Putting the puck in the net was not considered a concern for the Toronto Maple Leafs entering the season.
Keeping it out of their net, however, was a question mark. Especially, considering the Toronto Maple Leafs new players didn’t have a history of impressive defensive play.
The early returns after two games have done little to alleviate the suspected problems with the roster as constituted.
The game against the Minnesota Wild had a lot of similarities to the season opener. Lots of goals were scored by both teams, with enough sloppiness and progress needed in many areas.
Toronto Maple Leafs Offense Leading The Way
The strength of the Leafs is their group of forwards. After two games, the offense has done its part and then some.
Auston Matthews seems determined to prove that last year’s forty-goal output was a down year. His 246-goal pace suggests he misses having the Rocket Richard trophy in his possession.
An already potent power play has back-to-back multiple-goal games. William Nylander looks determined to get paid, either by the Leafs or another team.
Tyler Bertuzzi potted his first goal as a Maple Leaf, and Ryan Reaves is doing what was expected from his signing, hitting and fighting.
After falling behind 1-0 early in the game against the Wild, the offense came to life and scored four consecutive goals. One would think, it was the start of an easy cruise-control victory.
Instead, as the Leafs are known to do, they let their foot off the gas and allowed the Wild back in the game.
Number one goaltender Ilya Samsonov let in a bad angle, short-sided goal to Matt Boldy. Before the second period ended, Marco Rossi batted one in after Samsonov struggled with rebound control on three successive shots.
Samsonov had moments of brilliance earlier in the game, most notably a huge pad save in the last minute of the first period, which was a momentum changer, as Nylander scored seconds later to make it 3-1 after the first period.
The start of the third period had the look of a fire drill at times in the Leafs defensive zone, but they kept the puck out until their offense scored in bunches once again.
The flurry of goals in the middle of the third period did make the waning moments of the game comfortable, but the Leafs did it the hard way.
At some point, the offense will dry up. As offensively gifted as this team is, six-plus goals per game is not sustainable.
The fireworks are highly entertaining, but the Toronto Maple Leafs defensive structure is a work in progress. Down the road, it will be needed.