By Stan Smith

While watching this game, I couldn’t help but think back to watching Muhammad Ali when he dominated the world heavyweight boxing scene, using his famous Rope-A-Dope technique, leaning back on the ropes in a defensive stance and allowing his opponent to spend all of their energy swinging away and tiring themselves out delivering blows to his arms and shoulders but landing nothing of any circumstance. Ali would wait for an opening, for his opponent to tire, and then deliver a series of devastating scoring shots of his own, ultimately winning the fight.  

That perfectly describes the Toronto Maple Leafs’ 4-0 win over the Stars in Dallas on Tuesday night. 


The Ugly

Sometimes ugly can be a beautiful thing. This was definitely a gutsy, hard-fought, ugly win with a beautiful result if you are a Maple Leafs’ fan.

The Good

Matt Murray

We are starting the “Good” talking about Matt Murray for the sixth time in his past eight starts. Murray stopped all 44 of the 44 shots he faced to record his first shutout as a Maple Leaf and his first shutout since January 25th of 2022 when he stopped all 32 shots he faced in a 5-0 shutout of the Buffalo Sabres for the Ottawa Senators. 

Matt Murray, Maple Leafs

The majority of the saves Murray made in this game were not your garden variety stops. Of the 44 total shots that Dallas had, an astounding 26 of them were High-Danger Scoring Chances according to Naturalstattrick.  

How good was Murray in this game?

The website had Murray stopping 5.97 Goals Over Expected, which is the highest single-game goals over expected they have ever recorded since they started compiling that statistic. 

Defence and Penalty Kill

After reading the above statistics someone may think that Murray stole this game. Murray was lights-out good in this game and made several amazing saves; but, this game wasn’t all about Murray, nor was it Murray stealing a win. The skaters in front of Murray were full points for the win as well. 

Altogether they blocked 27 shots in the game. They were a perfect seven for seven on the penalty kill including a four-minute high-sticking penalty early in the second period and a span of 1:38 late in the second when they were two men short. While it wasn’t statistically pretty and was not how you want to play every game, this was a complete team win.  

Liljegren and Sandin

This was by far the best game that Timothy Liljegren and Rasmus Sandin had played in their young careers. Liljegren played a career-high 25:57 including 7:19 on the penalty kill. He assisted on Alex Kerfoot’s empty-net goal, was plus-2, and had three hits plus a blocked shot in the game. 

Rasmus Sandin, Maple Leafs

Sandin also played a career-high 23:26, including 3:05 on the power play and 4:11 on the penalty kill. He scored his second goal of the season, which was also his second goal in four games. Sandin finished the game with the goal, was plus-2, had two hits, and had four blocked shots. 

Auston Matthews

Matthews scored his 13th goal of the season and fourth goal in his last five games. He also added an assist in the game. Matthews presently has a five-game point streak going with a total of four goals and five assists for nine points in those five games. 

Mitch Marner

Mitch Marner extended his consecutive point streak to 20 games with an assist on the opening goal of the game, John Tavares’ 13th of the season. With everything else that happened in this game, it almost seemed like an afterthought.  

Related: Toronto Maple Leafs vs Dallas Stars Game Notes: Who Did What?

The Bad

The Maple Leafs took seven penalties in this game.  I would love to say they were not deserving of the seven calls against them, but unlike the Tampa game, when they were called for six penalties, some of them were extremely questionable, all seven of these calls were obvious penalties. Five of those penalties were in the second period. 

Victor Mete joined the long list of Maple Leafs’ defensemen on the injury list after playing only 3:04.  Mete suffered a lower-body injury after taking a hit from Jani Hakanpaa along the boards just after entering the Stars zone with the puck. Sheldon Keefe stated after the game that Mete would miss some time with the injury.  

What’s Next?

The Maple Leafs return home to take on the surprising 14-10-4 Los Angeles Kings. The Kings are coming off of a 5-2 win over the Senators in Ottawa in the first game of a six-game Eastern road trip. The Kings have only lost one of their last six games in regulation going into this game.

Ilya Samsonov, Maple Leafs

Ilya Samsonov is scheduled to get the start. Keefe stated following the game in Dallas that TJ Brodie might be ready to go for the game. If he can’t, it is expected that Mac Hollowell will step back into the lineup. Conor Timmins, who played a quiet but competent 14:49 on Tuesday, will most likely dress for his second game against the Kings.  

Related: Maple Leafs’ Quick Hits: Marner, Murray & Mete

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *