these players need to step up their games.
In short, while not a perfect game, it was a strong opener for the Leafs and a very entertaining game to watch from start to finish.
The buds in blue take on the Minnesota Wild on Saturday night, where they look to open their season 2-0.