Goaltending Shines In Toronto Maple Leafs Loss to The Hurricanes

Last night the Maple Leafs lost 2-1 to the Carolina Hurricanes, it was the Maple Leafs second game in as many days and was the Maple Leafs second loss to the Hurricanes in the last week. In this one we saw both goaltenders steal the show, T.J Brodie and Tyler Bertuzzi back in the lineup

Joseph Woll Shines In Toronto Maple Leafs Loss to the Hurricanes
Joseph Woll Shines In Toronto Maple Leafs Loss to the Hurricanes / James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports

Last night the NHL's two best teams over the last 30 or so games came together to battle for supremacy. The Carolina Hurricanes ultimately prevailed, but considering that the Toronto Maple Leafs were, once again, without Mitch Marner, it's hard to be too upset about the result.

Joseph Woll and former Toronto Maple Leafs goalie Frederik Andersen went head-to-head combining to make 72 saves in the Hurricanes 2-1 victory.

Woll made 41 saves in the loss and saved 2.17 goals above expected, making him the Leafs best player of the night.

This was the most encouraging we saw last night on the Maple Leafs side, considering Woll had a .871 save percentage and 3.25 goals-against-average in his first four starts since returning from injury. Despite Woll's brilliance, Andersen was just as good at the other end saving 2.27 goals above expected and saved all eight of the high danger chances he faced.

What wasn't so encouraging was the Maple Leafs getting dominated in the shots on goal and shot attempt categories again. They have given up 81 shots in the last two games and had a 42.66 shot-on-goal percentage over the weekend.

This was starting to frustrate Maple Leafs head coach Sheldon Keefe who tried eight different forward line combinations last night. Although Keefe could not find the spark he was looking for the Maple Leafs did end up having more high-danger chances at five-on-five despite getting outshot by 11 at five-on-five. (All Stats From NaturalStatTrick.com).

T.J Brodie Back In Maple Leafs Lineup vs. Hurricanes

After sitting out two games, T.J Brodie returned to the lineup last night, but he wasn't on the top PK unit and instead of leading the Leafs blue-line in total ice time like he usually does, he was fourth (Rielly 24 minutes, and Liljegren 22 minutes led the team).

T.J Brodie was slotted in on the top pairing with Jake McCabe, but was used less at 5v5 than either Liljegren and Rielly regardless, which is probably a good thing, as that pairing was the Leafs worst on the night. The cost of inserting Brodie was taking out the puck moving of Conor Timmins who posted great stats in his recent games, albeit in a far more sheltered role than Brodie plays.

As you can see Timothy Liljegren was, after a great night against the Oilers, one of the Leafs best players on the night:

The Leafs need to figure out what to do about Brodie. It's always awkward when a formerly key player loses a step, and the Leafs are going through that right now. Brodie's lack of physical presence and passing ability has now turned him into a liability, he has a lot more experience than Connor Timmins, but Timmins can at least move the puck and can help produce in the offensive end. It was also somewhat shocking to see Joel Edmundson only get 10 minutes of five-on-five ice time considering he was coming off his best game as a Maple Leaf and lost minutes to a guy who Keefe had a healthy scratch for two games straight.

Through Edmundson's first seven games as a Maple Leaf he has only been on the ice for one goal against and has been on the ice for six goals for, you also have Connor Timmins who has been on the ice for two Maple Leafs goals and zero against in his first two games back from injury and a 68.18 on-ice goal percentage losing minutes to T.J Brodie who has the worst on-ice goal percentage on the team by 10% in the Maple Leafs last 10 games.

Maple Leafs Tyler Bertuzzi Back From Illness

Before coming down with an illness, Bertuzzi has started to play well alongside Auston Matthews tallying five points in his last four games. He started the game on the top line with Matthews and Domi before being shuffled onto a line with John Tavares and William Nylander.

Bertuzzi was playing well alongside Matthews and Domi, but then moved to the line with Nylander and Tavares, they became the Maple Leafs worst line of the night but were Sheldon Keefe's second-most-used combination of the eight he tried last night.

Basically the only thing Keefe did not try last night was putting Nick Robertson, the Maple Leafs lone goal scorer with any of the top six players. Robertson has been the Maple Leafs fourth-most productive goal scorer per 60 minutes at five-on-five this season.

The only time we saw Robertson with either Nylander or Matthews was during a partial change where Matthews hopped over the boards as Robertson lead the forecheck. Robertson forced a rushed pass around the boards with allowed Edmundson to step up and get the puck to Auston Matthews who slid it to a wide open Roberston for the only Maple Leafs goal of the night.

Keefe has kept his young guys on a very short leash, but Brodie continues to be a liability and Robertson continues to impress. It's time for Keefe to give Robertson and Timmins a bigger role and keep them as everyday players.


Hopefully, this will be the case in the Maple Leafs next contest against the New Jersey Devils back home in Toronto on Tuesday night.