During the Toronto Maple Leafs’ 5-0 shutout win over the Los Angeles Kings, a number of players made significant contributions. As a fan of those players who often don’t get recognized for their contributions to this team’s success, I have been considering writing a post or two about those players who often do not show up in game reviews.
This is the first post of its kind on my new Old Prof Hockey site. I will regularly try to note some of these players after each game.
Game Contributor One: David Kampf
In last night’s win, David Kampf scored his first goal in his past 20 games. It was the team’s second goal of three scored quickly – actually in just over a minute (66 seconds to be accurate). To my mind, Kampf is one of the team’s unknown warriors. He quietly goes about his business – which mostly centers on keeping the puck out of his own net.
Although it was Kampf’s first goal in those 20 games, he’s quietly on a career-best pace of 11 points in 28 games. He’s also registered points in three of his last four games. Perhaps that’s not enough production to be noticed by fans, but he’s certainly appreciated by his head coach Sheldon Keefe.
Game Contributor Two: Michael Bunting
Michael Bunting had been held off the scoresheet for a while; however, he’s currently on a seven-game point-scoring streak. In those seven games, he’s put up nine assists. He’s also playing with a bit of a pesky “mean” streak.
In last night’s 5-0 win over the Kings, he added two assists to his total by setting up both line partners. He registered an assist on William Nylander’s second-period goal. Then, he added a helper on Auston Matthews’ third-period goal.
Bunting isn’t scoring goals himself, and it’s been 11 games since he put one across the goal line. Still, he’s a perfect partner on that line with Matthews and Nylander. He digs out pucks, draws penalties, and puts his body in front of the goalie almost every shift.
On the season, Bunting now has scored four goals and added 15 assists (for 19 points) in 28 games. He might not hit the 63 points he scored in his rookie season, but he’s gaining scoring speed.
Game Contributor Three: Justin Holl
Justin Holl has been playing the best hockey of his career recently. Last night, he had an assist, blocked a couple of shots, and was credited with three hits. He’s been playing so well that it was a surprise to me that his assist was his first point in 15 games.
Not a month ago, it seemed as if his teammates had to scold fans for booing Holl. However, things have changed. Certainly, coach Keefe is trusting and relying on him more. His ice time is rising by the game it seems. This season, Holl is averaging 21:34 TOI and is playing reliable and efficient hockey. Holl might register more than 100 hits and 100 blocked shots for the second straight season.
Game Contributor Four: T.J. Brodie
TJ Brodie’s return was successful. He logged 17:27 TOI in his first game back from his oblique injury and registered an assist in the win. Brodie was his usual steady, calm self on the ice.
If Victor Mete were not injured, my guess is that Brodie would have been given a practice day and would have had his first start against his old Calgary Flames team tomorrow. But, there he was working with partner Conor Timmins to help steady the defence.
The team plays better when he’s on the blue line.
Game Contributor Five: Alex Kerfoot
After last year’s career season, Alex Kerfoot hasn’t put up the numbers he did a year ago. However, he might be picking up his pace a bit recently. He’s been on a point-a-game pace over the team’s last five games (with a goal and four assists in that span).
Regardless of his scoring, he remains a contributing part of the team. He’s often been called the team’s Swiss Army Knife because of his versatility.
Last night he registered a power-play assist on Pierre Engvall’s first-period goal. He now has scored twice and has added 10 assists (for 12 points) in his 28 games on the season.