The Toronto Maple Leafs return to the ice against the Montreal Canadiens was a refreshing sight and while it wasn’t a perfect effort, there were many positives to draw from it.
Seeing Ilya Mikheyev bury a pass from John Tavares 30 seconds into the Toronto Maple Leafs exhibition game against the Montreal Canadiens was a sight to behold.
Sure, the lack of crowd noise took some getting used to but being able to watch hockey again was refreshing. Unlike pre-season hockey, this tune-up game was crucial for the players to gauge where their level play is at and there are things to improve on, the Leafs should be pleased with what came out of the game.
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To start, seeing Alexander Kerfoot score two goals and prove to be an effective penalty killer is a promising development. Coming into the restart, Kerfoot made it known that he was not thrilled with his play this season and it was no surprise to see his name thrown in the rumour mill.
It helped that Kasperi Kapanen and Nick Robertson were great compliments to Kerfoot especially Kapanen who was using his speed to create multiple scoring chances and gave the Canadiens no time to move the puck. The lack of contributions from the bottom six was a problem for the Leafs and you have to think the Columbus Blue Jackets are now aware of this development.
Robertson certainly didn’t stand out in a bad way which is exactly what you want to see in this situation. He almost had a goal and assisted on Kerfoot’s second of the night but now there are some serious questions of what happens going forward which won’t be easy.
Frederik Andersen was pretty sharp in this game considering the Leafs gave up some quality chances and he looked calm for the most part. It will only get tougher from here but Andersen certainly looked dialled in.
The Leafs were not shy getting the defence to join the rush and Morgan Rielly made the most of this especially on the penalty kill where the Leafs had two shorthanded goals. Sheldon Keefe might have to make sure his defenders are aware of the situation before jumping in the play but the Leafs will likely use this to keep the Blue Jackets on their toes.
Now while there were many positives from this game, we should still point out some of the not-so-good moments like Auston Matthews line not looking dangerous. The Leafs also got into some penalty trouble which should be a cause for concern except for the fact that Montreal’s power play isn’t great.
All in all, there was a lot to like from the Leafs effort but Sunday will be the real test and fortunately, the team has a lot of time to work out any kinks they might have.
What did you think of the Leafs effort against the Canadiens? Is there anything they need to work on? Let us know in the comments below.