In this edition of Toronto Maple Leafs’ Quick Hits, I’ll talk a look at some of the news that’s emerging from the team. Two items reference the Maple Leafs’ 6-3 win over the Buffalo Sabres; another concerns the status of solid defenseman Jake Muzzin.
Quick Hit One: William Nylander Is on Five-Game Point Streak
William Nylander continued his impressive point streak in Tuesday’s game against the Sabres, providing a goal and an assist in Toronto’s 6-3 victory. Nylander’s scored during a power play for the Maple Leafs in the second period.
Nylander now has 32 goals and 36 assists (for 68 points) in 58 games on the season. That includes an impressive 22 power-play points. He’s currently on a five-game point streak and has added four goals and nine points over that stretch.
Nylander has played lights-out hockey. His consistent and effective play has been a critical factor in the Maple Leafs’ success this season. His continued contribution will be crucial as the team looks to make a deep playoff run. Can he do it? Betting he’s going to be a force in the postseason.
Related: Maple Leafs News & Rumors: O’Reilly, Samsonov, Muzzin & Marner
Quick Hit Two: Wing or Center John Tavares Has Strong Game Last Night
John Tavares had an impressive four-point game last night in the Maple Leafs’ 6-3 victory over the Sabres. He scored a goal and added three assists, which contributed to the team’s win.
In 58 games this season, Tavares has scored 26 goals and added 34 assists (for a total of 60 points). He’s been particularly hot in his last 11 games, scoring six goals and adding nine assists (for 15 points). It is worth noting that Tavares has been playing on the wing since Ryan O’Reilly. That is a change that has been talked about for a while. However, it was often Nylander who would have been placed at the center’s spot.
Wherever he plays, Tavares remains a key player for his team. He’s a solid team captain whose willingness to switch positions to allow newcomer O’Reilly to play his natural center position has been done without any drama.
Despite thoughts that Tavares is aging past usefulness, it hasn’t been the case. Instead, he remains a consistent offensive threat who has been essential to his team’s success as they continue to compete for a playoff spot.
After a 13-point night from the second line, Maple Leafs’ head coach Sheldon Keefe confirmed that Tavares will eventually return to center. However, he has left O’Reilly at the center because he wants to help the team build chemistry and confidence.
Although the Maple Leafs might not have expected the second line to perform as well as it has, they are pleased with the results. How can anyone not like it that the player you traded for (O’Reilly) put up a hat trick in his third game with his new team?
Related: Three Takeaways from Maple Leafs’ 6-3 Win Over Sabres
Quick Hit Three: Jake Muzzin Is Out for the Season
The Maple Leafs announced today that Jake Muzzin would not play this regular season or during the postseason. His cervical spine injury had not healed and the team didn’t want to risk further injury. Instead, Muzzin will prioritize his recovery and long-term future health.
It’s sad that Muzzin won’t be able to play for the rest of the season, but it makes sense to focus on recovery and long-term health. There’s more life past hockey than there is during hockey. With his loss, the team might choose to rely more heavily on the defensemen they have in the lineup or consider a trade to bolster their defensive depth.
The team has used Muzzin’s cap hit during the regular season to address areas of need on their roster, and they’ll continue to do so as the season continues. As for Muzzin, he’s been a team-oriented player for the team. His future with the team beyond the 2023-24 season is uncertain at this time.
Related: COULD MAPLE LEAFS’ AUSTON MATTHEWS BE PAST HIS PRIME?