The Maple Leafs Destroy Blues + Can't Complain About Rielly Suspension

Feb 13, 2024; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Maple Leafs forward Pontus Holmberg (29) reacts after
Feb 13, 2024; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Maple Leafs forward Pontus Holmberg (29) reacts after / John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports
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The Toronto Maple Leafs received a hatrick from Bobby McMann and overcame playing the worst lineup in years with a very, very impressive effort last night against the Blues.

Before the game, Morgan Rielly was suspended for the Toronto Maple Leafs next five games, and for at least one of those, it didn't matter.

The Leafs played the game without Rielly and were forced into dressing one of the worst blue-lines they've probably ever dressed, while the team was also without John Tavares and Mitch Marner (not to mention Joseph Woll and Calle Jarnkrok).

Prior to the game it looked like it was going to be a rough night, but that's why you actually have to play the games - the Leafs had easily their best effort of the season and absolutely thumped the Blues.

The Morgan Rielly Suspension

The hit was blatantly dirty, dangerous and stupid. The excuses and justifications were lame and unconvincing.

The NHL Department of Player Safety is a joke and everyone knows it. Their suspensions contain no logic and are not anywhere close to tough enough to deter dangerous plays.

Comparable hits to Rielly's have gotten off with almost no punishment, but this was after a goal scored, and the league was right to give him a harsh penalty. I personally think the League should have much harsher suspensions for the safety of the players, but as a Leafs fan, I feel relief that Rielly won't be out longer.

This is a reasonable length and there is nothing to complain about here in my opinion.

The Toronto Maple Leafs vs the St. Louis Blues

The Leafs defeated the Blues in spectacular fashion.

61% puck possession, 68% of the shots, 66% Dangerous Scoring Chances, and 71%Expected Goals. (stats naturalstattrick.com).

That is one of their best performances of the year.

Brodie and Liljegren were the top pairing and they were the best top pairing the Leafs have dressed all year. I'm not sure I have seen a game, at least not lately, where both Rielly and Brodie were as effective. Brodie looks way better on the left side, and Liljegren is maybe secretly the Leafs defenseman anyways.

If you ignore Liljegren's two or three obvious mistakes, he played a really solid game, and his stat line was great.

Even with the shorthanded lineup, the Leafs shouldn't be playing Ryan Reeves though, he was once again on the ice for a goal against. He didn't have a particularly bad game or anything, but it's just a joke he's still playing. His three year contract is a constant humiliation to everyone involved with this team.

McMann's hattrick - really he scored two goals and an empty net bankshot - was impressive. Especially the drive to the net on the first goal. I've wondered many times why the Leafs don't use him in a more prolific role.

The engaging thing about Sheldon Keefe as a coach is that the Leafs usually can't score without their stars on the ice, and he never gives Robertson (great last night on a great second line, but still not getting enough ice time) McMann or Liljegren enough ice time.

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While I definitely have no time for people who take a game like last night and use it to argue why a star-centric approach is wrong, it was a great one-off and the team really seemed inspired by and for Rielly.