Toronto Maple Leafs New Defensemen Struggle vs Canadiens

Mar 6, 2024; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Maple Leafs right wing William Nylander (88) scores a
Mar 6, 2024; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Maple Leafs right wing William Nylander (88) scores a / Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports

The Toronto Maple Leafs overcame the absence of Mitch Marner last night and beat the Montreal Canadiens 3-2.

The Toronto Maple Leafs were playing their first game since their brutal and embarrassing failure at the NHL trade deadline.

Brad Treliving's post-deadline comments seemed about as sincere as a politician's, and really offered no insight beyond implying that he was hamstrung by the guy who left him Auston Matthews and $20 million dollars to spend, the poor baby.

Yeah it's on the guys who were already here, but literally every team can say that. The Leafs GM really didn't offer a single intelligable explanation as to why he is willing risk wasting a year of Auston Matthew's prime with a rookie goalie and a dud like Samsonov, let alone one of the worst blue-lines in the entire league.

Once Treliving started talking about ensuring they make the playoffs, it was just sad. Does he think we're idiots? This team has a 100% lock on making the playoffs, as noted on multiple sites that offer this kind of information, and so it seems a little condecsending, like he thinks we're stupid, when he talks about making the playoffs. It's only because of his failure to improve the team at all last summer that they have no chance at the divisision title and thus a ridiculously hard path through the playoffs.

All excuses about assets, prospects, draft picks, and the salary cap ring hollow when the Las Vegas Golden Knights found a creative way to add not one, not two, but three star player to their lineup.

As to the was about as exciting as the deadline itself ended up being.

Toronto Maple Leafs vs Montreal Canadiens

The Leafs are guaranteed to make the playoffs, the Canadiens have no chance. The Leafs already know they are starting on the road against either Florida or Boston and so this game had absolutely no drama.

One interesting thing about this game was Timothy Liljegren. A lot of people assumed he would be the odd-man out once the Leafs acquired Joel Edmundson, and I don't know if this is because they themselves are crazy or if they just respect Sheldon Keefe that little.

The fact is, the Leafs have almost no puck-movers and no right-handed defenseman, so Liljegren is the last guy they should be taking out.

Last night they sat Simon Benoit, which makes sense because even with two out of the three among Benoit, Lyubushkin and Edmundson playing the Leafs don't have enough mobility on the back-end. Playing all three of them at once will be a disaster.

Liljegren led the Leafs in 5v5 ice-time, so I guess Keefe enjoyed his game. I didn't think he was bad, but the numbers look awful. This is likely because he's paired with Joel Edmundson who is slow, can't pass and overall is just a horrendous player.

Icing Edmundson is an outright guarantee that the other team will have the puck more, and not even Cale Makar would post good numbers being stuck with him. Liljegren is not Makar, so I don't know what the Leafs are expecting here.

Personally, I would make McCabe and Liljegren the top pairing and play them for 25 minutes per night, while trying to get Rielly and Brodie some sheltered minutes, because that is the only chance the Leafs have of doing anything with this blue-line. (stats

They might also try Rielly and Liljegren, a combo that played 3 minutes last night and had the puck mostly the entire time. Obviously it's a short sample, but it's never a bad idea to put your two best defenseman together.

Whenever one of Lyubushkin or Edmundson was on the ice, Montreal dominated. Overall when one of those two played, the Habs had 34 shot-attempts, while the Leafs had 22. Get used to it, because that is what happens when you play these kinds of regressive players - the other team gets the puck as much as they want it.

If these guys can't contain the Habs it will be hilarious to see them against a real team.


Overall, this game caps off a horrible week for the Toronto Maple Leafs - they lost twice to Boston, had (by far) the worst trade deadline of any team in the NHL, and only barely beat Buffalo and Montreal.