Toronto Maple Leafs Tuesday Tidbits and Weekend Review

Two games over the weekend against championship-caliber opposition in the Edmonton Oilers and Carolina Hurricanes provided valuable feedback on the current plight of the Leafs.

Mar 11, 2023; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews (34) battles with Connor McDavid (97) of the Edmonton Oilers.
Mar 11, 2023; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews (34) battles with Connor McDavid (97) of the Edmonton Oilers. / Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports
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Toronto Maple Leafs Physical Play Helps Contain Opponents

Led by defensemen Joel Edmundson and Jake McCabe, the Leafs made a concerted effort to limit the space of the Edmonton Oilers star players on Saturday night.

They finished checks on both Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl when the opportunity was there. They engaged them verbally and didn't back down during post-whistle scrums. The play of McCabe and Edmundson was a big reason the Leafs stormed out to a 5-0 lead, before ultimately winning 6-3.

The return of Ilya Lyubushkin against the Hurricanes added the element of more physical play on the back end. Yet, the Leafs, playing the second game of a back-to-back weren't as physical against the Hurricanes.

The Leafs were a step slow for most of the night versus Carolina which led to many neutral zone turnovers and odd-man rushes against. They also took some needless penalties and made mental errors.

Game Management and Special Teams Continue to be Problematic

The Leafs lost the game against the Hurricanes in the first period. They took bad penalties and a defensive zone turnover by McCabe led to an early deficit.

A neutral zone slash (Holmberg) and two offensive zone penalties (David Kampf and Robertson) are mistakes that must be tidied up, especially with the Leafs continued struggles in killing penalties.

The Leafs power play didn't generate much. The Hurricanes' second goal was scored on the power play, albeit on an unfortunate bounce off McCabe's shin pad. Regardless, neither unit is doing much to help the Leafs win games.

The weekend games provided an important benchmark for the Toronto Maple Leafs to see how they compare against rival title contenders. They proved they can play with anyone, but they've had problems with aggressive, hard-skating teams such as the Hurricanes and Boston Bruins.

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They have a dozen games remaining to get their pieces in order and improve their problem areas before the real games begin.