By Stan Smith

Philadelphia Flyers 4 – Maple Leafs 3

I want to quickly touch on this game. Contrary to other reports I read, and what Head Coach Sheldon Keefe said in his postgame remarks, I did not think the Maple Leafs played terribly in this game. 

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The Bad

They were slow out of the gate in the game and gave up early goals in both of the first two periods. 

There was a bit of bad luck involved in each of the first three Flyers’ goals. Both the first and third goals were of the “seeing eye” type where the puck found its way through a crowd of players in front of the goal. On the second goal, Samsonov was prevented from playing the shot as he was blocked off by a Philadelphia forward. He pleaded his case to the referee standing beside the Toronto net, but you could see by the referee’s actions he told Samsonov the interfering player was not in the crease.

The goals weren’t all bad luck though. There were Maple Leafs errors that led up to the goals and Toronto was outworked by the Flyers throughout most of the first half of the game. 

Toronto also had bad luck on the offensive side of things. They hit five posts and cross bars. I have heard it said they hit six, but I could not find the sixth one. If the idea of the game was to hit the post the Maple Leafs would have won the game 5-2. 

The Good

For whatever reason, the third Philadelphia goal seemed to act as a wake-up call for the Maple Leafs.  They closed out the second period strong. Toronto carried that strong play into the third period, drew a penalty, and capitalized on it just over a minute into the period. William Nylander finished off a three-way passing play by Auston Matthews and John Tavares to get the Maple Leafs on the board.

Just over halfway into the third period, Tyler Bertuzzi got Toronto to within one when he finished off a pass from behind the Flyers net by Morgan Rielly. After Philadelphia scored to go up 4-2 John Tavares picked up his third point of the night when he scored with Samsonov pulled.

The Ugly

The fourth Flyers’ goal was as ugly as it gets. Similar to a recent game, the second power-play unit was not prepared for the penalized player coming out of the box. Once they realized their mistake they panicked and threw everything they had at trying to get back. The result was bodies flying all over the place, Samsonov doing a pirouette in his crease, and Scott Laughton (who was the penalized player) standing alone in front of an open Toronto net with the puck on his stick. 

Maple Leafs 7 – Washington Capitals 3

After blowing a third-period lead against the Carolina Hurricanes on Saturday, and their slow start in Philadelphia on Tuesday leading to back-to-back losses, the Maple Leafs needed a bounce-back game in Washington on Wednesday night. They got it. What started out to be a tight-checking game in the first period with only one goal scored turned into a wide-open goal-fest with nine goals scored in the final two frames.  

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The Bad

I could only find one thing that had the potential to be bad. Auston Matthews appeared to score his third goal of the game and his seventh hat trick of the season. But the fans that threw their hats on the ice might want to see if they can get them back. The goal was disallowed after a challenge by Capitals’ coach Spencer Carbery for offside. Those offside challenges rarely fail and this one was no exception as replays showed that Tyler Bertuzzi preceded the puck across the Capitals blue line before the goal was scored. The score was 3-2 at the time. Having the potential 4-2 goal disallowed could have been a turning point in the game, but it was not. Jake McCabe restored the two-goal lead with 25 seconds left in the period. 

The Ugly

Not only did the Maple Leafs fail to score on their first four power-play attempts, they spent most of their man advantages either retrieving the puck from their zone or failing to penetrate the Washington zone. They did finally score in their fifth attempt once the outcome of the game was long decided. If my calculations are correct the Maple Leafs are just 3 for 30 in nine games this month.

The Good

It was point night for four Maple Leafs players. Matthews led the way with five points (2G, 3A), Max Domi had four points (all assists), while William Nylander and John Tavares had a goal and two assists each. 

John Tavares

Someone or something has woken up Tavares. After scoring just six points in his previous 14 games,  Tavares has three goals and five assists for a total of eight points in his last three games. Tavares’ goal in this game was the 450th of this career, tying him for 65th in all-time NHL scoring with former Maple Leafs player Doug Gilmour and former Quebec Nordiques player Peter Stastny. 

In Tavares’ past three games, he has passed five players in the all-time points list to move into 87th place with 1,029 points. Of Tavares’ goals, 178 of the 450 have been scored as a Maple Leafs player. He has moved ahead of Gary Leeman into 22nd place in goals (178-176) and 23rd place in points (408 for Tavares, 407 for Leeman). 

William Nylander

Nylander has scored goals in four straight games and has a total of seven points in those four games. He has surpassed the 90-point plateau for the first time in his career and needs just three goals in his last 14 games to set a new career mark for goals. Nylander moved past Tomas Kaberle into 13th place in the overall Toronto franchise scoring list with 521 points.

Auston Matthews

It was the second five-point game of Matthews’ career. The first one was just over a month ago when he scored three goals and added two assists on February 17th versus the Anaheim Ducks. Matthews now has 631 points in his career and has moved past Mitch Marner by one point into seventh place in all-time Maple Leafs scoring. Matthews needs three goals to become the ninth player in NHL history to have multi-60-goal seasons. It has been 30 years since an NHL player has had more than one 60-goal season. The last one was Pavel Bure who reached that mark in 1992/93 and again in 1993/94.  

Max Domi

It was the first time in Max Domi’s career that he has racked up four assists in a game. Domi now has 31 assists on the season, which ties him with Tavares for fifth place on the Maple Leafs. Domi has 14 points in his last 16 games. 

Joseph Woll

In his first start since the back-to-back losses to the Boston Bruins and his fourth start since returning from an injury that kept him out for three months, Joseph Woll had a decent game. He only faced 21 shots and stopped 18 of them to pick up his 10th win of the season. 


For the first time in 262 games as a Maple Leaf, TJ Brodie was a healthy scratch. When asked about it head coach Sheldon Keefe chose his words carefully. While he did acknowledge Brodie’s struggles this season, he made sure to state that the majority of Brodie’s ice time was against the opposing team’s best players. Keefe went on to say that not dressing Brodie was more about resting him on the second game of back-to-backs. 

While he was on the bench, Tyler Bertuzzi did not see the ice for the first half of the first period. Keefe stated after the game that Bertuzzi was not feeling well; and, if not for the fact the team would have been short a forward he would most likely would not have played. Bertuzzi only saw two and a half minutes of ice time in the first period, but he gradually saw more and more as the game went. He finished the night with just over 14 minutes of ice time and scored a goal.

What’s Next?

The Maple Leafs get two days to prepare for another tough set of back-to-back games this weekend. They host the Edmonton Oilers on Saturday night and then travel to Carolina for a rematch with the Hurricanes on Sunday. The team then goes on a five-game in a ten-day stretch where they play every second day. Four of those games are at home. 

Hopefully, we will have some good news about Marner in the next couple of days. 

Related: Matthews Cares More About Winning than Scoring 70 Goals

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