Auston Matthews and William Nylander have been playing the past couple of games together and they are starting to regain their chemistry.
The duo combined for two goals and two assists while Andreas Johnsson added an assist in the 7-6 win. Don’t let the final score fool you, the Leafs were all over Philadelphia outshooting them 51-29, and had 18 high dangerous scoring chances while the Flyers had 14.
You saw them pressuring the puck, working the cycle, and avoid prolonged periods in the defensive zone. Now Frederik Andersen wasn’t exactly at his best but the Leafs finally decided to dig deep and pull themselves out of a tough deficit.
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With Matthews and Nylander on the ice, the Leafs outshot the Flyers 29-11 and while they had a rough time in the second period, they more than made up for it in the third. Mike Babcock has been hesitant to reunite them on a fulltime basis as they’ve only played 154:15 together versus 695:12 apart according to naturalstattrick.com.
Nylander’s absence during his contract negotiations has played a big part in the separation from Matthews and he wasn’t exactly in top playing form upon his return. Give Kasperi Kapanen some credit because his play was another factor in Babcock’s decision as well.
After the game, Matthews made it a point to say he’s starting to get that chemistry back with Nylander but Babcock credits it to Nylander looking more engaged which isn’t tough to argue against. Nylander has also gotten many chances to score but you can tell he’s on an unlucky run.
Maybe playing with Matthews can spark something which will be important for the Leafs since they have a chance to make a run at second in the Atlantic Division. They still have some work to do defensively but if they’re dominating offensively, the defensive part of their game will come around.
When Kapanen returns, it would make sense for Babcock to play him with Nazem Kadri and Patrick Marleau since they did at one point in the season. Kapanen should be able to take advantage of easier matchups and maybe help Kadri and Marleau get their offensive games back on track.
What do you think about the Nylander and Matthews staying together? Should Babcock keep them together or revert back to the old lines? Let us know in the comments below.