Toronto Maple Leafs: James van Riemsdyk continues to step up

BUFFALO, NY - MARCH 5: James van Riemsdyk
BUFFALO, NY - MARCH 5: James van Riemsdyk /

The Toronto Maple Leafs picked up their third straight win over the Buffalo Sabres, thanks to another dynamic offensive performance from James van Riemsdyk.

No Auston Matthews, no Frederik Andersen, no problem for the Toronto Maple Leafs as James van Riemsdyk continues his hot streak in a 5-2 revenge win over the Buffalo Sabres.

This was not supposed to be a tough matchup but given how the last meeting went, Toronto could not take Buffalo lightly. Instead, they took advantage of another strong goaltending performance from Curtis McElhinney, especially in the second period.

However, the story of the game and deserving of it, was how van Riemsdyk followed up his hat trick performance the night before with another three-point game (two goals and an assist).

It could not come at a better time for the 28-year-old who set a season high of 31 goals, which will bode well for when the time comes in free agency. This recent spark has certainly helped the Leafs as well, given the number of injuries that have been pilling up.

Speaking of players suffering ailments, Leo Komarov collided with William Nylander and appeared to have injured his knee. After the game however, Mike Babcock did not seem overly concerned about the winger’s status long-term.

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This will have an impact on the team’s defensive game and on the penalty, which is where Komarov makes his impact known. Now Babcock will be without his trusty winger and if he were to miss one or two games (depending on severity), it will show what life without Uncle Leo could be like.

It does help that young wingers like Kasperi Kapanen, Zach Hyman and Connor Brown are certainly capable of filling the defensive void of Komarov. There is also Andreas Johnsson, who made his debut the other night but got scratched in favour of Matt Martin, who had a spirited tilt with defenceman Nathan Beaulieu.

It appears that the fight was likely to happen if the situation presented itself, especially after Beaulieu had some choice words about the Sabres’ divisional rival.

While the recent injuries do provide some concern in the final stretch of the season. as long as offensively driven players like van Riemsdyk and Mitch Marner continue to lead the way, it shouldn’t be an issue.

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What do you make of van Riemsdyk’s performance lately? Does Komarov’s injury provide any concerns? Let us know in the comments below.