It’s one of those strings of games where the team still wins even when it plays less-than-great hockey. Although the last two games were far from perfect, the Toronto Maple Leafs played well enough. As a result, the team won its fifth-straight game.
The team will be sorry to see November end. Over the month, they lost only one game in regulation and ended with an 11-1-3 record.
In this edition of Maple Leafs’ Quick Hits, I’ll look at some of the news from the team as it comes out of the game against the Sharks and heads into Florida for a game against the Tampa Bay Lightning on Saturday night. Not surprisingly, both teams are playing well.
Quick Hit One: Mac Hollowell Moves to AHL
Contrary to some opinions, Mac Hollowell is young and inexperienced as far as the NHL is gone; however, he’s not waiver-exempt. Whether that has anything to do with his constant yo-yo-ing back for forth between the AHL and the NHL I don’t know. What I do suspect is that, if Hollowell were put on waivers today, someone would likely pick him up.
However, yesterday he was re-assigned to the Maple Leafs’ AHL affiliate Toronto Marlies. Given the way that I’ve watched Maple Leafs’ head coach Sheldon Keefe move, he’s not likely to move Hollowell out of the lineup simply to make a move.
That’s especially true because Hollowell is coming into his own a bit. The Big Mac Attack (as his friend Auston Matthews calls him) has registered two assists in his last two games, which does NOT beg the question “Should Mitch Marner be worried about his record?”
The only thing I haven’t heard is defenseman Jordie Benn’s status. If Benn is healed from his injury and cleared to return, that might be a different story. Hollowell could then be headed to the Marlies for game action; but, until that point, I don’t see it happening. Look for him to get into his sixth straight game.
Quick Hit Two: Calle Jarnkrok Injures Groin in Sharks’ Game
Calle Jarnkrok injured his groin late in the second period of the San Jose Sharks game. It looks as if he’ll miss some time. However, when asked coach Keefe didn’t know what the specific timetable might look like for Jarnkrok’s recovery and return. Keefe’s last word was that Jarnkrok “would miss some time.”
Fans can only assume that the Swedish forward is a bit more injured than if he were listed as “day-to-day.” With the 31-year-old gone, there’s likely to be a spot on the team’s top-six spot. That probably means that Nick Robertson will draw into the lineup to fill Jarnkrok’s role. It would also mean that Denis Malgin would slot back onto the team’s fourth line.
Jarnkrok had been slated for a middle-six role at the start of the season. However, recently he joined the John Tavares and William Nylander second line. Given that line’s success, it would be a good guess that he was a contributor. Before the groin injury, although he’s not a huge scorer, Jarnkrok had been on a three-game point-scoring streak.
Item Three: Alex Kerfoot Collected Two Assists in the Sharks’ Game
Alex Kerfoot registered two assists during Wednesday’s win over the Sharks. However, although he has three assists in his last two games, Kerfoot has not been scoring – at all. He hasn’t scored a goal in the last 20 games.
That said, the 28-year-old Kerfoot remains productive and adds a solid defence to the team. Kerfoot is a plus-4 in his plus/minus statistics. (Right now, Michael Bunting leads the team with a plus-10 rating.)
Quick Hit Four: Pierre Engvall Scores Game-Winning Goal
Pierre Engvall hadn’t scored in nine games; but, when he did it was a big one. His goal was the game-winner against the Sharks. Before the regular season, Engvall had gone on record saying he was aiming for 20 goals. He’s not close yet.
The 26-year-old Engvall consistently plays solid defence, but his scoring has been a bit off this season. He has only three goals on the season (with three assists). Right now, the team’s top-six players are carrying the team; however, the team would go further should the bottom-six units also contribute to the secondary scoring.
This is Engvall’s fourth season with the Maple Leafs. Last season was his best, scoring 15 goals and adding 20 assists (for 35 points) in 78 games.