By Stan Smith
We need to start with the ugly first because, for Toronto Maple Leafs’ fans, everything about this game was ugly. From the Maple Leafs not being able to capitalize early in the game despite owning the puck, to giving up the first goal in a giveaway while killing a penalty, right to the end of the game and having what would have been the tying goal called back. Even the goals the Maple Leafs did score were ugly, something they need more of.
Bad Penalties and Special Teams
The referees called this game closely doling out 12 penalties in the game. But they called it even at six apiece. Unfortunately for the Maple Leafs, they were terrible both killing penalties, giving up two power-play goals on giveaways in their own end, and on the power play, failing to get a single shot on net in their first four power plays.
Calle Jarnkrok took two completely unnecessary penalties in the Arizona zone that led to the Coyotes’ opening goal and the winning goal after the Maple Leafs fought back to tie the game late in the third period.
Jake Muzzin and Justin Holl each coughed up the puck that led to Arizona’s two power-play goals.
Muzzin and Holl played two solid back-to-back games after their terrible performance in the season opener in Montreal. But, they were back to their old tricks in this game posting the worst analytics on the team.
In the 6:10 of ice time before he left the game with what is being diagnosed as a neck injury, according to Naturalstattrick.com Muzzin had an Expected Goals Percentage of only 9.62 percent. Putting that the other way, he was on the ice for 90.38 percent of Expected Goals Against. He was also on the ice for two Scoring Chances For and four against as well as Zero High Danger Chances For and two against.
Holl was the second-worst on the team with a 30.2 percent Expected Goals For Percentage, and 12.5 percent of High Dangers Chances Percentage (one High Danger Chance For, seven High Danger Chances Against)
20 Years of Losses
It was announced during the game that it was exactly 20 years ago that the Maple Leafs last defeated the Coyotes at home.
Muzzin Hurt “Again”
After having a rough start to the game, Jake Muzzin left the game following a collision behind the Maple Leafs’ net with Clayton Keller. Head coach Sheldon Keefe stated after the game that it was a neck injury and not a concussion. Muzzin will be further evaluated today.
Matthews’ worst game?
I don’t think I have seen Auston Matthews play a worse game. He might have. I just don’t remember seeing it. He struggled to complete passes. He either missed the net or had shots blocked more than I have noticed before.
Matthews is tied for fifth in team scoring with Calle Jarnkrok and Michael Bunting. All three players have a goal and an assist in four games. That said, I’m not worried about Matthews’ game. I’m sure he will find his game and his timing. But, for this game, he just didn’t have it.
I have watched hockey for over 50 years and played it at the minor league, men’s league, gentlemen’s league, and senior league levels on and off over that same span. Apparently, I didn’t know the hand-pass rule. I always thought that it was no longer considered a hand pass once the puck came in contact with an opposing player. I was sure the Alex Kerfoot goal that tied the game 3-3 with 37 seconds left was going to count even after review because the puck bounce off of Keller’s skate.
It turns out the actual rule states
“….directed the puck to a teammate, or has allowed his team to gain an advantage, and subsequently possession and control of the puck is obtained by a player of the offending team, either directly or deflected off any player or official.”
The keywords there are “deflected off any player.”
I still question the call because Keller also had his stick in Morgan Rielly’s glove and it was obvious that Rielly was not in control of the puck or attempting to pass it to Mitch Marner. Regardless it was called no goal.
To be honest, the Maple Leafs should not have been in that position late in the game. It was their lack of finish, their bad penalties, and their carelessness with the puck that kept Arizona in the game.
I do have to give the Coyotes credit. They had a game plan and stuck to it. They didn’t wilt despite the continuous pressure in their own zone by the Maple Leafs. They played a tight box in front of their net not allowing for much penetration to the high-danger scoring areas, and they won the special teams game.
The Maple Leafs scored on their first shot on the net on the power play. Mind you, it was on their fifth power play.
Marner did play a decent game. At times it seemed like he was out there by himself. He led all players on both teams with 26:10 of ice time and scored the tying goal on a turnover. Marner now has four points in four games to start the season.
Both John Tavares and William Nylander also had a point each in the game. Nylander a goal and Tavares an assist. Tavares leads the team in scoring with five points in four games. Nylander has four points himself.
Rielly had a point to give him four points in four games but he is also a team-worst minus-5 in plus/minus.
The most important “Good” is the sun still came up this morning. The world didn’t end last night as a result of the game.
First, we wait to see the prognosis for Muzzin. Hopefully, his injury is minor. If he can’t go on Thursday against the Dallas Stars, we expect that Victor Mete will fill in. Sheldon Keefe also stated after the game that he will make some lineup changes for that game.
Our guess is that both Nick Robertson and Wayne Simmonds will be in the lineup. If we had to hazard another guess as to who will be out if we look at the ice time for Monday’s game, Nicolas Aube-Kubel played only 6:15 and did not play on the power play or the penalty kill. Zach Aston-Reese only played 6:06 but did get 1:40 on the penalty kill. Denis Malgin played 8:44 including 1:50 on the power play.
We figure it will be two of those three players who sit out.